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  • Full Panel: Headlines of the Day

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    The morning of day two included a panel discussion titled, "Headlines of the Day: Stakeholders Discuss the Major Stories in College Sports.":
    The panelists were:
    Michael Adams, President, University of Georgia
    Dan Beebe, Of Counsel, Sports Leadership Practice, Witt/Kieffer
    Paul Finebaum, Host, Paul Finebaum Radio Network
    Larry Jones, Executive Vice President, FOX Sports Media Group
    George Pyne, President, IMG Sports & Entertainment
    Kevin White, Athletic Director, Duke University

    Tags: Fox, Media, IMG
  • Two Minutes with Rutgers AD Tim Pernetti

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    Rutgers athletic director Tim Pernetti was part of a panel discussion on the new breed of athletics administrators. He stopped by afterwards to talk about:
    -- What Big Ten membership will mean for Rutgers
    -- Major projects can now be started, or kickstarted
    -- How Rutgers' teams will compete in their new conference

  • Two minutes with Paciolan CEO Dave Butler

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    Paciolan CEO Dave Butler was part of a panel discussion on dynamic pricing in college sports. He stopped by afterwards to talk about:
    -- Acceptance of dynamic pricing in the college arena
    -- How universities can use dynamic pricing to meet their particular goals

    Tags: Basketball
  • College Sports Television Networks

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    Photo by Marc Bryan-Brown

    The conference closed with a panel featuring some of the people most directly involved in college sports networks.

    Here are some of the topics they discussed:

    On the influence of the Big Ten Network on realignment:
    Big Ten Network president Mark Silverman: “I really believe the network has been massively overstated as the reason that the conference, which is a minority owner in the network, would really look to do this.” He said he wouldn’t speculate about the network’s availability in the new markets. “I’m sure we’ll have productive conversations with all our distribution partners,” he said.

    College Sports Television Networks

    Chris Bevilaqua, BHV
    Dave Brown, ESPN/Longhorn Network
    Hillary Mandel, IMG Media
    Lydia Murphy-Stevans, Pac-12 Networks
    Mark Silverman, Big Ten Network

    On launching the Longhorn Network:
    When Dave Brown, vice president of programming and acquisition for ESPN/Longhorn Network, was asked if he would have done anything differently if he could do it over, replied, “No, I don’t think so. We started out as a long-term proposition. We were lucky enough to do a 20-year deal with the school and we’re a year and a half into it. Certainly we have some work to do, but I wouldn’t have done anything differently.”
    On the programming need for live football:
    Lydia Murphy-Stevans, executive vice president and general manager of Pac-12 Networks, talked about the constant need for live football. “The question is, Will advertisers support all the games that continue to get regional and national exposure, and to what extent?” she said. “Are we fragmenting the audience or are we able to aggregate the audience? I think it’s endless right now for how many games the audience wants to see.”

    On the threat of a la carte programming:
    Silverman said that a la carte cable programming is in no one’s best interest. Chris Bevilacqua, co-founder of BHV, added that there are larger problems than sports in the average cable bill. “Distributors are paying too much for channels that nobody watches,” he said. “With sports, at least people watch.”

    On the opportunities in the international market:
    Hillary Mandel, senior vice president of programming and distribution for IMG Media, said that the international market is an untapped resource for future revenue streams. “There’s no question international is another area to tap,” she said, “and it’s going to take more than distribution to make it happen.”

    On the prospects for a Big East media deal:
    Bevilacqua, who was recently hired to negotiate for the Big East on a new conference deal, didn’t think the deal the Big East turned down in May 2011 was a mistake. “Whether there was a deal a year ago or not,” he said, “it wouldn’t have changed the economics” of another conference with a larger media deal from poaching schools.

    Tags: NFL, Big Ten Network, ESPN, IMG, Media
  • Three minutes with Big East Commissioner Mike Aresco

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    After appearing on a panel to discuss issues facing conference commissioners, the Big East's Mike Aresco stopped by to talk about:
    -- How he is dealing with changes to the Big East Conference
    -- The biggest eye-opener for him since moving from a media job to his new post

    Tags: Basketball
  • Conference Commissioners: Intercollegiate Athletics Change Agents

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    Photo by Marc Bryan-Brown

    The commissioners of three of the most recognizable conferences in the country addressed a long list of issues during the second day of the conference.

