Georgetown Basketball: October 2011 News Archive
This weekend marked the public debut of Georgetown's capital campaign, For Generations To Come, seeking $1.5 billion in philanthropy across all segments of the University community and guided by three imperatives: "1) unwavering pursuit of academic excellence and research competitiveness, 2) deployment of University assets to address the issues of our age, and 3) strengthening our financial foundations to advance the first two imperatives."
Any casual reader to this site understands the severe limitations facing Georgetown with substandard, obsolete, and failing athletic facilities, all of which damage recruiting, erode the enthusiasm of its coaches, and negatively impacts the experience of student-athletes. The primary effort of Athletics in the campaign will be to secure the timely construction of the Intercollegiate Athletics Center, with secondary goals in scholarship support and the completion of the long-delayed Multi-Sport Facility.
It is vital that every member of the Georgetown athletics constituency enthusiastically supports this effort at this critical time in the athletic landscape at Georgetown University. Now is the time to act--if you can provide an annual gift, commit to doing so, no matter the size. If you can commit to a capital gift, stand up and be counted for Athletics. If you are able to provide a leadership gift, now is the opportunity to make a tangible difference for student-athletes and their coaches, now and for generations to come.
"Sustaining and advancing Georgetown is a sacred trust that has been handed down to us through the generations," writes University president Jack DeGioia (C'79, G'95). "Now it is up to us--and only us--to secure Georgetown's place in the first rank of the world's universities. Let us prove worthy of that trust--so that all of those who come after us will recognize that we acted in the true spirit of Georgetown."
Please click on the image above or visit http://campaign.georgetown.edu for more information.
Head coach John Thompson III joined two notable Georgetown Basketball alumni Friday in association with the kickoff of the University's capital campaign at the Lohrfink Auditorium.
Alonzo Mourning (C'92), a member of the University's board of directors, opened the afternoon's discussions.
"We cannot grow by ourselves at all," Mourning said. "This university has been stimulating growth since 1789...and it all starts with giving, it all starts with you."
Mourning remained in the audience to attend a discussion by University president Jack DeGioia, head coach John Thompson III, and Paul Tagliabue (C'62), chairman of the board of directors, on the impact of sports in society, including a look back at the Hoyas' trip to China.
We have a very young team this year," said Thompson. "So as a coach, if we were going to take foreign trip, this was it. The opportunity to go to Asia was something that excited me, so selfishly, it was great. Thinking not from just the Georgetown perspective, but also to try and grow and become the most popular team in China and to grow our brand, it made sense. There are as many people that play basketball in China that there are in the United States. The sheer numbers as a basketball coach, it made sense."
Mourning and Tagliabue were present at a number of festivities, including Friday's opening ceremonies on the steps of Healy Hall, a Saturday event to announce additional gifts, and a gala at the National Portrait Gallery.
During the weekend, it was announced that the Tagliabue family has made a $5 million gift to the campaign, a portion of which will endow athletic scholarships.
After a failed effort by a U.S. Senator to get his own state's university in the discussion, Big 12 presidents have extended an offer for West Virginia University to join that conference, the fourth Big East school to give notice to leave the league in the last two months.
West Virginia joined Big East football in 1991 and for basketball in the 1995-96 season, winning the 2010 men's basketball championship.
"The Big 12 is a perfect fit for West Virginia University," said WVU president James P. Clements in prepared remarks. "It is a strong conference that, like WVU, values quality academic and athletic programs, and has a great tradition of success. This is a very exciting time for WVU and Mountaineer nation. I am confident that the future of WVU athletics has never been more promising."
The WVU press release failed to note the geographic commitments WVU will make for its sports, as the closest Big 12 school is 970 miles west and the 10 other members are spread out at up to 1,400 miles from the Morgantown campus.
The school is expected to challenge the Big East's 27 month exit policy, making frequent references in its press conference to playing Big 12 sports on July 1, 2012. The Big East has publicly stated they will not release Pitt or Syracuse early, and would not otherwise do so for West Virginia, though the schedule of entrants into the conference, to be announced as early as Tuesday, may provide some latitude in the decision. The league is currently at 13 schools, of which five play Big East football.
West Virginia will pay a $5 million exit fee, not $10 million, as the contingency plan of the increase to $10 million (that Navy and Air Force having joined) was not in place at the time of the decision. The school will pay no entry fee to join the Big 12 but will received a reduced share of TV revenue over its first three years in that conference.
"The move by West Virginia does not come as a surprise," Big East commissioner John Marinatto said in a statement cited in this link to the Cincinnati Enquirer. "League officials, members of our conference and the candidate schools to whom we have been talking were aware of this possibility. We have taken West Virginia's possible departure into account as we have moved forward with our own realignment plans."
Georgetown has not made any comment on whether it will seek to play West Virginia in regular non-conference games, though it seems unlikely. Georgetown owns a 26-24 advantage in the series, which began in the 1921-22 season.
While various reports still have the University of Memphis on the outside looking in for Big East expansion, it's athletic director is not giving up hope.
"I really believe we would fill a void, particularly with our basketball replacing West Virginia basketball,” Johnson told the Memphis Commercial Appeal. ”And, obviously, Rick [Pitino] has been very supportive and [Louisville athletic director] Tom [Jurich] and I are pretty close. I have talked to him numerous times.”
As the Big East turns, West Virginia's housewarming party with the Big 12 Conference took a partisan turn Wednesday as multiple sources report the conference has put the offer on hold, the result of lobbying from a U.S. Senator.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) began an effort late Tuesday to lobby for Louisville, not West Virginia, to receive the Big 12's tenth seat. With a press release pending announcing the invite, the Big 12 board of directors abruptly put a hold on any invite, having never formally voted on WVU, causing an uproar from the West Virginia senatorial delegation.
"If the story that we have been told has any merit to it, I've been very clear, if a U.S. senator would have intervened after the process took place that's wrong and unacceptable," said Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) to the Charleston Gazette. "If that happened, I will ask for a Senate investigation. I don't believe that that's the way this game should be played."
The irony in Sen. Manchin's last quote does not go unnoticed.
There is the open question of who the Big 12 wants at this point. The Kansas City Star reports Texas wants West Virginia, while Oklahoma wants Louisville. University of Oklahoma president David Boren previously served in the Senate with McConnell, and was the likely target of the lobbying.
Big 12 presidents meet on Monday to discuss further.
The Boston Globe reports it has the plans for next week's planned expansion by the Big East conference.
"The Western wing of the Big East (if BYU is included) would be comprised of: Boise State, Air Force, BYU, Houston, SMU and Cincinnati," reports the Globe. "The Eastern division would be comprised of: Connecticut, Rutgers, Central Florida, South Florida, West Virginia or Louisville and Navy.
Of these, only three schools (Central Florida, Houston, and SMU) would join in sports other than football, though a loss of West Virginia and/or Louisville could change matters. Louisville coach Rick Pitino is advocating that Memphis and Temple join for basketball as well.
"We have to take a page out of the ACC in what they did to us," Pitino told ESPN.com. "Taking Syracuse and Pittsburgh was a stroke of genius. We have to do the same thing and we have that available to us with two programs that also have football...I understand what we're doing for football, but the Big East core is inner-city basketball, and Memphis and Temple fit that core. They are everything we need. We have to get back to our core."
Hopefully, Louisville is in that core, too.
On Wednesday, ESPN.com printed an article from blogger Kristi Dosh on the relationship between the Big East and the BCS. Wrote Dosh:
"When asked if the Big East could lose its BCS status if it does not have a contract with a [BCS] bowl in 2014, Hancock said: “Any of the conferences could, if the marketplace requests it.” He defined “marketplace” as the bowl games’ boards and television partners."
Who are these "television partners"? There is only one such partner: ESPN, which has exclusive rights to all BCS bowls.
But according to the Boston Globe, the BCS bid is secure. "There's been a lot of talk about the Big East losing its bid," said a source familiar with the requirements on Oct. 13. "As long as the conference exists in football the contract is iron clad for two years and there is also a two-year grace period (an NCAA rule) which extends it through the 2015 season."
