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SEC Commissioner Sankey talked to the SEC Network’s Finebaum from the league’s MBB Tournament in Nashville yesterday. “We were approached by Oklahoma and Texas who said - no TV, no money - we want to be a part of that, what you have collectively done in the Southeastern Conference. That’s an incredible compliment to everybody in this league. Then this summer, during media days, I became the center of expansion, you know, ‘What’s he going to do next?’ I was very intentional to say, ‘We’re focused on growing to 16.’ Then I watched others say, ‘We’re going to add four schools in the west or we’re going to go to 20.’ You never really heard why. So I’ve tried to be very clear. We had an opportunity, it was the right opportunity given what we’ve seen since and I think history will show it was the right decision. [...] I’m not a recruiter and I respect my colleagues. I understand people have different motivations, different interests, but we need a time of settling, a time of collaboration. And not just collaboration, but cooperation because we have some really important challenges ahead of us. [...] I’m not simply sitting in my glass house throwing stones, because we’ve added members. But, I think we all have to be careful in how we proceed and thoughtful in how we communicate.” (link - video clip); Sankey also says the conference did not consult Texas A&M on its 12th Man Foundation+ NIL strategy: “There wasn’t much notice to us relatively speaking. That’s not an evaluation process in which we’re involved, because our consistent position has been you have to make certain you’re complying with your state laws and with the NCAA structure, whatever it may be, around name image and likeness.” (link)
Connect/MB Sports’ Banker talks with Northeast Conference Commissioner Morris about the basketball climate in her league, how increased exposure is viewed from a conference level, the importance of an efficient governance structure, potential changes to the revenue structure and the focus of the conference’s spring meetings. In discussing the latter, Norris cites the student-athlete experience and mental health in particular. “I think from our perspective in the conference, we’ve already kind of got a step out in front this year. For the first time, we’ve provided our institutions with a mental health grant. … So, now it’s just a matter of saying, as a group, are there things we can do collectively? Should the conference engage with a third party to try and help that or can we create, as the Transformation Committee has suggested, maybe peer-to-peer evaluations?” Full Q&A. (link)
The D1.dossier for South Carolina State is now available. No details yet on when an AD search may take place in Orangeburg, but the dossier is ready to assist with preparation as we all learn more. Also notably available: Eastern Washington, George Mason, Long Beach State, Hawai’i. Up next: Mount St. Mary’s. (link)
+ Central Arkansas AD Teague goes with Marshall WBB HC Kemper for the same role with the Sugar Bears. Kemper returns to Conway, having previously served as a MBB AC at UCA from 2006-10 and a WBB AC from 2010-12. (link)
+ St. Bonaventure hires former Providence WBB HC Crowley for his second stint as the program’s leader in Olean. He also led the Bonnies from 2000-16. (link)
+ Holy Cross parts ways with MBB HC Nelson after four seasons. (link)
+ Texas Tech AD Hocutt, TTU System Board of Regents member Womble, former Red Raiders student-athlete Odiase and FB HC McGuire will be the search committee for a new MBB boss in Lubbock. TurnkeyZRG has also been hired. (link)
+ Missouri MBB HC Gates gets a contract extension that could keep him in Columbia through the 2028-29 season. Annual salary goes to $4M in 2023-24 with $100K bumps each season through the life of the agreement. All other terms remain the same. (link)
+ Texas Tech agrees to pay former MBB HC Adams $3.9M, less taxes and withholdings, plus a $200K retention bonus in a settlement reached this week. The sum will be paid within 30 days. (link)
+ Georgia Tech owes former MBB HC Pastner more than $5.2M, subject to mitigation. (link)
+ Per USA Today’s Berkowitz, “Texas Tech, Cal and Georgia Tech are committed to a combined $13.1 million in buyouts to fired men's basketball coaches.” Quick math there would mean Cal owes former HC Fox somewhere in the neighborhood of $4M. (link)
The Athletic’s Salvian and Strang spoke to more than 30 individuals who either played on the Harvard women’s ice hockey team or were associated with the program over the past 20 years to learn about the culture of HC Stone. They write: “What emerged from that reporting was a portrait of a program that, for most of Stone’s tenure, pushed and crossed the boundaries of acceptable treatment of athletes, players say, and in many years there were activities that some players considered hazing.” Specific allegations include a fining system in which players had to pay a monetary penalty for perceived offenses, and some players had to pay a “gay tax” or an “Asian tax.” Also, the team’s annual “Initiation Week” concluded with “Freshman Fun Night,” during which, per Salvian and Strang, “upperclassmen urged freshmen to, among other acts over the years, put condoms on bananas, fake orgasms and act out skits that referenced their sexual orientation.” Lots more. (link)
Sportico’s McCann talks to Brown’s student newspaper about the recent antitrust lawsuit filed against the Ivy League on the grounds of “antitrust by denying student-athlete scholarships and compensation for their services.” McCann believes one defense the conference could use is arguing it is “not a ‘market’ for purposes of antitrust scrutiny — namely, athletes who might go to Harvard or Dartmouth can instead go to other academically elite colleges with similar sports profiles where athletic scholarships are offered.” Further: “If Brown on its own, or Yale on its own, didn’t want to give athletic scholarships to their athletes, that is fine under antitrust law. The problem is when two or more colleges … agree to not give scholarships.” (link)
