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The American Athletic Conference "is the new name for the former Big East Conference," according to Brett McMurphy of ESPN.com. The conference yesterday announced the decision "after university presidents approved the new moniker earlier in the day." Commissioner Mike Aresco in a statement said, "Versions that included the word 'American' led every list. American Athletic Conference represents a strong, durable and aspirational name for our re-invented Conference." Sources last month said that Aresco "favored America 12 Conference as the league's new name." However, the schools' presidents "rejected it because they didn't want a number included." ESPN Senior VP/College Sports Programming Burke Magnus said, "The American Athletic Conference is a brand that suggests a national scope and quality membership" (ESPN.com, 4/3). Aresco said, "We worked with our institutions, sports marketing experts, media partners, and also solicited opinions and reactions from collegiate sports fans to create a compelling list of names." USA TODAY's Dan Wolken noted a "number of names were considered, including the possibility of reviving the defunct Metro Conference name." The common name of the league will be "the American" (USATODAY.com, 4/3). Aresco said that the conference "engaged fans through social media and focus groups during the process." He added, "We also received terrific input from our partners at ESPN and CBS Sports. Our name is a nod to tradition, but at the same time makes clear our determination to be a Conference with national impact and appeal." The conference's release stated that a "full set of marks and logos will be presented in the coming weeks" (ORLANDO SENTINEL, 4/4). Univ. of Memphis President Shirley Raines said that the choice of American Athletic Conference "was unanimous." UM AD Tom Bowen said he and other league officials were in agreement that American Athletic Conference "was a dynamic and representative name" (Memphis COMMERCIAL APPEAL, 4/4).
TWITTER REAX: The Birmingham News' Jon Solomon wrote, "Big East becomes American Athletic Conference. Does nothing for me either way. Safe choice." The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's Don Walker wrote, "Isn't AAC the name of a music file format too? #applesues." CBS Sports' Bruce Feldman: "AAC? Seriously?"
Rutgers Univ. AD Tim Pernetti and President Robert Barchi "find themselves under scrutiny for their handling" of the player abuse by former basketball coach Mike Rice, and their jobs "may be in jeopardy," according to a front-page piece by Eder & Zernike of the N.Y. TIMES. New Jersey Senate President Stephen Sweeney said Rutgers officials should "strongly consider" firing Pernetti. At least 10 faculty members, "including the dean of the Graduate School at Rutgers in Newark, signed a letter calling for Dr. Barchi, just seven months into his term, to resign for his 'inexcusable handling of Coach Mike Rice’s homophobic and misogynist abuse of our students.'" The faculty members "accused Dr. Barchi of covering up the coach’s behavior by neglecting to tell them and the student body about the extent of it in the fall." Top Rutgers officials yesterday "held an emergency meeting" (N.Y. TIMES, 4/4). In Newark, Sherman & Heyboer in a front-page piece report Barchi "never asked to see the video that showed his head basketball coach raving at players, throwing balls at their heads and uttering homophobic slurs during practices -- even though he knew as early as last November that they existed." A source said that Barchi "relied on the advice" of Pernetti and a "nearly 50-page report from an outside investigator, concluding last fall that video showing basketball coach Mike Rice’s rants were not serious enough to get him fired." Sources said that Barchi's support for Pernetti's initial decision to retain Rice was "complicated by fears of legal action, the new president’s lack of experience managing a Division 1 athletic department and the bureaucracy of the university itself" (Newark STAR-LEDGER, 4/4).
