NCAA President Mark Emmert yesterday “described not the past month but his tenure as ‘challenging’ under the current, shifting landscape, ‘a roller coaster of successes and scandals that have crossed over college sports in pretty much every dimension,’” according to Greg Bishop of the N.Y. TIMES. Emmert said, “I don't think anyone could have predicted the number of issues that have surfaced. The frustration is you take two steps forward on the reform agenda and something explodes and you get knocked back. We’re making great progress, but it has been much more tumultuous than any of us expected.” Emmert “dismissed" whether he feared for his job security, categorizing the question "as irrelevant." He said that criticism "was part of the job.” Bishop notes the “clamor of criticism grew loudest this month, after Emmert admitted the NCAA botched its investigation into Miami’s athletic department.” The organization is "working to define phrases like ‘lack of institutional control’ to separate the behavior of an institution from the behavior of an individual.” The new definitions, however, “will not go into effect until August." The NCAA until then "will operate under the established rules.” Former NCAA Committee on Infractions Chair Josephine Potuto said, “Ultimately, the guy at the top bears the responsibility. That may not be fair. That may not be reasonable. But it’s a fact.” Michigan State Univ. President and NCAA exec committee Chair Lou Anna Simon issued a statement last Saturday supporting Emmert. She said, “The analogy would be you’ve hired a coach for rebuilding, and you didn’t give them a chance to work through the beginning stages of the rebuilding process. That was the reason for the statement. It wasn’t to pat Mark on the back.” Emmert said that the average sports fan “often misunderstood his role, that he was more like a secretary general than a sports commissioner.” Emmert: “I’m not in the position of Roger Goodell, one who hands down penalties or makes those decisions” (N.Y. TIMES, 2/28).
KEEP CALM AND CARRY ON: CBSSPORTS.com’s Jeremy Fowler wrote the “actions of one division -- enforcement -- often define the NCAA publicly.” Within its HQs’ “bleach-white walls, the NCAA clings to the normalcy of a daily routine.” NCAA VP/Division I and former VP/Enforcement David Berst said, “I think people even in the building are anxious about what’s going on. I think they are hopeful. But they are a little disoriented as well. I think people have confidence (Emmert) has the ability and the brains and the support of the presidents’ leadership.” Fowler noted employees “aren’t exactly sure where the Miami case will go -- or where it takes the NCAA.” Providing “carefully crafted statements won't help the NCAA enforcement regain trust of the membership, which will be the hardest part, while restoring its own confidence.” A source said that “outsourcing investigative work will likely be a consideration internally at some point.” MAC Commissioner Jon Steinbrecher said that he is “not convinced yet that the enforcement model is broken.” Steinbrecher said, "None of the conferences want enforcement. None of us is set up for it.” Steinbrecher added that Emmert “deserves at least some credit for publicly announcing the problem in late January” (CBSSPORTS.com, 2/27).
NCAA AT RISK? In DC, Nathan Fenno wrote, “Somehow Emmert is beyond blame, above the high standards he expects of those beneath him as the NCAA has lurched from embarrassment to embarrassment since he took charge” in ’10. Fenno: “This is Emmert’s make-it-up-as-you-go-along NCAA. Process and procedures can be discarded when they aren’t convenient” (WASHINGTON TIMES, 2/26). CBSSPORTS.com’s Dennis Dodd wrote, “Perhaps for the first time, the NCAA itself is on trial.” It is “news” when the NCAA exec committee “feels compelled to issue an unprecedented vote of confidence for its CEO” (CBSSPORTS.com, 2/25). CBSSPORTS.com’s Gregg Doyel wrote the NCAA is “a joke and must be eliminated.” Doyel: “The whole damn organization is a problem, but still it continues along its merry way -- blissfully ignorant, too arrogant to understand that its existence is in jeopardy” (CBSSPORTS.com, 2/25).
The breakaway from the Big East by the Catholic 7 group of schools “could start next July and would include the Big East name,” according to sources cited by Mark Blaudschun of AJERSEYGUY.com. Sources said that the “battle for the Catholic 7 schools … is now down to a battle of money.” Big East officials are “willing to make this move for 2013 -- and sell the Big East name -- if enough money is paid to the remaining conference schools.” The Catholic 7 by waiting for another season “would not be subject to any exit fees.” But with a multiyear TV offer of approximately $40M from Fox Sports, the Catholic 7 schools are "getting pressure to make a deal which allows them to exit a year early.” In the “past few days, the consensus towards leaving early has started to build” (AJERSEYGUY.com, 2/27). DePaul AD Jean Lenti Ponsetto said, "I'm hoping in a couple of weeks we'll have that (separation) piece done. And then once that piece gets done, the next step is to determine the (start) date." In Chicago, Brian Hamilton notes Ponsetto has “told her coaches to plan as if DePaul will be in the Big East one more year,” but neither she nor Marquette AD Larry Williams “outright rejected the notion of beginning in 2013-14.” Williams said, "Every school is committed to making it happen, whether that's on a super-compressed timeline or a little bit less compressed timeline." It is “generally accepted that a 2014-15 start date is more likely, given the need to add more schools toward a goal of 12, total.” But there is a “bit of a chicken-or-the-egg scenario with new membership, too -- do you need the start date or new programs first?” (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 2/28).