Elon raised more than $579K for the 10th edition of “Elon Day,” the school’s annual day of giving. The total marked 10 straight years of growth and was 40% higher than the 2020 haul. (link)
Puck’s Alexander breaks down ESPN’s ambition to create a central hub for sports, characterizing it as the “App Store for live sports on streaming.” Amazon and Apple offer similar versions of this concept through their “channels” features, and Alexander notes that “these services have become more valuable as streaming has become more complicated. … While Google may have resolved the issue of discovering how to watch games, no tech platform has solved the issue of conversion for sports.” In other words, the issue isn’t “telling people where to find the game. It’s getting them to pay for the game,” and Alexander contends ESPN “may be able to convert its strong brand association with sports to become the clearinghouse platform of the future.” Still, while ESPN Marketplace could help attract casual fans, it doesn’t solve the problem of subscription fatigue, and that’s the crux of the challenge for sports, as casual fans, Alexander explains, prefer moments over seasons. As such, convincing them to pay $10 for a game when a highlight on TikTok or Reddit may satisfy their appetite. “There’s also no real solution for this issue right now, though various companies have invested time and money into figuring it out. If it nails Marketplace, that could be ESPN’s next challenge.” (link)
Stratechery’s Thompson weighs in on ESPN’s impediments in creating a central hub for sports streaming, pointing out there is “one big challenge facing this initiative, and it’s a familiar one: platform restrictions. You can’t, for example, subscribe to Amazon Prime Video Channels on Apple TV; you have to sign up in a web browser. An ESPN app would face these sorts of obstacles on all sorts of devices — and I’m pretty sure that Disney does not want to get into hardware! Still, this seems like an initiative worth pursuing: lots of companies have made a go at being a centralized place for video content, but the need seems particularly pressing for sports, given it is live, and it’s difficult to think of a better use of existing brand equity than in Aggregating demand, even if some of the details need to be worked out over time.” (link)
As the Silicon Valley Bank fallout continues, reports say Roku was holding $487M of cash & cash equivalents at the financial institution. Per Roku: “The company’s deposits with SVB are largely uninsured. At this time, the company does not know to what extent the company will be able to recover its cash on deposit at SVB.” (link)
Yesterday's Evening Standard...
In response to CBS’ Dodd’s reporting that talks between the Big 12 and the Four Corners schools of the Pac-12 are intensifying, Utah AD Harlan tweets: “Give me a break.” (link)
JohnCanzano.com’s namesake sorts through noise around the Pac-12’s future, reports on the role Endeavor is playing as WME Sports & IMG Media co-head Brodkin, who Canzano says interviewed for the Pac-12 Commissioner job when it was open, is running point on the Big 12’s media narrative. Canzano: “Her name keeps coming up in my conversations with Pac-12 sources. [...] Brodkin has a solid reputation. Those who have worked closely with her say she’s smart and shrewd.” Canzano indicates the Big 12 relationship is worth “millions” for Endeavor. More: “Industry sources expect the Pac-12’s next media-rights deal to end in 2029. A strategy designed to allow the Pac-12 to go to market again in front of the Big Ten, which signed a contract that runs through the summer of 2030.” (link)
U.S. Congresswoman Sherrill (D-NJ) sent a letter to NCAA President Baker earlier this week asking him to help close the gender equity gap between MBB and WBB, ESPN’s Murphy reports. Sherrill outlined some specific issues she hopes Baker can address quickly, including changing the NCAA's leadership structure to put the vice president in charge of women's basketball on equal footing with her men's basketball counterpart; providing financial incentives for teams that win games in the WBB tournament similar to the way MBB teams earn units; and adding transparency and agency to the WBB TV rights negotiations. (link)
+ Georgia Tech parts ways with MBB HC Pastner. (link)
+ St. John’s also makes a MBB leadership change. (link)
+ USF AD Kelly is another who will hire a new with MBB. (link, link)
+ East Tennessee State MBB HC Oliver has been relieved of his duties. (link)
+ UTSA MBB HC Henson will return next season, per Roadrunners AD Campos, who says Henson “has already begun a complete evaluation of the program and will make the changes necessary to enable success next season.” (link)
+ So, too, will Saint Joseph MBB HC Lange, per Hawks AD Bodensteiner. (link)
AT&T has renewed its corporate champion partnership with the NCAA through 2025, “extending one of the longest-running college sponsorships,” per SBJ’s Smith, who adds: “The AT&T deal goes back to 2007 when it took over the sponsorship from Cingular Wireless, which had been an NCAA sponsor since 2001.” Smith also reports TurboTax is expected to be added as a partner soon. CBS Sports EVP Bogusz: "You probably have heard about headwinds in the advertising community and spending being a little softer. That is not the case for the sports marketplace." (link)
A former Air Force FB AC violated NCAA recruiting violations during the COVID-19 dead period, according to the Committee on Infractions, which also found the AC “violated ethical conduct rules when he provided false or misleading information during the enforcement investigation and encouraged prospects to do the same.” The violations in this case involved “windshield tours” aided by U.S. Air Force Preparatory School coaches, and the COI panel classified the case as Level I-aggravated for the former AC. In addition to the penalties agreed to by the school and the other individuals in September, the committee used the DI membership-approved infractions penalty guidelines to prescribe a three-year show-cause for the AC. (link); AFA also notes three civilian ACs were let go and one military AC has been reassigned. (link)