    Here are some quick hits on the session:

    On conference realignment:
    Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany answered questions about the recent additions of Maryland and Rutgers to the Big Ten. “The paradigm has shifted, and all five major conferences are outside their footprint,” he said. “We saw continuing changes and we thought there were more risks embracing the status quo.” Delany acknowledged that sometimes realignment isn’t popular with the conference fan base. “We have lost some things that are very valuable,” he said. “There may be some ambivalence (about new markets), but I think over time that can be overcome if the institutional connections and the competition” are able to grow. SEC Commissioner Mike Slive added that, when it comes to realignment, he prioritizes geographical identity over media possibilities and, before adding a new school, has to ask himself, “Will the SEC be the kind of preeminent conference 20 years from now that it is today?”

    Agents of Change

    Mike Aresco, Big East Conference
    Jim Delany, Big Ten Conference
    Mike Slive, Southeastern Conference

    On a new media rights deal for the SEC:
    “We’re close,” said Slive. “We’ll characterize it as in the final stages of conversations with both (CBS and ESPN), and we hope to have something to be able to say publicly in January.” As for the launch of an SEC network, he was pretty clear that such a thing is imminent. “If you were to ask how many more conference networks are we going to see, I’d say at least one,” he said.
    On a new media deal for the Big East:
    Big East Commissioner Mike Aresco is trying to finish a new media deal while also handling instability caused by realignment. “We reinvented ourselves to a large extent,” he said. “I support this model, that the basketball and football will cross-promote each other.” Aresco claimed that six companies are in the mix for the new deal. “The Big East brand is still extremely valuable,” he said. “We’ve got to take advantage of the brand with 30 years of equity.”

    On whether Big Ten Network affected expansion:
    When asked about how much Fox (Big Ten Network) influenced the decision to add Maryland and Rutgers, Delany replied that they weren’t consulted, which surprised many in the room. “We made the move we made because we thought the Big Ten as a conference, not for the Big Ten Network, but as a conference, would be in a great position for the next decade,” he said.

    On the biggest change they’d like to see 5 years from now in college sports:

    Slive: “To continue to use the pulpit that we have to remind everyone that what we do is really just part of a much larger picture, and that’s a hard balance to maintain. It’s part of an educational system, and we take care of our student-athletes in the best possible way.”

    Aresco: “I’d like to see (conference) consolidation finally take hold so there’s less uncertainty and people can build on what they have.”

    Delany: “It doesn’t get told a lot, but the number of athletes getting the experience of competition and education. We’ve got kids going to school every day, graduating at good solid rates and having good competitive experiences. That’s a big part of what we do.”

    Tags: Media, CBS, ESPN
  • The Changing Face of College Sports: Challenges and Opportunities

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    Photo by Marc Bryan-Brown

    The last panel of the Day 1 featured a diverse group of executives who shape the intercollegiate sports landscape.

    Here were some of the topics they covered:

    The Maryland effect and realignment:
    Notre Dame AD Jack Swarbrick said he was ”surprised by the timing, but not the result” of the exit of Maryland from the ACC. When asked if it made him rethink the decision for Notre Dame to join the conference, he said it did not. IMG College president Ben Sutton said believes we haven’t seen the end of realignment, and ESPN’s Burke Magnus added that, from ESPN’s perspective, “instability is bad for business. Every move that has been made costs ESPN money.”

    Magnus, on the future of the Big East and negotiations with ESPN:
    “It’s a different time then it was almost two years ago at this point. We’re having discussions and we don’t intend to cut off those conversations for any reason despite the recent activity. We still think there’s content that we could see value in. Not to mention the fact that our company and the Big East are nearly exactly the same age to the day. We have a 30-plus year history together, so before that ceases to exist from a relationship perspective, we’re going to take a good shot at keeping that going.”

