NCAA Pres Emmert: Conference Realignment "Has Not Been A Healthy Thing"
NCAA President Mark Emmert “delivered a stern lecture Monday afternoon to athletic directors from the country’s biggest college sports programs, taking them to task for the tumult of recent conference realignment and urging them to take part in the association’s current efforts to overhaul some of its policies,” according to Libby Sander of the CHRONICLE OF HIGHER EDUCATION. Emmert said, “The specter of the past couple weeks of conference realignment has not been a healthy thing.” He said that the “prevailing belief among the public and the press … is that college sports stands only for money.” He also “scolded the ADs for allowing talk and speculation around realignment to center solely on financial matters.” Emmert: “The world’s convinced that’s all we care about … that all this is about money. I didn’t read many of us stepping up and saying that this will work really well for student-athletes because we’ll do X, we’ll do Y, it will create more resources, it will help us stabilize our programs.” He added, “The confusion and disruption of the conference realignment adds to, doesn’t detract from, our ability to get these things done. Because, candidly, I think we were all embarrassed by some of that behavior, and here’s our chance to show what we really care about” (CHRONICLE.com, 9/26). Emmert said that the “fallout from the chaos could boost efforts to push through a series of significant NCAA reforms in the next year” (USA TODAY, 9/27). CBSSPORTS.com’s Matt Norlander wrote there “are plenty -- especially the ADs representing the dozens upon dozens of schools not involved in realignment -- of people that agree with Emmert,” but that is “not going to stop the big boys from shifting away from where they've been for the sake of ego, survival, more money and new opportunity.” For all Emmert's “diligence in trying to get a house he does not own in order, it's likely today's speech didn't upset the applecart” (CBSSPORTS.com, 9/26).
WELCOME TO THE AGGIES: In Ft. Worth, Jimmy Burch notes Texas A&M “formally accepted membership in the SEC, effective on July 1, 2012, during a Monday ceremony that was equal parts pep rally and news conference.” The move capped a realignment process “that took more than two months.” SEC Commissioner Mike Slive said that Big 12 administrators, “rather than SEC officials, initially pushed for the mutual waivers of legal claims in efforts to expedite A&M's departure.” But when Univ. of Oklahoma President David Boren “indicated a desire to explore his school's conference options” on Sept. 2, that caused Baylor and other Big 12 schools “to change plans and retain their legal rights in regard to the move in case the Big 12 folded.” Slive said that adding A&M “will allow his league to rework existing network television contracts, but the school “faces exit fees it must pay the Big 12.” Under league bylaws, A&M “would be required to forfeit roughly $28 million to compete in the SEC next season, based on projected revenues.” School officials “seek to lower that figure through negotiation, a move that allowed Nebraska to pay only $9.25 million based on projected revenues of $19.37 million when it left in 2010” (FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM, 9/27). Slive yesterday said that he “doesn't expect to add another team before the Aggies begin play next season” (AP, 9/26).
WHEN TWO BECOME ONE: In Honolulu, Ferd Lewis noted ADs of current and soon-to-be Mountain West Conference members were briefed yesterday on “a proposed strategic alliance between the conference and Conference USA for TV rights, scheduling and, perhaps, a Bowl Championship Series berth.” C-USA Commissioner Britton Banowsky said, "It is premature to think in terms of next year (2012) for sure, but the following year (2013) is something that is possible, I think." Banowsky added that it would be a “football-only alliance designed to increase TV rights fees, enhance scheduling and lead to an automatic BCS berth for the winner of a playoff between the champions of the two conferences” (STARADVERTISER.com, 9/26). In Houston, Joseph Duarte reports talks “will continue today and Wednesday during the annual meetings of Division I athletic directors in suburban Dallas.” Rice AD Rick Greenspan: "It's an intriguing concept. It's one that is probably a bit unique in college athletics" (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 9/27).
VYING FOR INCLUSION: Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy yesterday confirmed that the Univ. of Connecticut “is interested in becoming part of the Atlantic Coast Conference should that league expand to 16 teams.” Malloy said that he “no longer expects the ACC to act quickly after adding Pittsburgh and Syracuse from the Big East earlier this month.” He said that if Notre Dame “isn't interested the ACC must decide if there is any compelling reason to expand again” (ESPN.com, 9/26). Meanwhile, East Carolina Univ. has been talking to former North Carolina Gov. Jim Hunt and his firm Womble, Carlyle, Sandridge & Rice about representing the school “in its bid to become a member of the Big East Conference” (Raleigh NEWS & OBSERVER, 9/27).