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More from AAC Commissioner Aresco about his desire to stop referring to the Power 5 as the Power 5, as he tells The Athletic’s Williams that their designation as autonomous conferences in 2014 is largely outdated now. “They haven’t passed any autonomous legislation in quite a while, and we’re right there. We do everything (the Autonomous 5 conferences) do. … We all have the same issues, especially in FBS. Whether we have less money is irrelevant. We’re just as competitive, we have the same draft issues, with NIL, with the transfer portal. We’d like input. We’d like information too — we’d like to know what’s going on. But we really want input.” Aresco goes on to say the “biggest frustration is to be ignored. No one likes to be ignored. When I see articles that talk about the best quarterbacks or coaches in the P5, c’mon. When I see that constantly, I get angry. The NCAA talks a lot about inclusivity, and what happens? We’re excluded in a lot of this, and it’s just not right. Either you’re going to fight or just give up, and I would never give up.” (link)
Connect/MB Sports’ Banker sits down with Assoc. Directors of NCAA Enforcement Register and Kennedy to get a glimpse behind the enforcement curtain, discuss what administrators should know about enforcement, share some insight into their own roles and highlight some open positions in the department. Kennedy explains there’s often a “them vs. us” mentality when it comes to institutions and the NCAA and notes: “The people who work in enforcement specifically really care about athletics, they care about the student-athletes, they care about college sports, and they want to be played on a fair and equitable playing level. So, we’re not out to get you. We’re not looking for violations. If there are violations there we will investigate them, but we’re not out trying to hurt any particular school. We don’t wake up in the morning thinking ‘Whose lives can we ruin?’” Full Q&A. (link)
Former Hawaii/NFL WR Lelie has joined the Rainbow Warriors’ AD search committee. President Lassner: “Ashley was recommended by a UH faculty member who had been following the news about the committee. I was delighted to meet him and he indicated he would be honored to serve.” (link)
Appalachian State garnered more than 464K visitors and 1.97M page views in September, marking the most for a single month in the history of appstatesports.com. Also during that month, App State’s social media interactions were 16th among all DI schools and first among Group of 5 programs with 252K+ interactions. Mountaineers AD Gillin: “We've been working on how we gain and leverage national exposure since we made the transition to FBS. Our win over (Texas) A&M and hosting of ESPN College GameDay was a special opportunity to showcase our university, community and football program to a national audience over an entire week." It continues to pay off in the form of licensing royalties, which grew 35% from 2020-21 to 2021-22. Meanwhile, royalties from the first two quarters of 2022-23 have already surpassed the entire 2020-21 total. Senior Assoc. AD for Revenue Bridges: “If it has our brand on it, we want to make sure that people have the opportunity to get it.” (link)
Private universities in a Power Five conference have 33% higher net trust compared to public universities with no Power Five presence (31.55 percentage points vs 23.65 points), according to Morning Consult Managing Director for Higher Education Choudaha, who adds, per Morning Consult’s 2022 Most Trusted Universities Survey: “Compared to the baseline net trust surveyed across all 135 universities (25.74 percentage points), universities in the Power Five conferences are more trusted than those with no such presence (26.94 points vs. 24.98 points)." Compared with private P5s’ 31.55% percentage points, net trust of private universities outside the P5 was just 25.5%. For publics, those numbers are 25.56% and 23.65%, respectively. Choudaha also points out there is a difference between Republicans and Democrats when it comes to trust. For example, Cal has “an impressive 54.31 points in net trust. Among Republicans, however, the school has a negative net trust score (-5.23), resulting in net trust among all adults of 24.04 — a proof point of how much political divisiveness can affect trust in higher education.” More data. (link)
+ Vanderbilt AD Lee reportedly hires Cal State Northridge Assoc. AD for Marketing, Branding & Fan Development Ellerbee as the new Senior Assoc. AD & Vice Chancellor for Athletics Communications in Nashville, per CollegeAD. Her LinkedIn bio reflects the move. (link)