Some fans seem to be taking a critical eye to ESPN's apparent rush to judgment. An excerpt from the comments posted after Dosh's column:
"ESPN has a horrible conflict of interest. It is the Big 12 network/cable partner and the same for the Big East. If ESPN is encouraging or even participating in the Big 12 taking any Big East team, they are likely in violation of New York law that has a strong duty of good faith and fair dealing in contracts. How can ESPN be participating in ANY way in even discussing the movement of teams from the Big East to the Big 12? Is this because the Big East contract is up next year while the Big 12 has multiple years left? Is ESPN trying to raid the Big East of teams for its other league because it does not want to pay the Big East next year and also wants to make it less attractive for NBC? This whole thing stinks to high heaven, and I think Congress can and should send some subpoenaes to Bristol."
ESPN.com: "The commissioners of the Mountain West Conference, Conference USA and the Big East Conference are planning to meet to discuss the possibility of forming a single football league, a commissioner source with knowledge of the meeting said."
New York Daily News: "The Big East has strongly denied a story...that its commissioner, John Marinatto, would meet with the commissioners of the Mountain West and Conference USA in New York Wednesday to discuss the creation of a nationwide football super conference of 28 to 32 teams, with the goal of gaining an automatic BCS qualifying bid. "We are not part of any meeting with those two conferences,", Big East spokesman John Paquette told the Daily News, in no uncertain terms."
"Anybody else sick as hell of this mess?" asked John Pennington at MrSEC.com. "The fact that national reporters write gossip on Twitter like it's a bathroom wall doesn’t help matters."
On Wednesday, ESPN amended its story to confirm that no such meeting with the Big East took place.
Well, here we go again.
Various sources Tuesday, both reliable (CBS Sports.com) and increasingly less so (ESPN.com) report that West Virginia UNiversity is poised to become the fourth school in the last six weeks to give notice to leave the Big East Conference, regardless of whether the University of Missouri leaves the Big 12 for the Southeastern Conference, though reports suggest the invitation would not be made until Missouri makes its final decision.
Geographically, the move makes no sense, but neither did TCU playing in the Big East. The closest Big 12 school to Morgantown is Iowa State (970 miles), the most distant is Texas Tech (1400 miles). The Mountaineers have no prior history in the Southwest and vice versa, but would share in the Big 12 BCS berth and a new contract with Fox Sports signed last year.
"They've got to go. That is where the money is. It's not in the Big East," a fan told the Charleston Gazette.
West Virginia joined Big East football in 1991 and for basketball in the 1995-96 season, winning the 2010 men's basketball championship. The Big East is committed to hold all members to a 27 month exit requirement, meaning WVU could not play football in a new league until 2014 despite claims in the press that WVU could simply pay its way out to join in 2012.
The Big East was apparently not surprised by the move, despite the fact that WVU recommitted to the Big East just last month. The departure would leave only five I-A schools in the conference and only one (Rutgers) from the original eight schools which started football play in 1991. Various sources report that Memphis and Temple have moved into the expansion discussion, with strong interest continuing from Central Florida, Southern Methodist, and Houston, with the latter three schools lobbying for Brigham Young as a possible football-only option.
The NCAA has released its annual review of graduation rates across sports, with Georgetown University achieving a graduation rate of 86% of student-athletes against 94% of students overall in its Graduation Success Rate (GSR) calculations.
Men's basketball scored a GSR rate of 60% for the incoming class of 2004-05, with three graduating in 2008 (Tyler Crawford, Roy Hibbert, Jonathan Wallace) one transfer (Cornelio Guibunda), and one NBA early entry (Jeff Green), for an overall GSR score of 70%, down from 78% last year.
The numbers will be on a decidedly downward track in ensuing reports, as the classes of 2009 and 2010 graduated only one of seven recruits that enrolled at Georgetown as a freshman, with five transfers and an NBA early entry in Dajuan Summers.
The GSR rates differs from federal graduation rates over how transfers are counted, with the GSR giving some positive weight to transfers who leave in good standing and otherwise complete their degree elsewhere. Georgetown's federal score in men's basketball was 46% over the prior four years (classes of 2005 through 2008). Across all sports, the NCAA overall rate was 65% of athletes nationally graduating within six years, against 63% of students overall.
Here are the five year men's basketball ratings among Big East schools.
In the storms of conference realignment, words like trust and stability are in short supply among schools. The new athletic director at Cincinnati told ESPN.com that the Big East needs both...and soon.
"And right now, I don't know that the Big East has either," said UC athletic director Whit Babcock. "But there's a chance to pull it together with the addition of teams, and once we see what the Big 12 does, hopefully things will settle down and the Big East can build back.
"But that trust and stability right now is wavering, and we've got to get that back."
The now familiar dance of conference realignment moves revolve, at least at the state-supported level, about boards of trustees authorizing conference moves in somewhat vague resolutions. In that case, it is no surprise what the Houston Chronicle reports as a special meeting scheduled Thursday for the University of Houston Board of Regents.
The agenda discusses a vote to "delegate authority to the Chancellor to negotiate and execute a contract for athletic conference affiliation and to negotiate and provide notice of contract cancellation as necessary," which reads as UH's approval to accept an all-sports bid from the Big East.
Since announcing expansion plans earlier this month, no invitations have been publicly extended by the Big East nor accepted, despite the loss of three schools (Pitt, Syracuse, TCU) and the possible loss of West Virginia, placing the conference's future into question after 2014.
Former Georgetown guard Allen Iverson (ex '98) is scheduled to announce a two-day tournament featuring locked-out NBA players, according to the Associated Press.
The Wednesday press conference will announce a two day, four team event at UNLV"s Thomas & Mack Center on Nov. 12-13. Players and coaches are expected to be announced a the briefing.
Many of our readers have been following the story on the University's effort to submit a 10-year zoning plan to DC officials and the efforts by some local residents to force significant enrollment cutbacks if their demands are not met. The Washington Post editorial board weighs in on the situation in Monday's editions.
"Imagine a city telling its largest private employer — one that pays millions in taxes and salaries, strives to hire local residents and voluntarily does community service — that it can’t grow anymore, that it might have to cut back. That seems far-fetched in light of today’s scary economy, but it’s essentially what D.C. officials are telling Georgetown University by insisting it either house all its students or cut back enrollment. The District seems distressingly disinterested in promoting a knowledge-based economy."
Big East officials have denied a story in the Boston Globe that the league is considering creating a 32 team conference for football purposes, with the intent of retaining its automatic qualifier position in the Bowl Championship Series (BCS).
The plan discussed four divisions: with Boise State, Fresno State, Hawaii, UNLV, Nevada, San Diego State, San Jose State and Utah State in the West, Air Force, Colorado State, Houston, New Mexico, SMU, Tulsa, UTEP and Wyoming in the Mountain, Alabama-Birmingham, Louisiana Tech, Marshall, Memphis, Rice, Southern Mississippi, Tulane, and Temple in the Central, and Cincinnati, Central Florida, Connecticut, East Carolina, Louisville, Navy, Rutgers and South Florida in the East.
Not included in this alphabet soup is West Virginia, which has become a candidate by the Big 12 Conference if the University of Missouri leaves the Big 12 to join the Southeastern Conference, reports the Ft. Worth Star Telegram. In the past two weeks, promises of major expansion by Big East commissioner John Marinatto have not yet materialized, which may may have WVU on the lookout for another league, although the closest Big 12 program to Morgantown is Iowa State, 970 miles west.
Closely tracking a media poll announced the day earlier, Georgetown was chosen 10th in the annual coaches poll at the Big East conference's media day. The Hoyas were one of five Big East teams with no selections on the league's pre-season first, second, third, or rookie teams.
A sample of coverage from around the conference follows below.
Big East commissioner John Marinatto reaffirmed that the conference will not let Syracuse and Pittsburgh leave before its 27 month exit period expires in Dec. 2013, ensuring the Panthers and Orangemen are committed through the 2013-14 season.
What will this mean if the conference adds schools next season? A 19 team conference in 2012-13 and 2013-14, according to the New York Daily News.
"We've modeled it," said Marinatto. "If you have a 19-team basketball conference everybody plays each other once," he said.
Dr. Frank Finnerty (C'43, M'47), a member of the 1943 Final Four team, has died, according to this link to the Washington Post.
Finnerty attended Georgetown on a basketball scholarship from the fall of 1940 through October 1943, as part of the University's accelerated schedules during World War II. He played 11 games over two seasons for the varsity, including five games during the team's run to the national finals.
Dr. Finnerty practiced medicine in Washington for over a half-century, serving as a personal physician to Jacqueline Kennedy and as a professor at the Medical School for many years. The author of two books and over 200 research articles, he was a leading expert on the effects of hypertension.
