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American Athletic Conference presidents at this week's spring meetings "agreed on how to split lucrative Big East exit fees and postseason credits" that reportedly could be near $100M, according to Paul Tenorio of the ORLANDO SENTINEL. Conference officials declined to reveal how much each school would receive, but UCF AD Todd Stansbury said that the "schools previously in the Big East" would receive about 60% of the revenue, "while the newcomers would split" about 40%. Stansbury added that the revenue "will be awarded during a four- to five-year period." Tenorio notes it is unclear whether Louisville and Rutgers, which "remain in the league for one more year, will receive any of the portion when they are active members." Stansbury, who was part of the committee that crafted the split, said the ADs also took into account what the incumbent members "had been receiving (in the prior television deal) with what they're going to receive." Meanwhile, Tenorio notes the conference "could lose three bowl affiliations -- the Pinstripe Bowl in New York City, the Belk Bowl in Charlotte and the Russell Athletic Bowl in Orlando -- but is considering creating its own bowl to be played in South Florida." AAC Commissioner Mike Aresco said, "We think the finances can work. We think ESPN has done a heck of a job with some of the bowls they've created, and we think it's time that we did something like that." He added that the league also is "working to create a digital network" (ORLANDO SENTINEL, 5/22). In Hartford, Paul Doyle notes coaches have said the AAC's new logo "could be released on May 30" (HARTFORD COURANT, 5/22). Meanwhile, Memphis President R. Brad Martin yesterday said he is "very, very optimistic" that FedExForum will be the host site for the '14 AAC men's basketball tournament (COMMERCIALAPPEAL.com, 5/21). Aresco said that the women's tournament "appears closer to finality than the men's event, and that it's 'less likely' that the men's and women's tournament would be played in the same market" (Memphis COMMERCIAL APPEAL, 5/22).
PARTING SHOTS: UConn women's basketball coach Geno Auriemma said that the Big East "did not elevate UConn's athletic programs," and that it was UConn that "helped build the Big East into a formidable conference." Auriemma: "There's an opportunity here. Some other school in this league has the opportunity to do in the next 10-15 years what we've done." Auriemma said of the makeup of the AAC, "It's a group that reminds me a lot of when I first joined the Big East in 1985. Over a period of time, it became the best league in the country. Everybody tried to reach the standard we set at the time" (HARTFORD COURANT, 5/22).
LIVE, AND IN COLOR: In Orlando, Matt Murschel wrote judging from the reaction of many of the coaches in attendance at the AAC spring meetings this week, league officials "hit one out of the park when it came to the conference’s new television deal." Memphis men's basketball coach Josh Pastner said, "The TV exposure is outstanding. It’s a tremendous league." The same sentiment was "felt by football coaches as well," who will see nearly 90% of their games carried on national TV. SMU football coach June Jones said, "I can tell you from my time to get to SMU when they weren’t on TV and then you’re on TV a lot, that makes a big difference in everything. Exposure increases, alumni contributions increase to the school as does a lot of things for the university" (ORLANDOSENTINEL.com, 5/21). Cincinnati men's basketball coach Mick Cronin said that the coaches are "delighted all 90 league games will be televised by ESPN." Cronin: "The most important thing to our recruits is exposure, playing on television, playing on a national state, make the NCAA Tournament. For a school like Houston that hasn't been on ESPN since whenever Conference USA lost that, it's got to be big for them" (SPORTINGNEWS.com, 5/21).
TWO BITES OUT OF THE BIG APPLE? Providence AD Bob Driscoll yesterday said that during the Big East spring meetings, groups of ADs, interim commissioner Dan Beebe and representatives of TV partner Fox Sports, the NCAA and some marketing groups "were working through many important details." Driscoll: "We don't have a conference staff, which makes this unique, but I don't think we're behind in the most critical areas. We've worked with the nuts and bolts for a while now and we're moving ahead." Driscoll said that while "nothing is scheduled yet ... the plan is to run the Big East Tournament at Madison Square Garden beginning with a Wednesday-night doubleheader and then a quarterfinal round on Thursday, semis Friday and the championship game Saturday night." He said he realized the 10 schools need to "market and promote the tournament better than we ever have but that's because before we never even had to sell tickets. It just always sold out." Driscoll, when asked about ACC coaches expressing a desire to play their tournament at MSG, said that he "does not see that happening" (PROVIDENCE JOURNAL, 5/22). However, ACC Commissioner John Swofford said that N.Y. is "definitely still in play, pending the availability of its venues." Swofford: "With our footprint now being what it is, and as significant as it is ... certainly New York is a possibility if venue availability is there." He added, "We don't have a gun to our head in terms of having to make a decision tomorrow. We're obviously committed to Greensboro the next two years. We're in the middle of an ongoing process" (NEWS-RECORD.com, 5/21).
With the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl's contract set to expire after the '13 game, the Lions and Ford Field are "expected to get into the bowl business with their own event," according to sources cited by Birkett & Snyder of the DETROIT FREE PRESS. The new bowl game "likely would be run by Ford Field and the business arm of the Lions and be separate from the team’s football operations." The new bowl game would leave the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl, played in Detroit since '97 and at Ford Field since '02, "looking for a new location -- possibly at nearby Comerica Park" in '14. Comerica Park is a "real option for the Pizza Bowl, given that the bowl’s primary sponsor also controls the stadium." Little Caesars Pizza Bowl Chair & Exec Dir Ken Hoffman said, “It’s my feeling that [Tigers Owner Mike Ilitch] and Little Caesars would entertain the idea of playing the game in Comerica Park, if we so chose, similar to what Yankee Stadium does for the New Era Pinstripe Bowl.” If the new bowl "entered the Big Ten bowl lineup, that could be a significant boost to its prospects" (DETROIT FREE PRESS, 5/22). In Detroit, David Goricki notes Detroit "would not be the first city to host two bowl games; Orlando (Capital One, Champs), San Diego (Qualcomm, Poinsettia) and New Orleans (Sugar, New Orleans) do just that currently" (DETROIT NEWS, 5/22).
AMERICAN'S PASTIME? American Athletic Conference Commissioner Mike Aresco yesterday said that the conference will "consider creating its own bowl game, potentially in South Florida." Aresco: "We think ESPN's done a heck of a job with some of the bowls they've created, and we think it's time we did something like that. We like the idea of it." In Tampa, Greg Auman writes Marlins Park is "one potential venue to explore." The Big East has a "strong recent history with bowl games in baseball stadiums." Its current agreement "includes the Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium and the Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl at Tropicana Field" (TAMPA BAY TIMES, 5/22).