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UNC Wilmington names UConn Deputy AD for External Relations Oblinger as the Seahawks' new AD, starting April 1. UNCW Chancellor Volety: "Michael Oblinger is a proven leader who is dedicated to supporting student-athletes in their journeys to pursue excellence in the classroom and in competition. He understands the meaningful role that great athletics programs play in the life of a university. He looks forward to amplifying the winning environment already in place at UNCW, helping our Seahawks soar even higher in the years to come." (link)
College football executives are considering four changes to shorten games, Sports Illustrated’s Dellenger reports, explaining that two non-controversial proposals include “prohibiting consecutive timeouts (ie, icing kickers)” and “no longer extending a first or third quarter for an untimed down if the quarter ends on a defensive penalty (the down would be clocked starting the next quarter).” A third proposal that is gaining support is a running clock on first downs except inside of two minutes in a half. Dellenger: “In a more controversial fourth proposal, the clock will continue to run after an incomplete pass once the ball is spotted for play.” Dellenger reports a running clock after first downs would eliminate about seven to nine plays per game, while a running clock after an incomplete pass could eliminate “more than twice that number.” (link)
Clemson FB HC Swinney says he’s fine with expanding the College Football Playoff, but “I want to do it in a way that’s healthy for the player. And what bothers me about the expansion of the playoff is when all this was coming about a few years ago, we were kind of given a charge by our commissioner to go and talk to our team and ask them, hey, this is what was coming down the pipe, here’s how it’s going to look like – wanted the feedback. I met with my team and I’ll never forget it, and I kind of laid it out for them, here’s where we are, and they all looked at me like I was crazy, like I had three eyeballs. … So, the interesting thing about the whole dynamic to me, when all that was coming about – I gave the feedback but nobody listens.” Swinney continues: “We listen to the player on all these things, but when it comes to – like, they don’t want to start earlier in July. They don’t want to go later in January. Oh, finals? Who cares? It just falls on deaf ears, and so I’m like, we can’t just keep expanding college football. And now where we are, you’re going to have to play 17 games. So, that’s a lot for a college player.” (link)
Virginia finished FY22 with an $11.3M surplus on $161.9M in revenue and $150.6M in expenses. Revenue was boosted by a near-tripling of donations, which increased from $23.9M to $62.1M YoY. UVA’s $31.1M in FB operating expenditures ranked sixth among the seven ACC public schools. Hoos AD Williams: “Overall, we’re in some very challenging times for college athletics, and not just financially. The recent court rulings and pending court rulings, the pandemic: Those are challenges for everyone across the country. … There’s a lot of uncertainty regarding future revenue, future expenses because of the court cases, but we’re monitoring all of that and expect to be able to manage through it and continue to have a great athletics program.” (link)
The Mercury News’ Wilner attempts to decipher whether the Pac-12 should invite Gonzaga, pointing out the Zags are “the only program remotely capable of filling the void left behind when UCLA leaves for the Big Ten in the summer of 2024” and are “the only program that could stand as a second tentpole, alongside Arizona, in a reconfigured conference. … But Gonzaga brings complications unlike any other option. Would the presidents of the 10 secular universities welcome a Jesuit school? Would Washington and Washington State approve elevating Gonzaga’s athletic profile?” Ultimately, it comes down to money, and Wilner’s back-of-the-napkin math shows that Gonzaga would likely require a $10M annual payment from the conference. “Subtract that from the total valuation, then split the remainder 10 ways, and we’re left with $30.2M per school. That’s a mere $200K bump. Even if we add the revenue from Gonzaga’s estimated NCAA Tournament units (split 11 ways), that doesn’t push the annual revenue accretion to $1M per school.” (link); Meanwhile, The Dallas Morning News’ Hoyt similarly assesses the value SMU would bring to the Pac-12, noting there are nearly 5.5M TV homes in the Los Angeles area – about 1.7M more than San Diego and Dallas-Fort Worth combined would bring to the league. For further comparison, Hoyt points out last year’s USC-UCLA FB game on Fox drew 4.53M viewers, while SMU’s most watched game, and the only time it cracked the one-million mark, was the New Mexico Bowl against BYU on ESPN (2.04M). Factoring in the importance of streaming in the future, Sports Media Watch’s Lewis points out that figure may be less important, noting of Amazon, for instance: “Ultimately, they’re just trying to build something. And they’ve got so much money, whether it makes financial sense is kind of immaterial because they’re trying to build a sports enterprise.” More analysis. (link)
ESPN’s Thamel summarizes the state of the Pac-12 and how its immediate future will impact the rest of the Power 5, noting first that the media rights contract Commissioner Kliavkoff “delivers in the upcoming weeks are paramount to the league's survival. If the numbers are decent, some sort of temporary solution can be constructed with a deal expected to be in the five-year range. And that's certainly possible. Commissioners are ultimately judged by their television deals. Nothing else matters. Especially in this case, as there has been a clear disconnect between Pac-12 hopes and market realities.” One Pac-12 source tells Thamel: "We're going to find out if George has had something in his back pocket the whole time. Unfortunately, this next deal is about keeping this league alive after a decade of Larry Scott's poor decisions and failed strategies." Long-term, Thamel submits it will be difficult, if not unlikely, to keep Oregon and Washington, “considering the financial disparity they face with the SEC and Big Ten programs they hope to compete against nationally.” Meanwhile, Thamel asks: “Do schools with options, like Colorado, Arizona State, Arizona and Utah -- the so-called corner schools -- want to be part of a bandage? Or do they slide to the Big 12 and start over there?” More. (link)