In anticipation of Wednesday's Big East Media Day, the Syracuse Post-Standard held its annual pre-media day poll of Big East writers Tuesday, with Georgetown placing tenth in the poll. No Georgetown players were named to the writers' all-conference team.
(Note: Writers from the Washington DC area were not represented in the Post-Standard poll.)
Here's a comparison to last year's media poll against the actual finish at season's end:
The women's basketball blog Swish Appeal asks if Georgetown's commitment to women's basketball is affected by its aging facilities.
"[Georgetown was] a much better draw on the road (2663 per game) than at home (1063 per game). Why is that? Namely, because the Hoyas play not at the spacious Verizon Center where the Georgetown men's team plays (capacity 20,600) but in McDonough Arena (capacity 2500). Without getting deeply into why this is so, this says something about the priority that the university places on women's basketball."
"After all, if the university doesn't appear to make any headway into getting the women's basketball team at Georgetown better digs - then how important is women's basketball at Georgetown? I can't imagine that McDonough Arena is more luxurious and more prominent than the Verizon Center."
Big East presidents voted unanimously to increase exit fees for member institutions, paving the way for a third round of expansion set to begin as early as this week.
With the support of Connecticut and Louisville, two schools thought to be considering options elsewhere, exit fees will double to $10 million, but is contingent on commitments from Navy and Air Force to join the league for football-only status. The timing is vital since news began to swirl Monday that the University of Missouri may leave the Big 12 for the SEC, leading that conference to consider BYU, Louisville or West Virginia as a replacement.
A conference call has been set by the conference later Tuesday to discuss upcoming plans; however, at least two schools are reporting that invitations are either imminent or have already been made.
The Dallas Morning News is reporting that Southern Methodist could receive an invite as early as Tuesday, while the Houston Chronicle reported that an invitation was received Monday night and Houston officials are traveling to New York later this week to meet with Big East officials.
Various reports continue to spin for the Big East, which now revolve around a presidential vote to increase exit fees from $5 million to $10 million for any I-A school would choose to leave. With the increase, the wheels would turn to invite three Conference USA schools as full members to the conference (Central Florida, Houston, Southern Methodist) and secure football-only commitments from Boise State, the United States Air Force Academy, and the United States Naval Academy. This would raise the league to 12 I-A football playing schools and 17 in basketball, the intended total before the departures of Pitt, Syracuse, and TCU.
The schools on the outside looking in remain Temple and East Carolina. The Philadelphia Inquirer reported that, contrary to talk that Villanova opposed a bid, said that Boise State may have pushed Temple off the first tier. "Temple now knows one thing - it doesn't have hard-core support from anywhere in the Big East," writes the Inquirer. "Certainly not from Villanova and the basketball schools, which are sticking together, especially on the Temple all-sports issue. And now not even from the football schools, which don't have the votes to ignore the basketball schools and are in survival mode, casualties be damned."
The exit fees will not be changed for Georgetown, Notre Dame, Villanova, and the five non-football schools. Exit fees for these schools will remain at $5 million.
East Carolina has been eager to join the Big East for some time, and applied to join shortly after the Pitt's treachery with the ACC was disclosed. The Pirates appear to have found no sympathy from the league, however, largely due to its small media market (Greenville, NC) and less prominent basketball program. If the Pirates are not invited to join the Big East, they will become part of a merger between Conference USA and the Mountain West, which would become a even further-flung combination of schools such as Alabama-Birmingham, Colorado State, Fresno State, Hawaii, Marshall, Memphis, Nevada, UNLV, New Mexico, Rice, San Diego State, Southern Miss, Texas El-Paso, Tulane, Tulsa and Wyoming.
The three all-sports candidates for the Big East appear to be media market-driven. SMU (undergraduate enrollment, 7,000) would easily replace TCU in the Dallas-Ft. Worth market, fourth largest nationally, while Houston (undergraduate enrollment, 29,378) would add the Houston TV market, ranked #10 nationally. Both schools have been without a BCS entry since the dissolution of the Southwest Conference in 1995. Central Florida (undergraduate enrollment, 47,652) is the second largest university in the nation, and brings the Orlando TV market, currently #19, and additional recruiting opportunities in Florida. If the three are added, eight of the 17 schools in basketball will be former Conference USA members, having added DePaul, Cincinnati, Louisville, Marquette, and South Florida in 2005.
The proposed reconfiguration would provide the Big East (whose ESPN TV contract expires in 2013) coverage in six of the nation's top 10 TV markets and eight of the top 20.
Over 20 former players joined head coach John Thompson III and the 2011-12 varsity in Friday's Midnight Madness event to kick off the season.
In addition to the kickoff festivities for the men's and women's teams, the former players also saluted the addition of Patrick Ewing Jr (C'08)'s NBA jersey to the north wall of the gymnasium. Ewing's father made the trip as well, and made it a doubleheader of sorts, as he watched his daughter, a Fordham volleyball player, competing at George Washington earlier that evening, leading some Colonials fans to wonder if the elder Ewing was there for GW's own midnight madness.
In addition to the Ewings, Returning Hoyas include brothers John (C'80) and Lonnie Duren (C'80), Eric Smith (C'82), Mike Hancock (C'82), Gene Smith (C'84), Reggie Williams (C'87), Mark Tillmon (C'90), Ron Thompson (C'92), Chip Simms (B'92), Lamont Morgan (B'94), Othella Harrington (C'96), Jerome Williams (C'96), Anthony Perry (C'01), Nat Burton (C'01), Omari Faulkner (B'04), Amadou Kilkenny Diaw (C'06), Sead Dizdarevic (C'07, MBA '11), Tyler Crawford (C'08), Jeff Green (degree in progress), Roy Hibbert (C'08), Greg Monroe (degree in progress), and Ryan Dougherty (C'11).
The players also saluted Lorry Michel in honor of her 35 years as the team's athletic trainer.
Following Midnight Madness, Georgetown received a Saturday verbal commitment from D'Vauntes Smith Rivera, a 6-3 guard from Indianapolis, IN via Oak Hill Academy (CA), reports the Indianapolis Star.
"I hope to make an impact as soon as I step on campus,” Smith-Rivera said. “I felt like around August that I really felt like that’s where I wanted to be. Coach [ Thompson] is a great guy and I feel like I developed a good relationship with him through the process."
Smith-Rivera was the Indianapolis player of the year as a junior averaging 25.1 ppg. He had verballed to Xavier last season but reopened his recruitment and transferred to Oak Hill this fall. Smith-Rivera is ranked #22 on the Rivals.com fall 2011 national rankings.
This is the second verbal for 2012, as forward Brandon Bolden previously committed last season, leaving one open scholarship remaining for the college class of 2016.
On the same day Conference USA and the Mountain West Conference agreed to form a 22-team football megaconference to secure a BCS-level berth, at least five schools may be invited to join the Big East at the same time ESPN is seeking to cast doubt on the story.
CBS Sports.com reported Friday that invitations will be made to Central Florida, Boise State, Air Force and Navy as early as next week's basketball media day, with the latter three as football-only entries. If the Big East holds Pitt and Syracuse to its 27-month exit, a second round of expansion would target Southern Methodist and Houston, which would keep the league at 12 teams in football and 17 in basketball, the number of teams planned had TCU, Pitt and Syracuse stayed. Temple remains an expansion outlier after Villanova apparently raised concerns that it was not willing to support a second school from Philadelphia.
Between the much publicized trip to China and the much publicized troubles of the Big East conference, the opening of practice for the 2011-12 season has arrived without much fanfare, almost quietly, but "quiet" will not be the operative word when the men's and women's teams take the floor at 60 year old McDonough Gymnasium this evening for Midnight Madness 2011.
Begun at the Hilltop in 1999, the event has become a popular fan favorite both on and off-campus. Friday's event, beginning at 8:30 pm EDT, will be streamed on GUHoyas.com.
Coverage from Thursday's media day with the local press follows below:
Georgetown will begin preparations for the 2011-12 season with one of its least experienced teams in many years, with just three upperclassmen. Here's an early depth chart heading into the pre-season, with Moses Ayegba off the depth chart due to his ACL injury.
Former Georgetown center John Mazziotta (ex '51), a two year star in the late 1940's, died this week, reports the Bergen Record.
