Morning Five: 06.20.13 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on June 20th, 2013


  1. Today’s biggest news in the college athletics world is likely to come down from Oakland, California, as a federal judge is expected to rule on a motion from Ed O’Bannon‘s legal team that would certify his lawsuit against the NCAA into a class action. We’ll have more on the importance of this topic later this morning, but the long and short of it is that if the motion is granted it would open the door for literally thousands of past and present athletes to sue the NCAA for the use of their likeness for, oh, the last four or five decades. The experts are mixed in evaluating what this could ultimately mean, but needless to say that the Doomsday Scenario — an end to the NCAA’s amateurism model of business — is on the table here.‘s sports law expert, Michael McCann, gives a really nice overview of what’s at stake out in the Bay Area later today.
  2. While on the subject of the West Coast, the San Jose Mercury News‘ Jon Wilner published a previously confidential email related to the O’Bannon case that outlines just how much money the Pac-12 stands to make with its television deal with ESPN/FOX. His estimate based on some number-crunching might include a tad of wishful thinking, but between the television contracts and anticipated BCS and NCAA Tournament payouts, as well as revenue from the new Pac-12 Networks, it wouldn’t surprise him if the total annual take-homes for the members approached nearly $40-50 million. Larry Scott may not be winning championships yet, but he certainly seems to be winning the business of college sports. Take that, SEC and Big Ten?
  3. Rick Pitino once wrote a book called “Success is a Choice.” Apparently he chose — or maybe it was the basketball gods he thought were promising him Tim Duncan — to not succeed in Boston as the head coach of the Celtics. Some years later, he went on to say that “the biggest mistake” he had ever made in his career was to leave Kentucky (or, as he called it, “Camelot.”). He now disagrees with himself. Last week Pitino told a group of Louisville local businessmen last week that, actually, leaving Lexington for the Celtics was the best move he ever made because his failure in Boston taught him humility. Of course, nobody knows what he really thinks about much of anything — the guy flip-flops better than the best politicians — but maybe give him a few more years and he’ll tell a group of Providence denizens that he should have never left there either.
  4. We honestly cannot imagine a scenario where Alabama forward Devonta Pollard will be allowed to return to the team next season, but there were dueling reports on Wednesday about whether he was still officially on the team. reported from a source internal to the program that he was no longer enrolled in Tuscaloosa, while later reported (from presumably a different source) that Pollard is in fact still on the squad until his legal troubles are settled. Given the alleged fact pattern surrounding his charges — that he assisted his mother in the kidnapping of a 6-year old girl — we’re going to go out on a big limb and assume he will not be back. And frankly, if he is convicted of such an irresponsible crime, he shouldn’t get a second chance to play ball anywhere.
  5. They say that you can’t go home again, but that doesn’t stop most of us from trying to remember and, in some cases, re-live the past. New UCLA head coach and Indiana legend Steve Alford manages to find time in his busy schedule each summer to return to the Hoosier State and run a camp for elementary school children at D-III Franklin College. Although the expectations on him at his new job in Westwood are enormous, he is using this week to get back home and recharge his batteries around familiar, and supportive, faces. He won’t have a very long leash at UCLA, even next season, so this is probably a pretty good idea on his part.
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Countdown to Armageddon: Is Secession From the NCAA Inevitable?

Posted by rtmsf on July 7th, 2011

In the past eighteen months, those of us who love college sports — NCAA Division I sports, specifically — have witnessed a series of near-misses that has threatened to overhaul and redefine the games we care about so dearly.  The first shot across the bow was the NCAA’s presumptuous near-expansion to a 96-team NCAA Tournament, an idea hatched with dollar signs in its eyes and only quashed when the public and media covering the sport threatened to go Vancouver at the organization’s Indianapolis headquarters.  The second shot was last summer’s conference realignment madness, a tumultuous sequence of fits and starts that didn’t as much change the landscape of the six power conferences as it left everyone shaken by just how brazen and inequitable the system underlying major college athletics has become.

Is the NCAA Tournament As We Know It On Its Last Legs? (Getty/A. Lyons)

The point of these two events — neither of which resulted in sea changes, mind you — is that, as the power and influence of the alpha dogs of college athletics rises, we appear to be pushing closer to a tipping point where we’ll no longer discuss what almost happened rather than what did happen.  The 74 basketball schools (and 66 football schools) that comprise the ACC, Big East, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12, and SEC wield the vast majority of everything — dollars, budgets, fans, television contracts, merchandising, etc.  And as their profit margins continue to increase, these schools and leagues are correspondingly irked that their governing body, the NCAA, is getting in their way.  Whether they see the future of intercollegiate sports as allowing the payment of players or involving agents or full-cost scholarships or third-party enforcement of rules, these power schools know that ideas ultimately favorable to their bottom lines are often at odds with the other 250+ NCAA D-I schools.  This is why, despite existing statements to the contrary, many observers believe that the endgame of all of this wrangling will result in a complete secession of the schools from the major conferences to their own separate entity.  Call it the Confederate Collegiate Athletics Association, if you like, but don’t ignore the possibility.

Big Ten commissioner Jim Delaney was recently quoted in a piece by Steve Wieberg at USA Today, and it’s abundantly clear that he (and likely the other power conference commissioners) see an Armageddon-like future to blow up the NCAA as his ‘nuclear option.’

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Dominos Falling Into Place: ACC Signs Television Deal With ESPN

Posted by rtmsf on May 19th, 2010

Andrew Murawa is the RTC correspondent for the Mountain West and Pac-10 conferences and an occasional contributor.

Although not official yet, it has been reported that ESPN and the ACC have come to an agreement on a new TV deal, with ESPN reportedly outbidding FoxSportsNet to the tune of $1.86 billion over twelve years for exclusive rights to ACC football and basketball. The new deal for the ACC will more than double their previous television revenues from their contracts with Raycom and ESPN; the previous ACC deal was for about $67 million per season, while the new deal will bring the ACC about $155 million per season.

The size of the new contract is seen as a major victory for the ACC, and is rumored to be the result of a bidding war between ESPN and Fox. However, Fox did not get a chance to match ESPN’s final offer because the ACC found ESPN’s brand to be too attractive to lose out on should ESPN drop out of the bidding. As for Raycom, they are expected to continue broadcasting some ACC games, which they will buy from ESPN (much like ESPN bought the rights to individual games from Raycom in the past), but the ACC Tournament will likely be exclusive to ESPN in the future.  An interesting side note of the new TV deal: Jim Young of reports that there will be a new name for the league’s syndication package with Raycom: the ACC Network. However, for now this will not be a business venture similar to the remarkably successful Big Ten Network, rather just the regional syndication of games shown on Raycom.

As no official announcement has been made by either party, there are likely continuing negotiations on the fine print, and plenty of questions remain. With rumors swirling about ACC teams perhaps jumping to one conference or another (Maryland and Virginia are among the most recently rumored schools that the Big Ten is interested in, while schools like Clemson, Florida State, Georgia Tech and Miami have been mentioned in conjuction with possible SEC expansion), there will potentially be binding clauses in the contract allowing ESPN buyout options should the makeup of the conference change during the lifetime of the deal. There are also questions as to when and where ESPN will televise games and the fate of things like FSN’s ACC Sunday Night Hoops feature. It is possible that Fox will continue to purchase games from ESPN for broadcast on their networks. Once a final announcement is delivered, hopefully we’ll get answers to these things.

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