    Changing Face of College Sports

    Bill Hancock, BCS
    Mark Lewis, NCAA
    Burke Magnus, ESPN
    Ben Sutton, IMG College
    Jack Swarbrick, Notre Dame

    On the current BCS:
    Swarbrick on Notre Dame’s BCS Championship ticket requests: “There’s a limit to how many tickets can be made available with 17,000 to each school, and we’ve had over 100,000 requests ten days after we qualified and it continues to grow. So it’s a challenge, but it’s a great success problem to have.”
    BCS Executive Director Bill Hancock on Northern Illinois being in a BCS bowl: “The rules are the rules. Everybody knew the rules going in. It was set up for access for teams that may not otherwise get it.”

    The four-game playoff:
    Sutton: “Four is the right number. It’s hard for me to imagine it going past four, because the regular season in college football is the greatest 14 weeks in sports in the United States of America. Period.”
    Hancock on progress of the BCS:
    “We do have a framework (on a revenue-sharing model). The next big step is the selection committee, who’s on it, how many (people), and what are their procedures. The first venue will probably follow that and it will be selected pretty quickly.”

    Swarbrick on Notre Dame and the refusal to allow advertising in facilities:
    “Every school is different. We tend to talk about university business models as if they are all one. They are very different from school to school. “

    Hancock on whether college football can reclaim New Year’s Day:
    Hancock: “You bet we can. I don’t really know what’s to reclaim. New Year’s Day is college football and I hear that all the time.”

    On meeting the needs of new fans:
    Sutton: “We’re very fortunate because we’re in a business where we get to introduce the next generation of fans to every freshman class. No other professional sports league can say that. (Young fans) expect to be bombarded by content. We’ve got the opportunity to develop this new generation, but we’re actually not meeting the needs and expectations that they have of us for their fan experience.”

    Panelist predictions for the biggest change in college sports five years from now:

    Sutton: “Massive growth. You’ll see greater viewership, more content and, quite frankly, college sports is on a foundation now where if the bandwidth is great enough and enough rights are aggregated in the right places to go out and compete with the National Football League. And that’s really the only competition college sports ought to have…not in a gradual trajectory – a meteoric trajectory.”

    Magnus: “One small thing and one bigger thing: I’m going to say it because I kind of want to see it happen. I’ll say there’ll be a Final Four in an arena. [Also], I can think you can see something spectacular happen from a governance perspective. The notion of student-athlete compensation.”

    Hancock: “We will change the nature of New Year’s Eve in this country with our playoffs. It will become a national holiday.”

    NCAA’s Mark Lewis: “The fact that none of us have attention spans anymore means the games have to change. Popularity is a fleeting thing. College sports will stay popular, but we’ve got to reflect that we just don’t watch things in person or on TV the same way anymore.”

    Swarbrick: The big one is, as the difference in business models, on a university-by-university basis, increases, whether membership in a single association continues to make sense. Time will tell, I’m not predicting that will happen, but the differential’s going to grow and that’s going to create stress on the system and it’ll be interesting to see what happens. The more narrow ones are issues related with how student-athlete well-being and safety, especially in football, are going to have significant changes to the game.”

    Tags: IMG, ESPN, Ping, NCAA, Champion, Champions, Football
  • Conference realignment and the 'erosion of trust'

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    Yesterday we published some quotes from our first AD panel of this year’s Intercollegiate Athletics Forum, but after listening to the tape, we thought it warranted a second entry.

    So, here’s more:

    Missouri's Mike Alden, whose school moved from the Big 12 to the SEC this year, used the phrase “erosiong of trust” to describe the current climate of secret talks and backroom deals that schools are involved in these days in the rush to put their institutions in better financial position.

    One example is Maryland, which recently jumped from the Atlantic Coast Conference to the Big Ten. Nobody knew it was coming and it was a messy process, said North Carolina State's Debbie Yow, who previously served as Maryland's AD.

