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Multiple reports have NBA Commissioner Silver as a prime candidate to succeed Disney boss Iger when the time comes. Silver’s current contract with the league runs through 2024. Front Office Sports’ Greenberg: “While FOS’ source was unable to speak to the other names on the reported shortlist —which includes Candle Media co-founder and co-CEO Kevin Mayer, and Disney co-chairman Dana Walden — they clarified that Silver is only being considered for the top position, and cannot serve on Disney’s board due to the NBA’s broadcast partnership with the media giant causing a conflict of interest.” (link)
Georgia FB HC Smart, following the arrest of two players in the past two weeks for street-racing offenses, does not feel there is a culture problem in his program. “Absolutely not. I would say we're far from it. When you talk to people outside our program that come into it, they talk about what a great culture we do have -- and we do an incredible job. Because I've got a lot of outside entities that come into our program and pour into these young men. Do we have perfect young men and women and players? Not necessarily. But I promise you this, that's the intent: for us to grow these guys and get them better. And I feel really good about the culture within our program. … I mean, there [are] laws in place for these things, to prevent it for a reason. And we want to educate our players in every way, every part of our organization. We're constantly looking for a better way in whatever that is, health and safety included. I talked about drugs and alcohol, talked about gambling, talked about racing in cars and high speeds. You have to educate your players and you have to make sure they understand the risks and dangers of that, and that's something that we've tried to do.” (link)
Alabama FB HC Saban weighs in on the league’s future scheduling format, pointing out he has always been in favor of playing more conference games, “but if you play more games, I think you have to get the three fixed [opponents] right. They’re giving us Tennessee, Auburn and LSU. I don’t know how they come to that [decision].” Sports Illustrated’s Dellenger: “The SEC was expected to choose a team’s three permanent opponents based on primary and secondary rivalries, geographical footprints and, most importantly, balance and parity. The conference is using a 10-year success metric to strike the fairest blend of permanent opponents for each team, Saban says.” Saban adds: “Well, some of those years, Tennessee wasn’t as good as they’ve been in the previous 10 years, but now they are as good as they used to be before those 10 years. We got three teams and two of them are in the top 10 and the other is in the top 10 a lot. Look historically over a 25-year history, and the three best teams in the East are Georgia, Tennessee and Florida. You look historically at 25 years, Alabama, LSU and Auburn are the three best teams in the West. So we’re playing them all.” (link)
+ Baylor President Livingstone has been named as chair of the American Council on Education Board of Directors. Livingstone, who is the current vice chair of ACE, will serve until September 2024. (link)
+ Former Miami (FL) Senior Assoc. AD for Administration/Chief Diversity Officer Myles Payne has been named the new AD at Fort Valley State (DII). (link)
Officials didn’t notice that Old Dominion WBB had six players on the court for a basket-scoring play in the final seconds of their Sun Belt Conference tournament quarterfinal, 86-83 victory over Troy. League Commissioner Gill after the fact: “I apologize to head coach Chanda Rigby, the Troy women's basketball student-athletes and the Troy community for the manner in which the end of the game was officiated. No one wants a game to end this way -- especially during the postseason.” Of note from ESPN’s Voepel: “The league said that once the violation occurred when ODU inbounded the ball, Troy -- still down by one -- should have been awarded two free throws, followed by a throw-in at the point of interruption. However, the violation is not included on the list of calls a coach may appeal using replay and had to be recognized before the officials left the visual confines of the playing court. Because it wasn't, there was no way to overturn the result.” Trojans HC Rigby: “Things happen. But I don't agree with the fact that it wasn't correctable. Back in the day before technology, maybe this call would stand true once the officials leave the floor. With reviewable evidence, everyone is going to see it. I don't want the officials to be shown in a bad light. I wanted to give them a chance to correct it. Just like how I wanted my players to have a chance.” (link)
In the event New Mexico’s MBB squad’s postseason plans involve the NIT, the Pit would be able to host “at least a couple of men’s or women’s postseason games” without the venue’s annual PBR Bullriding event causing a scheduling conflict this year. The school has submitted the necessary paperwork to host a first- and/or second-round men’s game in the NIT, but Lobos HC Pitino observes: “Obviously we want to go to the NCAA Tournament. Everybody dreams of that, you know? I think we’ve put ourselves in a position – and I know it’s a dreaded (word), NIT, it’s like so frowned upon, which I’m confused, but that’s a different rant for another day. But we’ve put ourselves in a position to be in the postseason. … To be able to do that in Year 2, they haven’t been there in eight years, is terrific.” (link)
