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New Mexico State Chancellor Arvizu in a press conference yesterday indicated he has no plans to part ways with Aggies AD Moccia, saying: “I have not lost confidence in Mario’s ability to essentially be our athletic director. He still has my complete confidence to turn this program around. Clearly there’s some issues that we need to see why did it take so long to understand that there was an issue. We will get to the bottom of that. … We have done an expansive review of the programs and everything that I have learned is that our men's basketball program has been infected with a culture of bad behavior. There have been numerous violations of our student code of conduct and there have been other despicable acts." (link, link)
Sportico’s McCann unpacks yesterday’s appeals hearing in Johnson v. NCAA and observes: “To put it mildly, the panel regarded the NCAA’s core principle that college athletes shouldn’t be paid as unpersuasive and incongruous, and the judges signaled they view college athletes as employees. … Arguing for the NCAA, attorney Steven Katz encountered a ‘hot bench,’ in that the judges quickly launched into challenging questions and didn’t hesitate to interrupt him. [...] The panel repeatedly stressed that college athletes are under a level of control not faced by their classmates. They referenced how the athletes can’t pursue certain areas of study because of conflicts with the athletic schedule. They also mentioned that a student can hire an agent for professional music or arts pursuits, but an athlete cannot. They even noted that college students in many states can lawfully bet on sports, whereas their athlete classmates are forbidden from doing so. … While judges can be hard to predict, the tea leaves suggest the Third Circuit will return the case to [U.S. District Judge] Padova,” who initially denied the NCAA’s motion to dismiss. More. (link)
In the third of a three-part interview with the Toledo Blade, Toledo AD Blair talks about the relationship between sports betting and college athletics, says it’s not “off the table” for a sportsbook or kiosk to find its way into the Glass Bowl or Savage Arena in the future. More: “We’ve got to either generate new revenue, stop doing some things that we’re already doing, or not do these new changes at all. To me, it’s probably a combination of all three. … We can’t be all things to all people. [...] Our student-athletes have to be more careful about what they post on social media because of the impact if someone is shown on crutches, things we didn’t use to think about. To stick our head in the sand and say it's not happening just isn’t real.” (link)
National Fastpitch Coaches Association Executive Director Bruggeman sits down with Connect/MB Sports’ Banker to discuss the state of the game with another season now under way: “What I would love to see – besides having more coaches on these committees if these committees stay in the Transformation Committee overhaul and restructure – is if the coaches’ association don’t have a direct path anymore…being able to have our own sport oversight committee. I feel like baseball and softball, whether we have separate ones or a joint one, we would be giddy and happy about that because our sport has grown, it is different than a lot of other sports out there, and yet our path to making changes sometimes is through the Student-Athlete Experience Committee. … I feel like we are big enough now, so to speak, as baseball is, to kind of have a seat at that table.” Lots more from a very informative conversation on Connect. (link)
Michigan Governor Whitmer joined Michigan State Interim President Woodruff, MBB HC Izzo and other university leaders at a vigil to mourn the victims of this week’s tragic mass shooting. During the event, Whitmer asserted that the “time for thoughts and prayers is over. We can't continue to live like this. I will do everything in my power to make sure those we lost aren't just a number or forgotten. We are in a unique position to take action.” Izzo encouraged anyone who needed help to speak up, telling the crowd: “Whatever you are feeling, it's all valid. I cry in front of my team. I cry on national TV. Don't be afraid to show your emotions. Let's do a better job of taking care of each other. We need each other.” (link)