+ UTRGV is set to receive $24M from the UT System Board of Regents, pending approval, to fund a new Soccer and Track Operations Center, Basketball/Volleyball Practice Facility, FB practice fields, upgrades to the Tennis complex and Baseball Stadium. The annual debt service on this funding is projected to be $1.347M. The Vaqueros will also request an added $40.5M for the Vaqueros Performance Center and $13.5M for a Health and Physical Education Complex once the design is ready for approval. (link)
+ Texas State is asking for Board approval on a $36.6M expansion of Bobcat Stadium’s south endzone. The upgrades include a 6,600 square-foot weight room, locker room, nutrition bar, sports medicine area, players lounge and more, as well as a hospitality suite and rooftop terrace for fans. The proposal, if approved, would see the Bobcats move into the new space in the summer of 2024. (link)
+ American will name the court inside the Meltzer Center in honor of longtime Volleyball HC Goldberg in recognition of a $3M leadership gift from AU Board of Trustees Chair Emeritus/current board member Cassell and his wife. (link)
+ Texas Southern has received a $1M gift from the Houston Astros Foundation to support construction of new baseball and softball facilities. (link)
+ Florida has installed a new Vu Technologies digital studio, which UF says it will use to “recruit prospective student-athletes interested in creating unique content for their social media accounts during visits. They can create marketing and advertising campaigns to be used on the video boards at the sports venues across campus. They can create memorable backdrops for podcasts and coaches' shows.” UF AD Stricklin adds: “This is cutting edge. Hollywood is using this to create shows and movies off this type of technology. They found a lot of cost savings, not having to go on location. They can create the location right there, and we can do a lot of the same thing." (link, link)
+ Missouri State President Smart tells Ozarks Public Radio the city of Springfield’s $12M purchase of Hammons Field – home of the Bears and Springfield Cardinals (MiLB) baseball teams – will benefit MSU. Smart explains the Bears have a long-term lease through 2030 in which MSU began paying $225K per year, but due to an inflation accelerator, paid $258K for the most recent year. Smart also notes the city has pledged a $4M to $5M upgrade for the stadium and says the previous landlord “has been challenging for us to deal with. We had to deal with them on the transition of the arena and the payments they owed there and resolving that. … We would’ve expected challenges in renewing the lease with this individual as well. With the city engaged, it changes everything.” (link)
We offer our deepest condolences to the Wisconsin community following the passing of former Chancellor Blank, who succumbed following a seven-month battle with cancer. (link)
Ally will become an official sponsor of the ACC through the first-ever title sponsorships of the ACC Women’s Basketball Tournament and Women’s Soccer Championship, as well as by serving as the exclusive presenting sponsor of the 2023 ACC Women’s Lacrosse Championship. In collaboration with Disney, the partnership features a media investment of more than 90% in women’s sports and is focused on expanding game highlights, branded content and features across the ESPN networks, including regular SportsCenter segments that highlight top women’s sports accomplishments. Ally Chief Marketing and Public Relations Officer Brimmer: “We are taking a major step forward together with Disney and the ACC to change the way women’s media is packaged, and through this barrier-breaking partnership – that channels funds directly to women’s sports and begins to level the playing field for female athletes - we hope to create the kind of systemic change needed to significantly increase visibility, opportunity and fandom in women’s sports.” (link)
Sportico’s McCann unpacks what recent FTC turmoil means for antitrust and noncompete legislation, citing FTC Chair Khan’s reputation as a divisive figure who has alienated GOP commissioners. Two such commissioners have resigned their posts early, and George Mason law professor Wright tells McCann: “Once courts see that bipartisan balance is now an illusion at the FTC… that will affect everything the agency does. … The reputational capital the agency relies upon is quickly disappearing. This is the capital it relies upon to win cases, promulgate rules, policy statements, and to argue it should get deference.” The sports industry may serve as the proving ground for Wright’s prediction, as McCann notes a ban on noncompete clauses “would likely face a challenge on grounds the agency is acting outside its legal authority. … While banning noncompetes might produce positive impacts on public policy… the measure would also take away the freedom of an employee and business to negotiate the terms of their employment, where the employee might negotiate a higher salary or other benefits in order to accept a noncompete.” Beyond that, the FTC has been active in NIL, and McCann points out that “federal bills on NIL often envision the FTC as regulating the NIL market, including sports agents. … Although drama at the FTC might add some sizzle to the debate, sports industry insiders should also pay attention to the substance.” (link)
People & Places…
+ USC Upstate names Hope Center for Children Director of Development Currier as Assoc. AD for Development. (link)
+ Army West Point Director of Athletic Communications Szczepinski joins D1.ticker/Connect’s Eargle to discuss the department’s Asst. Director of Athletic Communications opening, including what the position entails, whether the role will have a specific sport assignment, how success will be measured, what key experiences the Black Knights are looking for and the overall culture at West Point. The full Q&A is now live on Connect. (link)
+ Brown Volleyball HC Kim steps down and will coach a professional team in South Korea. (link)
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