QUESTIONING BARCHI'S HONESTY: In N.Y., Mike Lupica writes Pernetti and Barchi are trying to "save themselves despite negligence that should have both of them out the door along with the coach." Pernetti "thought he could get out in front of this story by going on a sports talk radio tour on Tuesday afternoon, even though he had been shamefully behind, and pigheaded, from the start." He "seemed to indicate to reporters on Tuesday that Barchi had seen the tape showing Rice’s abuse" in December. Pernetti on Tuesday said, "We deal with everything in the wide open." But Lupica notes Barchi now "says that he did not view the tape the whole world seems to have seen until Tuesday." So we are "expected to believe that the Rutgers president, working 'closely' with his athletic director, signed off on a suspension and fine for his basketball coach in the middle of the season, but was content to accept Pernetti’s version of things without looking at this shameful -- to Rice, to the school -- piece of film." If that is true, Barchi "should be fired not just for his negligence, but for a rather shocking lack of leadership" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 4/4). Also in N.Y., Tom Harvey writes if Pernetti and Barchi did not watch the tape, "they should be fired for sheer negligence and stupidity." If they did, they "should be fired, and at a minimum, investigated by law enforcement with respect to possible criminal violations." Harvey: "Once again, kids come last at a major university" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 4/4). The L.A. Times' Bill Plaschke said, "It smells very much like a cover-up and I can’t imagine that the athletic director will be around much longer” (“Around The Horn,” ESPN, 4/3).
CALLING FOR THEIR HEADS: SI.com's George Dohrmann wrote, "Let's hope that Rutgers Board of Governors calls an emergency meeting and fires Pernetti. No investigation needed. No internal review required." Pernetti's "actions (or inaction) are as despicable as Rice's." The Rutgers BOG "should also fire" Barchi. There is "no possible reason to leave those two in power, not after you parse what happened last December" (SI.com, 4/3). In N.Y., Michael Jacobowitz writes Barchi "needs to take control of this situation immediately." He no longer can "let Pernetti be the face of Rutgers." With the nation "looking at the university," Barchi needs to "be the face and voice of Rutgers." He needs to "make big moves," and "needs to unfortunately let Pernetti go" (N.Y. POST, 4/4). A Newark STAR-LEDGER editorial states the "entire Rutgers hierarchy, in a line that stretches from Pernetti’s office all the way to Barchi’s, has lost credibility on this issue." How can we "trust this crew to hire the next basketball coach?" How can we "know they won’t let another coach abuse his players like this, and tolerate such offensive bigotry." The Rice episode "calls for an outside investigation of Rutgers administrators to find out whether this poisonous behavior has been tolerated on other teams" (Newark STAR-LEDGER, 4/4). ESPN’s Dan Le Batard said, “I wonder if (Pernetti) is going to survive this kind of bad judgment because you pay leaders to have some sort of vision and he clearly knew that this video was going to come out … and he didn’t react to it with vision the way that you want leaders to" (“Dan Le Batard Is Highly Questionable,” ESPN2, 4/3).
Writers feel Pernetti's previous TV roles
should have given him better perspective
MONEY & POWER: In DC, Jason Reid writes as "appalling as Rice’s actions were, the initial response by the Scarlet Knights also was pathetic." By "merely suspending Rice for three games and fining him $50,000 in December after investigating what he viewed on the tape," Pernetti "displayed an even bigger failure of leadership." The situation is "another sobering reminder about the warped nature of big-time college athletics" (WASHINGTON POST, 4/4). The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Jason Gay writes the claims against Rice were "stunning," but the conclusion "seems sadly familiar." Gay: "Intoxicated by sports, a school lost its way." Winning and money are "powerful drugs, difficult to resist" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 4/4). A N.Y. TIMES editorial states, "The overseers of Rutgers, the board of trustees, should promptly and fully investigate Mr. Pernetti’s role and that of other senior officials, up to and including the university president, Robert Barchi." Any "unvarnished investigation must find out who at Rutgers knew what, and when." More broadly, it "must ask whether and to what extent their judgment was skewed by the university’s growing commitment to big-time sports" (N.Y. TIMES, 4/4). Meanwhile, in L.A., Chris Dufresne writes under the header, "Scandals Overshadow Joy As NCAA Prepares To Celebrate Final Four." The Rutgers situation is "administration incompetence at its worst" (L.A. TIMES, 4/4).