Mazziotta grew up in the Bronx and was a high school coach in New Jersey for many years, including one of the first coaches at Bergen Catholic, and later a successful coach at Teaneck. He played two years at Georgetown from 1948-50 and averaged 9.0 points per game as a junior before returning home for family issues, and finished his eligibility at Iona.
"What stands out most was that Coach Mazziotta was a person of character and integrity," said New Jersey Nets coach Lawrence Frank, who considered Mazziotta his mentor. "At the heart of it, he was an outstanding teacher, and his ability to connect and challenge in the classroom and on the court made him an outstanding coach."
In the finale of a five part series this week, we'll examine the financial impact to Georgetown should it pursue a downsized league of Catholic non-football programs like DePaul and Providence rather than stay with a football-basketball Big East hybrid. All figures presented are publicly available data.
In previous installments of this series, we discussed the financial impact if Georgetown chose to (or was relegated to) a basketball only, mid-major conference of Catholic schools. Today, we conclude by discussing the human impact.
A loss of $4-6 million or more in revenues for men's basketball would be a hemorrhage upon the program and the entire Georgetown athletic department. Even more damaging would be the repositioning in perceptions that Georgetown would no longer be on the national basketball stage. In a sports world increasingly focused in major conferences, a basketball-only conference would have all the visibility of the Atlantic 10--a group of disparate programs that are defined, fairly or unfairly, as regional in scope.
The first loss in human terms would be players. There is a tier of athlete that aspires for the very best in college basketball and they gravitate to those programs which provide it. Greg Monroe did not aspire to play at McNeese State or New Orleans. Jeff Green was not looking at Towson as his bridge to the NBA. Roy Hibbert wasn't going to American. These players, and many others, made a decision to attend Georgetown because it provided them an education and the ability to play at the highest competitive level possible, with the opportunity to become professional athletes. You don't have to play in a major conference to make the NBA, of course, but tell that to a top recruit.
For the class of 2011, 91 of the top 100 recruits on the RSCI consolidated recruiting ratings index chose a team in one of the six BCS-level conferences (Big 10, Big East, ACC, SEC, Pac-10, Big 12). The Big East was the clear leader in recruiting:
Without the best players, teams don't win. And even with great players, it takes a special kind of coach to make them winners. This too is at risk.
The downside risk for a Georgetown losing $4-6 million in revenue is how it affects its coaching. Georgetown has been extremely fortunate in the longevity of its head coaches--only three in the last 39 years. Among Big East schools, only Syracuse and Louisville (two coaches each since 1972) can say they've done better, and at the bottom of the league you find somewhat more consistent turnover (Seton Hall and Rutgers, eight coaches each, Providence ten). John Thompson III stays at Georgetown not simply because it's the city where he grew up or where his father worked. It's because the school pays him a market rate that allows him to aspire to, and compete for, a national title.
According to various newspaper reports online, the approximate salaries of Big East coaches are below; approximate in that different sources specify slightly different amounts based on season-eligible bonuses. For example, Rick Pitino makes $3 million in salary but was eligible for an additional $4.5 million in bonuses last season.
With two exceptions (Oliver Purnell overpaid for DePaul, Jim Boeheim considerably underpaid at Syracuse), the coaching salaries tend to mirror the performance of the teams--check the schools on the left versus those on the right, and coaches are generally being paid per their records. But here's a different take--let's review the salary as a percentage of the overall basketball budget. Remember that each school may allocate salaries a different way, so let's not assume the basketball budgets of 16 different schools cover salaries the same, only strictly as a comparison:
For Georgetown, the issue is clear and not an easy one to face: its head coach can only afford to be paid a market rate because the revenue is there to support it. Coach Thompson signed a six year extension in 2007. He is loyal to Georgetown but loyalty is a two-way street--the best coaches trnd to end up where the salary is the best, and upward mobility is rewarded these days versus becoming "lifers" like the elder Thompson, Jim Boeheim, Dean Smith, or Lou Carnesecca...though many forget Carnesecca actually left St. John's in 1970 for a better paying job with what is now the New Jersey Nets. Today's coaches go where the money is. Rick Pitino was a rock star at Providence, but he wasn't staying there. Jay Wright was a success at Hofstra, but that wasn't going to be his final stop. P.J. Carlesimo could have retired at Seton Hall, but he had other plans. Would a smaller, more parochial conference, one without significant TV and NCAA muscle, retain and attract the best and the brightest, and be willing to pay to keep them? The competitive landscape of this superconference era usays no.
Lightning struck once for a school of Georgetown's meager athletic fortunes by hiring John Thompson. It struck lightning twice by recruiting his son and the son's ability to return the school to national prominence so quickly. Few schools even get one trip to the top, much less a second chance. You can't bank on on lightning striking again if John Thompson III is lured away elsewhere or if the financial support to retain him is lost in this realignment shuffle.
If Georgetown wants to retain the best coaches for its programs, basketball and otherwise, the University must be situated so that its coaches have the ability to compete at the highest level--and that the University can afford to keep them. Without both elements in the equation, schools in a basketball-only conference can expect to fulfill the role best exemplified by Providence--either hope to get an up and comer for a few years (Rick Pitino, Billy Donovan), or attract middle of the road coaches and take their chances (Tim Welsh, Keno Davis, Ed Cooley). The financial impact on both counts could have a material impact on athletics as a whole for Georgetown University for generations to come.
But Georgetown isn't Providence. It has built a strong foundation that a diversified conference allowed it to do. One of the major reasons Georgetown left the ECAC-South in 1979 was because pending changes in that league would regionalize and ultimately marginalize the program. If Georgetown and its fan base still aspire to be a nationally prominent program. to recruit nationally prominent coaches and players, to reach a national TV audience, and to consistently compete for the NCAA championship, it cannot and must not settle for a mid-major setup that would gut the program financially and competitively. Such a retrenchment is not a plan for the stable future, but a detour onto a road of deficits, disinterest, and deemphasis.
Georgetown's road to excellence is best followed by Ben Franklin's adage, "Let us all hang together, lest we all hang separately." Anything less really doesn't add up.
CBS Sports.com is reporting that an NCAA working group will recommend cutting men's basketball scholarships to 12, down from the current 13, and women's basketball to 13, down from 15. Football scholarships would be trimmed from 85 to 80 in Division I-A and 63 to 60 in Division I-AA.
From the article: "According to a summary of the group's update, obtained by CBS Sports.com, it was agreed upon to recommend eliminating all foreign travel, reduce mandatory out-of-season practice time and explore a reduction in competition (i.e. cutting the number of games for several sports)."
Syracuse officials continue to tell its fans that they will seek to schedule Georgetown after the Orange leave for the ACC, sometime before 2014. It may be a means of settling down the anxious Syracuse fans who figure to see long held rivalries swept away for such names as Clemson, Virginia Tech, and Miami.
But coaches from both sides aren't so sure.
"There have been conversations," said Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim. "I don't think it's going to be the same when you're not in the same conference."
"Might that [series] not be able to happen again? Maybe not,” Thompson said at Thursday's media day, from the Washington Times link above. “But time will tell. That’s life. That’s change. You live with it. You move on.”
The Newark-Star Ledger reports that various Big East schools are acting in their own interests as the conference tries to find consensus and to pursue expansion.
Among the recent roadblocks reported by the paper:
"Though Boise State is the Big East’s best chance to retain its automatic bid to the BCS when the next evaluation period comes up in 2014, Louisville, Cincinnati and South Florida are lukewarm to the idea. And Boise won’t commit to the league until the six holdover football schools do;
"Everybody in the league is very committed to accomplishing and finding those opportunities and executing upon them as quickly as possible,” said Rutgers athletic director Tim Pernetti. “At the same time, I think a lot of what is happening out there in expansion is out of a lot of people’s control. The reason there’s so much anxiety out there is because it’s all about control.”
The August confrontation between Georgetown and the the Chinese Army team known as the Bayi Rockets continues to provoke thought and debate, and this recent article from Grantland.com discusses the Rockets from a different point of view--the view from within China, where Bayi games are censored and often tape-delayed to avoid any embarrassment.
"During my night at the CCTV studio, I watched my team, the Shanxi Brave Dragons, make a wild comeback and take the lead late in the fourth quarter, until the refs sent the Rockets' best foul shooter to the line three times in the final minute. Watching on the nonlive feed, I couldn't be absolutely certain the refs were cheating, but the Brave Dragons didn't have any doubts," writes Jim Yardley. "Later, the [Shanxi] owner was irate, certain that the fix was in, that the fix was always in whenever Bayi was on the court."
