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NCAA General Counsel Bearby joins MB Sports/Connect’s Banker to talk about what the membership should know about current litigation and the national landscape, what athletic departments should know about their own general counsel, the transition from President Emmert to President Baker and advice for standing out in the industry. Bearby notes there is a lot of litigation where the NCAA is the only defendant because “those four letters are perceived as a target and as a form of ‘where all the money is’ even though that’s not the case and there’s not a vault of money here in the national office. … There’s also a need for us to clarify what is the schools’ responsibility and what is the association's responsibility. Very clearly in the constitution it says health and safety is the responsibility of the campus. It isn’t here. We provide a resource, we help facilitate policymaking, but the relationship between the student and the doctor is at the campus level. So, I think it’s a good reminder that we aren’t the backstop as an association for everything that happens on a campus.” Lots of important information in the full interview, which is now available on Connect. (link)
SMU’s interest in joining the Pac-12 “is so high it’s ready to help cover some of the costs,” according to the Fort Worth Telegram-Star’s Engel, who reports one concession the Mustangs are willing to make “would be a willingness to agree to a substantial decrease in revenue sharing for the first few years in the league, as well as potentially covering its own expenses.” Engel also notes this is “not a done deal” because there are "high ranking members of current Pac-12 schools that are unsure if the combination of SMU and San Diego State are good adds and add value to the league.” (link)
Michigan State teams will largely resume athletic competition this weekend, according to Spartans AD Haller, who says: “In consultation with mental health professionals and in conversations with our student-athletes it became apparent that a return to practice and competition is a crucial part of their recovery. Student-athletes were given an active voice in the decision to return to competition, as well as the autonomy to make their own individual choices about participation. Athletics can be a rallying point for a community in need of healing, a fact many of our student-athletes have mentioned to me. … I also recognize that everyone grieves in their own unique manner, and there are some who aren't ready to return to athletic events. Those feelings are incredibly valid, and as Coach Izzo so eloquently stated last night, I hope that we will all focus on taking care of one another." Instead of traveling to its tournament this weekend, the men’s tennis team will remain home and compete against Drake in a matchup originally scheduled for February 15. Additionally, both women’s tennis matches have been canceled and the Spartans gymnastics meet with Illinois has been postponed. (link)
A source close to outgoing Ohio State President Johnson tells The Columbus Dispatch that Johnson’s decision to step down was based on the realization that she could no longer run the university according to her vision. "[Prominent OSU benefactor] Les Wexner wanted things done his way, and there is a faction of the board that makes sure he gets what he wants. Kristina decided it would be nearly impossible to finish the amazing work she had started with that kind of pressure. That's why she made the painful decision to resign, not because of some exaggerated complaints from her staff." However, two “community leaders close to the university” dispute that assertion, claiming “multiple factions of trustees were upset with Johnson over a number of different issues in the past two years, but it was the complaints about her leadership that fueled her exit.” The tension between Johnson and Wexner – along with his wife, who is on the OSU Board of Trustees – reportedly stemmed from Wexner’s desire to have more control over the OSU medical center which bears his name. After a particularly tense meeting, Johnson reportedly knew the working relationship was no longer tenable; however, during that time, the Dispatch reports Johnson was “in the running to become the next president of the NCAA and was in the final stages of the interviewing process. When the story broke that some had complained of Johnson's managing style, the NCAA moved on from considering Johnson for the job.” Lots more. (link)
“If you want to be an elite college hoops program moving forward in the modern era, you must have a general manager (or someone comparable) on staff,” The Athletic’s Marks and Tucker surmise, noting Duke, DePaul and Howard have hired GMs for their MBB programs while others have outsourced those responsibilities. Duke GM Baker says she goes about overseeing Duke student-athletes’ NIL responsibilities in two ways: by making sure everyone is updated on the latest regulations and by providing guidance while being sure the school isn’t directly involved in the dealmaking process. “Two of our guys have the exact same contract with a company. One of them, it’s literally pulling teeth trying to get him to record and share and post these videos; the other one, it’s nothing at all. So it’s a matter of figuring out, this $5,000 deal may make a lot of sense for you — but this stresses you out so much, is it really worth it? Because I need you to go play basketball.” Blue Demons AD Peevy adds that it’s important to take this responsibility off of a coach’s plate: “Now you need other people: to be innovative and think ahead and have a sense, a pulse, of what the world is doing right now — and stay ahead of it, not following. That’s the challenge we all have.” (link)
+ Jackson State promotes Asst. AD for Academics Silver to Assoc. AD for Academics and Compliance. (link)
+ MOAA named five new members to its Board of Directors for terms beginning in June: Park Point (NAIA) AD Ashaolu, Temple Exec. Senior Assoc. AD Horne, UAB Deputy AD Louis-Verrett, North Texas Senior Assoc. AD Oliver and Towson Asst. AD Robb. (link)
+ Dartmouth inks Women’s Lacrosse HC McFadden to an extension through 2028. (link)
+ YouTube CEO Wojcicki is stepping down after nine years in charge and will be succeeded by Chief Product Officer Mohan. (link)