BIG TEN'S COMMANDMENTS: Sweeney said, "I take it back to the athletic director. Once you have something like that presented to you, there's no gray (area)." Sweeney, when asked if the state will perform an inquiry into the school's handling of the case, said, "If hearings are necessary, we'll go there." He added that he "hoped Rutgers' recent entry into the Big 10 athletic conference was not cause for a cover-up, but he said the possibility could not be ruled out" (NJ.com, 4/3). In Chicago, David Haugh writes if Pernetti's "blatant disregard for what's best for student-athletes eventually doesn't make him the next Rutgers employee dismissed, then the Big Ten needs to reconsider before 2014 whether the Eastern seaboard is worth adding an athletic department so adrift" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 4/4). In New Jersey, Tara Sullivan in a front-page piece writes of all the reactions "reverberating through a windswept Rutgers campus" yesterday, there was "one whisper of salvation shared among those left standing. Thank goodness for the Big Ten." As a "shamed athletic department fights its way back for the trust of its constituents, the Big Ten is the rising sun, the dawning day, the reason for hope amid some of the darkest days in a long, dark program history." Now Rutgers "just has to prove it is worthy" (Bergen RECORD, 4/4).
MEDIA MONITOR: SI.com's Richard Deitsch reported ESPN's Bob Knight "cancelled his scheduled appearance" on ESPN Radio's "Mike and Mike In the Morning" today. Deitsch added, "ESPN says he has declined comment on Mike Rice" (TWITTER.com, 4/3). Today's edition of CBS’ “This Morning” reported on Rice with its second report of the broadcast, with 2:35 of total coverage. NBC’s “Today” first reported on Rice 9:57 into the program, with 4:12 of total coverage. ABC’s “GMA” first reported on Rice at 11:33, with 2:23 of total coverage. CBS’ Seth Doane aired a report from the Rutgers campus for CBS’ “Evening News” and “This Morning,” while NBC’s Anne Thompson was on-campus reporting for “Nightly News.” This morning’s edition of “Today” aired a taped report with Natalie Morales talking to students and players on the Rutgers campus. ABC’s Gio Benitez aired a report for both “World News” and “GMA.”
EVENING EDITION: The Rutgers story has been picked up by nearly every national newscast this week, including last night’s edition of ABC’s “World News,” which led with Rice's termination and totaled 2:46 of coverage. NBC’s “Nightly News” tackled the issue in its second story of last night's broadcast with 3:29 of total coverage. CBS’ “Evening News” first reported on Rice at 15:55 into the broadcast, with 1:58 of total coverage (THE DAILY).
The average pay for coaches in this year's NCAA Tournament is $1.47M, "up slightly from" $1.4M last season, according to a front-page piece by Brady, Berkowitz & Upton of USA TODAY. That figure is "based on 62 of 68 schools in the field." Louisville coach Rick Pitino is the "highest-paid coach at a public school" in this season's tournament, making "just shy of" $5M. That figure would "likely make him his state's highest-paid public employee, if not for" Kentucky coach John Calipari, who "makes more than" $5.4M. American Council of Trustees & Alumni President Anne Neal said, "These salaries just look out of sync when it comes to the educational mission of our colleges and universities. Trustees and presidents have to ask themselves what justifies these obscenely rising salaries in a time of limited resources." The "largest dollar increases" among public school repeaters went to Kansas' Bill Self ($1.33M), N.C. State's Mark Gottfried ($750,000) and Indiana's Tom Crean ($646,250). The "most highly paid coach" in this season's tournament is Duke's Mike Krzyzewski at $7.2M, according to the most recent figures available for the private school. Calipari, whose team last year won the national championship, has a contract which specifies that he "can earn up to $800,000 in bonuses for his team's athletics achievements -- and $50,000 if his players achieve an Academic Progress Rate of 950, which the NCAA reports as the national average for men's basketball." Pitino's contract "allows a maximum bonus of $725,000, of which as much as $200,000 can come from the academic performance of his players." His maximum bonus will "rise to $775,000 next season, with as much as $250,000 for his players' academic performance." The largest of Pitino's endorsements "catalogued in his self-reported athletically related outside income report is $602,500 from Adidas." Listed below are the 15 highest-paid coaches in this year's tournament (USA TODAY, 4/4).