The domestic violence charge against former Texas MBB HC Beard has been dropped. Travis County DA Garza: “After a careful and thorough review of the evidence, recent public statements, and considering [Beard’s fiancee] Ms. [Randi] Trew’s wishes, our office has determined that the felony offense cannot be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.” (link); Stadium’s Goodman reacts: “Do not be surprised if Chris Beard is back coaching somewhere next season. In fact, I would be more surprised if he weren’t coaching now that the charge has been dropped.” (link)
More Leadership Wire…
+ Penn State Field Hockey HC Morett-Curtiss announces her retirement after nearly 40 years at the helm. (link)
+ The Washington Post’s Kowitt reports that while outgoing CEOs were older in 2022, incoming CEOs started to skew younger, according to research by Spencer Stuart, which found that the average age of newly appointed CEOs went from 56 in 2021 to 54 in 2022. “While that might not seem like a huge drop on the surface, it was the largest year-over-year decline for S&P 500 companies since 2000, with nearly 30% of the new cohort under 50. In 2021, only 12% of those jobs went to executives under 50.” (link)
Auburn AD Cohen talks facilities with the Montgomery Advertiser, noting that “even the most casual fan looks into our north end zone and sees that we have room for improvement there, and I think we're gonna get there. It's going to take a little time, but I think we can create some improvement in the north end zone." Cohen goes on to acknowledge, however, that there is “only a certain amount of dollars to go around. I think it's really important to understand that every coach and every student-athlete quite frankly is going to have to say, 'What are my priorities?' ...Because you're not going to get it all. ... You're either going to have more opportunities with facilities or you might have more opportunities with name, image and likeness." (link)
After receiving $12.9M from the university to balance the budget, Oklahoma State AD Weiberg believes the Cowboys are on track to become fully self-sufficient again, as was the case for several years before COVID. “That is the goal. We’ve got a great relationship with campus, and one of the reasons is that we try to be good stewards of our resources and not rely on resources from the institution that can be used for other needs. We want to be competitive, and we know that’s important to not only us, but to the university. But we want to be able to do it without burdening the institution to help us with that.” (link)
Austin Peay has suspended its cheerleading program indefinitely. Governors AD Harrison did not go into detail about the decision except to say the university was made aware of potential violations, resulting in an investigation. “This only deals with our cheerleading squad. This does not include the dance (team) or mascot at this time. We take this very seriously and we'll move this along as best we can and it will be thorough. … Our investigation is still in its infancy so I don't want to speculate where it would lead to, or could lead to. We have to let the process run its course and let dedicated professionals that deal with these issues deal with it.” (link)
The Northwestern-focused TrueNU collective has publicly launched, and Executive Director Schmidt tells On3’s Wittry that since announcing its formation last month, TrueNU has raised nearly $1.5M. Asked by Wittry why he’s sharing the fundraising totals publicly, Schmidt explains: “It’s an important message to send given how late we are to this game and the numbers that our fans, our alumni, our donors have seen across the country — our players, right? everybody — and whether they’re accurate or not, they’re out there. Part of our strategy here is to prove that we’re in this game.” (link)
Politico’s White notes the U.S. economy “skipping the runway all together and soaring off into the blue again is also a potentially bad thing. Here’s why: The Federal Reserve’s preeminent goal — over which it will sacrifice all else — is to take inflation from where it was in June (over 9 percent) closer to 2%, the central bank’s long-term target. … The combination of some inflation success and reduced fears of inflation have also unleashed big gains on Wall Street the last couple months as investors gain faith that the Fed won’t crash the plane. And that’s actually a really big problem. One of the things the Fed wants to do in its inflation fighting campaign is to tighten financial conditions by raising rates. The opposite is happening. Wall Street is celebrating. The Fed is not happy about it. That probably means more rate hikes.” (link)
Yesterday's Evening Standard...