Yardley adds: "Bayi used to be a reliable propaganda property; during my visit to CCTV, the studio crew peppered commercial breaks with special promos for Bayi players. But the Georgetown brawl was nothing to be proud of. On the Internet, Chinese fans blamed the Bayi team for lacking discipline, for being bad hosts, for not acting like professionals. Not even CCTV could hide that."
If the past discussions of diminished revenues in TV, post-season, or Hoop Club donations hasn't got your attention, this question: what is home attendance at Verizon Center going to look like without Syracuse and Pittsburgh? Come to think of it, what would it look like with just basketball schools on it?
Georgetown has enjoyed robust attendance growth over John Thompson III's tenure at Georgetown, with overall attendance growing 60 percent from 2004 through 2011 and Big East-specific games growing by 35 percent. It's a confluence of many factors: better marketing, increased local interest, concerted season ticket efforts, winning. (Did I mention winning?) And with over 175,000 tickets sold annually at prices ranging from $10-42 per seat, excepting students, home attendance is a vital element of the Georgetown athletic revenue equation.
But there's also a factor which should give Georgetown pause as it moves forward in an unfamiliar world. In a study of home attendance figures since the 2004-05 season, there is a strong correlation between the so-called "football schools" and home attendance. Of the top eight schools by attendance in the last seven years, six were I-A football schools, not counting Notre Dame; Marquette was the only non-IA school to be in the top half of Georgetown average attendance:
Yes, there's a correlation with success--it's no surprise a South Florida or Rutgers isn't selling out Verizon Center. But it sometimes takes two fan bases to make it happen--Georgetown has never sold out Verizon Center without a little help from its "friends", and when friends leave the schedule, the impact is bound to be seen. Of the 823,333 tickets sold for all Big East games at Verizon Center in the last seven years, an astounding one of five--20 percent-- were sold to see Syracuse or to see Pitt. That's a reflection of these team's success, and the presence of active Orangemen and Panthers fans who travel to see their team, even if it means sitting in the 400 level. By contrast, when was the last time a few thousand Redmen fans filled Verizon Center? Or a few hundred? How many of you even knew that St. John's University is larger than Syracuse?
Good thoughts notwithstanding, it's likely that the series with Pitt and Syracuse will each end for good within the next three years. If the schools get to depart early, Syracuse may have already played its last game at the Verizon Center. It's intriguing but otherwise difficult hard to envision an annual non-conference series between the schools, especially when Syracuse is committed to playing as many upstate New York schools as it can at home, and why not? Selling 25,000 seats a game for Colgate, Binghamton, or Canisius pay the bills, too. Settling for 200 road seats in December isn't how ACC teams do business, as decades of impasse with Maryland should remind us.
Casting aside I-A football schools for some sort of ideological purity test would certainly affect the depth and breadth of home scheduling, especially with schools with smaller fan bases and/or reduced local interest. No matter how much a Providence or Seton Hall fan would like to spin it, Georgetown isn't going to get 15,000 a game to come and watch Dayton or Butler on a regular basis. The Duquesne or Richmond alumni clubs of Washington aren't going to buy up hundreds of tickets on the open market to see their teams play in some sort of "basketball-only" league game. And frankly, given the track record of some of the current Big East basketball schools, attendance could take a major step backward if Georgetown played PC, Seton hall, DePaul, etc. every season at home, too.
Fans at Dayton support their team through thick and thin; then again, it's the only game in town. Will fans in Washington come out to watch a mid-major product? At GW or American, not so much.
Nationally, attendance predominates at schools with one of two criteria: a) an athletic program with a I-A football base, or 2) a school in the Big East conference. Of the top 100 schools in attendance (averaging 5,524 a game or more), 80 play Division I-A football and another seven are non-football schools in the Big East. Of the remaining 13, none is located in a city of more than 320,000. Of the top 44 schools nationally averaging 8,000 or more, only five are non-IA schools that are outside the Big East.
Put aside the 20 percent of Big East fans coming to see Pitt and Syracuse--if Georgetown was to lose 20 percent of its gate from a short-sighted realignment--roughly, from 12,675 a game to 10,140 a game (still a great number versus most schools), that's as much as $500,000 a year lost from the budget. If it were to drop to the attendance levels before Coach Thompson arrived--approximately 8,500 a game, still a Top 50 number, the impact would nonetheless be severe on Georgetown's somewhat fragile budget.
A few thoughts on the issue of national perception. When Texas A&M began this latest wave of realignment, one of the reasons they pursued the Southeastern conference was the ability to tell its recruits that they were playing in the best football conference in the nation. In the basketball world, the best basketball conference in the nation has clearly been the Big East for the last six years, a fact that did not go unnoticed by the ACC folks when the ESPN brain trust offered their "suggestion" for expansion. Who did the ACC choose? Pitt and Syracuse, two schools who can return the title of America's best basketball conference back to the ACC, where any of the schools can tell recruits that they can play in the best basketball conference in the nation.
Being the best brings out the best in players, coaches, and recruits. We'll talk about the first two Friday, but a note on recruits. The best recruits gravitate to the most visible programs--Greg Monroe wasn't looking to attend Dayton or Niagara, and Kemba Walker wasn't angling to get a degree at Hofstra or Delaware. The visibility of the Big East--from its Hall of Fame coaches to its conference tournament to its success in NCAA title games has elevated the conference to the point where recruits cannot doubt that an offer from a Big East school puts them among the very best. Thanks to the ACC and ESPN, there may now be some doubt.
If Georgetown were to settle for a parochial conference, it's hard to see how top recruits will ignore the situation and assume that Georgetown will always be a top program. There are no such guarantees. The long, slow decline of basketball at the University of Houston is but one example. A generation after the 1984 Final Four, Georgetown averaged 12,675 a game, while the Cougars now average just 3,280 a game, marooned in Conference USA. And if you haven't heard Houston being mentioned with any top recruits of late, you're not alone. It's easier to be forgotten when people aren't coming to see you play and recruits are watching someone else's game on TV.
Georgetown cannot afford to be forgotten.
Hoya Blue has opened up the ballot for online voting for this year's "We Are Georgetown" t-shirt slogan. Voters must have a Georgetown NetID to participate.
The finalists are:
1.Hear the Bark, Fear the Bite
The Newark Star-Ledger has leaked initial plans from I-A football athletic directors within the conference for a two-division, 12 team Big East alignment in football, giving a clue of the focus of expansion efforts.
An early version of the plan would list Connecticut, Central Florida, Rutgers, South Florida, Temple and Navy in one division, Boise State, West Virginia, Louisville, Cincinnati, Air Force, and SMU in the other, with Houston as a possible alternate should Boise State not be selected.
A divisional structure for basketball was not discussed in the article.
Various expansion scenarios, like the one above, discuss the addition of Navy and Air Force but not Army. Why is this?
"Clearly we’re following everything right now, but we are very comfortable where we are as an independent, and we are comfortable with the Patriot League [in sports other than football],” USMA athletic director Boo Corrigan told the Washington Post. “We have great respect for the Big East and John Marinatto but as we look at things today, we are comfortable where we are.”
Army competed in Conference USA football from 1998-2004, finishing just 13-67 and and going 3-33 from 2001-04 before returning to the independent ranks in 2005. Last season's team finished 7-6 and defeated SMU in the Armed Forces Bowl, its first bowl win since the 1985 Peach Bowl.
After inadvertently outing ESPN for its role in promoting Big East destabilization, Boston College athletic director Gene DiFilippo apologized, ostensibly to the network, for his statement.
The athletic director, who noted that "We always keep our television partners close to us...ESPN is the one who told us what to do," said Tuesday in this link to the Boston Globe that he regrets "any negative effects caused by my recent interview with a Boston Globe reporter" and that he "spoke inappropriately and erroneously regarding ESPN's role in conference expansion."
The issue has received growing coverage in much of the online sports world, with one notable exception: ESPN.
In the third of a five part series this week, we'll examine the financial impact to Georgetown should it pursue a downsized league of Catholic non-football programs like DePaul and Providence rather than stay with a football-basketball Big East hybrid. All figures presented are publicly available data.
The first two installments of this series identified tangible financial resources at risk if Georgetown was to consider, or be relegated to, a downsized basketball-only environment. There are other risks, too.