+ More administrative talent moves on The Wire at Collegiate Sports Connect: Texas, NC State, Appalachian State, UCF, the NCAA, Pittsburgh, UT Arlington, Middle Tennessee, VCU, San Jose State, Loyola Chicago, Minnesota, Ohio State, Cal State Northridge, Army West Point, UCF, UMass, Vanderbilt, Wake Forest, LEARFIELD, Tulane & Colorado. (link)
+ Georgetown and MBB HC Ewing will go their separate ways after six seasons. (link); Fox Sports’ Fanta points out that the Hoyas MBB HC position has mainly answered directly to the university president but notes Hoyas AD Reed and university leadership are “much more aligned on the next hire, and that Reed will have more power in the future of the program. That will be a big shift if it comes to fruition. The Hoyas’ issues go beyond whoever holds the head coach job, but how the program is operated.” (link)
+ Stanford AD Muir says seven-year MBB boss Haase will return to The Farm once again next season. The Cardinal went 14-19 (7-13) this year. (link)
+ American parts ways with MBB HC Brennan after 10 seasons. (link)
+ We offer our best wishes to Kansas MBB HC Self, who will miss the Big 12 Tournament for health reasons. (link)
+ Tarleton Baseball HC Meade is not with the program “for now,” according to D1Baseball’s Rogers, who reports AC Hunt will take over as Interim HC. (link)
+ San Jose State MBB HC Miles earns a $10K bonus for making it to the Mountain West semifinals. USA Today’s Berkowitz reports Miles has tallied $50K in bonuses so far this season. (link)
+ From in front of the Law360 paywall: “Two University of San Francisco baseball coaches accused of creating a sexualized environment for players have asked a California federal court to toss the plaintiffs’ second amended complaint, which added claims and plaintiffs, saying it has the same information and defects a judge ruled on earlier this year.” (link)
The 350+ MBB games on ABC, ESPN and ESPN2 this season delivered the most-watched regular season across ESPN networks since 2018-19, with an overall viewership average of 554K viewers. ESPN’s 131 regular season games averaged 955K viewers overall and 348K among adults ages 18-49, gains of 3% and 4%, respectively, notching the network’s most-viewed regular season since 2019-20. The five regular season games on ABC averaged 938K viewers overall and 247K adults 18-49, increases of 41% and 33%, respectively. ESPN2’s 217 games averaged 299K viewers, up 7%, for its most-watched regular season since 2018-19. Additionally, ESPN’s 15 Sonic Blockbuster games this season averaged 1.7M viewers, and ESPN presented five of the top 10 MBB audiences and 10 of the top 20 in 2022-23. The two matchups between North Carolina and Duke were the most-watched of the season (2.855M and 2.628M) on ESPN, followed by Kentucky-Michigan State and Purdue-Indiana (both 2.026M) and Kansas-Kentucky (1.89M). (link)
Disney CEO Iger yesterday remarked that while it isn’t imminent, it is “inevitable that there will be basically a seamlessness between sports programming and sports betting.” (link); Meanwhile, SBJ’s Ourand says the cable bundle will “drop off a cliff” if/when ESPN takes its flagship channel direct-to-consumer (DTC), but he believes the move is years away. “Fox and ESPN…are trying to keep the cable bundle going as long as they can. [...] I’m starting to get the sense – not that they’re never going to take the Mothership straight to consumer – but it might take longer than I thought maybe four months ago.” The New York Post’s Marchand is still “very confident” ESPN’s DTC move will occur within the next three and a half years. “I think one thing that’s lost a little bit is that [ESPN is] not just a cable channel. There's a lot of entities associated with ESPN, and I think you can walk and chew gum at the same time.” More from Marchand and Ourand. (link)
+ William & Mary has received a $500K gift from alumni Raelene and Doug Wagoner to support the W&M Athletics Complex, which broke ground last May. (link)
+ Maryland raised a record $3.8M, including $317K for athletics, during its 10th annual philanthropy marathon. (link)
+ Here are the full brackets for every weight division at the DI Wrestling Championships set for Tulsa next weekend. (link)
+ Robert Morris has expanded its partnership with Teamworks to include Teamworks Elite. (link)
+ Purdue partners with Koloa Rum Company so fans can enjoy the “island flavors of Kauai such as guava, mango, pineapple and coconut for a bubbly and refreshing taste” at home athletic events. (link)
+ WME Sports, which had acquired a stake in NBA agent Duffy's BDA Sports, has signed a deal to acquire all of it, per SBJ’s Mullen. Duffy will join the agency as Head of Basketball. (link)
Yesterday's Evening Standard...
