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Volume 24 No. 156


The two most dominant multimedia rights holders in the college space announced that they are going into the ticketing business together. Learfield Sports and IMG College are forming a joint venture in which each company will own 50% of IMG Learfield Ticket Solutions. The assets of the existing ticket solutions arm of IMG College will carry over, including its headquarters within IMG College in Winston-Salem, N.C., and the 12 clients -- Akron, Cal-Davis, Duke, Evansville, Penn State, Richmond, San Jose State, Syracuse, Temple, Tennessee, Texas-San Antonio and UNLV. IMG College Senior VP/Business Innovations Mark Dyer and Learfield Vice Chair Roger Gardner will oversee the ticketing business from a senior management level. Matt DiFebo, who has managed IMG College’s ticketing division since ‘10, will oversee day-to-day operations of the new venture. IMG ticketing solutions was formed when IMG College bought DiFebo’s ticketing business in ‘10. It is not entirely unusual for Learfield and IMG College to work together. They share interest in a handful of properties -- such as Alabama, Clemson, Miami and South Carolina -- and they have occasionally sold advertising and sponsorships together, but this clearly represents their closest working relationship. Both Dyer and Gardner cited Learfield’s relationships as a 40-year marketer in college sports and the additional resources as reasons to do the deal.

Arizona State Univ. yesterday announced that Sun Devil Athletics COO and Sun Devil Sports Group Managing Dir Steve Patterson has been named ASU AD & VP/University Athletics. He will consolidate his duties at Sun Devil Sports Group into his new role. Patterson replaces Lisa Love (ASU). In Phoenix, Doug Haller noted the school in a statement said Love is leaving ASU "to pursue other career opportunities," but sources said that Love "has been fired." ASU President Michael Crow reportedly met with Love yesterday "and at some point relieved her of her duties" (, 3/28). Haller notes Love's dismissal “simply is the latest step in what has become an overhaul of ASU's athletic department, most of the change stemming from the program's top revenue-producing sports.” Patterson's promotion “saves ASU from an extended search and a transition of uncertainty, but it doesn't come without questions.” Prior to his arrival at the school, Patterson “did not have much experience at the college level.” He spent “nearly 25 years as an executive” with the Texans, Rockets and Trail Blazers (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 3/29).

TOUGH LOVE: Patterson said, “I don’t accept that we can’t compete. I’ll never accept that.” In Phoenix, Paola Boivin writes, “Good for him. Of course, it sounds an awful lot like what Love said upon her hire seven years ago.” The fan frustration during Love’s tenure “is understandable, but the venom directed her way is absurd.” She tried to run an athletic program “during a time when the state’s economic crisis resulted in a 47 percent budget cut in funding from 2009.” Boivin notes Love had “raised more money than any of her predecessors, but it was her big hires that eventually cost her. “Her biggest “downfall came in the area of communication” as Love “had a difficult time connecting with the fan base.” Crow said, “To make this program work, we need to earn a $100 million a year. We’re not earning a 100 million a year … we’re not at that level yet.” Boivin writes it “didn’t help Love’s cause that the University of Arizona has made strong inroads in the Valley recently, particularly from a marketing standpoint.” The Univ. of Arizona has “a savvy athletic director in Greg Byrne who is good at connecting with fans and embraces the opportunities social media has to offer” (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 3/29). Also in Phoenix, Dan Bickley wrote Crow “finally admitted the mistake that was Lisa Love.” Either way, “this is a good day for ASU,” because Patterson “is smooth, stylish and personable.” Bickley: “And don't think for a moment that Greg Byrne's performance in Tucson didn't raise the stakes for everyone, showing Crow what a dynamic athletic director can accomplish with the two revenue-producing sports” (, 3/28). An ARIZONA REPUBLIC editorial states Love “was an indifferent fundraiser.” Her outreach to “potential supporters, especially alumni, was never effective, even considering that financial support for ASU's sports programs has been a tough sell since the days of [former football coach] Darryl Rogers” (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 3/29). In Phoenix, Jeff Metcalfe writes Love leaves Arizona State “with the third-longest tenure as athletic director in the past four decades” (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 3/29).

The decision for VCU to increase basketball coach Shaka Smart’s salary “from about $420,000 last season to about $1.2 million” this season is “emblematic of a widening dollar gap between major-conference schools and so-called midmajors,” according to Brady, Upton & Berkowitz in a front-page piece for USA TODAY. Football TV contracts and attendance for the six BCS conferences “mean big money, while competitive ambitions at midmajors often outrun their athletics departments' ability to pay for them.” NCAA President Mark Emmert said, “It's a huge issue.” Some schools like VCU “ante up so coaches don't leave for wealthier programs,” but others, like “budget-strapped Nevada-Las Vegas, simply get outbid by them.” USA Today’s annual analysis of contracts and compensation documents shows that the NCAA tournament “is loaded with millionaires” and coaches in the event “are making a little more than $1.4 million on average this season.” Compensation information obtained by the paper “for 31 of the 34 schools appearing in the tournament both this season and last and found the average compensation for coaches at those schools increased to a little over $2.1 million from more than $1.9 million -- a jump of 8.6%.” VCU President Michael Rao said that his “decision to up the ante to keep Smart a year ago was simple, and he figures Smart's richer contract is paying off as much in marketing VCU's name on a national scale as it is in helping the Rams remain competitive on the court.” The idea of VCU paying its basketball coach “nearly the same amount as a successful Big East coach would have been unthinkable 10 years ago.” But Rao has “heard no complaints from presidents of other schools in the Colonial Athletic Association.” Emmert said that he “doesn't know how far midmajors can keep stretching.” Emmert: "If you think about it, they have always gotten by with lesser resources, by definition. … The escalation of expenditures hits some natural ceiling, but I don't know where that is" (USA TODAY, 3/29). Below is a chart of the top 15 highest-paid coaches in college basketball.

John Calipari
Rick Pitino
Mike Krzyzewski
Billy Donovan
Bill Self
Michigan State
Tom Izzo
Ohio State
Thad Matta
Buzz Williams
Jim Calhoun
Rick Barnes
Matt Painter
Tom Crean
John Beilein
Bo Ryan
West Virginia
Bob Huggins