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MBB Bracket: As you likely saw, NCAA MBB Selection Committee Chair & Creighton AD Rasmussen unveiled the initial Top 16 seeds as we're under a month until Selection Sunday. Top line: Purdue, Villanova, Virginia & Xavier. Rasmussen worked through rationale on why some of the 1-4 seeds ended up in certain regions based on a variety of selection criteria, such as other league members already in place or due to balancing the true seed placements. Key takeaway: "There’s a perception out there that there aren’t any great teams and that may or may not be true. What I can say, without any doubt, is there are several very good teams, which could lead to a wide-open tournament. When the bracket came out last year, 15 of the teams were among the 16 we revealed in February. It wouldn’t be surprising to see different results this time. There are several teams on the verge of cracking the top 16, and they have plenty of chances to enhance their resume over the next few weeks." (link); Lots more from Rasmussen here. (link); Media opinions of the initial 16 came in all shapes & sizes, but it's hard to omit ESPN analyst Bilas' take, "A few of the decisions in the bracket preview Top 16 seeds are laughable. I hope this was just to create controversy and discussion. Otherwise, the Committee is wasting its time. The Committee’s quadrant system is just more shaky data to organize information for less discerning minds. All of the quad data is based upon RPI. Garbage in, garbage out." (link, link); NCAA Director of Media Coordination/Statistics Worlock updates that MEAC-leading Savannah State has received a waiver & is eligible for the tourney. (link)
Another interesting excerpt from the new book penned by former UCLA MBB stand-out O'Bannon as he recounts his time on the stand & the stress of being cross-examined by NCAA attorney Pomerantz. O'Bannon says he wishes he could have a do over on the question of if Little League baseball players should be compensated for games on TV, however, "By the way, what happened two months after my trial? Mo’ne Davis dominated the Little League World Series and became a national sensation. She was the first girl to pitch a shutout in the history of the Little League World Series. […] Davis also signed an endorsement deal with Chevrolet, even though she was only thirteen years old and wouldn’t be driving for a few years. […] I’m glad the NCAA didn’t try to stop Davis from endorsement deals. But why does it stop those deals with any athletes? What is the point? It’s obvious that young athletes can be extremely marketable. Why not let them be?" (link)
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)
Colorado State AD Parker emphasizes the importance of remaining clearheaded when it comes to pursuing opportunities to join a Power 5 conference, noting that the goal should remain on self-improvement. "If you were to gamble and say we will do anything to get into a Power 5 conference, what is that? ... You've set a goal that supersedes everything else. You can start to take shortcuts." With CSU's academic profile expanding, Parker and FB HC Bobo acknowledge that success on the gridiron may be the most important factor the next time a Power 5 looks to expand. Bobo: "If there's a conversation of realignment and being Power 5, we want to be in the best possible position to be in that conversation. I know a healthy athletic department and a healthy football program helps that conversation." (link)
Arkansas AD Yurachek Q&As with the Arkansas Democrat, notes his visibility at a lot of athletic events is not just an early-tenure strategy, plans to be in attendance at lots of games & matches to support Razorback student-athletes. Indicates he's the type of leader who wants to have personal relationships with all his HCs & points to the issue of playing FB games in Little Rock as front-burner. Further, Yurachek continues to lament the heavy buyouts connected to premier HC contracts these days, says "it took two minutes" for he & Chancellor Steinmetz to negotiate a 50% buyout rate on both sides for his own deal, though it's not officially signed yet. More. (link)
Oakland AD Konya & MBB HC Kampe huddle for a discussion on effective AD-HC relationships. Of note from Konya: "The important thing for any athletic director walking in to a situation with coaches in place is vulnerability based trust. […] There’s a learning curve in any new situation, the quicker you can get up to speed on what makes the place tick, you’ll get further along at a quicker pace." As for Kampe: "The greater good of the school is what we’re working for and when the AD and the coach know that, it makes things very easy. […] If you understand that the school comes first, your relationship with the AD and everyone else will be a lot better." Lots more goodies. (link)
Experiencing the World presented by Anthony Travel
