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Volume 24 No. 214

Colleges

Auburn on Friday introduced new AD Allen Greene, who “won’t be afraid to take risks,” according to Tom Green of AL.com. Greene said, “We want our people to be armed and equipped and feel comfortable taking some chances, some calculated risks and knowing that it's OK to fail, because when you fail, you learn. We want to be innovative as we move this athletics department and this university forward." Greene also noted the school's core values are "going to be bookended by the student-athlete experience and our quest for championships" (AL.com, 1/19). In Alabama, Josh Vitale notes Greene "does not inherit a clean slate" and will be tasked with dealing with an FBI investigation involving corruption connected to the men's basketball program. Greene said of dealing with the scandal, “I need to sit down and really get my hands dirty and understand what the situation is in its entirety, and then make some decisions based on that.” Though associate men's basketball coach Chuck Person, who was charged with federal corruption, is “no longer at the university, the fallout off the court is ongoing.” Also “under consideration” is the future of coach Bruce Pearl, whose job was “reportedly in jeopardy during the early part of the season because of his refusal to cooperate with the internal investigation" (OPELIKA-AUBURN NEWS, 1/20). AL.com's James Crepea cited sources as saying that Auburn “had interest in UConn's David Benedict, Virginia Tech's Whit Babcock, Oregon's Rob Mullens and UCF's Danny White" for the AD job, but each "had reasons for not pursuing the position.” Recommendations for Greene “poured in from Penn State’s Sandy Barbour and Duke’s Kevin White,” as well as Danny White (AL.com, 1/19).

STUCK IN THE MIDDLE
: USA TODAY’s Dan Wolken wrote Greene is “squarely in the spotlight at one of the nation’s most complex programs.” Greene made a “terrific impression” during his introduction. He “used all the right buzzwords, spoke elegantly and thoughtfully about becoming just the third African-American to head an SEC athletics department.” However, he is “about to inherit the most awkward situation in all of college sports.” Firing Pearl would be a “highly unpopular thing to do” (USATODAY.com, 1/19). AL.com’s Crepea noted Pearl has “still not met” with Auburn President Steven Leath formally regarding the FBI investigation. Leath said, “Bruce knows that my expectation is that sooner or later he's going to have to come in and talk to me and others on campus about what's going on in the program and we're moving towards a solution on that” (AL.com, 1/19). Meanwhile, SECCOUNTRY.com’s Justin Ferguson noted Greene is making a new standalone facility for Auburn football a “high priority in his tenure” (SECCOUNTRY.com, 1/19). 

WELL WISHES: AL.com's Green noted outgoing Auburn AD Jay Jacobs "stayed out of the spotlight on Greene's big day, but Leath and Greene still went out of their way to show their gratitude." Under Jacobs, Auburn "posted the highest graduation success rate in program history." Jacobs -- who is "expected to earn $540,000 annually in state retirement funds -- will remain at Auburn as AD emeritus, a title he will share with his predecessor Davis Housel and a role that he said will not include compensation from the university" (AL.com, 1/20).

The Univ. of Texas had nearly $215M in annual operating revenue and total operating expenses of $207M during FY '17, the first time a D-I public-school athletics program has had at least $200M in "both operating revenues and expenses in the same year," according to Steve Berkowitz of USA TODAY. In addition to its operating expenses, UT reported making a separate $10.3M transfer to the university. UT athletics is among the "few nationally that gets no revenue from student fees, or institutional or state sources." Ticket revenue was up by $11.6M to $72.5M. That is the "largest single-year ticket revenue total for a public school," by more than $9M. Part of that increase was "attributable to an expansion of concert business" at the Frank Erwin Center, where Texas plays basketball. Royalties and licensing were up by $9.1M to $45.9M, and media rights were up by $2.7M to $17.6M (USATODAY.com, 1/20). In Austin, Brian Davis noted football "led the way financially" as the school generated $42.4M in ticket revenue during the '16 season. Men's basketball ($6.6M) and baseball ($913,000) were the "only other two sports to show profit for the athletic year" (AUSTIN AMERICAN-STATESMAN, 1/21).

The NCAA's Power Five conferences “approved sweeping changes in everything from medical care to basketball during the holidays on Friday, dashing through the agenda with little opposition and virtually no debate,” according to Michael Marot of the AP. Among the changes approved were “extended medical benefits for former athletes, a three-day break for basketball players over the holiday season, more money for student hosts, and allowing men’s hockey players to receive draft advice before enrolling in college without losing eligibility.” The group “passed all four measures -- and 11 in all -- in just 35 minutes at the NCAA's annual convention.” The quick approvals showed just how “closely the power conferences ... seem to be." It is a “stark contrast to the contentious debates of earlier years.” Medical coverage and mental health benefits for athletes who suffered injuries or sought help during their college careers was “extended for at least two years after they leave campus.” It is an “open question whether the moves by the wealthiest conferences leads to similar changes in other leagues” (AP, 1/19). Meanwhile, USA TODAY’s Paul Myerberg noted the group also “approved changing the word ‘spouse’ to ‘significant other’ in order for fiancées and domestic partners to be eligible to receive permissible benefits.” Another change is that the D-I BOD "adopted a 'more flexible legislative schedule'" for '18 to “continue ongoing discussions regarding potential changes to the NCAA's existing transfer rules.” This will allow the D-I Council to “make its proposals in April -- and potentially make a final vote as early as the summer -- rather than wait for the traditional date of Sept. 1 to issue its proposals” (USATODAY.com, 1/19).