The NCAA appoints Interim SVP for Communications Lehe as VP for Communications, reporting to the newly created SVP for External Affairs. Incoming President Baker: "Gina has proven herself to be a strong leader with exceptional skills as a communications strategist and I am proud to have her as a member of my team. As I prepare to take office I've been impressed with Gina's work to make the NCAA's communications collaborative, inclusive and strategic. I look forward to hitting the ground running with her and the whole team soon." (link)
Hawai’i Provost Bruno and aio President/COO Eichor will co-chair the Rainbow Warriors’ AD search committee, which also includes WBB HC Beeman, Men’s VB HC Wade & FAR Sinnett among others. President Lassner: “The successful candidate will display impeccable integrity in their work and the creativity to ensure the financial sustainability of the country’s most isolated Division I athletics program. Our next athletics director must have the insight and agility to lead through the most dynamic and challenging period in the history of NCAA intercollegiate athletics.” Timeline: Materials due by the 10th of next month with a short list passed along to Lassner & then a hire recommendation to the Board of Regents in May. (link); The D1.dossier for UH is ready for those interested in the opening. (link)
CBS and Turner are no longer involved in Pac-12’s media rights negotiations, Action Network’s McMurphy reports. (link); Meanwhile, Big 12 Commissioner Yormark joins the Mercury News’ Wilner and JohnCanzano.com’s eponymous creator to chat about the Big 12’s media rights deal, the value of college basketball and the departure of Oklahoma and Texas, among other topics. Yormark insists the league did not leave money on the table by negotiating its media rights deal early, citing the changing landscape and crowded marketplace. “By going early, I was able to gain the attention of two of the biggest media brands in the world… and I think that decision today is looking better and better.” While saying he’s not specifically targeting Pac-12 schools, Yormark acknowledges: “Would I like to be a national conference in all the different time zones and from a geography standpoint have our Big 12 flag all over the country? 100%... we’ll see where we end up.” On the value of hoops in media rights and expansion: “I just think it’s undervalued. It’s been bundled with football. I think at some point in time that value proposition needs to change. … I think at the right time we’re going to be able to monetize that.” (link)
The Athletic’s Auerbach reports from the Johnson v. NCAA hearing: “One of the judges just asked NCAA counsel how it's possible that college athletes are NOT employees given how much control the schools and the NCAA over them, their time demands, etc.” One judge also asserts, per Auerbach, that an “athlete is more valuable to a university than a work-study student working in the cafeteria or library. The NCAA is defending itself in the Johnson case by pointing out that potential antitrust issues the NCAA face are not central to this case but are to the next case (House). The Johnson case is about whether or not athletes should be classified as employees and should receive hourly wages. The judges are asking about athletes' economic value (as evidenced by NIL deals, the value of media deals) and NCAA arguing that is not at issue in this case. A lot of questions from the judges about the restrictions that athletes face in terms of their class schedule/available majors. Judge points out that those restrictions exist for all athletes, not just football & men's basketball players.” (link); More from Auerbach: “One judge literally just came out and said college athletes are employees. Judge just asked if athletes can lose scholarships if they stop playing and/or if they're not renewed. ‘So, this coach has complete control over this young person.’ NCAA lawyer says he's not familiar with scholarship rules (??). … Judge asks plaintiffs' lawyer if athletes should have been employees in 1938. In short, lawyer says yes and maybe more so. Judge: ‘Why should we change it now?’ Plaintiffs' lawyer says that it's changed since the NCAA's actual formation and its rules that get ‘tighter and tighter’ each year. Also, economics of college sports have changed drastically since Board of Regents case.” (link)
+ Memphis has promoted Asst. AD for the Annual Fund Wiatr to Assoc. AD for Annual Fund & Women's Sports Revenue Initiatives. (link)
+ North Carolina promotes Volleyball AC Schall to HC. (link)
+ Georgetown taps Maryland AC Bonetti to take the reins as Volleyball HC. (link)
+ Georgia Volleyball HC Black’s extension last month came with a raise of $10K to $235K. A 2021 salary survey by the American Volleyball Coaches Association found average base salary for seven SEC women’s volleyball head coaches to be $212,857. (link)
