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Gerlach: Leaving AAC not an option (for ECU)
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Gerlach: Leaving AAC not an option (for ECU)
http://www.reflector.com/ECU/2019/08/11/...ption.html

"In one response to the Cherry Bekaert assessment report on East Carolina University finances and athletics, ECU interim chancellor Dan Gerlach did not mince his words in guaranteeing that the Pirates leaving the American Athletic Conference is not an option."
08-11-2019 08:56 PM
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Dr. Isaly von Yinzer Offline
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RE: Gerlach: Leaving AAC not an option (for ECU)
Yeah, no kidding. Where else are they going to go?
08-11-2019 09:07 PM
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RE: Gerlach: Leaving AAC not an option (for ECU)
In other news, the sky is blue and the ocean is wet.
08-11-2019 09:16 PM
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RE: Gerlach: Leaving AAC not an option (for ECU)
(08-11-2019 09:07 PM)Dr. Isaly von Yinzer Wrote:  Yeah, no kidding. Where else are they going to go?

Kind of an odd angle for that story to take.
08-11-2019 10:39 PM
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RE: Gerlach: Leaving AAC not an option (for ECU)
(08-11-2019 10:39 PM)Attackcoog Wrote:  
(08-11-2019 09:07 PM)Dr. Isaly von Yinzer Wrote:  Yeah, no kidding. Where else are they going to go?

Kind of an odd angle for that story to take.

Exactly.
(This post was last modified: 08-11-2019 11:12 PM by Indiana Bones.)
08-11-2019 11:11 PM
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RE: Gerlach: Leaving AAC not an option (for ECU)
Quote:The Pirates, who according to the Cherry Bekaert report faced an athletics budget projected annual net deficit of $11.9 million for this fiscal year and an $11.4 million deficit in 2020, received funds to balance their budget and have an approved athletics budget through 2020.

That's the root of the problem, the school is writing an $11M plus check each year to keep athletics funded. Student athletic fees are already pretty high.

The article says "some" of that is for improvements to facilities. They are hoping more money comes in through the gates. But more realistically they are looking at scheduling some revenue games in Football and Basketball to trim the deficit.

Pinching corners and revenue games are about all they can do. So that is probably what they will do. They also should actively work to slow the budget growth, and let the AAC revenue improvement help to trim as well. $15,159,430 is already taken in fees from the 19,958 full time students (over $750 per head -- which is the highest of any FBS school), so that is not a realistic source for additional revenue. They might want to consider dropping one men's and one women's sport to trim costs $1M or so annually (Golf and Swimming look like good candidates -- swimming & diving is not an AAC sport).

This is a problem nearly all G5 schools face. They have allowed budgets to rise such that gate, contributions, rights and distributions are not keeping pace.
08-11-2019 11:35 PM
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RE: Gerlach: Leaving AAC not an option (for ECU)
Yet ECU still throws money at their stadium. ECU is at their pinnacle. A P5 invite isn't happening.
08-12-2019 12:00 AM
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quo vadis Online
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RE: Gerlach: Leaving AAC not an option (for ECU)
(08-11-2019 10:39 PM)Attackcoog Wrote:  
(08-11-2019 09:07 PM)Dr. Isaly von Yinzer Wrote:  Yeah, no kidding. Where else are they going to go?

Kind of an odd angle for that story to take.

Yes, seemingly, because at first glance, as others have noted, ECU is the poster child for a school with infinite opportunity costs, the AAC is obviously their best possible home so they ain't going anywhere.

But at second glance, the explanation is also pretty clear: UConn leaving the AAC has set off tremors and reverbs, it's been a kind of shock wave, and so constituencies at other G5 schools are asking the same questions about their futures, and thinking along the lines of UConn. And this is a manifestation of that. Will these tremors be just that, temporary shakes that pass, or will more dominos in all G5 leagues fall? We'll see.

It also underscores the weakness of the media deal that Aresco signed. Bottom line is that it is clear that while an extra $5m (the difference between the old deal and new deal) is surely welcome, it in no way keeps up with the expenses of trying to maintain the facade of a program "in touch" with the P5, which are rising faster. The P5, with true rising revenues, keep upping the bar on expenses of all kinds, which is just ratcheting up what is needed for aspirational G5 to stay in the ballpark.

All the touted Aresco deal did was slow the rate at which AAC schools are falling behind their comparison P5 benchmarks, and only temporarily as well.