THE NAME GAME:In N.Y., Richard Sandomir reports the Big East is “negotiating to sell its 34-year-old name” to the Catholic 7. The price to be paid by the Catholic colleges “will most likely be based on how much money they leave behind in pools of revenue that include exit fees from departing universities, entry fees from new members and cash earned for games played in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament.” A deal on the name “could be announced in a few weeks.” Then a “new task will begin for the Big East: finding a name that embraces the geographic hodgepodge that the conference has become.” For a Big East “by another name, questions abound.” Sandomir: “Will ‘Big’ remain part of it? With multiple regions in a remade conference that do not add up to national scope, what, if anything, about the universities will the name try to convey?” Former Big East Commissioner Mike Tranghese said, “I like the name. It’s recognizable to fans and it’s a marketing tool. But the name means more to the basketball group because of the history of the league. I think the Catholic schools could use it” (N.Y. TIMES, 2/28).
The Univ. of Nebraska’s Memorial Stadium expansion project that will raise football attendance above 90,000 per game “could provide a rare moment in time” when “supply comes close to meeting demand for Husker football season tickets,” according to Rich Kaipust of the OMAHA WORLD-HERALD. Nebraska has “5,000-plus new East Stadium seats to work with during the renewal and application process, making it so those previously on a waiting list, those looking to buy and even current season-ticket holders seeking more could be in position to be accommodated over the coming months.” The $63.5M project is “to be completed before next season,” and “will add 3,000 regular seats and around 2,100 club seats, in addition to 38 suites.” Both current season-ticket holders and new applicants “will have the opportunity to move into the new seats.” Current season-ticket holders “wishing to move from anywhere else in the stadium can denote their request on their renewal invoice or online.” Whether fans get the new East Stadium seats will be “determined by their level of donation per seat.” Nebraska is “hoping to have the renewal process completed and the majority of new requests in hand by April 1, then begin the seating process.” With more season tickets on the way, the ticket office “started directing people to the online waiting list last fall.” The Nebraska marketing and athletic media relations departments “then helped a few weeks back with a push around football signing day.” Applicants must “put down a $50 deposit per ticket requested, which goes toward your total season ticket cost if you're granted tickets or is refunded if you are not.” Nebraska going forward “will try to keep adding to the NCAA-record sellout streak that currently sits at 325 games.” Although attendance will “start exceeding 90,000” in ‘13, the listed capacity next season is “expected to be in the 87,000 range” (OMAHA WORLD-HERALD, 2/27).
TICKET TAKERS: Nebraska has partnered with StubHub and Paciolan to create a secondary ticket marketplace for the school's athletic events. StubHub will be the official fan-to-fan ticket marketplace of Nebraska. Each ticket transaction will be between fans and managed by StubHub. The new online ticket marketplace partnership was negotiated by StubHub and IMG College, the multimedia rights partner for Nebraska (StubHub).
New Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association Commissioner Jacqie Carpenter “hopes fans start attending more games, rather than just the parties associated" with the conference's basketball tournament to "help the historically black conference erase a $200,000 deficit,” according to Steve Reed of the AP. The tournament tips off this week and “the 200,000 fans that will descend on Charlotte want to be a part of all the events -- though many stay away from the games held” at Time Warner Cable Arena. Carpenter said that the goal is “to get out of the red ‘within a couple of years’ and hopes the conference can get a jumpstart with this week's ticket sales.” The entertainment has “often been better than the basketball: The CIAA tournament routinely features Grammy-winning artists, but has been short on NBA-caliber talent.” When Carpenter took over last summer, the CIAA “faced a $500,000 debt as a result of the lack of ticket sales, a decline in sponsorships, and unexpected legal fees.” All 12 schools “donated $25,000 to cut that deficit by more than half.” Carpenter said that the CIAA “needs to become ‘more fiscally responsible’ and creative to make the tournament more attractive to sponsors.” She said that the conference also has “trimmed unnecessary travel expenses for its staff this year and cut down on media credentials to save money.” Reed noted the CIAA's contract with Charlotte to host the tournament “expires in 2014.” Carpenter said that much of this spring “will involve discussions about the future of the tournament,” which has been held in Charlotte for the past eight years. She “mentioned Raleigh and Winston-Salem as potential candidates, along with renewing in Charlotte” (AP, 2/26).
PLAN OF ACTION:MOBILE MARKETER’s Chantal Tode noted Coca-Cola has been a corporate sponsor of the CIAA Tournament and is the “official soft drink” of the event. Coke this year is “offering the Enjoy More CIAA Coke Zero mobile app,” which was "designed to make attendees aware of all of the events happening between games and around Charlotte.” Coca-Cola created the browser-based app, which “works across multiple devices.” Features include an “event schedule and interactive map,” and there also are “push notifications to alert fans where to head next for fun activities.” App users “will have access to exclusive nightlife events, with a chance to win VIP passes.” The marketing effort behind the sponsorship “also includes a Twitter tie-in, with fans able to follow the action and share their experiences using the hashtag #enjoymoreCIAA” (MOBILEMARKETER.com, 2/27).