SBD/Issue 38/Collegiate Sports

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  • Big East Conference Presidents Agree To Add Two Football Teams

    TCU Considered A Strong
    Candidate To Join Big East

    The Big East Conference university presidents yesterday agreed to look into increasing the number of FBS football-playing members from eight to 10. The presidents unanimously approved the process to evaluate the terms and conditions for potential expansion candidates (Big East). USA TODAY's Kelly Whiteside notes Villanova, which currently competes on the FCS level in football, is "considering moving up in football and joining the Big East in that sport." Villanova AD Vince Nicastro said that the school's decision "isn't likely by the end of this year." Nicastro: "Based on the pace that we're on now, my sense is it's going to bleed into the first of next year." TCU and Central Florida also are "considered strong candidates" to join the Big East in football (USA TODAY, 11/3). Houston has also been mentioned as a "potential expansion target," and while the Texas schools "seem like an odd fit geographically, it would allow the Big East to tap into huge television markets, as well as fertile recruiting territory" (SPORTING NEWS TODAY, 11/3). TCU AD Chris Del Conte said that he "has not been contacted about the expansion" (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 11/3).

    POTENTIAL TARGETS: In N.Y., Lenn Robbins reports UCF "would like to be added for all sports and would give the league's non-revenue sports a travel partner with South Florida." But the basketball-only members "would prefer not to increase the league membership to 17." Several sources said that Memphis and East Carolina, "which have long desired membership in the Big East, are not favorably-viewed by a majority of league members" (N.Y. POST, 11/3). Meanwhile, sources said that Temple, "which was a football-only member from 1991-2004 before being asked to leave, also might be considered." However, the sources added that a "yes vote by Villanova would not help Temple's chances" (PHILADELPHIA DAILY NEWS, 11/3).

    TRYING TO KEEP UP: ESPN.com's Brian Bennett noted the Big East "has survived as an eight-team league since 2005, but as the Big Ten and Pac-10 have expanded and more possible conference re-alignment in the future looms, the conference knew it had to get bigger or face extinction." This is the "right move by the Big East," as "going to 10 teams now is smarter than expanding to 12 and adding a championship game." Bennett: "What the league needs to do now is make sure it's not expanding just to expand. It needs to find new schools that actually add to the league and make it more competitive nationally" (ESPN.com, 11/2).

    MORE MOVES AHEAD? In Boston, Mark Blaudschun notes there is a "remote" possibility that looking to add two football-playing schools is the "first step in a process in which the Big East schools that do not play FBS football break off into their own basketball league and let the football members fend for themselves" (BOSTON GLOBE, 11/3). In N.Y., Dick Weiss writes adding new football schools "increases the odds the football schools will eventually break away, leaving Catholic colleges such as St. John's and Seton Hall to scramble to form a new league of their own that would not have nearly the same financial clout or prestige with the TV networks" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 11/3).

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  • College Soccer Games Drawing Big Crowds As Sport Grows In U.S.

    UC Santa Barbara Game In September
    Set On-Campus Attendance Record

    A “symbol of soccer’s continuing emergence” in the U.S. is the “surging attendance at college games,” according to Andrew Keh of the N.Y. TIMES. Eye-catching figures are "popping up across the country for men’s games." Soccer America magazine last week reported that “35 men’s teams in Division I were drawing more than 1,000 fans a game this year, eight more teams” than in '09. Last season “only two teams had average attendances above 2,500; eight teams are drawing at least that many this season.” And this year, “each of the top 20 colleges in average attendance is attracting more fans per game than last season.” UC Santa Barbara is “leading the swell.” The school "drew a crowd of 15,896 to Harder Stadium, its home field, for a game against UCLA” on Sept. 24. It was the "largest regular-season college soccer crowd since 1980 and the largest soccer crowd over all for an on-campus stadium." UC Santa Barbara AD Mark Massari said that schools are “beginning to reap the benefits this season of a number of factors, including aggressive marketing, outreach to local youth programs and the entrenchment of teams into their communities.” Keh notes California Polytechnic State Univ. has “drawn crowds of more than 8,000 twice this season.” Also, Maryland's home game against Duke last month was played in front of 7,260 spectators, and Ohio State “set a university record when it drew 7,255 fans for its game against Akron in September.” The Univ. of South Carolina is “averaging 2,051 fans this year after drawing just 726 a game last season.” South Carolina AD Eric Hyman said college students “understand it better than the older generations, who can’t relate to soccer the way they can” (N.Y. TIMES, 11/3).

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