So schools like ECU are now trying to come up with new ideas given that even with the new media deal, it's just high student fees and rising deficits as far as the eye can see. The article mentions playing more pay-for-play games with P5, a 0-1 strategy that is the opposite of what UCF is trying to do, and one that abjectly reinforces the lower status of the G5 school doing it. But bills have to be paid, and ECU doesn't have a Big East option like UConn did.
(This post was last modified: 08-12-2019 08:01 AM by quo vadis.)
08-12-2019 07:59 AM
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RE: Gerlach: Leaving AAC not an option (for ECU)
Shame. The Purple Pirates might do well in the CAA or SoCon.
08-12-2019 08:12 AM
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RE: Gerlach: Leaving AAC not an option (for ECU)
Quote:Pinching corners and revenue games are about all they can do. So that is probably what they will do. They also should actively work to slow the budget growth, and let the AAC revenue improvement help to trim as well. $15,159,430 is already taken in fees from the 19,958 full time students (over $750 per head -- which is the highest of any FBS school), so that is not a realistic source for additional revenue. They might want to consider dropping one men's and one women's sport to trim costs $1M or so annually (Golf and Swimming look like good candidates -- swimming & diving is not an AAC sport).

“Highest of all FBS schools”. Where did u come up with that? The 750 is low compared to many G5. Even several P5 are close to that number - UVA, Rutgers. Probably others but I’m not spending an hour researching this.

ODU was close to $1500 but I believe a new VA law has lowered it by a few hundred.
(This post was last modified: 08-12-2019 08:49 AM by Pir8inRichmond.)
08-12-2019 08:48 AM
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Bogg Offline
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RE: Gerlach: Leaving AAC not an option (for ECU)
(08-11-2019 11:35 PM)Stugray2 Wrote:  That's the root of the problem, the school is writing an $11M plus check each year to keep athletics funded. Student athletic fees are already pretty high.

...

$15,159,430 is already taken in fees from the 19,958 full time students (over $750 per head -- which is the highest of any FBS school), so that is not a realistic source for additional revenue.

For what it's worth, mandatory student athletic fees are revenue in the same way a check written by the university is revenue. There isn't a meaningful difference between tacking a mandatory athletic fee onto the semester's tuition and raising tuition to pay for a transfer to the athletic department, although it is a little more honest.

...and yes, UConn's among the biggest offenders out there.

(08-12-2019 07:59 AM)quo vadis Wrote:  But at second glance, the explanation is also pretty clear: UConn leaving the AAC has set off tremors and reverbs, it's been a kind of shock wave, and so constituencies at other G5 schools are asking the same questions about their futures, and thinking along the lines of UConn. And this is a manifestation of that. Will these tremors be just that, temporary shakes that pass, or will more dominos in all G5 leagues fall? We'll see.

Eh, the UConn/Big East situation was pretty unique in the world of college sports for a number of reasons, and ECU's identity is pretty tied in to being a "football school". They'll cut the rest of the department to the NCAA limit before they do something that would seriously impact football (kind of like UConn is willing to possibly set football adrift to preserve basketball).

The MAC is already plenty compact, and the MWC schools have nowhere to go (although if someone gets booted that's a different discussion). If there's a significant impact, it's more likely to be the travel in Conference USA and the Sun Belt being less sustainable going forward. You already hear noise about it from time to time, but I could see schools on the geographic fringes of those leagues looking a little harder at more sensible olympic-sports conferences.
08-12-2019 08:51 AM
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RE: Gerlach: Leaving AAC not an option (for ECU)
(08-12-2019 08:12 AM)esayem Wrote:  Shame. The Purple Pirates might do well in the CAA or SoCon.

Whatever conference ECU were in, it appears they'd still own UNC on the field.
08-12-2019 08:55 AM
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RE: Gerlach: Leaving AAC not an option (for ECU)
(08-12-2019 08:55 AM)colohank Wrote:  
(08-12-2019 08:12 AM)esayem Wrote:  Shame. The Purple Pirates might do well in the CAA or SoCon.

Whatever conference ECU were in, it appears they'd still own UNC on the field.

UNC is winning the all-time series 11-5.
08-12-2019 10:06 AM
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RE: Gerlach: Leaving AAC not an option (for ECU)
(08-12-2019 10:06 AM)GoldenWarrior11 Wrote:  
(08-12-2019 08:55 AM)colohank Wrote:  
(08-12-2019 08:12 AM)esayem Wrote:  Shame. The Purple Pirates might do well in the CAA or SoCon.

