SBD/June 3, 2013/Colleges

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  • Rutgers Postpones Hermann Meetings As Job Status Remains Uncertain

    Hermann could be owed a $2.25M settlement if she is fired without cause

    Rutgers Univ. officials “postponed a series of meetings” between incoming AD Julie Hermann and school athletic administrators and coaches that she “was scheduled to be part of” later this week on campus, according to Tom Luicci of the Newark STAR-LEDGER. Sources said that the meetings were “to coincide with a visit” by Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany “as part of Rutgers’ welcome to their soon-to-be conference home.” Delany is “still expected to visit Rutgers” (Newark STAR-LEDGER, 6/1). USA TODAY’s Keith Sargeant cited a source as saying that Hermann’s job status on Friday “remained fluid” as top Rutgers officials “explored ways to get out of its relationship" with her. The source said that school officials were “concerned with the perception of giving Hermann a $2.25 million settlement if she is fired without cause.” The university “already has paid more than $2.3 million in settlements, search firms and crisis management assistance” since the scandal around former men’s basketball coach Mike Rice began April 2. The source added that school officials “investigated ways to terminate the Memorandum of Understanding contract Hermann signed May 14” (USATODAY.com, 6/2). In N.Y., Christian Red cited a source as saying that there are “no guarantees Hermann is safe in her new post, despite a vote of confidence last week” from Rutgers President Robert Barchi (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 6/2). In Newark, Renshaw & Johnson reported New Jersey Senate President Stephen Sweeney “met with” Barchi on Friday “briefly behind closed doors.” Sweeney said they discussed "the current state of affairs" at the state university, "particularly with the school's athletic department." The meeting “lasted about 20 minutes.” Sweeney was “the first [to] call for the ouster” of Rice and former AD Tim Pernetti, “but has been more circumspect about Hermann” (Newark STAR-LEDGER, 6/1).

    DEVIL'S ADVOCATE: RU Senior VP & General Counsel John Farmer Jr. in a guest column wrote of Hermann, "Look at her record. There is no pervasive pattern of abusive coaching, or insensitive language, or any form of misconduct; there is, instead, a record of pioneering achievement that more than qualifies Hermann to serve as the athletic director of a Big Ten program. ... Hermann has earned this opportunity. She starts June 17. Period" (Newark STAR-LEDGER, 6/2). In N.Y., Lenn Robbins writes Farmer's column "didn't address several pressing questions." Robbins: "Until Hermann and/or Farmer respond to concerns raised by legislators, members of the university’s search committee and alumni, there is no reason to give her or Rutgers, as Farmer wrote, the benefit of the doubt. Period" (N.Y. POST, 6/3). The Newark Star-Ledger's Craig Wolff said "right now it's a confusing picture" as to the status of Hermann. Wolff:  “There are lot of mixed signals as to whether a meeting or a bunch of meetings that she was going to have as she starts and gets prepared for her new job, whether those meetings are in fact going happen.” He added, “It speaks in some ways to sort of the culture of sports on a college campus where it's almost two separate worlds between the athletic department and the rest of the university” ("OTL," ESPN, 6/2).

    SHORT SHRIFT?
    The N.Y. POST's Robbins cites sources as saying that Hermann and Wisconsin Deputy AD Sean Frazier, the two finalists for the RU AD job, "went through a rushed and superficial process by the university's search committee that had little to do with being an athletic director." The sources added that the two "went before the 27-person search committee that split into two groups of 10 to 11" over two days. Each candidate "individually went before a group of 10 to 11 for 45 minutes on May 13 and another group on May 14." The sources said that the 10 to 11 committee members "had approximately 45 minutes to ask questions, less than four minutes per committee member." A source said that the "focus of the questions had nothing to do with the role of the athletic director at Rutgers," adding that the questions were "social-issue oriented." The "pace and focus of the search committee was so hurried and superficial, several committee members were frustrated and disheartened" (N.Y. POST, 6/3). Robbins wrote the questioning of Hermann and Frazier was "glaringly dissimilar on at least one highly sensitive issue." A source said that Hermann was "given a free pass on questions regarding the NCAA’s new Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender-Questioning (LGBT-Q) guide," while Frazier was "skewered by questioning so hostile from one member of the Rutgers search committee it necessitated a letter of apology to Frazier" from RU associate professor and search committee member Jeffrey Longhofer. Meanwhile, a source said that the Univ. of Louisville had "canceled a good-bye party for Hermann" (N.Y. POST, 6/2).

