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Volume 24 No. 156


Florida Gulf Coast Univ. has started selling season tickets for the '13-14 men's basketball season, but the school "recently offered a $50 deposit option, which would allow someone to get on the list should they not want to make the full commitment now," according to Darren Rovell of The idea is to get "more people thinking about next season now, especially as the volume of older fans heading north for the spring and summer increases." FGCU AD Ken Kavanagh said that the athletic department "received 23 deposits" just at Monday's pep rally for Friday night's Sweet 16 game against Florida. Kavanagh: "We'll allow people who had seats last year to come back in their same seats until June 30, but after that, there will be a line to get in." Rovell reported despite FGCU selling out about half of the 4,500-seat Alico Arena this season, the school "after winning the Atlantic Sun tournament ... started thinking about tickets for next year." New inventory includes 30 courtside seats, with the school "asking for a minimum $5,000 donation for each of the 10 seats closest to center court." FGCU also "wasted no time trying to cash locally on the national attention" of its NCAA Tournament wins. The school this week sent an e-mail to fans "asking them to donate $16, $160, or $1,600 to [the] athletic department in recognition of the team's run." Kavanagh: "We still need a lot more resources. We have to try to make up for the fact that our oldest alum is 37 years old." Rovell noted FGCU eventually will see "some nice return from merchandise royalties." The school said that through Tuesday it had "sold $148,904 worth of Eagles gear in March compared to a little more than $20,107 during the same period of time last year" (, 3/28).

GROWTH SPURT: FGCU play-by-pay announcer Dave Moulton said the school's off-the-court story “may be more remarkable than the on-the-court story.” Moulton said the university “was built with the intent" of being a Division II school. He noted the success of FGCU’s other athletic programs, including former FGCU P Chris Sale being taken in the first round of the '10 MLB Draft, and said the “only thing that was not successful so far was the men’s basketball program." Moulton: "It’s already pretty close to a mid-major athletic department even though it’s a very small conference with a ridiculously low budget.” The school has “not been able to really tap into any of the money in the area” of Ft. Myers. The "great unanswered question" is whether FGCU can “tap into the money that is within an half-an-hour of it.” Moulton: “All that money was made somewhere else and these folks have come down here and retired. Can they get them emotionally invested in this little school to turn it into the great next mid-major?” (“The DA Show,” CBS Sports Radio, 3/28).

MERCH SALES STILL STRONG: In Florida, Tracy Miguel reports FGCU has been the "top-selling college and most-searched school on" since the start of the NCAA tourney. Florida unsurprisingly has been the "top state for sales" of FGCU gear. Meanwhile, Sarah Smith, who manages the Lids location at the Coastland Center mall in Naples, Fla., said that FGCU caps "have been selling well" since the team made the Sweet 16. The store, which "didn't carry many FGCU hats because there wasn't a demand for university merchandise until recently," has sold about 100 caps this week (NAPLES DAILY NEWS, 3/29).

It has been three years since former UCLA basketball star Ed O’Bannon filed an antitrust suit against the NCAA, and there have been “signs lately that it’s scaring the smugness and sanctimony right out of the NCAA,” according to Dave D’Alessandro of the Newark STAR-LEDGER. UCLA and the NCAA to this day “maintain that they own his likeness in perpetuity, because O’Bannon signed a legal release at age 17 that granted such license.” But O’Bannon said, "A 17-year-old kid doesn’t know what he’s doing, and to sign something of that magnitude without legal representation is manipulation the second you’re handed the pen. When you sign a letter of intent, you just want to play ball -- that’s where my mind-set was.” D’Alessandro writes an NCAA defeat in court would “not only force the cartel to hand over billions, it would threaten the existence of the NCAA itself, as college sports would have to adopt a market-based model.” The next “big court date is June 20, a certification hearing that will decide whether the case will go forward as a class action -- one that includes" the likes of Basketball HOFers Bill Russell and Oscar Robertson. O’Bannon: "My initial thought was that if my likeness was sold, there should be compensation. But where the lawsuit has branched off is really way beyond what I expected." The NCAA last month "offered to provide its student-athletes a $300 annual stipend -- a pittance, of course, but the first concession that they recognize that they’re headed toward a pay-for-play model.” O’Bannon: "I’m only trying to do what’s right. ... I appreciated the free education, and I’m proud to have my degree. But with the amount of money that’s brought into each institution and the imbalance in compensation, there’s just something wrong with this picture" (Newark STAR-LEDGER, 3/29).