AAC Commissioner Aresco releases a statement in which he takes exception with the Power 5 being “virtually the exclusive focus in college athletics.” Aresco calls the notion “profoundly misguided,” adding: “As it now stands, in terms of competitiveness, the gap between the number two and three conferences is far greater than between the number three conference and The American. There are P5 conferences that have lost the marquee teams which gave them that status in the first place and whose value today is much harder to define. There are P5 conferences that have added multiple teams from The American and other conferences among this group that have discussed adding schools from our conference. If the P5 label means that you are vastly different, why is this so? … It is troubling to see media-manufactured labels, confirmed by college sports leadership, which do not reflect the reality of college sports going forward. This creates a divide at five that should not exist and creates harmful effects. Documents have recently come to light that describe a P5 legislative initiative around NIL that has not been shared with the wider membership. This is not a healthy approach, as such an initiative should be a collaborative effort among the wider Division I membership, including all FBS conferences. These five conferences do not speak for all of college athletics. The Power Five and Group of Five labels should be discarded and confined to a closed chapter of collegiate history.” Full statement. (link)
As Big 12 Commissioner Yormark “continues to pursue the Pac-12’s Four Corners schools,” CBS’ Dodd reports the weekly talks have “heated up,” adding: “It may only take one of the Four Corners schools to bolt from the Pac-12 for the other three to follow, Big 12 sources say.” Kansas MBB HC Self has a preference for which one he’d like to see jump first, saying of Arizona: “That, to me, is the one we have to get.” Kansas State HC Tang adds: “I've always thought the Arizona schools, Colorado and Utah are a natural fit for us.” Dodd also reports that “three high-ranking industry sources in the last week told CBS Sports they believe Yormark is going to be successful in luring at least some combination of Four Corners schools. Some went farther speculating the Pac-12 was a couple of weeks away from dissolving.” As far as all this relates to the future of Oregon and Washington, Dodd reports there are “indications at least one Big Ten media rights holder won't engage in expansion talks until [Commissioner] Warren officially leaves the conference for the Chicago Bears on April 17. That could create an awkward transition for the Pac-12 schools if they have eyes on the Big Ten.” (link)
“After listening to the concerns of Iowans,” Iowa will reimburse the state’s general fund for the $2M it will spend on the recently settled racial discrimination lawsuit brought by former Hawkeyes FB student-athletes, according to President Wilson. Sports Illustrated’s Johnson explains the school has footed the bill in settlements for previous lawsuits, but “this time, the board of regents was named as a party in the suit, and they asked for public money to cover nearly half of the bill.” Iowa State Auditor Sand, who was the lone dissenting vote and an outspoken critic of using taxpayer funds to pay for the settlement: “President Wilson: Thank you for listening. This is doing right by Iowa taxpayers. U of I athletics department: Please fix your issues and mail a copy of the check to my office.” (link)
ESPN MBB analyst Vitale says he declined an offer from CBS to work this year’s NCAA tournament due to his loyalty to ESPN. I was flattered when [CBS Sports Chair] Sean [McManus] asked, but I’m 83 now and I want to end my career with just ESPN on my résumé. What they did for me this last year has been amazing. They’ve treated me like royalty. It’s been 44 years just with them, and I just want to have ESPN on my résumé.” Vitale also noted that attempts by CBS to have him call March Madness games in the past were blocked by ESPN management, but current ESPN President Pitaro greenlit the plan this year. (link)
On3’s Prisbell observes the NCAA will award “more than $170M this year for teams’ success in the men’s tournament while awarding zero dollars for the success in the women’s tourney. Why has nothing changed?” Knight Commission CEO Perko adds: “More than 500 days have now passed since the NCAA’s own commissioned report (conducted by law firm Kaplan Hecker & Fink) told it it needed to change, and yet there has been no change. The NCAA has to change its revenue-distribution formula because it is inconsistent with its constitutional principle. This is an area that the new administration, with Charlie Baker as president, should prioritize, and one that the NCAA can act on.” Perko also points out the NCAA should want to show “that it is operating in a way that is consistent with its constitutional principles and in gender-equitable ways” as it asks Congress to address NIL and antitrust issues. Perko calls it a “difficult ask” after a report it commissioned said it was not in compliance with its own gender-equity principle. (link)
Wake Forest AD Currie shares his thoughts on some ACC ADs calling for unequal revenue distributions, telling the Triad Business Journal: “What we have talked about is what we can continue to do to strengthen our league, and that's what we need to do.” That said, Currie points out the Demon Deacons have reached seven straight bowl games while enjoying success in several other sports, including baseball, tennis and soccer. "If you equated total revenue with success, then Wake Forest wouldn't have the second-longest bowl streak in the conference. So the amount of money you spend does not deliver guaranteed results." Furthermore, Currie notes the university has invested $140M in FB facilities in recent years, adding: “I think all of our conference brethren have invested in different ways.” (link)