    CREAM OF THE CROP? N.Y. Daily News columnist Mike Lupica said Rutgers “made it sound as if” Hermann “just blew away the competition, and what I’ve been wondering is how many other of the top candidates were involved in two lawsuits in their resume?” Lupica: “This process has been a sham and a fraud from the start and I can’t believe that somebody on the board doesn’t stand up and say, ‘We’re putting this whole thing on hold and we’re going to start the process all over again.’” ESPN’s Israel Gutierrez said the hiring of Hermann “seemed like an old sleight of hand trick,” but there are “just little things here and there that she is just lying about” (“The Sports Reporters,” ESPN, 6/2).

    THE ROAD BACK: In New Jersey, Jerry Carino wrote under the header, "Has The Rutgers University Image Been Tarnished By Scandals?" The school is "paying elite crisis management firm Hill + Knowlton Strategies $150,000 for help" (MYCENTRALJERSEY.com, 6/2). In Newark, Steve Politi writes, "A few smart answers from Hermann at the beginning would have contained the flames, if not put them out entirely, and you didn't have to pay $150,000 to a crisis management company to understand that. You just had to be forthcoming and you had to be good at dealing with the media" (Newark STAR-LEDGER, 6/3). Also in Newark, Heyboer & Luicci wrote there are "growing questions about the impact" the controversy "will all have on the life blood of college sports -- fundraising." Former Rutgers AD Robert Mulcahy said, "I think the biggest challenge for the new athletic director is to heal the community and regain respect. You can't fundraise until you get that back." But some "big-time donors, upset over how Pernetti was treated, may not be easily convinced." Rutgers Univ. Foundation President Carol Herring said, "It is really too hard to tell if this is going to have an effect" (Newark STAR-LEDGER, 6/2). In DC, Sally Quinn wrote of the situation, "We are clearly facing a crisis of morals, ethics and values. ... Have we lost all concept of standards? Does anybody care?" Quinn: "If Hermann is going to uphold Rutgers' core values, it calls into question what exactly the university has as core values" (WASHINGTON POST, 6/1).

    WHICH WAY IS UP? ESPNW's Mechelle Voepel wrote under the header, "Rutgers AD Hermann Faces Tough Road." Voepel wrote, "I was familiar with Hermann's work at Louisville before she took the Rutgers position and respected her. I was not aware of the allegations that have since come out, and they didn't fit with my perception of her. I've had to re-evaluate my view but must acknowledge it is still tempered by the positive impression I'd already formed" (ESPNW.com, 6/1). N.Y. Daily News' Bob Raissman said the "adverse publicity is getting so huge" there is "going to be a tipping point where even her supporters are going to have to say, 'We've got to cut bait’” ("Daily News Live," SNY, 5/31).

    WATER UNDER THE BRIDGE: Jodee Scott, who played volleyball at the Univ. of Tennessee under Hermann in '95 and '96, in a guest column wrote, "I did not enjoy playing for Julie Hermann, but do not wish her any ill will. No one on that team does." Scott, who along with other former teammates had written a letter expressing their concerns with Hermann while she was their coach at UT, wrote, "I want to be very clear in my support for everything that my teammates have said. The letter existed and was read out loud to Julie Hermann in a meeting with the entire team present. I was there. It happened." However, that "was 16 years ago and that does not mean she won't be a great Athletic Director at Rutgers" (Newark STAR-LEDGER, 6/2).

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  • SEC Sets Conference Record With Distribution Of Almost $290M To Member Schools

    Slive announced a distribution total of $289.4M, up from $244M the previous year

    SEC Commissioner Mike Slive on Friday announced that the conference will distribute approximately $289.4M "among its 14 league members in the revenue sharing plan” for the ’12-13 fiscal year, which ends Aug. 31, according to Edward Aschoff of ESPN.com. The amount is the “highest total ever distributed in SEC history.” Each school will receive approximately $20.7M "in revenue distribution.” The SEC last year distributed $244M among its schools and $219.9M "during the ’10-11 fiscal year" (ESPN.com, 5/31). In Orlando, Edgar Thompson noted this is the “24th consecutive year the nation's wealthiest conference reported a revenue increase.” Texas A&M President Dr. R. Bowen Loftin, whose school joined the league in ’12, said of the distribution, "We're very happy. It will only go up, we're sure of that" (ORLANDO SENTINEL, 6/1). USA TODAY’s George Schroeder wrote the SEC is “about to get healthier.” The league has “not released terms of its recently struck deal with ESPN for the SEC Network.” But when that revenue “is combined with increased payouts of as much as" $100M annually from the College Football Playoff, including $40M a year from a new deal with the Sugar Bowl, SEC schools' "paydays could grow by at least" $10M a year (USATODAY.com, 6/1). 