USA Today’s Berkowitz reveals bonus updates for the weekend. For Men’s Basketball: Clemson HC Brownell $200K for the Tigers’ No. 3 seed in upcoming ACC Tournament; San Jose State HC Miles $40K for a combo of securing a winning record in the MWC and top-five finish in the league; North Texas HC McCasland moves to $17,500 in bonuses with the Mean Green’s 25th W on the year; SEMO HC Korn $10K for OVC Tourney win. For Women’s Basketball: Texas HC Schaefer $50K for share of Big 12 regular season; Virginia Tech HC Brooks $10K for Hokies spot in the ACC tournament finals. (link)
JohnCanzano.com’s founder with a nugget on the recent week of Pac-12 media rights rumors & the potential involvement of Ion: “Careful with what you read. Don’t blame you for asking. There are a few entities out there attempting to undermine the Pac-12 with a pile of negative propaganda. Consulting firms definitely have agendas and love to whisper in the ears of media members. I listen to the firms when they call, but always fact check. Not everyone does. For the Pac-12, I still think it’s likely to be some combination of ESPN, Apple, Amazon. I was told on Friday by a source that FOX could still come in and grab a football game here or there.” (link)
Extra Points’ Brown catches up with UCF Director of Sports Turf and Grounds Sample, who recently rose to the challenge of removing parrots from the field during a Bradley v. Gardner-Webb softball matchup in Orlando. Sample tells Brown that “we’ve had honeybee swarms before, and we did once have to remove some raccoons from the football stadium before a game started. … But never exotic birds. These parrots, of course, aren’t native to Florida. They were someone’s pets.” Luckily, Sample says that shortly after recovering the birds, he was able to reunite them with their owners “about a hundred yards outside the ballpark.” Some are born great. Others have greatness thrust upon them. (link)
NOBULL CMO Meleney explains the company’s decision to sign on as the official training and apparel sponsor of the NFL Combine, telling The Athletic’s Kaplan: “We feel like the combine has as much if not more potential to reach the same scale as the draft and some of these other events throughout the year. Because it’s really compelling content, and where else can you go see the fastest athletes in the world be tested in their 40 times or max out their bench press? To us, that’s as exciting as them walking across the stage. And we feel like fans would love that.” Kaplan points out that each participant in the combine receives a kit with 46 items that NOBULL values at $2,783.14. “Other than cleats, which NOBULL does not make, this is the apparel each combine athlete wears while participating. So assuming each of the 325 attendees gets a kit, that’s nearly a $1M expenditure right there, which doesn’t include gear given to everybody who is on the field during the combine and team front-office officials.” The company also has current NIL deals with Kentucky QB Levis and Kansas State RB Vaughn. (link)
Differing opinions on AI from Twitter/Tesla/SpaceX CEO Musk and Microsoft Co-Founder Gates. Musk says AI is “quite dangerous technology,” adding: “I fear I may have done some things to accelerate it. … OpenAI was created as an open-source (which is why I named it ‘Open’ AI), nonprofit company to serve as a counterweight to Google, but now it has become a closed source, maximum-profit company effectively controlled by Microsoft. Not what I intended at all.” Gates, meanwhile, downplays concerns: “There’s all these people trying to make the A.I. look stupid. You have to provoke it quite a bit, so it’s not clear who should be blamed, you know, if you sit there and provoke a bit. The improvement over the next two years in terms of the accuracy and the capabilities will be very rapid.” (link)
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JohnCanzano.com’s namesake reports the Pac-12 is officially vetting four schools as expansion candidates. Who for sure? SMU & San Diego State. Maybe: Colorado State. Unlikely/No: UNLV, Fresno State, Boise State. Canzano admits he’s unclear on who the fourth school is. An unnamed league AD tells Canzano he believes the Pac-12’s media deal will end up outpacing the Big 12’s: “We have better schools, better markets and better ratings.” Othey key nuggets from Canzano: “We all might be tired of talking/fretting about the ongoing Pac-12 saga, but the decision-makers themselves don’t appear antsy. The board members are far more focused on cutting a shrewd, smart, sensible deal for the most revenue possible. [...] One of the hold-ups on the Pac-12’s media rights deal apparently relates to the involvement of Amazon and Apple as bidders, per multiple sources. One — or both — is in play for a piece of the Pac-12’s rights. The entities are relatively new in the space and I’m told the negotiation has moved slower than expected because of that.” The Pac-12 CEO Group meets again this coming Tuesday. (link)
New on Connect: Summit League Commissioner Fenton joins Extra Points’ Brown to discuss the issues facing college athletics, his conference’s approach and whether it is reevaluating any sports sponsorship, postseason expansion beyond MBB and more. Fenton: “We’re hyperfocused on how do we provide a co-curricular, within this world of higher education, athletic experience that can help from a human development side with student-athletes.” Check out the full Q&A. (link)
“The CBI is not the national championship, it’s an invitational tournament, and we want to put together an interesting and competitive tournament. And there’s lots of factors that go into that.” That’s Gazelle Group President Giles on the potential for Detroit Mercy MBB (14-19) to be a part of this year’s CBI field as Titans student-athlete Davis is a mere four points away from breaking the DI scoring record held by former LSU great Maravich. Cost wise, it’s a $27,500 entry fee, plus team travel & support for the trip to Daytona Beach. Former UNLV/Arizona AD Livengood believes it would be a “great investment,” adds, “It’s not like this is an opportunity that comes around often.” (link)