Whatever conference ECU were in, it appears they'd still own UNC on the field.

UNC is winning the all-time series 11-5.

That doesn't mean a whole lot when the series has been around for 45+ years. ECU's won the last three games they've played (2013, 2014, 2018) by at least 2 touchdowns.
08-12-2019 10:18 AM
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RE: Gerlach: Leaving AAC not an option (for ECU)
(08-12-2019 08:51 AM)Bogg Wrote:  
(08-11-2019 11:35 PM)Stugray2 Wrote:  That's the root of the problem, the school is writing an $11M plus check each year to keep athletics funded. Student athletic fees are already pretty high.

...

$15,159,430 is already taken in fees from the 19,958 full time students (over $750 per head -- which is the highest of any FBS school), so that is not a realistic source for additional revenue.

For what it's worth, mandatory student athletic fees are revenue in the same way a check written by the university is revenue. There isn't a meaningful difference between tacking a mandatory athletic fee onto the semester's tuition and raising tuition to pay for a transfer to the athletic department, although it is a little more honest.

...and yes, UConn's among the biggest offenders out there.

(08-12-2019 07:59 AM)quo vadis Wrote:  But at second glance, the explanation is also pretty clear: UConn leaving the AAC has set off tremors and reverbs, it's been a kind of shock wave, and so constituencies at other G5 schools are asking the same questions about their futures, and thinking along the lines of UConn. And this is a manifestation of that. Will these tremors be just that, temporary shakes that pass, or will more dominos in all G5 leagues fall? We'll see.

Eh, the UConn/Big East situation was pretty unique in the world of college sports for a number of reasons, and ECU's identity is pretty tied in to being a "football school". They'll cut the rest of the department to the NCAA limit before they do something that would seriously impact football (kind of like UConn is willing to possibly set football adrift to preserve basketball).

Far be it from me to tell a UConn supporter what UConn is doing, but here goes ... I do not think UConn has 'cut football adrift' in the sense of leaving behind FBS or the ultimate dream of P5 membership. IMO, UConn remains fully dedicated to achieving P5 membership in the ACC or B1G, and that this move to the Big East is designed to advance towards that. It's one reason my delight as a Big East fan in having UConn back is not full-throated, we are not your destination conference.

IMO, the Big East move advances the P5 agenda because not only was football failing in the AAC (so it could hardly do worse as Indy), but the prized basketball programs were withering on the vine as well**, and the Big East is a chance to revive hoops while working on football. It may not work out that way, but IMO that is the logic of it.

That said, to me, the big difference between UConn and ECU is that ECU has no Big East option. But UConn is that most prestigious public G5 school, so if they do something dramatic, that will be impactful, and I think this article is an example of that.


Yeah I know, UConn women's hoops is still #1, but their are now a few thousand UConn students who have been on the campus for more than 3 years and have not seen the team win the national title. At UConn, that's a bit of a wither.
(This post was last modified: 08-12-2019 11:02 AM by quo vadis.)
08-12-2019 10:26 AM
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RE: Gerlach: Leaving AAC not an option (for ECU)
(08-12-2019 10:18 AM)VNova Wrote:  
(08-12-2019 10:06 AM)GoldenWarrior11 Wrote:  
(08-12-2019 08:55 AM)colohank Wrote:  
(08-12-2019 08:12 AM)esayem Wrote:  Shame. The Purple Pirates might do well in the CAA or SoCon.

Whatever conference ECU were in, it appears they'd still own UNC on the field.

UNC is winning the all-time series 11-5.

That doesn't mean a whole lot when the series has been around for 45+ years. ECU's won the last three games they've played (2013, 2014, 2018) by at least 2 touchdowns.

Congrats on beating Larry Fedora?
08-12-2019 10:55 AM
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RE: Gerlach: Leaving AAC not an option (for ECU)
(08-12-2019 07:59 AM)quo vadis Wrote:  
(08-11-2019 10:39 PM)Attackcoog Wrote:  
(08-11-2019 09:07 PM)Dr. Isaly von Yinzer Wrote:  Yeah, no kidding. Where else are they going to go?

Kind of an odd angle for that story to take.

Yes, seemingly, because at first glance, as others have noted, ECU is the poster child for a school with infinite opportunity costs, the AAC is obviously their best possible home so they ain't going anywhere.