    FACILITIES BOOM: In St. Louis, Dave Matter noted at the Univ. of Missouri there are “several ongoing renovations” as the school “finds its stride in the facilities race across the Southeastern Conference.” Construction crews on the campus “are busy.” MU in its second year in the SEC has a “bigger budget and more revenue on the way when the SEC Network launches" in '14. The school will get its “full share” of $20.7M, which is “more than double the revenue MU earned from the Big 12 just three years ago.” MU Exec Associate AD Tim Hickman said that MU’s ‘10 share was “approximately $9 million.” In ‘11, the last year MU received Big 12 revenue, the school “earned $11 million.” After leaving the Big 12 for the SEC, MU “did not receive a league payout last year.” Instead, the Big 12 withheld $12.41M from MU, “which the university absorbed.” Hickman said that the athletics department “will repay the university over the next several years” (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 6/2). Meanwhile, in Birmingham, Jon Solomon wondered, “What's with some of the empty seats, SEC football fans?” The SEC “authorized money at its spring meetings to conduct market research this fall to better understand why football attendance at some schools has declined.” The survey information will be “used to analyze the conference and individual schools” (BIRMINGHAM NEWS, 6/1).

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  • Big 12 Sees Record Revenue Of $198M, With $22M Shares For Most Member Schools

    TCU and West Virginia will receive half of the $22M per school revenue distribution

    The Big 12 on Friday “announced distributions" of $198M to its 10 member schools for the ‘12-13 school year, according to David Ubben of ESPN.com. Eight Big 12 schools will receive $22M, while TCU and West Virginia as newcomers “will receive half shares” of $11M. Those terms “were part of both schools joining the Big 12” in July ‘12. The $198M and $22M per school “are both conference records.” The conference revenue is “tallied from the Big 12's media rights deals with ESPN/ABC and Fox Sports as well as revenue from bowl games and the NCAA men's basketball tournament.” It “does not include revenue from universities' Tier 3 media rights, which can be used to earn revenue as each school sees fit.” Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby said, "We'll get a pretty significant ramp-up from here on out. That moves up this next year due to a signing bonus from ESPN, and then after that, the new TV deal and the Champions Bowl kicks in." Ubben noted the Big 12 “just completed the first year of its 13-year grant of rights deal with ESPN/ABC and Fox Sports.” Bowlsby said that the conference's members “should be earning more than $40 million per year by the end of that contract” (ESPN.com, 5/31).

    BACK FROM THE BRINK: In Ft. Worth, Jimmy Burch wrote Big 12 officials “oversaw a conference that teetered on the brink of collapse in the summers of 2010 and 2011,” but spent Friday “reveling in” the revenue distributions. The total was a $15M "increase from last year.” The $11M half share “represents a significant jump in revenues” for TCU and WVU. Bowlsby said, “I think our league is rock-solid and we have done everything we can, in the near term and in the long term, to keep this group of 10 schools together in perpetuity.” Burch noted the Univ. of Texas also will receive another $15M in revenues "this year from its Longhorn Network deal with ESPN,” money that is “not part of league-wide distributions.” UT President Bill Powers said, “We’re happy with our equal share. A rising tide helps everyone. I think there’s a real sense that realignment is behind us.” WVU AD Oliver Luck said, “The Big 12 money is certainly bigger than it was (in the Big East). Even half a share is much more than our previous conference.” UT men’s AD DeLoss Dodds said of Bowlsby, “He’s a calming effect on the conference. He is absolutely the answer to what we needed” (FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM, 6/1). In San Antonio, Tim Griffin reported Dodds was "struck by the sense of unity and purpose that exists among conference members today compared to years past." Dodds: "In recent years, I've never seen it better. The room is good. Friendly. Good camaraderie. People are pulling for each other. It's good." Powers: "I think it's a testament to that June (2010) meeting in Kansas City, where it would have been easy for the ADs and presidents and the Big 12 to panic. We just sat down and went around the table and said who's in and out" (SAN ANTONIO EXPRESS-NEWS, 6/1).

    LAST ROUND-UP?
    In Houston, Mike Finger profiles Dodds, noting how long the UT AD remains in his position is "yet to be determined." Dodds' $700,000 annual contract runs through '15, and he will receive a $1M annuity "if he is employed by the school at the end" of August '14. But "another poor year by his biggest teams -- including the basketball and baseball squads that missed their respective NCAA tournaments this season -- could put his future in peril." Powers, who "also faces an uncertain future," on Friday "reiterated his support for Dodds." Powers: "The programs are good. ... There will always be ups and downs, wins and losses. I'm looking forward to next season" (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 6/3).