With the Winter Olympics in full swing, Team USA reports that college athletics played a role in the development of more than one-third of US athletes, with 36% competing or having competed at 48 NCAA institutions. Ice hockey leads in terms of student-athlete participation, with 94% of US athletes having competed collegiately. Meanwhile, 87% of bobsledders and 75% of cross-country skiers competed as student-athletes. USOC Chief of Sport Performance Ashley: "The diversity of school contributions... highlights the importance of our unique intercollegiate athletics system to the U.S. Olympic movement. Our athletes have achieved impressive academic accolades while striving to be world-class competitors." Minnesota leads the way with 9 athletes, followed by Dartmouth (8) and Boston College (6). (link) Here is a helpful, sortable chart from the NCAA of all current and former student-athletes (link)
presented by Anthony Travel
Following allegations of softball student-athlete mistreatment, Penn AD Calhoun indicates that the department has received a "wide range" of feedback from alumnae and asks anyone who wishes to provide additional information to reach out to Assoc. AD Valenti. Calhoun has not made clear whether the department has reached out to current student-athletes, and a statement to the Daily Pennsylvanian student newspaper maintains the department "regularly" reaches out to alumni and supporters, adding: "The student-athlete experience and the health and safety of our student-athletes remain our top priority and we want to ensure that there is always an open line of communication between the Division [of Recreation] and the alumni." (link)
Bryant MBB HC O'Shea announces his retirement, effective at the end of this season, his tenth with BU. AD Smith: "From the moment he stepped foot on campus, he had a clear vision for what it would take for our basketball program to be successful competing at the Division I level. In the six years we have been eligible for Division I, Coach O'Shea led us to four NEC Tournament appearances, including three top-four finishes. On behalf of our entire athletic department, I want to thank Coach O'Shea for his commitment...and wish him the very best in his retirement." A formal announcement is expected this afternoon. (link)
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)
Purdue's Board of Trustees has approved a $2.7M renovation to the Brees Academic Performance Center that will turn old FB locker rooms into new academic spaces on the ground floor. AD Bobinski: "It really aligns our physical facilities with our mission, which is to have our student athletes be students first." Construction will begin in July with a targeted completion date of February 2019. (link); Rider took a one-time supplemental revenue distribution from the NCAA and put it toward a new, 2,240 square-foot Student-Athlete Academic Support Center inside the Maurer Center. With study hall, tutoring space, computer lab, interactive learning TVs and a new office & consultation space for the department's academic coordinator. Several photos included. (link)
Nicholls State's Colonels Softball Complex is getting new Geo Surfaces turf infield, lights, and dugouts, in addition to upgrades to the press box and new bleachers. Total cost of the facelift, which will also bring the facility in compliance with ADA laws, is $650K. The team is practicing at nearby Peltier Park, but Colonels should be ready for the March 13 home opener. (link); Grand Canyon baseball will debut a "new and improved" GCU Ballpark when TCU comes to town this weekend. Upgrades include chairbacks, a turf practice field, new cages, and more. (link)
Columbia researchers Hirsch and Mellins have spent the last three years leading the $2.2M SHIFT project, which examines campus sexual assault as a socio-ecological function of the institution of four-year, residential universities. Specifically, they posit that sexual assault on campus can and should be viewed less as a matter of individual misconduct than as a problem of how people act within a particular environment. Despite programming across the country to teach affirmative consent, Hirsch and Mellins point out that "there's a really broad disjuncture between what students learn and what they actually practice." While data from the project is still being analyzed, Hirsch explains: "Part of what I see our work doing is disrupting these scripts are sexual agents and women are gatekeepers, which is affirmed by consent education that frames men exclusively as perpetual perpetrators. Of course, you don't want to minimize the fact that women are still holding the burden on this... but you want to work in a way where there isn't a single story." (link)
The Connected Fan sponsored by From Now On
The Wall Street Journal reports Comcast bid 15% more than Disney for the Fox assets that Burbank is now trying to add to its collection. The article indicates Fox brass went with Disney's offer because of concerns around the vertical integration with Comcast that may not have made it through Department of Justice scrutiny. However, Comcast is considering pushing forward as $10B-plus of additional value is in play & as a result many Disney shareholders may be inclined to fight for more cash. At the same time, "Comcast may choose to take no further action. One key development that could influence its thinking is Fox’s release of a proxy statement on the merger, which would likely indicate the general process that led up to sealing a deal." (link)