But at second glance, the explanation is also pretty clear: UConn leaving the AAC has set off tremors and reverbs, it's been a kind of shock wave, and so constituencies at other G5 schools are asking the same questions about their futures, and thinking along the lines of UConn. And this is a manifestation of that. Will these tremors be just that, temporary shakes that pass, or will more dominos in all G5 leagues fall? We'll see.

It also underscores the weakness of the media deal that Aresco signed. Bottom line is that it is clear that while an extra $5m (the difference between the old deal and new deal) is surely welcome, it in no way keeps up with the expenses of trying to maintain the facade of a program "in touch" with the P5, which are rising faster. The P5, with true rising revenues, keep upping the bar on expenses of all kinds, which is just ratcheting up what is needed for aspirational G5 to stay in the ballpark.

All the touted Aresco deal did was slow the rate at which AAC schools are falling behind their comparison P5 benchmarks, and only temporarily as well.

So schools like ECU are now trying to come up with new ideas given that even with the new media deal, it's just high student fees and rising deficits as far as the eye can see. The article mentions playing more pay-for-play games with P5, a 0-1 strategy that is the opposite of what UCF is trying to do, and one that abjectly reinforces the lower status of the G5 school doing it. But bills have to be paid, and ECU doesn't have a Big East option like UConn did.

I actually think the AAC got a fairly good media deal. However, to your point, the core issue is that even a "good" media deal at the G5 level might not be sustainable for these athletic departments in the long term.

It's also a reflection that of what I've stated many times before: the "Football is all that matters!" line of thinking applies to the P5, but it isn't necessarily the best line of thinking for the G5. At the G5 level, basketball revenue has significantly more *relative* importance compared to football. (Total football revenue might be generally higher at virtually every school, even at "basketball schools", but that also comes with much higher expenses.)

The football positioning of a lot of schools (particularly in the AAC and MWC) has largely been driven more by the hope of eventually cashing in on a P5 lottery ticket than actually having a financially sustainable home in the G5. That was certainly the case for UConn. If UConn truly believed that it was going to the P5 within the next decade, then it would have sucked it up and stayed in the AAC. UConn simply got smacked in the face with the reality that it went from being a frontrunner to replacing Maryland in the ACC (a spot that eventually went to Louisville) to being an afterthought in the Big 12 expansion bake-off. Once UConn came to the self-realization that it simply wasn't ever realistically going to get to the P5, it was better off leveraging its core basketball brand to go back to the Big East.

To be sure, UConn was in the unique position of having a natural home in the Big East that may very well end up making more financial sense for them (even as a football independent). There isn't a natural home for any FBS school to have a similar setup as of now.

However, maybe some schools need to start thinking outside of the box with different setups. For instance, Gonzaga and BYU have financially outgrown the WCC, yet joining the MWC as non-football members isn't any more attractive (with less control and power in exchange for little, if any, financial gain). Could Gonzaga and BYU spearhead a western equivalent of the Big East instead? Maybe pitch schools such as Houston and UNLV with solid basketball brand names (plus schools like Boise State and Air Force that have football programs that could conceivably survive on their own) that creating a western equivalent of the Big East for basketball with independent football could yield a better financial return than staying in a G5 league as a full member. I'm not saying that this would actually end up being true or that's even viable, but the point is that the "Football is all that matters!" thinking for G5 schools needs to at least be reevaluated.

It feels like the G5 leagues are old line brick-and-mortar retailers trying to compete against Amazon and Walmart. No matter what they do, they're simply not going to be able to compete with the size and scale of the P5 conferences. The brick-and-mortar stores that are still performing well have largely all found a different niche lane compared to Amazon and Walmart. The Big East has a different lane and it has been working for them both financially and competitively. If all that you're selling is that you're a cheaper and lower-ranked version of a P5 conference, though, then that probably isn't going to be sustainable.
(This post was last modified: 08-12-2019 11:22 AM by Frank the Tank.)
08-12-2019 11:19 AM
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Post: #18
RE: Gerlach: Leaving AAC not an option (for ECU)
(08-12-2019 10:06 AM)GoldenWarrior11 Wrote:  
(08-12-2019 08:55 AM)colohank Wrote:  
(08-12-2019 08:12 AM)esayem Wrote:  Shame. The Purple Pirates might do well in the CAA or SoCon.

Whatever conference ECU were in, it appears they'd still own UNC on the field.

UNC is winning the all-time series 11-5.

I'm surprised ECU and UNC have only played 16 games.
08-12-2019 11:33 AM
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RE: Gerlach: Leaving AAC not an option (for ECU)
(08-12-2019 11:19 AM)Frank the Tank Wrote:  I actually think the AAC got a fairly good media deal. However, to your point, the core issue is that even a "good" media deal at the G5 level might not be sustainable for these athletic departments in the long term.