Nebraska FB HC Rhule arrived in Lincoln just in time to add some of his own touches to the Huskers’ $165M FB complex, and while not complete, Rhule says his time with the Carolina Panthers opened his eyes to the value of infrared saunas and sensory deprivation tanks. “All of those things are good for players’ physical and mental health.” Huskers AD Alberts: “When you hire leadership, many times you can kind of judge him or her based on who they surround themselves with, what kind of talent they’re able to acquire. And clearly, coach Rhule added incredible firepower, not only to our football program, but I would argue to our entire athletic department.” (link)
Marquette MBB HC Smart tells CBS’ Norlander that Miami (FL) student-athlete Pack’s $800K NIL deal was a “watershed moment in transfer recruiting in our sport. It completely altered what other transfers wanted." Marquette was at the time recruiting four transfers, and practically overnight, the tone and expectations of those recruitments changed after the Pack news, Smart tells Norlander, adding that he didn’t like what he was hearing and not only stopped recruiting those four, he stopped recruiting DI transfers altogether last spring. “We made the decision: Hell no, we ain't doing that. First of all, it's illegal, but we're not prioritizing some guy that hasn't worn a uniform over Tyler Kolek and Oso Ighodaro. … You ain't getting a lot of these guys unless they're getting some sort of bag. Number one, we weren't in position to do that. Number two, we're not comfortable doing that. Number three, we didn't want to ever prioritize some random guy… over our current players." Norlander says Smart will likely use the portal again, but for now Smart says the NCAA “has really mangled these rules. The way that's been viewed by the NCAA has even changed a couple of times since then (summer of 2021). It's like an alternate universe.” (link)
Texas A&M’s 12th Man Foundation is now accepting NIL-related donations via the 12th Man+ Fund. Donors who contribute $5K to $25K+ will receive an invitation to an annual NIL event while donors who give $25+ will receive “annual NIL content.” (link, link)
The USC-focused Tommy Group collective has launched and is being led by six Trojan alumni alums, fans and former athletes with USC ties, including former WR Johnson, former TE Holmes and entrepreneur Stromberg, among others. The group has already partnered with current Trojans QB Williams, and the collective says it has already worked with over 80 student-athletes on deals. Johnson: “We have an incredible opportunity at hand to tap into each of our professional expertises and personal networks to open up the world of personal branding, commercial deals and beyond to these kids in a major way. We’re not only setting the standard for NIL deals, we’re helping to strategically shape their futures.” (link, link)
High Point will add women’s rowing as the Panthers’ 17th varsity sport and plans to begin competition in the 2024-25 season. High Point will invest more than in the program over the next five years along with an additional capital investment to construct a new HPU Boat House. Panthers AD Hauser: “When you look at the last two programs we started at HPU (women's and men's lacrosse), both have quickly ascended to conference championships and national success in the NCAA Tournament. Rowing is the perfect fit at High Point University and with the amazing performance venue of Oak Hollow Lake, we are poised for greatness." (link)
The city of Knoxville and Aramark, Neyland Stadium's beer vendor, have agreed to terms that will allow beer to be sold next season at all Tennessee football games. As part of the agreement, Aramark has agreed to train all new and returning employees; donate $30K to the nonprofit Metro Drug Council; pay a $4,500 fine and $700 in administrative costs; and ensure only official Aramark employees check IDs this season, making sure to ask every customer to show one. (link)
UCLA forms the 42 Society exclusively for donors who contribute at least $100K annually to the Wooden Athletic Fund over a five-year period. Members' benefits include exclusive travel with the Bruins, Jordan Brand team gear, top priority for tickets to the MBB and WBB NCAA tournaments, UCLA football's bowl game and other postseason events. (link)
Ohio State cancels its home-and-home FB series with Washington that was scheduled for the 2024 and 2025 seasons and will pay the Huskies a $500K cancellation fee, per FBSchedules. (link)
Modern program building: Richmond starts its baseball campaign with three players already committed to play for other schools next season as graduates. Spiders P Neff is headed to Virginia Tech, his brother, a catcher, is bound for Villanova and P Mathes has committed to Georgia. Spiders HC Woodson says this type of movement is common these days and is attributable to a mix of the COVID year, players’ desires to try something new and academic tracks. “It hurts because those three guys are main cogs in our team, but for them, they’ve been here four years.” Mathes, who was drafted by Baltimore in the 2022 MLB Draft but opted to return, explains his decision: “COVID kind of messed everything up, made the transfer portal such a big thing. I've talked it over with my teammates. They're not worried about it, and I don't feel weird about it." If Mathes is drafted again in a more financially appealing position, he says he will skip next season at Georgia and turn pro. (link)
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