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  • Colorado's DiStefano Reportedly Offered Bohn A Reassignment To Avoid Buyout

    Bohn increased athletic fundraising by 26% during his last year as AD

    When Univ. of Colorado Chancellor Phil DiStefano met with former AD Mike Bohn to inform him of a change in leadership, he "offered Bohn the opportunity to remain employed with the university in a reassigned position," according to a source cited by Kyle Ringo of the Boulder DAILY CAMERA. It was an "attempt by DiStefano to avoid having to buyout the remaining years on Bohn's contract and it was an offer Bohn quickly declined" (DAILYCAMERA.com, 5/31). In Denver, Woody Paige wrote Bohn was "callously, brusquely dumped by Colorado." Although Bohn increased fundraising 26% the past year while the football team finished with one victory, the "leadership belief is that the department should be raising more than" $25M, not $11M, and the athletic budget "should be closer" to $80M than $60M. The "failures under the past two coaches, and the president's urgency to double the university's overall fundraising from $220 million to more than $400 million, made Bohn a convenient fall guy -- although he had raised the level of both basketball teams and was primarily responsible for transferring Colorado into the Pac-12, putting it on the road to the ultimate financial rewards from the TV packages" (DENVER POST, 6/2).

    STAND BY YOUR MAN: In Denver, Cordillera Energy President & CEO George Solich, one of the school's prominant financial boosters, praised Bohn in an open letter to "Buff Nation." He wrote, "I think CU was fortunate to have Mike Bohn's passion, loyalty, integrity, vision and steadfast commitment to the student-athlete these last eight years. And not just to the student-athlete, but also to faculty, fans, the community and the university as a whole." Solich: "If it was my decision, Mike would still be the AD." Solich, who has been speculated as a possible Bohn successor, added, "Although I am flattered that some of you think I would be a good choice for the next AD at the University of Colorado, there are other people that would be far better candidates" (DENVER POST, 6/2).

    THE BLAME GAME: In Denver, Curtis Hubbard wrote it is clear the departure of Bohn "had much less to do with athletics than with finances." Bohn had announced plans for $170M "in upgrades to CU's athletic facilities ... that included a plan to raise" $50M in donations. Hubbard: "I don't know why the University of Colorado even uses the title 'athletic director.' The university should simply give the next person who holds the job a cardboard sign and send them out to an exit along U.S. 36, because CU is hurting for money -- despite its lucrative move to the Pac-12." CU has an "overinflated view of its football program -- and it's very likely too late for them to expect to compete in the Pac-12, let alone what is now the big business of college football" (DENVER POST, 6/2). In Colorado Springs, Paul Klee wrote, "Why is it always so dang hard to get everyone in Boulder on the same page?" The issues at CU "are not a Bohn problem; they're a Boulder problem" (Colorado Springs GAZETTE, 6/2).

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  • College Football Notes: Friday Night Pac-12 Games May Hurt High Schools

    In L.A., Eric Sondheimer writes in its "never-ending quest for more money and more TV exposure, the Pac-12 Conference is taking dead aim at something that used to be considered unfathomable -- playing college football on Friday nights." The Pac-12 released TV plans for the '13 football season last week, and UCLA plays Washington on Friday, Nov. 15, at the Rose Bowl, the "same night" California Interscholastic Federation Southern Section and City Section football teams "open the playoffs." In Southern California, playing on Fridays is "going to divide loyalties, create traffic nightmares and lead to further disillusionment about what college athletics is supposed to be about." It also will "affect teams and communities." Southern Section Marketing Dir John Costello said, "Yeah, it's going to hurt local gate" (L.A. TIMES, 6/3).

    FOLLOW THE LEADER: In Austin, Kirk Bohls writes to "look for more schools to follow West Virginia’s lead and start selling beer at their football games." WVU AD Oliver Luck said that the school "generated $750,000 in beer sales last season." Luck added that since WVU started selling beer two years ago, "about five others have joined the club," including Minnesota, UTEP, Toledo and Akron. Texas is "still considering whether to sell beer at Royal-Memorial Stadium" (AUSTIN AMERICAN-STATESMAN, 6/3).

    LUCK OF THE IRISH: In Orlando, Paul Tenorio reported a UCF-Penn State football game in Ireland during the '14 season is "inching closer to reality." Sources said that a team of four UCF administrators "returned Friday from a four-day trip to Ireland where they met with potential partners for a game." The game is "likely to be held" at Croke Park in Dublin (ORLANDO SENTINEL, 6/1).

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