One of these is emotional. Increasingly, a growing percentage of the Georgetown basketball budget comes not from the NCAA or CBS, but by the support of donors; specifically, the Hoya Hoop Club.
Six years after the formation of Hoyas Unlimited in 1970, there was still no organized effort for annual fundraising for men's basketball. In 1976, the efforts of alumni leaders like Ted Glass, Anthony Fernicola, and others formed the "Committee on Basketball" to work with the University in establishing a support network for men's basketball similar to what had been created with the football (Gridiron Club) and rowing (Georgetown Rowing Association) teams. By 1978, the Hoyas Hoop Club was born, and within a few short years, it became the largest support club within Hoyas Unlimited.
By 1983, the group had raised $100,000 for Hoya basketball. By the mid-1990's, even more. In 2007, The HOYA noted that "donations to the Hoya Hoop Club... have steadily increased over the past three years. In the 2007 fiscal year, 1,959 donors contributed approximately $1.69 million dollars, whereas the Hoya Hoop Club received $857,000 from 1,329 donors in 2006 and $632,000 from 844 donors in 2005...Overall donations to athletics increased from $2.2 million in fiscal year 2006 to $3.3 million in fiscal year 2007."
From fiscal year 2006 to 2011, annual giving to Hoyas Unlimited has doubled from $2.2 million to $4.5 million, now among over 5,000 donors. Men's basketball is a major part of this number, and this growth is not by accident.
Over the last decade, Georgetown implemented a plan where lower bowl season tickets at Verizon Center required a minimum donation to the Hoop Club--from $50 a seat in the upper reaches to as much as $7,500 a seat for floor-level seating. With national rankings, top flight opponents, and the buzz surrounding a big game, these are seats filled and donations made which have directly benefited the Hoop Club and, by extension, men's basketball.
Such growth is not automatic, however. Donations to the Hoop Club plateaued in the early 1990's and suffered in the later years of Craig Esherick's tenure, and good seats were plentiful in years where Georgetown averaged under 10,000 a game because not every seat was a season ticket holder. For every loyalist that will attend and donate in good times or bad, there are a number of other fans who vote with their wallets. They would not and will not invest in season tickets if the team is struggling or seen as a poor finisher in the Big East. That hasn't been a problem in recent years, but what does a mid-major alignment mean to the season ticket-Hoop Club donation dynamic? Will season ticket holders see a schedule without Syracuse and Pitt as less of a value for their money? If Georgetown's local and national visibility diminishes in a new conference structure, does the need to make larger donations for seats justify the investment?
It's fair to say that basketball giving is a big share of the $4.5 million raised each year, and more to come. But a shifting conference picture has the ability to affect all sports, inasmuch as instability brings caution and concern by donors. The annual Hoyas Unlimited total represents 15% of the overall athletic budget and the Hoop Club a a larger pro rata share of the basketball budget. A turn for the worse in the basketball program will be immediately felt by a loss in donations and that loss can't be made up in TV revenues or NCAA checks. For a program which relies on its supporters to the extent Georgetown does, this program can go far with coaching, recruiting, and loyal donor support. But if any or all of these suffer in a brave new conference world, the impact will be dramatic.
The Hoop Club is annual giving, but there's an even bigger project looming on the horizon--the Intercollegiate Athletic Center (formerly known as the practice facility). Delayed for over a decade (and warned by at least one past coach of the consequences if it is not built), the IAC stands a major project amidst the upcoming capital campaign. To say it is vital for the future of Georgetown basketball is an understatement--Georgetown has been getting by with obsolete and failing facilities for too long, and the IAC represents Georgetown's best hope to support its student athletes (particularly though not exclusively to basketball) before GU is simply rendered unable to compete in major college sports.
Unlike annual giving, which relies on small to medium gifts by alumni, the IAC must meet a higher threshold of dollars...and of confidence. If an annual donor doesn't like the direction of the program, he doesn't send in a gift, and the program continues. If a capital donor withdraws his/her support, the IAC might not get built on time. Time is tight, and this is something that Georgetown needs to act on now--while it still can.
"The best way to ensure our rightful place as a leader in college athletics is to ensure that our coaches and student-athletes have all of the resources they need," wrote athletic director Lee Reed last month. "The IAC, when completed, will be the most expansive facility improvement for Athletics since McDonough Arena was built [in 1951], and will be a major step towards leveling a playing field that conference realignment seems to be shifting."
If Georgetown diminishes nationally as a result of a basketball-only conference alignment, is Georgetown prepared to absorb the loss of donors and dollars which would follow, and with it, the further erosion of recruiting and retaining student athletes and coaches? There has never been a more crucial need for supporting Georgetown athletics than at this moment in its history, and a strong and diverse Big East conference is a vital element to that support.
Eleven months after accepting an offer to join the Big East Conference to secure a BCS-eligible conference for its football program, Texas Christian University announced it will pay a $5 million fee to break its agreement with the conference and join the Big 12 Conference in the fall of 2012.
"Joining the Big 12 connects us not only to schools with whom we share a rich tradition in sports, but also to schools committed to academic excellence," said TCU Chancellor Victor J. Boschini Jr, despite recommitting to the Big East just over a week ago. But the decision may not have been Boschini's to make.
The Big 12 reunites TCU with three former Southwest Conference schools whose traditions with the Horned Frogs date as far back as 1915. TCU's had faced Big East schools a total of 13 times across its history.
"While this is indeed an incredible day for the Horned Frog Nation, we need to recognize the Mountain West and Big East," said TCU athletic director Chris Del Conte. "The Mountain West has been a great home to TCU, enabling our athletics program to grow and be in position to receive and accept an invitation to join the Big 12. We are also appreciative of the Big East for providing an opportunity for TCU."
"Although never having competed as a member of the Big East Conference, we are disappointed with the news that TCU is joining the Big 12," said Big East commissioner John Marinatto, who appeared in the press to have been caught unaware of the move. "As noted earlier today, our presidents met via teleconference this morning to focus on the future and have authorized us to engage in formal expansion discussions with additional institutions. We anticipate taking action in the near future."
The move brings the Big 12 to ten schools and leaves the Big East with six I-A football schools and 14 teams overall.
A short statement from the Big East announced plans to secure as many as six new teams to help the conference retain its BCS status...and many of its member schools.
"On a teleconference earlier today, our Presidents and Chancellors authorized the Big East Conference to engage in formal discussions with additional institutions and are considering moving to a model that includes 12 football playing schools," read the release. It's the third statement concerning expansion in the past month, but no invitations have been made in the interim.
The Boston Globe reports that the University of Central Florida has risen to the top of the expansion call list. Various scenarios also include inviting Air Force and Army for football only, and securing some combination of a list that variously includes Temple, East Carolina, Southern Methodist, Houston, Memphis, and/or Boise State to reposition the conference as a 12 team football/18 team basketball conference following the departures of Syracuse and Pittsburgh. (The status of Villanova, who had tried to elevate its I-AA football program to join the Big East but was rebuffed by Pittsburgh shortly before its hasty exit, has not been determined.)
From Dick Weiss of the New York Daily News:
"The league currently has six teams on the football side and this plan only works if current schools agree on an increased exit fee. If the Big East wants to play hard ball with Pittsburgh and Syracuse, which defected to the ACC without notice, it should hold them to the 27 month window of notification, which would preclude 'Cuse and Pitt from entering the ACC until the start of the 2014 season," writes Weiss.
Three years of a MSG tournament with Pitt and Syracuse fans sitting at home would be a fine parting gift.
In the second of a five part series this week, we'll examine the financial impact to Georgetown should it pursue a downsized league of Catholic non-football programs like DePaul and Providence rather than stay with a football-basketball Big East hybrid. All figures presented are publicly available data.
TV rights are a major part of the modern world of college basketball. But there are rewards to major college conferences that even television can't (yet) buy: an invitation to the NCAA tournament.
Until the late 1960's, there was little in the way of television coverage of college basketball. Footage of many NCAA finals before 1968 exist as archival footage, and fan interest was fair to moderate. Following the national interest of the UCLA-Houston showdown in the Astrodome and their return game at the Final Four, NBC bought television rights for the entire tournament for $1 million a year, beginning for 1968-69, though it did not broadcast all games and focused national coverage on the regional finals, semis, and finals.
