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The NCAA's 434-page rulebook “is about to undergo major revisions, which president Mark Emmert hopes will eliminate the fluff and place more emphasis on significant violations and their accompanying penalties,” according to Stu Durando of the ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH. Emmert yesterday concluded a two-day presidential retreat “by announcing the NCAA will edit its unwieldy bylaws in the coming months.” He suggested that “restrictions regarding texting and phone calls could be loosened,” but he “anticipates a more precise and biting set of punishments to produce ‘a healthy fear of being caught.’" Emmert said changes will come "in months, not years." Durando notes “numerous proposals emerged from the afternoon session,” and the “most notable was the desire to tie team participation in postseason tournaments to the ability to achieve minimum standards in the Academic Progress Rate.” The NCAA BOD “will vote, possibly today, on raising the APR base to at least 930” (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 8/11). The AP’s Michael Marot noted the current APR base is 925, and Emmert “wants it increased to 930 immediately and perhaps higher in future years.” Emmert said that failure to meet the cutline “should result in postseason bans in all sports.” Breaking the rules "will be costly, though Emmert would not speculate on any possible new sanctions.” The infractions committee “could bring back the postseason bans and television bans that became the norm in the 1980s.” A working group is “expected to study other possibilities and come up with a standardized list of possible penalties based on the severity of the infractions.” Oregon State President Ed Ray, who serves as Chair of the NCAA's Exec Committee, said, “You'd be foolish to say that nobody has been paying attention to this over the last year or two or three. It's not any one case in particular but the cumulative effect. I think there's a realization that the last time we went through the rules and regulations was probably 1999 or 2000 and things have changed a lot since then." Penn State President Graham Spanier said, "What's different is a lot of things have reached a boiling point" (AP, 8/10).
SWEEPING CHANGES: Emmert said that the current NCAA rulebook is “cumbersome and ‘needs some serious editing’ so that it focuses on the most-important violations and attaches penalties that will deter people from breaking rules.” The presidents also “talked about enforcement issues, such as the problem of agents’ wooing players.” Many presidents agreed that the “changes can’t come fast enough.” Spanier said, “Too many things are not working well.” Univ. of California-Riverside Chancellor Timothy White added that “now is the time for ‘tough love’” (COLUMBUS DISPATCH, 8/11). CBSSPORTS.com’s Dennis Dodd wrote the university presidents and NCAA officials “mean business.” If they “accomplish half of what they talked about Wednesday in an afternoon presser, then amateur athletics, not just college athletics, will have changed significantly.” The presidents “potentially did more in the last two days than their predecessors did in the last 60 years." Dodd wrote, "It looks like players are finally going to be paid. It will be a modest amount and the NCAA will bend over backwards to make it look like it's not pay for play, but let's be honest. It is. It's also fair” (CBSSPORTS.com, 8/10).
MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING? In Indianapolis, Bob Kravitz writes under the header, “So Much Noise, So Little Progress.” Kravitz: “You know what kills me about these presidents' retreats, aside from the fact they talk about helping kids and never find room at the table for a single student-athlete? They say they talk about substantive issues and throw around terms like ‘comprehensive’ and ‘reform’ and nonsense like that, and nothing significant ever seems to change” (INDIANAPOLIS STAR, 8/11).
Boise State Univ. yesterday announced that it has "fired" AD Gene Bleymaier, bringing his 29-year tenure to a close in September, according to Chadd Cripe of the IDAHO STATESMAN. Bleymaier was "fired last week because Boise State President Bob Kustra determined he needed a new leader to help the Broncos overcome the stain of the school’s first NCAA major-infractions case." An interim AD "will be named and a national search held for a replacement." Bleymaier said, “I did not expect this. Obviously, I’m disappointed in the president’s decision.” Cripe notes Boise State "reported a major violation in women’s tennis after acknowledging dozens of minor violations in other sports, including impermissible housing, transportation and meals benefits for incoming football recruits." The university also was "charged with a lack of institutional control." Kustra in a statement "cited the NCAA violations as the motive for change." Bleymaier and his department "also were the targets of a gender-discrimination lawsuit" by former assistant track coach Amy Christoffersen that was "settled this summer" (IDAHO STATESMAN, 8/11). Bleymaier said that he "stands behind his handling of the infractions and the internal investigation that was done by the university." He added, "We have been commended regarding how we have handled the investigations and review from start to finish" (AP, 8/10). In Idaho, Brian Murphy reports there "have been signs of strife" in Kustra's relationship with Bleymaier. In a letter sent to Boise State boosters yesterday, Kustra "explained his decision, said he was vacationing in the Midwest, left them his cell phone number and said he was available at any time." Kustra indicated that he "would conduct a top-to-bottom review of the department after the NCAA case became public, another sign that he wasn’t willing to sweep Bleymaier’s involvement under the rug" (IDAHO STATESMAN, 8/11).
PARTY IN THE CHAMPAIGN ROOM: In Illinois, Mark Tupper reports the Univ. of Illinois yesterday introduced Mike Thomas as its new AD. Thomas, who had been in the same position at the Univ. of Cincinnati since '05, "replaces Ron Guenther, who retired July 1 after running the athletics department for 19 years." Thomas said that he "found out early Wednesday afternoon he had landed the job and a press conference was arranged less than two hours later." He indicated that he plans to be "on the job before the football opener Sept. 3." Tupper notes Thomas is "seen as a man with a keen sense of marketing," and yesterday he "talked about targeting Chicago." Thomas: "We want to wrap our arms around Chicago." IU President Michael Hogan "introduced Thomas and said one of his first assignments will be to become involved in the Assembly Hall renovation project." Thomas will be "paid $475,000 a year with an additional $100,000 a year in deferred compensation that he would receive if he remains on the job for five years" (Decatur HERALD & REVIEW, 8/11). UC President Dr. Gregory Williams "will appoint an interim director 'in the near future' to run the athletic department until he can hire a replacement" for Thomas. In Cincinnati, Bill Koch notes UC Deputy AD Bob Arkeilpane, who was AD at the Univ. at Buffalo for "five years before arriving at UC in 2005 with Thomas, would be a likely in-house candidate for the interim job" (CINCINNATI ENQUIRER, 8/11).