The “single-sport WAC-ASUN football conference has an uphill climb ahead with little support in the NCAA governance structure at the moment,” per Fox Sports/Connect’s Fischer, who adds: “D1 Board will discuss next month but unlikely to act until this summer at the earliest.” (link)
+ Brown names Harvard Asst. AD for Special Projects Green as Senior Assoc. AD/Chief of Staff. (link)
+ AVCA Executive Director DeBoer announces her retirement, effective June 30. (link)
+ Cal has parted ways with MBB HC Fox, CBS’ Rothstein reports. (link)
+ Georgia Southern and MBB HC Burg have parted ways, per Stadium’s Goodman. (link)
+ UNC Asheville taps Columbia International (NAIA) Volleyball HC Haver for the same role. (link)
NCAA National Coordinator of Football Officials Shaw calls proposed rules changes to shorten games a “measured approach” which fans might not even notice in games. On3’s Maisel, though, points out that what remains to be seen are the unintended consequences. By adopting the 40-second/25-second play clock rule and by no longer stopping the clock on an out-of-bounds play until the final two minutes of a half in 2008, for example, AFCA Executive Director Berry points out that coaches responded by implementing more no-huddle offenses, “which created other problems in terms of substitutions and all of those other kinds of things for defensive coaches. It created more problems than it helped solve. … I would suggest if they had gone to [leaving the clock running after] incomplete passes – our coaches said this – all of a sudden you’d see a faster pace, more of a turbo mode.” (link)
ESPN’s Clark wonders why there aren’t more women’s hockey programs in college, and Colorado College AD Irvine explains that one obstacle is the lack of opponents in the western U.S., as Bemidji State is currently the westernmost program. Therefore, every road game would require a flight. Irvine also explains: "It is not as simple as institutions deciding they will add [a women's hockey program] because they have a male equivalent program. You go back to the history here, it makes sense why we have those two sports. The other piece for us is we are on a small campus with 2,100 students and a 12% admission rate." USA Hockey Manager of Girls Player Development Wright, meanwhile, explains the sport is growing at the grassroots level, but “at the end of the day, there is a dollar component to creating college hockey programs. But how do we convince everyone it's not the chicken or the egg? The visibility is going to be there. People do watch it. If it exists, they are going to go." To Wright’s point, more than 31K of the 87,971 women registered hockey players across the country are aged 11-18 – not including the hockey-rich state of Minnesota. More from Clark. (link)
+ Florida State announces that FB HC Norvell and his wife are making a $1M donation to FSU athletics, according to USA Today’s Wolken. (link)
+ Elon raised over $579K during its 10th Annual Day of Giving. (link)
+ North Florida raised over $135,800 during its annual Blue & Gray Bash. (link)
New Mexico State expands its relationship with Teamworks by adding the Elite solution and will launch the New Mexico State Local Exchange in partnership with INFLCR. (link)
Roughly half of Georgia’s ~500 student-athletes have inked NIL deals so far this school year, according to the Athens Banner-Herald’s Weiszer, who notes a total of 353 Bulldog athletes have profited from their NIL since July 1, 2021. Weiszer also reports UGA student-athletes inked a total of 22 NIL deals worth $50K or more since the start of NIL, and 400 have been reached that were worth between $1,000-$49,999. Another 335 were less than $1K each. A total of 552 had no agreed upon value, meaning they were based on royalties, in-kind or per endorsement percentages. FB student-athletes accounted for 776 NIL deals, which equates to about 60% of the total deals signed by Georgia athletes. MBB was second with 109 deals, and soccer was third with 101. Also from Weiszer: “Few used an NIL marketplace such as Opendorse or Icon Source with only 27 of 419 in the first year and 17 of 132 in the second. … NIL activity from July 1, 2022 to Jan. 26, 2023 with 701 disclosures already outpaces the 608 from July 1, 2021 to June 30, 2022.” More data. (link)
Fox CEO Murdoch says the company is focused on live news and live sports. “That's where audiences are pivoting to and advertisers are pivoting to. … We are not chasing subscribers, but we are chasing advertisers.” Murdoch goes on to note the company doesn't think moving sports to SVOD is a good strategy. “Entertainment content hasn't been enough” to drive streaming, so companies are putting sports into the package. “The value for us is to keep those sports exclusive to our broadcast signal, partners and affiliates.” (link)
Disney is still considering what’s next for Hulu, according to CEO Iger, who says the platform is strong but features “undifferentiated” entertainment content compared to what he sees as the highly differentiated content on Disney+. “What we’re doing right now — because we own two-thirds of Hulu, and we have an agreement with Comcast that may result in us owning 100% — is we’re really studying the business very, very carefully, all those competitive dynamics with an understanding that we have a good platform in Hulu. … It’s already proven to be valuable for [advertisers] and advertising is proven to be valuable for us. But the environment is very, very tricky right now and before we make any big decisions about our level of investment, our commitment to that business, we want to understand where it could go.” Talking about streaming more broadly, Iger observes there are “six or seven, you know, basically well-funded, aggressive streaming businesses out there all seeking the same subscribers, in many cases competing for the same content. Not everybody’s going to win.” (link)
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