Duke Mike Krzyzewski$7.23M$0$7.23M$02 Louisville Rick Pitino$4.08M$895,016$4.97M$725,0003 Kansas Bill Self$4.75M$210,000$4.96M$525,0004 Michigan State Tom Izzo$3.22M$525,000$3.75M$350,0005 Florida Billy Donovan$3.69M$0$3.69M$471,5006 Ohio State Thad Matta$3.09M$107,000$3.19M$410,0007 Indiana Tom Crean$2.89M$0$2.89M$740,0008 Arizona Sean Miller$2.10M$418,506$2.52M$985,0009 Wisconsin Bo Ryan$2.10M$257,000$2.35M$400,00010 Villanova Jay Wright$2.29M$0$2.29M$011 Oklahoma State Travis Ford$2.28M$0$2.28M$012 UCLA Ben Howland*$2.22M$50,000$2.25M$235,00013 Minnesota Tubby Smith*$2.22M$0$2.22M$2.6M14 Georgetown John Thompson$2.21M$0$2.21M$015 Oklahoma Lon Kruger$2.10M$0$2.1M$270,000
NOTE: * = Coaches were relieved of their duties following the schools' exits from the NCAA Tournament.
DEBATING THE MERITS: CBS Sports Network’s Allie LaForce said Krzyzewski is "well deserving” of be the highest paid coach. She added, “His lineup and his credentials are so ridiculous. He coaches Team USA, he’s been at Duke since 1980. ... He has proved to be loyal and dedicated and I think there should be some kind of payoff for that kind of dedication.” CBS Sports Net’s Doug Gottlieb added, “On the other hand, John Calipari should be the highest paid coach.” Gottlieb noted UK has signed “six top 50 guys already this year. From the moment Kentucky inked John Calipari to a contract to be their head coach, college basketball and college basketball recruiting changed.” Gottlieb noted Kentucky has always “had great facilities and they’ve always had great fan support,” and the success of a program is not always about wins, but “the talent they are able to go out and bring in on a yearly basis. The reason the players are going there is not because of Kentucky, it’s Calipari” (“Lead Off,” CBSSN, 4/3).
Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley's plan to "allocate $300,000 in taxpayer money to save Towson University's baseball team came under fire Wednesday from some legislators and key fiscal policymakers for being unprecedented and unfair to other college sports programs," according to Yvonne Wenger of the Baltimore SUN. Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot said the money is a "bailout" that rewards bad financial decisions by a university. He said, "With all due respect to the governor, I am not sure that it's his role to say baseball lives and soccer dies. That strikes me as arbitrary. I hope that both programs are immediately reinstalled." But Franchot added, "Using taxpayer dollars for college athletic programs opens up a can of worms, which is all public universities asking for help with their athletic programs. It's not good fiscal policy." Wenger notes whether the funding is "approved is up to the General Assembly, which is in final budget deliberations." The governor also indicated that he "would include another $300,000 in the 2015 budget for the baseball team on the condition that the program is self-sufficient within two years." Among the state Senate Budget & Taxation Committee's considerations is "a recommendation by legislative budget analysts that if the state agrees to provide money, it come in the form of a loan" (Baltimore SUN, 4/4). Asked if money could be found to save Towson's men's soccer program as well, Franchot said, "Absolutely. Obviously a big mistake was made getting rid of these two great programs that have been around for decades." He added, "Towson should admit they made a mistake and put the baseball and soccer programs back in place without any probation, and fix the fiscal problems in the athletic program. Obviously there are concerns there, but it's not the fault of the baseball and soccer kids" (Baltimore SUN, 4/4).
REBEL YELL: Ole Miss AD Ross Bjork said that the school's Forward Together fundraising campaign stands at $81M in "pledges and cash." That number a year ago was $62M. Bjork said, "We've gained some momentum. We've got a lot of good gifts that have come in. Just in the past couple of weeks we had two $250,000 gifts." He said there are significant discussions in "the pipeline" for more gifts. Bjork: "Seven-figure type gifts. Now it's our job to close on those gifts." In Memphis, Kyle Veazey noted a new basketball arena is "part of the fundraising campaign," but it is "yet unclear what the arena will cost." Meanwhile, Bjork said that football season-ticket sales are "well above last year's pace" (COMMERCIALAPPEAL.com, 4/3).