Florida FB HC Napier and Florida State HC Norvell were on hand as Florida Governor DeSantis signed House Bill 7B into law. Kennyhertz Perry attorney Winter: “The passage of 7B continues the trend of states removing restrictions on NIL activities and leaving those decisions up to individual schools. This makes sense as most of the state laws are or were more restrictive than the NCAA’s NIL rules, and schools and coaches in states with NIL laws have often felt like they are at a disadvantage in creating NIL opportunities for their athletes. Schools in Florida will now be able to pass on information about NIL opportunities to their athletes.” Florida State Representative LaMarca (R-93), who sponsored the bill: “I think it puts us on a level playing field for us to do endorsements and deals, but I think it makes us a leader because we’re now going to equip our kids with the tools to build their brand and not just get deals because of the team they’re playing on.” (link)
The USC-focused NIL collective BLVD has ceased day-to-day operations, per On3’s Nakos, who reports “the root cause of BLVD’s fall was a disconnect between USC and leaders of Stay Doubted,” the media agency running BLVD. Earlier this week, a new Trojans-aligned collective, The TOMMY Group, launched but another is set to launch soon, with BLVD Senior Account Director Harris to lead the new group which “plans to build off of BLVD’s framework.” Harris says of the coming collective, which will be assisted by J1NS Holdings: “A group of longstanding, substantial donors and members of various USC boards are in the midst of completing a non-profit, alumni-led NIL collective. The group intends to benefit from some of the successful operational aspects of BLVD but are building a separate, board-led entity with strategic alliances within the USC community.” (link)
On3’s Wittry unpacks how the Texas A&M-affiliated 12th Man Foundation will support student-athletes' NIL endeavors, noting the foundation’s website states it will “contract currently enrolled student-athletes to engage in promotional activities to further its mission. Promotional activities will include services such as social media posts, appearances at events, and speaking engagements.” Wittry: “Basically, Texas A&M athletes will receive compensation to promote the 12th Man Foundation. The 12th Man+ Fund now is arguably the closest public link between traditional athletic department fundraising and NIL-related fundraising.” Headlining attorney Winter on the compliance angle: “From everything I’ve read about it and from my understanding of it, it’s compliant with the NCAA rules and Texas state NIL law and A&M’s NIL policy. So I don’t think there’s a problem there. I think other people probably haven’t done it just because from an optics point of view, it can look – I don’t know if ‘bad’ is the right word but like it’s too entangled with the university, so that’s probably why other people haven’t done it yet.” 12th Man President/CEO Dabney emphasizes that the 12th Man is not a collective but a “501(c)(3) that has supported Texas A&M athletics for 73 years. There is one other fundraising organization in the SEC that set up something similar to this – not exactly – and that is the Razorback Foundation at the University of Arkansas.” (link)
+ New Hampshire will receive $8M in state funding from Governor Sununu’s capital investment proposals to upgrade Whittemore Center as part of its $30M renovation. (link)
+ William & Mary has received a $2M anonymous gift for new AstroTurf for Field Hockey’s Busch Field this spring. The Tribe’s All In campaign has raised close to $40M of its $55M goal. (link)
+ Cincinnati will install a new 17.85’ x 24.15’ video board at UC Baseball Stadium ahead of the Bearcats’ home opener against Miami (OH) on March 1. (link)
+ Kentucky shares a progress photo of construction on the Jim Green Indoor Track and Field Center. (link)
+ UTEP cautions fans to dress warmly if they attend tonight’s MBB game as the heating in the Don Haskins Center is “currently being repaired and will not be functional.” (link)
Deals, Deals, Deals…
+ Marshall inks a multi-year deal with Nike and BSN Sports to become the official apparel, footwear and equipment provider. (link)
+ Charlotte announces a new apparel partnership with Nike through BSN Sports, effective with the beginning of the 2023-24 season. (link)
+ The Big South inks a three-year extension with the High Point Downtown Stadium Foundation to hold the league’s baseball championship at Truist Point for the next three years. (link)
+ Saint Joseph’s is partnering with SureAthlete to maximize MBB and softball student-athletes’ performance via the firm’s development, communication and analytics platform. (link)
+ Iona partners with Opendorse for its NIL needs. (link)
ESPN’s next College GameDay show will visit Bloomington, where second-ranked Indiana will take on No. 7 Iowa in a WBB matchup on Sunday, Feb. 26. It’s the second of three shows this season for women’s hoops. (link); ESPN VP for Production Lowry: “We’ve had our eye on this Indiana-Iowa matchup all season for College GameDay as an opportunity to showcase these outstanding programs and top players like (Iowa’s) Caitlin Clark and (Indiana’s) Mackenzie Holmes. (link)
The USOPC and NCAA Office of Inclusion announce the activation of three adaptive sport programming initiatives to be implemented across the WBB Final Four, Drake Relays and ITA Fall National Championships. NCAA SVP for Inclusion Education and Community Management Martin: “The USOPC and NCAA Para-College Inclusion Project is monumental because it marks the first time the two organizations have partnered at this level to celebrate and highlight adaptive sports and the amazing experiences of college athletes with disabilities. The NCAA shares student-athlete stories through its many platforms and championships. We look forward to highlighting the wheelchair basketball exhibitions at this year’s Women’s Final Four fan events and the Division II and III women’s basketball championships in Dallas.” Alabama AD Byrne, Clemson AD Neff, Calvin (DIII) track & field student-athlete Detmer and Paralympian/Northern Iowa student-athlete Heims will comprise an implementation team to analyze the impact of the Para-College Inclusion Project in the fall of 2023. (link)
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