SBD/November 27, 2012/Colleges

UCF AD Confirms Commitment To Big East; Maryland President Defends Big Ten Move

Univ. of Central Florida AD Todd Stansbury yesterday reaffirmed that the school is committed to the Big East Conference, which it will join beginning with the '13-14 season. Stansbury appeared on WYGM-AM yesterday and said, "We’re going to do all we can to make sure we’re a good partner.” Stansbury was asked about media rights being the main driver for conference realignment, and he said, “It’s that double-edged sword. It’s great that we have this media revenue stream that has become more and more valuable and it allows us to provide opportunities to young people and educate them through intercollegiate athletics to develop them into the leaders that we’re going to need. On the other side of the coin, you hate to see rivalries and tradition play second fiddle.” He noted he has had a "number of conversations" with Big East Commissioner Mike Aresco regarding the Big East's TV contract. The conference's deal with ESPN expires after the '13-14 season. Stansbury: "Mike's done a great job communicating with the ADs and the presidents as information becomes available” (“The Beat of Sports,” WYGM-AM, 11/26).

DOING ITS DUE DILIGENCE: Univ. of Maryland President Wallace Loh said that the decision to move the school to the Big Ten "came after nearly two months of research and input from more than two dozen school officials, politicians, prominent alumni and donors, challenging critics who have characterized the move as hasty and cloaked in secrecy." Loh said that a team of "consultants, attorneys and financial analysts fully vetted projected revenue data that Big Ten officials provided." He added that there were "several times that he thought the deal would fall through, and he said he was always willing to walk away." But in DC, Jenna Johnson reports there was an "ever-growing list of reasons why Loh wanted it to work." At the "top of the list: Joining the Big Ten would likely bring millions of extra dollars to the school’s struggling athletic department, which has been operating at a deficit and this year announced it would cut entire sports from the program." When news of the move "became official last week, many students, coaches, faculty, alumni and others were stunned, and some questioned why they were not consulted." But Loh said that he "involved as many constituencies as allowed under a strict Big Ten confidentiality agreement he signed at the outset of discussions in early October." Loh estimates that by "mid-November, a few hundred people connected to the Big Ten and U-Md. had some inkling of the negotiations." Johnson notes there was "emotional blowback." But Loh hopes it is "something that will subside over time." He said of UM fans, "It’s not their job to look at the broader picture of where the university is going over the next 10 to 20 years. That is my job" (WASHINGTON POST, 11/27).

ORGANIZED CHAOS: In Detroit, Joe Rexrode notes Michigan State men’s basketball coach Tom Izzo “still wasn't sure quite what to make of” the Big Ten adding Maryland and Rutgers. Izzo said, "In fairness to the presidents and Big Ten office, you've got to stay ahead of the curve right now, because it's crazy what's going on out there in college athletics." Rexrode writes the changes “essentially ensure that the Big Ten basketball regular-season championship will become an afterthought” (DETROIT FREE PRESS, 11/27). In Miami, Linda Robertson writes the “chaos of conference realignment continues as commissioners seek to scoop up schools possessing the most advantageous and profitable demographics.” Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany “recognizes that the population from his core states is moving south, to the territory of the mighty” SEC. Delany can “count on his vast alumni numbers to keep spending on tickets, merchandise and cable subscriptions, but knows his product isn’t as dynamic as the conferences producing Cam Newton, Trent Richardson, Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III.” Robertson: "These superconferences, like the pythons gorging in the Everglades, are an invasive species” (MIAMI HERALD, 11/27).
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