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FedExForum will host the '14 American Athletic Conference men’s basketball tournament, as Memphis beat out "six cities that put in formal bids to host the tournament,” according to Jason Smith of the Memphis COMMERCIAL APPEAL. Univ. of Memphis AD Tom Bowen said that the winning bid was “the result of a successful collaboration" between FedExForum officials, the university and city leaders, including Memphis Convention & Visitors Bureau President & CEO Kevin Kane. Memphis’ bid “includes a 70-30 revenue split" between the AAC and UM. Asked if he hoped FedExForum might become the permanent home for the event, Bowen pointed out that the conference "has an option to return to Memphis in 2015." Bowen: “It’s working with the Grizzlies to see if they want to continue with it as well. … So you can’t really just assume we’re going to continue to be able to do this.” AAC Commissioner Mike Aresco last month said that the tournament site “would likely be reassessed after one year.” UM men’s basketball coach Josh Pastner yesterday said that Memphis was “the unanimous pick among the league’s coaches to host the tournament” (Memphis COMMERCIAL APPEAL, 6/12). In Hartford, Paul Doyle writes the selection “comes as no surprise.” AAC leaders also “considered the Palestra in Philadelphia and there was some support for a smaller (8,700 seats) venue.” But Memphis officials “pushed hard for the tournament and conference members were convinced the Tigers will be a marquee program in the league.” With Louisville “still in the conference next year, attendance could be strong” (HARTFORD COURANT, 6/12). In Tampa, Greg Auman noted the city had “initially expressed interest in bidding for the tournament, but couldn't guarantee available dates at the Tampa Bay Times Forum” (TAMPABAY.com, 6/11).
LADIES' NIGHT: In Hartford, Altavilla & Gosselin report the AAC has “reached an agreement with the Mohegan Sun Arena to play its inaugural postseason women's basketball tournament at the casino in March.” The tournament will be held March 7-10, and the deal is “for one year with a conference option" for the '15 tourney. XL Center GM Chris Lawrence said that Global Spectrum "might have been handicapped because it has not officially taken over management of the XL Center, though it has been selected for a 10-year contract" (HARTFORD COURANT, 6/12). The AP’s Pat Eaton-Robb noted Mohegan Sun “offers gambling, but does not have a sports book.” The venue “made pitches in the past to host the women's tournament for the American's predecessor, The Big East, but was rejected amid objections from the league's Catholic schools to having the tournament at a gambling venue” (AP, 6/11).
Georgia Tech AD Mike Bobinski on Monday said that the new College Football Playoff "should avoid putting too many voices on its selection committee," according to Dan Wolken of USA TODAY. Bobinski, who previously served as Selection Committee Chair for the NCAA men's basketball tournament, said, "I've heard numbers in the 20s. I think 20-something is way too many people. I'd say 12-15 is plenty. I think you get any bigger than that and it becomes really unwieldy to manage the room, to keep people focused and to have things start to diverge and splinter." Wolken noted more details on the "size and makeup of the football committee are expected to be finalized next week." The CFP selection committee "will probably be the most scrutinized and controversial in all of sports." Opinions "vary wildly about whether the committee should be bigger or smaller, whether each conference should be represented and whether elements such as former coaches or even former media members should be part of the mix." Though the final structure "could be similar to the 10-person men's basketball committee," this will be "a much more precarious task." Whereas the men's basketball committee is "made up entirely of university administrators and conference officials, it seems almost certain the CFP committee will include football dignitaries with coaching or playing roots in the sport." Bobinski said having that kind of expertise "absolutely needs to be in the room." But he added that the basketball committee "has been able to do it within the parameters of its traditional construct" (USA TODAY, 6/11).
WHAT ABOUT THE LITTLE GUY? ESPN.com's Brett McMurphy cited sources as saying that some of the smaller college athletic conferences are "exploring opportunities to create additional bowl games next season." Sources said that "as many as nine locations are under consideration to begin bowl games" in '14. Sources said that those sites include Dubai, Ireland, and "either Toronto or Nassau, Bahamas." Any new bowls created in '14 "would be for the smaller conferences," including the American Athletic Conference, Conference USA, MAC, Mountain West and Sun Belt. An NCAA "moratorium to add new bowls expires after the 2013 season." Although the '14 bowl lineup "has not been officially announced, there will be more games between the Power Five leagues after this season." Sources said that there will be "a minimum of 19 bowls matching Power Five conferences and that number could go even higher" (ESPN.com, 6/11). ESPN’s Matt Millen said that college football “does not need more bowl games” and for the smaller conferences it ultimately “comes down to dollars and cents, so they want to try to get their fair share.” ESPN’s Mark May noted, “What’s next, Moscow, Cape Town? It’s ridiculous with this situation. We have too many bowls. ... Why don’t they put a bowl in Rio or Nice?” ESPN’s Joe Tessitore added, “I’m sure those MAC and Sun Belt team fans will travel well to the Middle East” (“College Football Live,” ESPN, 6/11).
Arizona State Univ. yesterday reached agreement to "retain its 2014 home football game" against Notre Dame, while the schools "agreed to drop" their scheduled '17 game in South Bend, according to Metcalfe & Haller of the ARIZONA REPUBLIC. Notre Dame "first notified ASU on April 5 that it did not want to travel to Tempe in 2014 because of schedule changes required" with the school’s move to the ACC. The schools had since "struggled to find a solution." There "was not a buyout provision" for the '14 and ’17 games. ASU already had "focused marketing efforts" around the '14 game. Notre Dame "at one point asked ASU whether a 2015 date in Tempe would work." But ASU "said no because the football team could be playing in smaller Chase Field due to the planned renovation of Sun Devil Stadium." Notre Dame also "suggested Purdue as a 2014 replacement, but ASU did not like that option, either." ASU officials "fought to retain" the '14 game, and "took the matter to the Arizona Board of Regents last week, which in executive session discussed 'seeking legal advice.'" ASU officials "did not believe Notre Dame had the legal right to cancel the games." The original contract for the games stated that they "were to be canceled only due to 'an act of God, a national crisis, or other events beyond the control of the host institution'" (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 6/12).
SEC football games have seen a downturn in attendance in recent years, and an online survey shows 83% of respondents believe "average fans have been priced out," according to Jon Solomon of AL.com. Fifty-four percent of the 5,000 respondents from 46 states, DC and 32 countries outside the U.S., said that they are "attending games less frequently than five years ago." Additionally, 43% said that they attend one or two of their favorite team's games each year, while 23% said that they attend none. When asked if they are "attending games as frequently" as they did five years ago, 34% said that they are attending the same amount and 12% are attending more frequently. As for why the respondents are attending fewer games, "costs of tickets/donations" and "cost of travel to the game" were the most frequent answers. When asked if they "like neutral-site games," 46% responded yes, 29% responded no, and 25% were indifferent. Sixty-seven percent of respondents said that they thought attendance "should be a major concern" for the SEC (AL.com, 6/10).