SBD/December 21, 2012/Year End

Higher Education: The College Sports Headlines Of The Year

West Virginia seemingly started the domino effect of teams leaving the Big East
The college sports landscape changed dramatically during the past 12 months. Here are some of the more notable headlines that impacted campuses across the country.

THE BIG LEAST? The major theme on campuses this year was once again conference realignment, and perhaps no conference felt the sting like the Big East. After it reached a deal to allow West Virginia to begin play in the Big 12 this fall, Notre Dame stunned the league by joining the ACC. Louisville quickly followed suit, but only after Rutgers said it was moving to the Big Ten. As the year ends, the status of the “Catholic 7” basketball schools is unknown after they voted to leave the conference.

TURTLE POWER: The ’12 athletic calendar was not run-of-the-mill by any means for the Univ. of Maryland. The school made headlines in July when it cut seven Olympic sports in hopes of reducing a $4M deficit. But just a few months later, UM shocked the college sports landscape with a move designed to erase that deficit: a charter member of the ACC announced plans to move to the Big Ten in ’14, where TV revenues of near $40M per year await.

THANKS FOR THE MEMORIES: Amid the constantly evolving college landscape, several conferences were forced to re-evaluate their future plans. That’s where the Western Athletic Conference found itself, with Commissioner Jeff Hurd announcing in August this year would be the last for WAC football. The conference that produced Steve Young, Marshall Faulk and LaDainian Tomlinson became the first D-I football conference to dissolve since the Southwest Conference in ’95.

Sandusky's actions at Penn State brought historical
sanctions on the school from the NCAA

COMING DOWN HARD: The Penn State football program went from being perceived as  one of the cleanest in America to one of the most criticized amid the Jerry Sandusky child sex-abuse scandal. That wasn’t lost on the NCAA, as the governing body levied historic sanctions against the program, including a $60M fine, four-year bowl ban, significant scholarship reductions and the vacating of all wins from ’98-'11. Despite the sanctions, PSU finished ’12 with an 8-4 record.

ANSWERING THE CALL: Most college football fans had been calling for a playoff for years, and the BCS finally answered, officially solidifying a four-team postseason that would begin after the ’14 season. The BCS Presidential Advisory Committee settled on a six-bowl rotation for the semifinals including three “contract” bowls -- Rose, Sugar, Orange -- and three still-to-be determined hosts.

WE’RE LIVE IN 3…2…1…: Following the trend of the Longhorn and Big Ten networks, the Pac-12 officially launched its own network on Aug. 15. Highly praised at launch for its clean, professional look, the Pac-12 Networks came under criticism just a few weeks later when the college football season began without the conference having carriage agreements with either Dish or DirecTV. The net agreed to a contract with Dish in early September, but has yet to settle with DirecTV.

There is still not a carriage agreement between the 
Pac-12 Networks and DirecTV

ROCKY MOUNTAIN LOW: While the Pac-12 Networks were readying for launch in August, another network signed off, as The Mtn. shuttered after six years of operation. Founded to supply coverage of the Mountain West Conference, the net went dark, according to officials, because of arguments revolving around distribution and revenue. The net also was criticized for not being in enough homes and a lack of HD programming.

GAMBLIN’ MAN: Tulsa AD Ross Parmley got in hot water with the school and NCAA after admitting to the FBI that he had gambled on college and professional football for years before quitting in ’10. Parmley was suspended with pay in late November and was fired by school President Steadman Upham just a week later. Former Big 12 Commissioner Dan Beebe said an NCAA investigation would likely raise questions about the school’s diligence in investigating the matter.
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