The process (officially called "NCAA revenue distribution") is a series of formulas taking into account block grants to conferences, a student assistance fund, an additional grant based on scholarships offered per school (obviously, Georgetown gets less than others in this portion of the formula). But half of the distribution is based on "shares", the number of games played by a school in the six previous NCAA tournaments. The Big East has more such shares (117) than any other NCAA conference:
Teams don't keep their shares--revenue (over $200,000 per share) is split equally among all 16 teams. UConn may have won the national championship, but everyone in the Big East benefits. NCAA revenue sharing can also breed ill will, too--a Syracuse or Pitt can see that familiar list of teams with little or no NCAA participation and grumble that they share in the riches without contributing to it. Half of the eight basketball schools have combined for just three NCAA tournament games in the past six seasons.
Overall, the Big East received almost $24 million in NCAA share revenue last season alone. So why are these shares important in a realignment scenario? The NCAA has some specific rules on where the money goes in realignment contingencies and I'll repeat it verbatim below:
"The following policies also apply when a conference’s membership changes or realignment occurs:
In plain English:
Even if these schools were to stay together under the Big East name, 60% of the shares would roll off the books as the football schools left. An eight or 10 team conference would never accumulate so many shares again, of course, but a new basketball conference could still have five or six bids, right?
The trend in superconferences is to centralize as many NCAA at-large bids within its own group so as to maximize share revenue. The ACC was not happy watching the Big East garner 11 bids last season while it mustered just four. Solution: Take ESPN's advice and steal the teams with the propensity to get NCAA tournament invitations.
A reconstituted Big east at 16, 18 or 20 teams won't necessarily get 11 bids every year, but a strong tide raises all its boats. Do basketball schools really want to hang its at-large hopes on playing two games a year with Seton Hall, DePaul, PC, et al. for RPI purposes, or Louisville, WVU, and Connecticut?
The first part of this series discussed TV revenues at risk, this segment NCAA distribution. But how much are we talking about that is really in play? The Big East Conference files a public record document, called a IRS Form 990, which details disbursements to its schools. In 2010, per Form 990, the Big East distributed over $97 million to its 16 schools, a mix of TV, NCAA tournament, BCS proceeds, and other sport distributions. For Georgetown, that amount was $3.88 million, an amount larger than the 2010 basketball expenses of 256 Division I programs.
A large chunk of that money comes to Georgetown exclusively because of its affiliation in a BCS-level conference such as the Big East. A retreat to a basketball-only conference simply will not be eligible for the kind of sums the Big East has been able to provide its members, from the $2.6 million at DePaul to over $10.4 million received by West Virginia last year. If a basketball-only conference is marginalized for NCAA tournament purposes, is Georgetown prepared to absorb a loss of $1 million or more per year as a result?
TCU trustees are expected to meet Monday to approve the school's entry into the Big 12 Conference, according to the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram. The school will meet its obligations via a $5 million exit fee to the Big East Conference.
In contrast to the "wait and see" approach by the Naval Academy over the transitory nature of Big East football, the U.S. Air Force Academy is ready, willing and able to join the Big East football alignment.
"In my perfect world, with the Big East on the radar, I would love Air Force, Navy and Army to be in that conference together," athletic director Hans Mueh told the Denver Post, adding that AFA turned down an offer from the Big 12.
We were approached by the Big 12, and I told them we're not a good fit for that conference," said Mueh. "In the Big 12, geography makes sense, the economics make sense, but recruiting makes no sense for us. I can't recruit against Texas, Oklahoma [and] Oklahoma State."
Mueh also expects the Big East to complete its expansion plan by month's end.
The Newark Star-Ledger is reporting sources are discussing Boise State as a football-only addition to the conference.
"We've had discussions with Air Force about joining in all sports but football," WAC commissioner Karl Benson told the Boston Globe. "We would certainly be willing to talk to Boise State about the same arrangement."
"One follow-up scenario being considered if Air Force, Boise and Navy do join is for the Big East to then add two schools for all-sports (from a group that includes Central Florida, Temple and East Carolina) and then push Villanova to eventually make the move to the FBS level," writes Tom Luicci. "That would get the Big East to 12 schools in football and 16 in basketball."
It has the feel of a crime novel--two popular restaurants stand on a street corner. One lets their insurance expire, and the insurer directs the other restaurant to burn the rival's building to the ground. Such was the inference in Sunday's Boston Globe discussing the Atlantic Coast Conference's expansion plans.
"We always keep our television partners close to us," said Boston College athletic director Gene DeFilippo. "TV - ESPN - is the one who told us what to do."
DeFilippo also confirmed BC has and continues to fight against adding Connecticut to the ACC in an effort to establish BC as New England's team. The Globe paints a picture that BC's desire to de-legitimize UConn as a regional power may be as important at the Heights than adding more ACC schools.
As for ESPN, which was scheduled to pay the Big East well over $1 billion over a six year period in a new contract, they now save huge sums of money if the Big East does not survive.
"Could the ESPN meddling have been a retaliatory move?," asks the Business Insider blog. "Remember, the Big East turned down a $1.9 billion offer from the worldwide schemer and is said to be entertaining offers from NBC, CBS and FOX for its next media contract. ESPN is currently the first tier media partner for the league, but after helping the ACC decide which teams to kidnap from the Big East, an over-the-air network getting the deal of a lifetime is a fair bet."
Think about it the next ESPN columnist tells you it's all over for the Big East and call it what is is: arson.
In the first of a five part series this week, we'll examine the financial impact to Georgetown should it pursue a downsized, "CYO League" of Catholic non-football programs like DePaul and Providence rather than stay with a football-basketball Big East hybrid. All figures presented are publicly available data.
As the storm clouds have gathered over the Big East Conference in recent weeks, handful of well known sportswriters along the Northeastern seaboard (Dick Weiss, John Feinstein, Lenn Robbins) have floated the concept that schools without I-A football would be best suited walking away from the Big East and reform into a parochial Catholic basketball league, just like the good old days.
Except the good old days aren’t coming back, and in the case of Georgetown basketball, the concept could run the program right into the ground.
There was a time when the Big East was founded with five Catholic schools, plus Connecticut and Syracuse. It was a different time. John Thompson was 38, Bill Raftery 36, Jim Boeheim 35. Only one coach was older than 41 (Lou Carnesecca), and only one arena sat more than 9,000, that being the spacious Providence Civic Center. “Big Monday” held court at names like the Roberts Center, Walsh Gymnasium, Manley Field House, and yes, McDonough Gymnasium.
In its debut season in the Big East, en route to the Eastern regional finals, Georgetown averaged 2,657 a game at McDonough. A budget of $200,000 a year could pay for 15 scholarships, a head coach, two assistants, three plane trips, and bus trips to Philadelphia, Boston, New York, and Syracuse. An NCAA bid, as reported by the HOYA, could net the team an additional $40,000.
Fast forward to 2011. Faster.
That Georgetown basketball has changed over thirty years is obvious in many ways, not the least of which is financial. A season ticket package in 1979 was $26, today, a lower bowl seat at Verizon Center sets you back $32 every game. But it’s more than that, and that’s why the “CYO League” is a house of cards for a program like Georgetown because of its revenue and expense structure. Let’s take a first look at the major source of funding for nationally prominent men’s basketball programs: not attendance, but television rights fees.
Simply put, this is what driving realignment—the greed of conferences to maximize revenues via cable TV and/or dedicated networks. It's why Mark Nordenberg was so willing to sell his fellow presidents up the river for his Judas-like 30 pieces of silver, which in 2011 equals an extra $10 million a year. It's why TCU is fine paying the Big East a $5 million mulligan, because their share of TV rights grows by over $12 million for just showing up in the Big 12.
And it's why Georgetown fans ought to be afraid, very afraid if the Hoyas are left with a group of Catholic castoffs looking for a new TV deal.
The Big East is in the fourth year of a six year, $200 million contract with ESPN. This sounds plentiful, but put it up against the other leagues in this data posted at CollegeSportsInfo.com:
Big Ten: 10 years, $1 billion, ABC/ESPN (through 2016)
Two points of interest here: the Big East was scheduled to negotiate a six year, $1 billion deal after 2013, but opted not to renew with ESPN hoping for a better deal from NBC/Versus, and there is anecdotal evidence to suggest that with the snub of ESPN came a tacit affirmation by the network to de-stabilize the Big East through ACC expansion. After all, ESPN could save $1 billion if it didn’t have to buy Big East games, now, couldn't it?
