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Volume 24 No. 157
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IMG Intercollegiate Athletic Forum: Top ADs Speak Out On The Issues Of The Day

Six college ADs took to the stage to discuss the state of intercollegiate athletics yesterday, with the panel touching on the future of the major conferences, athletics being integrated into universities and working with big-name coaches. All of the panelists pointed to the reforms of the last year as major progress, with Univ. of Washington AD Scott Woodward saying, “Besides churches, we are the oldest institutions in America. We move slowly. Change will be incremental and will take time, but the progress over the last year is a big step from where I thought we would be.” The crises at Penn State and Syracuse were a major theme during the discussion, and each of the panelists stressed the need for preparation and learning. Syracuse AD Daryl Gross said, “I have learned a lot. Our university and our coaches have learned a lot and our community has learned a lot. All of what we’ve learned can help going forward. If there is any positive coming out of this, it’s lessons that we learn coming out of it.” UCLA AD Dan Guerrero noted that as soon as the Penn State incidents became public, “Our staff met for at least an hour. ... We need to reinforce our guidelines. You need to make sure your people are willing to speak about what they see, that there is vigilance in what they see and do.” Georgia State AD Cheryl Levick added, “It really does help when you have plans written down. Here’s Plan A, Plan B and Plan C. It really helps and it calms people down.” Woodward: “You need to be transparent, but you can’t back yourself into a corner. You have to know all the information, on top of what is happening. …. You have to be careful about process, you have to have good process in there, but you have to be careful about how you use it. You can’t get paralyzed.”

Guerrero said you need to make sure your
people are willing to speak about what they see

HEALING PENN STATE: Asked what advice they would give to a future AD to restore the image of Penn State, Woodward said that bringing in outside voices would help. He said, “You always need outside new blood. If I were doing that, you have to take a fresh look at what happened there, take a fresh look from a macro standpoint.” Levick said, “Proactive management. Identify the issue and face it head on. Get out there and move forward and involve the community, come up with a plan and push it back out. Penn State is hurting right now. They need something that can heal their wounds.” Kansas State AD John Currie suggested going “over the top” on transparency, and added, “Getting out and getting face-to-face with people, being communicative, listening and being transparent.” Guerrero: “You have to clearly identify the problems. And very often we have blind spots and we don’t see them. You need to take a real close look at the whole organization to figure out where you need to heal the situation.” Currie said the athletic organizations “are probably more integrated into the academic environment than most people in the public think we are.” Currie: “But one of the most critical aspects for people around a university to understand [is that you must empower the] people you have in charge to do their job. When things go wrong, in many cases you see a breakdown in the chain of command. And when a coach feels he can go to a board member, even with the best of intentions, that circumvents a chain of command, that is when you have a breakdown.”

Bowlsby claims new Pac-12 media rights deal
already has been a "game changer" for schools

PAC-12 NETWORK MEANS OPPORTUNITY: Woodward, Guerrero and Stanford AD Bob Bowlsby all touted the Pac-12 merging media rights to create a Pac-12 Network next year. Bowlsby: “It’s already been a game changer for us. We own 100% of our network, we will manage our own return on investment. It’s possible we could sell some of it off at some point, but it’s incredibly valuable to us. And we retain a digital tier that we think could be even more valuable going forward and allows us to capitalize on forward-thinking technologies. So this network is terrific from a college sports standpoint and from an institutional standpoint.” Guerrero said, “We really see this as a global opportunity and see real chances to get into the Far East, for example.” Bowlsby said the process of pooling and sharing media rights among all Pac-12 schools was collegial and statesman-like. Bowlsby: “When we have disagreements, we just think about the money and we feel better.” Woodward: “After doing these deals and seeing the result, we were all high-fiving each other. We were in the right place at the right time. It wasn’t easy, but it was very collegial.”

Quick Hits on whether the BCS system should evolve into a football playoff:
* Woodward: “I think it will eventually get there, but right now, I like the Plus One. I think this will be an incremental step -- that's where my mind is.”
* Guerrero: “I was vehemently against a playoff, but I am more open to the discussion when it comes to a Plus One model.”
* Currie: “I like the bowl experience for our student athletes. College football doesn’t need the bowls to help build the brand of college football, but bowls help build the brand of college football. If we are going to use our formula or tweak our formula, that’s fine, and maybe we want to do that to have a national championship game. But we don’t need ‘labels’ to establish ‘this group of games’ as better than ‘other groups of games,’ unless we’re going to objectively place those teams in those games. If we’re going to ‘promote a label’ around these games and define success, then we should control whether we are ethical about following some explainable formula or format.”
* Bowlsby: “What gets lost in all the playoff discussion -- and I think a Plus One is inevitable at this point -- is that the strength of college football has never been healthier. The regular season is important and it’s important because there is something to play for in the postseason.”

Quick Hits on the future of conference expansion:
* Bowlsby, on the Pac-12 Conference: “I think we will be at 12 for a while and I don’t see many obvious additions. I see the Pac-12 remaining with the group of institutions we have now and having a nationwide and worldwide footprint due to our media deals.”
* Guerrero: “I see no reason for us to look at a 16-team or a 14-team conference.”
* Gross, on leaving the Big East for the ACC: “We did everything we could to try and keep the conference together, in the perception of what we thought the conference should be. We don’t see this as ‘jumping off a sinking ship.’ Instead, we see this more as seeing the opportunity for our program. This was a better fit for us. It wasn’t so much that ‘this is falling apart, so let’s leave.’ It was more about the opportunity.”