SBD/May 23, 2013/Colleges

AAC Commissioner Mike Aresco Touts Optimism As Conference Meetings Wrap

Aresco stressed the importance of AAC schools coordinating their brand messaging
The talk around this week's American Athletic Conference meetings "was about the future, not the threat of realignment," according to Kyle Veazey of the Memphis COMMERCIAL APPEAL. AAC Commissioner Mike Aresco yesterday said of the meetings, "Nobody ever even slipped and said Big East. Everybody said 'American.' It was remarkable. It was the American Athletic Conference. Even I didn't (say Big East)." Veazey writes the name may be "a small thing, but Aresco has a point, considering the whirlwind series of events that have taken place for this league -- and the short amount of time it has had to craft so many fundamental aspects of a conference that most take for granted." The AAC had to "cook it all up, some completely from scratch, in the space of just a few months" (Memphis COMMERCIAL APPEAL, 5/23). Aresco said the tone of the meetings was "upbeat and optimistic." He added, "There was a real feeling of, 'Let's roll up our sleeves and get this done in a fair and equitable way.' And in terms of new revenues coming in, we're like the other major conferences in the sense that we're moving toward the equalization model in those revenues and new revenues, TV and others down the road. But we got all that resolved." Aresco said of the conference's bowl plans, "We have a bigger footprint. We want to obviously nationalize our bowl lineup, but we're talking to our incumbents." The AAC following the meetings said it had further developed a "branding, marketing and public relations strategy." Aresco: "We want to work with our schools more closely to make sure we coordinate our brand messaging. We also want to refine our message in terms of who we are. ... We've got a geographical coherence now" (ESPN.com, 5/22).

LADIES NIGHT: In Hartford, Paul Doyle writes the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn., "hits every criteria" for the AAC women's basketball tournament, as it is "small enough (9,518) to guarantee a good crowd, it's a relatively new building (12 years old), it offers a one-stop entertainment destination, it's in a state with a strong women's basketball fan base, and league sources say the financial package is more favorable than what the Big East had in Hartford." Aresco said, "Obviously, we want these tournaments to be financially successful. But also, a first impression is extremely important. Obviously, this is a new venue for us. We want to make a good impression. We want to make sure we have good crowds, enthusiastic crowds. We want to make sure the venue is a good host, it's a good destination for our people" (HARTFORD COURANT, 5/23).

HOW TO STAND OUT: Univ. of Cincinnati football coach Tommy Tuberville said of the AAC meetings, "We have to put a good product on the field and we have to be entertaining. If we do that, I think everything will take care of itself. This is going to be a long process. When I went to Texas Tech, the Big 12 just blew up. You had Colorado and Nebraska leaving, then you had [Texas] A&M and Missouri leaving and the dynamics were, ‘What’s going to happen?’ You didn’t know if you were going to go independent or to the Pac-12 or a newly-formed Big 12. That’s sort of what’s happening now here so I am used to it." Tuberville added, "The great thing about our conference is we’re like a Metro conference. There isn’t one school that doesn’t have 300,000 to 400,000 or more at their school. ... Our fans in all of our cities have to help out. We’ve got to win games. They’ve got to buy tickets" (ORLANDOSENTINEL.com, 5/22).
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