A grand jury has indicted former Alabama MBB student-athlete Miles and his friend, Davis, on capital murder charges. Miles’ attorney, Turner: “While we are not surprised by the indictment based on the reality that a person accused of a crime is not allowed to present any evidence to the Grand Jury, we are nonetheless disappointed that the Government presented this case to the Grand Jury as Capital Murder considering the evidence uncovered during our investigation and the obvious weaknesses in the Government's case brought to light during the preliminary hearing.” Miles and Davis are expected to have separate trials. (link)
The NCAA Oversight Committee has approved a waiver for the 2023-24 academic year for baseball teams include 40-man rosters while allowing 32 players (counters) to be on scholarship, per D1Baseball’s Rogers who also reports the “25% scholarship minimum is still in place because it MUST be voted on legislatively. That is expected to be voted on later this fall when the NCAA Baseball Governance Committee is formed. The 40-man roster/32 counters would then be hardcoded moving forward. … The NCAA's Baseball Governance committee is expected to be formed in June and would then be a baseball-specific panel dedicated to making large-scale baseball-only decisions.” (link)
Outgoing Chicago State Deputy AD/COO Poole joined Women Leaders Director of Membership Engagement Kendricks to discuss the crucial role SIDs play in connecting student-athletes to their athletic department, her role as the first Black woman to lead College Sports Communicators, the importance of relationships and how she hopes to positively impact the leadership pipeline for women and people of color. Poole: “I try to pop into practice, I try to go on as many road trips as I can because I do think that it's important that they understand and know who you are. I think sometimes when you foray into administration, we kind of lose the thing that brought us there. So, I’m very intentional and make it a priority to make sure I’m visible to my student-athletes and let them know that I want to know them, and I want to help them be successful.” (link)
Denver Broncos President Leech, a former postgraduate intern for the NCAA who went on to spend 17 years with the association, spoke with current interns while in town for the NFL Combine and explains why doing so is important. “When you're an intern, it's a very unsettling part of your career and your life. You're wondering what your next steps are going to be. You're in a cohort of people. It's somewhat competitive. People start getting jobs. There's a lot of uncertainty, and I've been there and just wanted to share my story and some of the things I've learned along the way…and I think the message that I tried to impart was, ‘Don't presume to know where you can find professional happiness.’” Leech also talks about increasing representation among women and people of color in sports administration, saying: “Along the way, I think people have to be intentional about it and really be focused on diversity and growing diverse staffs. That development … whether it's mentoring, allowing people to shadow you, allowing people to grow and being willing to take chances on people who may not have the same background as you is also incredibly important.” (link)
Boise State yesterday held a free tax preparation and filing session through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) grant program, per On3’s Wittry, who notes the session is open to “all qualifying members of the community” but it will also provide guidance and services to Broncos student-athletes who may need to file taxes on income from NIL agreements. BSU also planned a three-part financial education series for its student-athletes and department staff members on the topics of budgeting, investing and tax education. (link)
Academic misgivings notwithstanding, LSU gymnast Dunne’s partnership with Caktus AI has proven fruitful for the company, as Co-Founder/former Notre Dame kicker Leonard points out. “[Users on the site] is through the roof; it was very mutually beneficial for both parties. It’s impressions – that was probably one of the most disruptive NIL campaigns that has been run, just off the amount of stories that have come out of it. New users and also subscribers of course, that’s the goal always – make money back. … Schools have been pushing this off for a long time, not actually making statements. That really goes to show the power of NIL and the power of Livvy Dunne. She made that statement and she made that conversation begin, which is amazing and just goes to show her power. She’s dealt with it perfectly.” Dunne’s TikTok post highlighting the company has garnered 1.3M impressions and 50K likes. (link)
Online sports betting in Massachusetts went live today with Barstool, BetMGM, Caesars, DraftKings, FanDuel, and WynnBet all launching their books. Gambling.com Group VP of Sports Bichsel: “Massachusetts may be the last state in the US to launch online sports betting in 2023 and, as a result, many other state lawmakers and policymakers will look to Massachusetts to observe how they regulated, launched, and operated successfully. This will create a much-needed push to get pending legislation in other states across the line.” (link)
Genius Sports’ revenue rose 30% in 2022, reaching $341M on the year, per Sportico’s Coffey, who notes sports betting provided the lion’s share, accounting for $210M, thanks to expanding sports betting in the U.S. and the acquisition worldwide of 71 new sportsbook customers. Genius also reported a narrowed net loss for the year, at $181.6M, down from a net loss of $592.8M in 2021. Q4 sales were up 25% to $105.3M. (link)
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