    "The presidents of the ACC trust each other and had an agreement that they would be contacted" by any school that was considering leaving the conference, Yow said. "That's the trust factor and that didn't occur. I know [ACC Commissioner] John Swofford was trying diligently to get in touch with people and they didn't respond for two days. Not cool.”

    More Yow on Maryland: "They're going to be missed, there's no question about that. But they're going to be on a plane going to Madison, Wis., to play men's basketball in the middle of winter. Good luck. I hope the money is really good."

    For schools considering a move, it's not easy to have those discussions in private knowing that rumors that surface over those talks could hurt negotiations, said Connecticut's Warde Manuel. UConn is one school that has been mentioned as a candidate to move from the Big East Conference to another league, possibly the Atlantic Coast Conference.

    "The complications are the discussions we have at the Big East, different conference meetings with presidents and commissioners," said Manuel. "The Big East has done a lot of great things for us and we've done a lot of great things for the Big East, but the landscape has changed. So I wouldn't be doing my due diligence if I didn't continue to look at what else is going on around me as it relates to what's to the benefit of Connecticut."

    There are a lot of "side conversations, rumors, innuendo, what's happening out there, what's going to happen," he said. "You just have to get through all that and concentrate on being better."

    Tags: Basketball
  • Hot Topic: Rising Coaches' Salaries

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    Emmert: “At the close of every season, there’s a bidding war for coaches. That’s not sustainable.”
    Photo by Marc Bryan-Brown

    Coaching salaries can’t continue to rise at their current rate, said NCAA President Mark Emmert during the opening of the ‘12 IMG Intercollegiate Athletics Forum in New York City, but he added that there was little in the way of regulations that could be put in place to address the problem. The only surefire cap, he said, is athletic departments running out of money.

    “It’s a free market, with huge pressure and a limited number of skilled people,” Emmert said. “It’s something that we all have to live with. I was asked the other day when will coach’s salaries be capped, and I said, when athletic departments run out of money, and I wasn’t being facetious.” He went to add that the current system is not sustainable. “We don’t have a legal structure where we say, ‘Thou shalt not pay more than X for a coach or an assistant coach,’” he said. “At the close of every season, there’s a bidding war for coaches. So the system where someone suggesting they might hire your coach and now you have to pay them more, that’s not sustainable.” The issue of coaching salaries was prominent not only during a one-on-one interview with Emmert, but on subsequent panels throughout the day. Univ. of Nebraska Chancellor Harvey Perlman talked about the complexity of the issue and how it affects an entire athletic department. “The whole effort over the last couple of years to control athletic costs, since you can’t control salaries, is to do things that aren’t good for students,” he said.

    WHAT TO DO? There were few specifics of possible ways to control costs, but Perlman brought up the option of studying a legal remedy. “We know the antitrust laws prohibit us from agreeing to cap coaches’ salaries,” he said, “so there’s really two options. One is to figure out a creative way to do it within the antitrust laws. Or, second, is to get the antitrust laws changed. I know there’s great reluctance, but there’s been conversations within the NCAA about going before Congress and doing something about this.”

    Emmert countered, “It’s been discussed for years, but the notion right now of going before Congress and trying to figure out a highly-complex, highly-political bill, or an antitrust model for intercollegiate athletics, would probably have more unintended consequences than any of us could imagine. If the NCAA is a ‘weird’ decision-making organization, then I’m not sure what the right adjective is for Congress. To turn over our fate to them at this moment would be risky.” Perlman said that the one area in which he would most like to see change in the next year was “some control over coaches’ salaries.” But then he added that he is “realistic” and knows it’s unlikely to happen.