Second, and direct to the CYO argument: outside of the BCS conferences, the revenue potential for television contracts drops precipitously. Take the Atlantic 10, the largest of the so-called mid-major “basketball-only” leagues and one to which the CYO League would be inevitably compared against. The A-10 TV deal is just $1 million per year. Not per team, for the entire league. Divide that by 14 schools, and each school gets about $70,000 per year from TV as opposed to $2.5 million from what Big East teams are getting.
Even assuming the CYO League could negotiate a 20% premium from the A-10 contract, a ten team league would return Georgetown in the neighborhood of $100,000 a year in TV money, a loss of over $2 million a year from what it is getting now (more or less, since schools which do not play Big East football get a lower cut of TV money based on appearances; however Georgetown is probably closer to $2 million than the $1.5 million suggested for non-IA schools by CollegeSportsInfo.com).
And this caveat: a smaller league does not guarantee more TV appearances, but less. The Atlantic 10 contract with ESPN only guarantees 16 appearances per season. That’s 16 for the entire league, because ESPN is in a power of authority and doesn't have to give them any more. Why? Because the A-10 can't offer a football component. By contrast, Georgetown has 17 appearances all by its own in the current Big East deal. Continuing with the +20% analogy, a CYO League could stand to see, what, 20 ESPN appearances a season among ten teams? That's just two ESPN games per school...and what would that mean for Georgetown?
Fewer TV appearances means less visibility, less recruiting, less interest. Whether we like it or not, TV drives this bus. With revenues of $10 million a year in men's basketball within the Big East, is Georgetown prepared to see its basketball revenues cut by 20% in the process?
And there's more to be lost than than just TV, of course.
Efforts to fast-track the Intercollegiate Athletic Center practice facility were dealt a setback Friday when the design was rejected by the Old Georgetown Board.
Established by an Act of Congress in 1950, the Old Georgetown Board is responsible for approving all exterior construction in the Georgetown area, from residential fencing and lattice work to the construction of new buildings. The IAC's predecessor design was rejected in 2007 by the board, which is comprised by three AIA-certified architects.
The 2007 design was rejected, in part, because it was seen as too tall and with insufficient windows. According to The HOYA, the 2011 design is not tall enough and has too many windows facing Reynolds Hall.
"This  case was looking somewhat better," said architect Thomas Luebke. "It was basically a new project."
A date has not been set to submit revised designs.
"Marinatto sought to end speculation that TCU is considering the Big 12, telling reporters that chancellor Victor Boschini, Jr. "told us over and over how much he wants this conference to move forward. There was no wavering at all from him."
Four days after John Marinatto's statement, Victor Boschini and Texas Christian University has applied for and received a unanimous invitation to join the Big 12 Conference. If TCU accepts the offer as early as Friday, some will infer that: a) Boschini is not a man of his word, b) Marinatto has again been duped, or c) both.
The Big East Conference was thrown again into turmoil Thursday as news that TCU, which has yet to even join the conference, was be prepared to leave a league for the Big 12, despite the fact that it is unlikely to seriously challenge for league titles in football or basketball. A statement by Boschini did not accept the offer per se, but noted that "These discussions with the Big 12 have huge implications for TCU. It will allow us to return to old rivalries, something our fans and others have been advocating for many years. As always, we must consider what’s best for TCU and our student-athletes in this ever-changing landscape of collegiate athletics. We look forward to continuing these discussions with the Big 12."
There is significant regional pressure to accept the offer. TCU, which was kicked to the curb when the Big 12 dissolved the Southwest Conference, has done an outstanding job of reengineering its entire athletic program, highlighted by last year's #2 national ranking in football and a win over Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl. It raised $150 million in donations to rebuild its stadium, and a move to the Big 12 would reunites it with at least three former in-state SWC rivals.
Further east, the moves only grinds at the fissures faced by member schools. Without expansion, the Big East falls below the minimum number of teams necessary to retain its Bowl Championship Series standing.
The Cincinnati Enquirer reports that offers may be extended to East Carolina and Central Florida as early as Friday.
Comments by Navy athletic director Chet Gladchuk to the Washington Post indicate the Naval Academy is not sold on the idea of ending its 121 years as a football independent to join the Big East conference.
"As I said from the beginning, our position remains comfortable as an independent,” Gladchuk said. “We’ve had discussions with the Big East about possible membership. There is no timetable or sense of urgency on our part. We asked the Big East to stabilize. Obviously this is a step back for them.”
"The issue is not ours. The issue is theirs. They’ve got to figure out how to right the ship."
Head coach John Thompson III and athletic director Lee Reed met with members of Georgetown's Wall Street Alliance Tuesday evening. Although there were no quotes covered in the press, a thorough recap follows in the HoyaTalk excerpt below:
LIFE AFTER HOOPS: 13 players who all aspire to be in the NBA. Coach must ground players and prepare them for life beyond basketball. Wall Street Alliance affords players the opportunity to network and learn from alums engaged in finance. [Nate] Lubick was recently in NYC to take advantage of the program.
Various reports Wednesday indicate the University of Missouri is preparing to become the 14th member of the Southeastern Conference, joining Texas A&M in a move that is more financial than traditional.
The Missouri Board of Curators (trustees) voted Tuesday to explore other affiliations, with a source telling the Associated Press that Mizzou preferred the Big Ten but no offer was forthcoming from that conference. Reports Wednesday indicated that it was no better than "50-50" that the school would stay in the Big 12.
Missouri's experience with SEC schools is minimal. In nearly 1,200 football games since 1890, the Tigers have met the 12 SEC schools just 28 times, with the most games against Mississippi (six).
Should Missouri leave, the Big 12 would be down to eight schools, with various options that could affect the still-tenuous fabric of a Big East whose presidents recommitted to the conference just this past Sunday:
And toss a new name into the expansion hat. ESPN.com reports the Tulane University has contacted the Big 12 and Big East about future expansion opportunities.
Television appearances for the 2011-12 season have been posted, with 28 of 29 games broadcast.
CBS will show the Saturday, Feb. 25 home game vs. Villanova as a split-national game. ESPN will show two games, Sunday Feb. 12 vs. St. John's and Monday Feb. 27 vs Notre Dame, likely the fewest Georgetown games on the main network since ESPN was founded in 1979. The remainder of the games will be found on ESPN2, ESPNU, or MASN.
The Dec. 3 home game with NJIT has no television scheduled.
Georgetown radio announcer Rich Chvotkin begins his 38th season behind the microphone on Nov. 12, but will be honored earlier that week by the Washington Metropolitan basketball Hall of fame, reports the Washington Post.
Also being honored are former Washington Bullets guard Phil Chenier, Bullets GM Bob Ferry, high school basketball coach Stu Vetter, and Maryland basketball announcer Johnny Holliday. Former Maryland forward Len Bias will be inducted posthumously.
Presidents of 14 Big East schools have given commissioner John Marinatto the authority to "aggressively pursue" expansion, per a meeting held at Riggs Library on Sunday.
Fourteen school presidents (plus the chancellor at Texas Christian) issued a statement which reads, in part, "The Presidents voted unanimously to authorize the Commissioner to aggressively pursue discussions with a select number of institutions that have indicated a strong interest in joining the Big East Conference. The Presidents are also actively considering changes to the conference's governing bylaws to further solidify membership of the conference."
Presidents from Syracuse and Pittsburgh did not attend the meeting.
Speculation last week centered on expanding with two service academies in Navy and Air Force, which actually are rated higher than Syracuse and Pitt this season in football. Navy would play in Big East football only, but it is not clear if Air Force would park its non-football sports elsewhere (it is currently a member of the Mountain West). A source told ESPN.com that in addition to Navy and Air Force, additional names such as Army, Temple, Central Florida and Southern Methodist were discussed. A three team expansion (Navy, Air Force, and one other school) would provide 10 for football and allow the conference to remain with 16 in basketball.
Marinatto sought to end speculation that TCU is considering the Big 12, telling reporters that chancellor Victor Boschini, Jr. "told us over and over how much he wants this conference to move forward. There was no wavering at all from him."
The conference is also looking to increase its exit fee, currently at $5 million. Of the 15 schools, Connecticut has openly sought an ACC bid but was rebuffed.
Congratulations to Georgetown officials for hosting the meeting.
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