Syracuse Univ. will pay the Big East Conference $7.5M "to leave a year early," enabling the school to join the ACC in July '13, according to Mike Waters of the Syracuse POST-STANDARD. Last September, SU and the Univ. of Pittsburgh announced their intentions to join the ACC. Big East bylaws "require a 27-month notice, which would have kept Syracuse in the Big East through the 2013-14 season." SU’s $7.5M fee is $2.5M more than the $5M exit fee "stipulated in the conference’s bylaws." However, the school "expects to make as much as $9 million more annually as a member of the ACC, thanks to the conference’s richer television contracts." Pitt "is not included" in Syracuse’s agreement with the Big East. In May, Pitt officials "filed a lawsuit against the conference, seeking to void the 27-month waiting period." Pitt officials noted that the Big East "had recently negotiated an early release for West Virginia, which had left for the Big 12" (Syracuse POST-STANDARD, 7/17). A Big East official said that SU "facilitated its early release by not resulting to lawsuits." The official said, "Syracuse kept the channels of communication open. One (school) has a lawsuit and one (school) doesn't. You can't deal with it at the same time." The POST-STANDARD's Waters notes SU's deal with the Big East "would seem to set some parameters for Pittsburgh to negotiate its release from the conference." Syracuse AD Daryl Gross "praised Big East interim commissioner Joe Bailey and senior associate commissioner Nick Carparelli for their efforts in the negotiations." Gross: "We were able to collegially work out some things that we thought benefited both sides. Both sides thought the deal was truly reasonable. It was done in a most collegial way" (Syracuse POST-STANDARD, 7/17).
SETTING THE BAR: In Pittsburgh, Ray Fittipaldo writes Pitt's negotiations with the Big East "could speed up now that Syracuse has set the bar" with its additional $2.5M payment to the conference. A university source said that negotiations between the two parties "are ongoing despite the lawsuit" (PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE, 7/17).
NCAA President Mark Emmert appeared on PBS’ “Tavis Smiley” on Monday night to discuss various topics affecting college athletics, with host Smiley telling him, “You’re the one guy I expected to cancel this week.” Laughing, Emmert said, “It’s been a busy week.” The discussion began with response to the Freeh Report on Penn State, to which Emmert replied, “It’s just such a despicable set of acts that were enabled -- it appears -- by an organizational culture. You just come away from it thinking, ‘How in the world can this happen?’” Emmert said the NCAA is “trying to ascertain what role in all of this the NCAA has to play” but the organization “does not want to get involved in any of the criminal investigations.” Emmert said of the Freeh Report, “It’s pretty hard to read that report and not conclude that there were systemic failures across the institution, including and in some cases especially within the athletic department.” When asked if the “death penalty” against the Penn State football program could be levied, Emmert said, “I don’t want to take anything off the table.” Smiley asked Emmert his thoughts about the “outsized control that athletic programs and their leaders and coaches have in college sports.” Emmert: “That’s one of the biggest questions in front of us. … The good news is that we now have this horrible object lesson. It’s caused … everyone to go back and look at their programs … and use this disastrous circumstance as something that’s a catalyst to positive improvements.”
PAY TO PLAY: Emmert reiterated that he is opposed to paying college athletes “because these are students.” Emmert: “Once you convert a student-athlete into an employee, then that relationship is all different. Then why do we even require that they be students? If you just want them to be employees who work for the university then let’s just subcontract with the local minor league team and get on with it.” Emmert said instead of paying student-athletes, “We’ve got to cover the full cost of attendance for a student to go to school.” He also spoke about the new college football playoff system and said it “is a great step in the right direction” and the Final Four format “will at least partially satisfy folks that have been clamoring for a championship game.” Emmert said the potential revenue from this playoff system is “unprecedented” (“Tavis Smiley,” PBS, 7/16).
NOCERA WEIGHS IN: In N.Y., Joe Nocera writes under the header, “Throw The Book At Penn State,” and states the school will “almost surely finish the painful process of removing the halo from the head of its late coach, Joe Paterno, which the Freeh report has begun." Only the NCAA "can impose the so-called death penalty, forcing Penn State to shut down its football program for a period of time." Nocera: "Yes, it would make a mess of television schedules, not to mention the rest of Penn State’s athletic teams -- which rely on the revenue that football generates -- but it’s the only way to send the right message” (N.Y. TIMES, 7/17).
SMU yesterday named Univ. of Tennessee-Chattanooga AD Rick Hart “to the same post,” according to Richard Durrett of ESPN DALLAS. Hart is a “third-generation administrator in his family,” with his father Dave Hart currently serving as AD at the Univ. of Tennessee. Rick Hart replaces Steve Orsini at SMU, who was let go May 17. Hart has been the AD at Chattanooga, “which competes at the FCS level in football, since 2006.” Hart will be “charged with leading the SMU athletics program as it prepares for its final season in Conference USA before moving to the Big East in 2013” (ESPNDALLAS.com, 7/16). The AP’s Stephen Hawkins noted Hart was at Chattanooga “after seven years at Oklahoma," where he was Senior Associate AD. He also worked “in athletic administration at North Carolina, his alma mater, and East Carolina while serving with the U.S. Olympic committee.” Hart was the “final choice after an initial list of 30 candidates was trimmed to eight finalists.” SMU President Gerald Turner said, “We were looking for someone who had experience in fundraising, marketing and ticketing. Oklahoma people couldn't say enough about how he organized things there in a very significant way.” Hart is scheduled to begin working “full time at SMU on Aug. 13.” In the four weeks until then, he will “make the transition from Chattanooga and take a previously scheduled vacation with his wife and two young children” (AP, 7/16).
STAYING PUT: Univ. of Maryland AD Kevin Anderson said that he is “staying with the Terrapins.” Referring to a recent S.F. Chronicle report that he was in line to take the AD job in Palo Alto, Anderson said, “I have not been contacted by anyone at Stanford University.” ESPN.com’s Andy Katz noted Maryland two weeks ago announced that the school “would be cutting seven sports due to a projected revenue shortfall" (ESPN.com, 7/16). Anderson yesterday said, "I spent the majority of the afternoon calling -- talking to my president and to supporters of the athletic department and staff members. I had to put out a lot of fires." In Baltimore, Jeff Barker noted Anderson's contract with Maryland, "which began in 2010, was for five years." However, the contract "gets automatically extended by a year each Sept. 30 unless one of the parties objects. The deal was for $401,015 annually" (BALTIMORESUN.com, 7/16).
BEST CANDIDATE? In South Carolina, Ron Morris wrote the Univ. of South Carolina’s "'search' for a new athletics director was a sham, designed solely to make certain control of the athletics department returned to its rightful place with the university president and board of trustees. Unfortunately, we do not know if Ray Tanner was the best candidate for the athletics director job. We do not know that because USC president Harris Pastides never conducted a search for candidates” (Columbia STATE, 7/15).