    FROM ONE WHO WENT THROUGH IT: NC State AD Debbie Yow discussed the pressure of rising salaries in hiring coaches, as she just went through it during the last two weeks in hiring Dave Doeren from Northern Illinois as her school’s new football coach. “We pressed really hard, very fast,” she said. “I consider [the deal] a bargain at $1.8 million [annually]. We did the buyout, but he paid some taxes. For those who may not have thought that, paying the taxes is a big deal, it's a point of discussion. I think it was 17 percent of the buyout.” She admitted to being relieved to get a deal for a football coach at less than $2M a year. “It was an extraordinary relief to get out for $1.8 [million] and get the person we wanted,” Yow said. “Because I'm watching now from the sidelines, and as far as I can tell, the numbers are going up every single day, and the pool was shallow this year of qualified coaches, with way too many schools out looking. So it's a coaches’ market and the majority of schools don't have theirs filled." Michigan State AD Mark Hollis stressed it wasn’t just the salaries of a head coach impacting the department’s finances, saying, “There's been a trickle-down effect. Not only the position of hiring somebody, it's retaining coaches.”

    Tags: NCAA, IMG, USTA
  • Athletic Directors Discuss the Economics of College Sports

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    Photo by Marc Bryan-Brown

    Four athletic directors talked about how their programs are affected by the changing landscape in college sports, and football continued to dominate the conversation. All of the panelists were concerned about how the new BCS revenue-sharing format will affect their schools. Univ. of Nevada-Las Vegas AD Jim Livengood thinks that who gets what share of the BCS pie is still dependent on who ends up in what conferences. Old Dominion Univ. AD Wood Selig added that if the top 60 or 70 schools break off and form a new top tier, it would diminish the work of getting to the Football Bowl Subdivision for Old Dominion. “How long can we be chasing these guys?” he said. “If they go to another level, we really haven’t done much.” Brigham Young Univ. AD Tom Holmoe added, “It’s all relative, but you want to get to the best position possible to put your brand – and all of ours differ to some degree – but we all want to put our brand in the community, to our alums and hopefully across the country.”

    The Economics of College Sports

    Lynn Hickey, UT-San Antonio
    Tom Holmoe, BYU
    Jim Livengood, UNLV
    Wood Selig, Old Dominion

     Making the jump to FBS

    The effect of having a football team make the leap to the FBS has advantages not mentioned often on campus. The affiliation with Conference USA and its major metropolitan universities plays into Old Dominion’s academic ambition. “Our president’s goal is to get more out-of-state students,” said Selig. “It matches up perfectly with our effort to get wider branding, wider national visibility and expand our student population beyond the state of Virginia.”
    AD Lynne Hickey of Univ. of Texas-San Antonio said that the advantage for all sports programs in bringing recruits to the Alamodome compared to the previous recruiting landscape is monumental.

    The pressure of making good hiring decisions with rising coaching salaries clearly affects the group. “If I want to make a decision to pay a coach X amount of dollars that might be above and beyond what we’ve traditionally done, it’s my responsibility to make sure that we have the revenue that’s going to back that up,” said Holmoe. Selig acknowledged that “if we lose (our popular football coach) and don’t make a really sincere, strong financial effort to keep him, we’re going to be following him out of town, without a job. There’s that fine line between not paying too much and trying to max out your resources to extend your coach.” Hickey added that as a start-up program, her school can’t focus on the arms race and must evaluate their hiring decisions against their peers.

    College football playoff
    All panelists thought that four teams was not enough for the new college playoff format. “I think that the natural number is closer to being eight,” said Livengood. Selig joked, “We’ve shown we always need more money in college athletics,” before adding, “If we can get more money and have a bigger playoff and people will step forward, it will then go from eight to 16.”

    UNLV stadium situation
    Livengood elaborated on the plan to build a 62,000-seat on-campus domed stadium for football at UNLV. “We’re trying to create much more of a residential campus than we have had in the past,” he said. He sees the stadium being used for multiple events, including bidding on a future Pac-12 football championship game. “I think that’s an automatic,” he said, “and at some point in time, I would hope the ability to host NCAA championships, as well.”

    BYU and independence

    The new four-team playoff makes bowl affiliation for BYU football much tougher, according to Holmoe. “It looks now like it’s going right back to what it was with conference affiliations and bowl games,” he said. “You look at Notre Dame, who is one of, if not the most powerful brand in college football, and they went and put themselves in a bowl affiliation with the ACC because of the changing times.” Holmoe made it clear that BYU uses Notre Dame as a blueprint as an independent.

    Tags: Football
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