sponsored by From Now On
Vanderbilt AD Williams participated in The Undefeated's 'Dear Black Athlete' that aired on ESPN last night. Williams warns not to "confuse change with progress," asks, "When do we become team owners? When do we become the commissioners?" Former Stanford WBB student-athlete Ogwumike points out the stark difference in pay for being the #1 pick in the WNBA ($60K) versus the millions afforded the same spot in the NBA. Ogwumike on the social consciousness of players in the league, "In the WNBA, it is No. 1 to be a team player. And that is something that we try to touch in all aspects of our lives. You see people that may not speak with their voices, but they speak with their actions. Whether it is wearing a certain T-shirt, whether it is going to a certain school and showing kids you can read and you can be who you want to be." (link)
Utah AD Hill sat down with the local Fox affiliate in Salt Lake City to answer three questions regarding his “very emotional outburst” after the Utes' MBB game at Arizona State, FB HC Whittingham’s $2M annual salary, and the school’s competitive relationship with BYU. Hill on his conversation with Pac-12 Coordinator of Basketball Officials Dibler, who he has known for 40 years: "Just my bad. I was upset about the atmosphere of the game and I thought it was out of control. ... It was embarrassing in a lot of ways and I wish it didn’t happen." A bit more. (link)
The Honolulu Star-Advertiser takes a look at the travel proposition undertaken by Hawaii's conference members in the Big West and Mountain West at the start of each year. Before traveling to UH for conference road games, opponents have the option of allowing UH to handle all travel booking, and therefore incur any fluctuations in airfare, or taking cash (roughly $75K per school per year) and covering any surcharges themselves. UH Assoc. AD for Admin. Services Clapp says "usually one or two schools a year" opt to book travel themselves, and UH typically pays around $1.2M per year in the "travel cost sharing" arrangement. Working in UH's favor in the Big West is that anyone who joins the conference after UH did, such as UC San Diego and Cal State Bakersfield in 2020, will travel to UH at their own expense. UH, which does not have a similar agreement in its MWC contract, reportedly pays roughly $3M per year on its own travel costs. (link)
The Pac-12 Brain Trauma Task Force will receive a $1M grant over three years from the NCAA and Department of Defense’s Concussions Assessment and Education (CARE) Consortium to study the diagnosis and treatment of head injuries. The Pac-12 has partnered with “SyncThink EYE-SYNC” technology, a head-mounted eye-tracking virtual reality system, to conduct its research on student-athletes across all sports. Colorado has been selected as the coordinating institution that will be tasked with organizing the data in hopes it will provide further information regarding the prevalence of head injuries in college athletics. (link)
Harvard announced former Tufts (DIII) Prez Bacow will take over as the school’s 29th president in July. Bacow, who spent 24 years as a faculty member at MIT (DIII) and is currently the Hauser leader in residence at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government’s Center for Public Leadership, was reportedly selected for his diplomatic and leadership skills. Harvard Corporation Senior Fellow and Search Committee Chair Lee described Bacow as the right leader “at a moment when the value of higher education is being questioned, at a moment when the fundamental truth of fact-based inquiry is being questioned and called into doubt.” (link)
Also Noticed: Another gun bill that could impact college athletics venues, this one in West Virginia. (link); Some MBB HCs have already started to accrue bonus monies. $20K for both Cincinnati HC Cronin & Arizona boss Miller. $5K for Florida Gulf Coast's Dooley for securing the A-Sun regular season crown. (link); Looks like Arkansas & Western Kentucky are working on scheduling both FB & MBB games. (link); Miami (FL) kicked off its Building Women Champions Campaign. (link); Missed this late last week as Louisiana Tech MBB student-athlete Boykins got a technical for dunking & smiling. No comment from Conference USA. (link)
The Connected Fan sponsored by From Now On
Author and brand expert Denise Lee Yohn pens for the Harvard Business Review on five words that should be banned from your corporate values statement. 1 Ethical (this should be every company's way of doing things, it shouldn't need to be in your values statement); 2. Teamwork (you shouldn't need to tell your people to work together); 3. Authentic (not something you can claim, just something you must be); 4. Fun (if you have to say it, you're probably not); and 5. Customer-oriented (instead develop a core value that explains the unique way you engage with your customers). "Differentiation is the key driver of brand power. Your company’s core values must embody what makes your company uniquely 'you'—what makes you stand out from others." (link)
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(Posted from most recent over the last 30 days)

