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#10: Interesting study that surveyed 224 prospective FB student-athletes on their "interest and desire" (brand perception) of attending each 'Power 5' program if they were the #1 recruit in the country. Thesis: "...the lifeblood of a college program lies in the minds of high school football players. These rankings show us the critical hierarchy of schools within recruits’ minds." Top 10, in order: Clemson, Ohio State, Penn State, Georgia, Oregon, USC, Miami (FL), Oklahoma, Stanford & LSU. In relation to actual recruiting rankings, seven programs are identified as 'Tier I' given results since 1999-2000: Georgia, Clemson, USC, Penn State, Ohio State, Texas & Alabama. Tier II: Auburn, Miami (FL), Notre Dame, Florida State, Texas A&M, Florida, LSU, Oklahoma, Oregon, Washington. Correlation between the two: "17 of the top 24 brands made it into either Tier One or Tier Two.  No team ranked 25th or lower achieved Tier One or Tier Two status.  After these top two tiers, we begin to see diminishing returns for the higher ranked teams still within the “average” band of +/- one standard deviation." Further, for the seven Top 25 programs who aren't also in the upper stratosphere of budgets, a clear brand strategy (ranging from Miami's "The U" to Clemson's Death Valley). More, including, "Brand perception is not only one of the most important assets to an athletic department, but it is one of the easiest assets to change as well." (link)
#9: ESPN's Schlabach gets comments from sources close to the MBB-FBI developments & this one is an eye-opener, "the clandestine probe could result in potential NCAA violations for as many as three dozen Division I programs, based on information included in wiretap conversations from the defendants and financial records, emails and cell phone records seized from NBA agent Andy Miller." Directly from a source: "It's not the mid-major programs who were trying to buy players to get to the top. It's the teams that are already there. [...] At some point, the NCAA is going to see this stuff. What are they going to do? They can't sit on their hands. If one kid is getting punished at USC for taking money, then the kid taking money at another school has to be punished, too." New York-based attorney Einhorn, who represents former USC AC Bland, "The wrong people were charged. These people are part of a situation that is much bigger than them. It's hard for me to say with a straight face that these people charged are outliers. This is what NCAA basketball is, and it's been that way for a long time." Lawyers for former Adidas personnel wrapped up in the probe were in court Thursday to argue their clients shouldn't face charges for allegations that don't amount to federal crimes. (link)
#8: Oregon State AD Barnes rolls out a new strategic plan for the Beavers, appropriately titled, "Build the Dam." BEAVS: Build Excellent Authentic Visionary Student-Athletes. Strategic goals: 1) Lead the country in holistic student-athlete development; 2) Win championships, achieve post-season success & attain national recognition annually in all sports; 3) Generate the funds necessary to accomplish our strategic goals and align resources to achieve financial sustainability; 4) Demonstrate inclusive excellence by advancing diversity and equity in all that we do; 5) Activate Beaver Nation through strategic partnerships with our campus, our community, the Beaver State and the world; and, 6) Invest in the facilities and infrastructure necessary to compete at the highest level. Lots more, including strategies for each goal, step-by-step processes, plus committee assignments for each strategic goal. Super sharp digital layout of the plan. (link)
#7: Fresno State is currently one of twenty-eight DI AD jobs open around the nation & The Fresno Bee's Warszawski asks why the university is "dragging its heels" in the hire of a new athletics boss. Last week Prez Castro indicated the search would happen at some point "later this year" as Warszawski assumes that to mean the Summer or Fall. Further, Warszawski believes the lack of urgency is also a sign Interim AD Robertello may be the leader Castro & others want anyways & the timeline serves as a long audition in the chair. In closing, "I doubt Fresno State would simply remove the interim tag from Robertello’s title without conducting some sort of search. That would be the proper thing to do. Until then, the Bulldogs are left in a state of limbo. Plus a growing sense the person already doing the job will be the one who gets it. Eventually."  One more note, looks like Senior Assoc. AD for External Development Alegria resigned two weeks ago. (link)
#6: UNLV Executive Assoc. AD for Compliance Toliver resigns after 26 years with the Rebels. Toliver was placed on leave earlier in the week after claims of harassment surfaced from former student-athletes & staffers. No deeper comments from the university or Toliver yet. (linklink)
#5: The NCAA released data on 2017 FB attendance across all divisions & here are some interesting results. Top 5 over all averages in the FBS were Michigan (111,589), Ohio State (107,495), Penn State (106,707), Alabama (101,722) & Texas A&M (98,802). The Top 5 year-over-year average gainers were Purdue (+13,433), Akron (+9,232), Florida Atlantic (+8,875), New Mexico State (+8,694) & Penn State (+6,450). On the FCS side, the Top 5 were Montana (23,535), James Madison (21,724), Florida A&M (19,048), Yale(18,940) & Montana State (18,617). Conference wise, the SWAC led by a large margin at 13,694 on average for home games. Lots more data here. (link)
#4: An Arizona cheerleader got ejected from Thursday night's MBB matchup at Arizona State. Here's the video. (link)
#3: The North Korean cheerleaders have been a particular point of interest so far at the Winter Olympics. Pretty different than cheerleaders we're used to. (link)
#2: The first thorough set of pictures I've seen from inside Minnesota's new Athletes Village project. The decor & final touchings aren't too flashy & look very reasonable, likely matching the ethos of Gopher fans & supporters. A seemingly required-these-days barber shop is included. $108M has been raised for the $166M project. Photo galleries at bottom of the page. (link)
#1: Courtside Security: An NC State fan sitting courtside made contact with a North Carolina student-athlete who possessed the ball during game action Saturday. The fan was removed from the arena & here is a photo montage of the incident, along with security addressing the issue. (linklink)
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