The Tennessee Fund has closed 135 gifts of $25K or larger this fiscal year and 19K+ individual donors have contributed, setting an all-time high for participants in a single fiscal year. The south end zone construction at Neyland Stadium will soon get underway, and will include “a significant expansion to main concourse 1, inclusive of additional restrooms and an improved concessions experience. Additionally, the south end of the facility will be home to the stadium's first-ever kitchen, commissary and loading dock.” Other upgrades expected to be in place by this fall: partially completed Wi-Fi capabilities, new restrooms and expanded concourse space in certain areas. Renderings included. (link)
Looks like Akron AD Guthrie will hire a new WBB leader as the contract of five-year HC Jackson will not be renewed. The Zips have also closed an internal investigation of Jackson stemming from allegations by a former student-athlete that never led to any disciplinary measures for Jackson. (link)
The details of UCLA FB HC Kelly’s new contract, per L.A. Times’ Bolch: $6.1M salary each of the next two seasons, then $6.2M each of the final three seasons of the deal. If the Bruins make a move before December 2023, Kelly is owed $8.5M, if it is before December 2024 he would get $4.27M and nothing if he’s dismissed after that. Should he depart on his own accord before the end of the upcoming season, he owes $3M, and if it is before the end of the 2025 season, he owes $1.5M. New bonuses: $1M for College Football Playoff title (up from $200K), $800K for CFP title game appearance (up from $150K) and $600K for a CFP semifinal appearance (up from $100K). More. (link)
On3’s Prisbell deconstructs the crisis management mechanisms at Alabama in light of recent news regarding MBB student-athlete Miller, and former federal prosecutor/McGuire Woods Partner O’Neil explains the importance of preparation for instances like these. “You don’t have to call in crisis people to set up a ‘war room,’ but you definitely want a [thorough] check for your big statements, your big actions.” Former CNN correspondent and MediaWorks Resource Group Founder Bernheimer observes that Crimson Tide MBB HC Oats, by adopting the tone of a defense attorney, came off as “flippant and dismissive. Just because Miller isn’t being charged with a crime, that doesn’t mean he’s blameless. The coach seems to have a problem differentiating legal liability from basic virtue. … He didn’t even begin by acknowledging the tragic death of this woman, which is rule number one in a crisis of this nature.” Bernstein Crisis Management’s founder of the same name submits that part of the problem could stem from major donors in sports not caring enough about accountability, thereby not putting a sufficient amount of pressure on a school or franchise. “We’ve seen it again and again in sports: If you keep winning, too much is forgiven.” (link)
D1.ticker/Connect’s Fischer chats with Big East Senior Assoc. Commissioner for Sports Media Relations Paquette about planning the Big East hoops tournaments, the intricacies of coordinating media and communications during March Madness, the planning that goes into hosting an NCAA regional, dealing with broadcast partners like Fox and lots more in the full conversation, which is now live on Connect. (link)
The St. Louis Dispatch’s McAndrew breaks down strategy behind Missouri MBB’s seven sellouts this season & a year-over-year increase in attendance from 3,399 to 11,377. Tigers Assoc. AD for Marketing & Fan Experience Daniel points to renewed communication with both fans & students alike: “We took an active listening approach and rolled the surveys out. It wasn’t just going to be, ‘OK, we’re taking this information, and we’re gonna try to fix one thing.’ It was, ‘How can we make this completely better, top of the SEC experience whenever you come to any of our sporting events, how can we make it to the top of the SEC?’” The improvement framework has also worked for gymnastics & wrestling, which both recently set meet attendance records. More. (link)
The Duke-North Carolina MBB game in Chapel Hill each year is often the most coveted student ticket and in previous years student ticket policies made it possible that seniors received 80% of the student ticket allotment for the game. This year, however, the Tar Heels changed the policy and as it stands half the ticket allotment went to students who attended the most home games this season and two different lotteries for seniors and underclassmen accounted for 25% of the remaining tickets, each. Senior Davis comments: “I feel betrayed, quite frankly. We were guaranteed tickets as entering freshmen, and now we’re seniors and they’re changing the script on us. What gives?” UNC Senior Assoc. AD for Smith Center Operations/Event Management Gwaltney: “You didn’t even have to win the lottery. If you walked down (to the Smith Center) for the first four games of the season, you could’ve secured your Duke ticket.” (link)
+ Nevada joins forces with Reno-based Hub Coffee Roasters to launch Morning Howl, the university’s first branded coffee. (link)
+ The West Coast Conference Baseball Tournament will be hosted in Las Vegas starting in 2023. The league signed a multiyear agreement with Las Vegas Ballpark to hold the tourney there through 2026. (link)
+ Holy Cross and Harvard will meet on the gridiron in 2023 at Polar Park in Worcester, rather than the previously scheduled campus-based Fitton Field. The EBW Football Classic will still be considered a home contest for the Crusaders. (link)
+ Florida A&M and South Carolina State announce a home-and-home FB series in Tallahassee (2024) and Orangeburg (2025). (link)
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