Senior Associate Athletic Director for Academic Services (University of North Texas / Denton, TX): Overseeing Student Services Center; includes academic support, staff, student services, & student-athlete development. Providing leadership executed through policies & processes for student athletes. More details HERE.

Director, Ticket Operations (Stanford University / Stanford, CA): The Director, Ticket Operations manages ticketing for 100+ regular season events, major tournaments and postseason events across many of Stanford’s 36 Division I varsity sports. More details HERE.

Assistant Coach, Men's Soccer (University of North Carolina Wilmington / Wilmington, NC): Assists the Head Coach in providing leadership for a NCAA Division I men’s soccer program. Assists with all aspects of the men’s soccer program. More details HERE.

Assistant Director of Athletics Communications (James Madison University / Harrisonburg, VA): Serve as communications contact for softball, volleyball, swimming and diving and in support of football with an emphasis on digital content & engagement. More details HERE.

Director of Intercollegiate Athletics (University of California, Berkeley / Berkeley, CA): The University of California, Berkeley invites applications for the position of Director of Intercollegiate Athletics. Witt/Kieffer has been retained by the University to lead the search. More details HERE.

Senior Manager, Digital Media and Analytics (Paciolan / Irvine, CA): This is a senior marketing position that specializes in digital advertising, search marketing and analytics, advising and evaluating client marketing performance and reviewing digital properties. More details HERE.

Director of Ticket Operations (College Football Playoff / Irving, TX): The Director of Ticket Operations manages ticketing for the National Championship and all auxiliary events that take place in conjunction with the game. More details HERE.

Digital Marketing and Sales Coordinator (College Football Playoff / Irving, TX): The Digital Marketing and Sales Coordinator provides coordination and project management services with focus on promoting the brand and maximizing revenue. More details HERE.

Associate Director of Athletics for Facilities, Operations & Events (College of the Holy Cross / Worcester, MA): This position will provide leadership for the facilities, operations & events staff on a day-to-day basis in addition to oversight of athletics facilities, game operations and outside events. More details HERE.

Director of Athletics (Bucknell University / Lewisburg, PA): Bucknell University is a NCAA Division I school with outstanding academic and athletics tradition. Witt/Kieffer has been retained by Bucknell to lead the recruitment for its next Director of Athletics. More details HERE.

Assistant AD\Major Gifts or Director of Major Gifts (Temple University / Philadelphia, PA): The Assistant AD\Major Gifts or Director of Major Gifts will devise strategies and be responsible for the cultivation, solicitation, and stewardship of gifts up to $25,000 on an annual basis. More details HERE.

Assistant/Associate Director, Varsity O Association (University of Oklahoma - Norman / Norman, OK): Varsity O Association Asst/Assoc Dir will be responsible for advancing the mission of OU Athletics thru its extensive network of letter winners by providing opportunities to engage with the dept. More details HERE.

Assistant Director of Accounting - Athletics (Georgia Institute of Technology / Atlanta, GA): Responsible for receipt and timely recording of revenue related items, including ticketing & donor related income, while also assisting in daily operations by performing advanced financial functions. More details HERE.

Deputy Athletic Director (University of Delaware / Newark, DE): Act as the Chief Operating Officer and oversee the Intercollegiate and Recreation Services ongoing internal operations, maximize resumes & be responsible for the internal efficiency of the dep't. More details HERE.

Associate Athletic Director for Annual Giving (San Jose State University / San Jose, CA): The Aspen Leadership Group is proud to partner with San José State University in the search for an Associate Athletic Director for Annual Giving. More details HERE.

Head Volleyball Coach and Associate in Physical Education (Columbia University / New York, NY): The Head Volleyball Coach is responsible for organizing and administering all aspects of the volleyball program. Quicklink: More details HERE.

Asst. Director of Marketing & Fan Experience (University of Oklahoma - Norman / Norman, OK): Asst. Director of Marketing & Fan Experience will advance the mission and values of OU Athletics by coordinating ticket sales efforts, directing advertising campaigns and executing game entertainment. More details HERE.

Senior Associate or Associate Athletics Director for External Affairs (University of California, Riverside / Riverside, CA): Liaison between the Athletics Director and all Athletics fundraising activities and revenue operations. Emphasis on enhancing UCR’s Division I relevancy, revenue generation and new market outreach. More details HERE.

Director of Clinical Counseling Services for Student-Athletes (Mississippi State University / Starkville, MS): Provision of general psychological services (evaluation, treatment and education) to student athletes. More details HERE.

Executive Director of Development/Assistant AD for Development (George Washington University / Washington D.C.): GW seeks a dynamic & strategic leader to join a high performing fund raising team as Exec. Director of Development. Will manage team and direct their development efforts to ensure fundraising success. More details HERE.

Director of Digital Media Services (Mid-American Conference / Cleveland, OH): Create video content that drives fan engagement and views of website and social media platforms. Serve as liaison for ESPN3 campus productions. Direct media relations activities for select sports. More details HERE.

Compliance Coordinator (Oral Roberts University / Tulsa, OK): The Compliance Coordinator will assist in the development and implementation of a comprehensive program to ensure compliance with University, Summit League and NCAA rules and regulations. More details HERE.

Athletics Assistant Director for Business Operations (University of Nevada, Las Vegas / Las Vegas, NV): The University of Nevada, Las Vegas invites applications for Athletics Assistant Director for Business Operations, Intercollegiate Athletics. More details HERE.

Assistant Director for Financial Reporting (University of Nevada, Las Vegas / Las Vegas, NV): The University of Nevada, Las Vegas invites applications for Assistant Director for Financial Reporting, Intercollegiate Athletics [R0107169]. More details HERE.

Assistant Athletics Director for Sports Performance (CSUN / Northridge, CA): Responsibilities: Management and supervision of the Sports Performance staff, weight training facility, including development of policies and procedures for risk management, appropriate supervision. More details HERE.
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