STAY A LITTLE LONGER: The Univ. of Colorado Board of Regents yesterday "unanimously approved a five-year contract extension for Athletic Director Mike Bohn and added a new bonus structure that will allow him to earn up to 54 percent more in incentive pay." The new contract runs through the '15-16 academic year. Bohn's base salary of $297,000 "will remain the same, but he is eligible to earn up to $154,000 in annual performance bonuses." Bohn had been "one of the lowest-paid athletic directors in the Big 12, but his annual salary ranks in the middle of the Pac-12" (Boulder DAILY CAMERA, 8/11).
Big 12 Commissioner Dan Beebe yesterday said that he is "aware of reports that Texas A&M is in the middle of conversations about joining the Southeastern Conference and is 'taking it very seriously,'" according to Kirk Bohls of the AUSTIN AMERICAN-STATESMAN. Beebe said he has "confidence that we'll work out whatever the issues are and go forward." A&M in a statement said President R. Bowen Loftin is "committed to doing what is best for Texas A&M not only now, but also in the future." The statement: "We continue to have wide-ranging conversations regarding all aspects of the university, including both academics and athletics." Bohls notes at the "basis of the new unrest of A&M and other Big 12 members appears to be growing, conference-wide acrimony toward Texas' powerful relationship with ESPN and the formation of the hugely profitable Longhorn Network later this month, which may be pushing the Aggies toward joining the SEC." A Big 12 school official said that he "heard that the Big 12, to survive in the event of A&M's departure, would consider inviting Notre Dame and Arkansas to join, but he admitted those schools were unlikely to be interested." The source added that other possibilities "include Houston, Louisville, Brigham Young and Air Force" (AUSTIN AMERICAN-STATESMAN, 8/11). Sources said that "no other Big 12 team is considering an exit and the league would continue with nine teams if A&M left" (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 8/11).
WHAT'S BEST FOR THEM: In Houston, Brent Zwerneman notes A&M believes that it is going to be a "constant fight to try to keep the LHN in check, and they've been disappointed in what they perceive as a kowtowing by the Big 12 to UT, despite a one-year moratorium placed on high school coverage on the LHN." However, A&M officials privately contend that the "likely move east is based more on what's best overall for the university ... than any impulsive reaction to the Longhorn Network." The school "lacks confidence in Big 12 leadership and the future of the conference, and is skeptical whether the league truly seeks equality among its 10 remaining members." A high-ranking A&M official "described the rest of the league's members as being 'tired of Texas,' and the Longhorns' apparent plans to continue pushing the envelope with the Longhorn Network" (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 8/11).
WEIGHING THEIR OPTIONS: In Ft. Worth, Jimmy Burch writes the fact that A&M's statement does not include a denial of SEC-related discussions means the "talks have substance." A move to the SEC would "no doubt" raise A&M's profile nationally, and it would also allow the conference to "re-open negotiations on a $2 billion, 15-year television rights agreement" signed with ESPN in '08 (FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM, 8/11). In Houston, Jerome Solomon writes, "There is little doubt that A&M to the SEC would be good for the SEC. There is much doubt about how good it would be for A&M." The move "wouldn't vault A&M ahead of UT as much as it would open the door for SEC schools to bid for more of the state's top recruits." A&M needs to "drop the hate" for UT and the LHN before they "mess around and get played by the SEC" (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 8/11). In K.C., Blair Kerkhoff writes under the header, "Big 12 Can Survive Even If Texas A&M Departs." Fox, which has "offered up about $1.2 billion for second-tier rights starting next year, would want" the conference to continue, as would ABC/ESPN, which "owns the league's first-tier rights." Kerkhoff: "If the end result is an A&M departure, a valued member is lost. But the Big 12 would have many reasons, billions in fact, to continue" (K.C. STAR, 8/11).
The Univ. of Louisville Athletic Association on Tuesday "reported athletic revenue of $74.936 million for the 2010-11 fiscal year," a $22.5M increase from '09-10 and $10.5M "more than projected," according to Eric Crawford of the Louisville COURIER-JOURNAL. The total revenue "created a surplus of roughly $7 million, most of which will be designated to a contingency fund for debt payments on" the school's newly expanded Papa John's Cardinal Stadium. UL AD Tom Jurich said, "We did better than we expected. This year was magical. ... But I think we still have some surprises ahead of us. I think we've got another full year of expenses before we really know how things are going to go." Expenses on the facilities for the last fiscal year "ran higher than projections by about $3 million." UL Senior Associate AD Kevin Miller said that having "one fewer home football game this year was another reason to budget conservatively for 2011-12." Revenue from the football program "had plummeted to $12.8 million" in '09, but it "rose sharply to a school-record $21.5 million in the first season of the expanded 52,000-seat facility." The men's basketball program "generated a record $24.765 million in 2010-11," with suite rentals at KFC Yum! Center "accounting for $5.7 million and ticket sales another $14 million." Overall, "donations -- most in the form of annual seat donations -- were the main area that came in above projections, $4.6 million higher, and were the biggest pleasant surprise for school officials" (Louisville COURIER-JOURNAL, 8/10).