It's also a reflection that of what I've stated many times before: the "Football is all that matters!" line of thinking applies to the P5, but it isn't necessarily the best line of thinking for the G5. At the G5 level, basketball revenue has significantly more *relative* importance compared to football. (Total football revenue might be generally higher at virtually every school, even at "basketball schools", but that also comes with much higher expenses.)

The football positioning of a lot of schools (particularly in the AAC and MWC) has largely been driven more by the hope of eventually cashing in on a P5 lottery ticket than actually having a financially sustainable home in the G5. That was certainly the case for UConn. If UConn truly believed that it was going to the P5 within the next decade, then it would have sucked it up and stayed in the AAC. UConn simply got smacked in the face with the reality that it went from being a frontrunner to replacing Maryland in the ACC (a spot that eventually went to Louisville) to being an afterthought in the Big 12 expansion bake-off. Once UConn came to the self-realization that it simply wasn't ever realistically going to get to the P5, it was better off leveraging its core basketball brand to go back to the Big East.

To be sure, UConn was in the unique position of having a natural home in the Big East that may very well end up making more financial sense for them (even as a football independent). There isn't a natural home for any FBS school to have a similar setup as of now.

However, maybe some schools need to start thinking outside of the box with different setups. For instance, Gonzaga and BYU have financially outgrown the WCC, yet joining the MWC as non-football members isn't any more attractive (with less control and power in exchange for little, if any, financial gain). Could Gonzaga and BYU spearhead a western equivalent of the Big East instead? Maybe pitch schools such as Houston and UNLV with solid basketball brand names (plus schools like Boise State and Air Force that have football programs that could conceivably survive on their own) that creating a western equivalent of the Big East for basketball with independent football could yield a better financial return than staying in a G5 league as a full member. I'm not saying that this would actually end up being true or that's even viable, but the point is that the "Football is all that matters!" thinking for G5 schools needs to at least be reevaluated.

It feels like the G5 leagues are old line brick-and-mortar retailers trying to compete against Amazon and Walmart. No matter what they do, they're simply not going to be able to compete with the size and scale of the P5 conferences. The brick-and-mortar stores that are still performing well have largely all found a different niche lane compared to Amazon and Walmart. The Big East has a different lane and it has been working for them both financially and competitively. If all that you're selling is that you're a cheaper and lower-ranked version of a P5 conference, though, then that probably isn't going to be sustainable.

"Football Drives the Bus!"

Boy, I'll never get tired of laughing at that phrase. The reality is that an overwhelming majority of realignment decisions are bigger than football, or any one sport. Academic associations, prior conference affiliations, academic rankings, alumni, fan support, market, and a host of other criteria always get factored (and weighed heavily) in which leagues choose to associate themselves with. Football is just a piece of the pie - and, a good number from the current P5 would not be under consideration for P5 membership (if it wasn't a part of it) due to its lack of historical success/prestige in football. The most important aspect is the current/past institutional relationships and associations. Without those, it makes it close to impossible to move up the ladder.

Regarding the Big East's path, they are a unique case because they, essentially, had five schools that were long-time partners via association (Georgetown, Villanova, Providence, St. John's, Seton Hall), along with two newer schools that they shared a conference with (and were very like-minded in terms of athletics: Marquette and DePaul). For a possible West Coast version of the Big East, that - to me - is unlikely because there is no other larger football/non-football league split at the moment. The most likely substantial shift within the G5 is a likely C-USA/Sun Belt reorganization/merger, with more efficient divisions for travel purposes.
08-12-2019 11:41 AM
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Post: #20
RE: Gerlach: Leaving AAC not an option (for ECU)
(08-12-2019 10:26 AM)quo vadis Wrote:  Far be it from me to tell a UConn supporter what UConn is doing, but here goes ... I do not think UConn has 'cut football adrift' in the sense of leaving behind FBS or the ultimate dream of P5 membership. IMO, UConn remains fully dedicated to achieving P5 membership in the ACC or B1G, and that this move to the Big East is designed to advance towards that. It's one reason my delight as a Big East fan in having UConn back is not full-throated, we are not your destination conference.

Don't get me wrong, I'm more bullish on UConn's chances as an independent than most, but at the very minimum the move to the Big East signals a willingness on the part of the athletic department to let the chips fall where they may in football.
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