AAC commish voices support for new NCAA governance structure

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The vote for autonomy for the power conferences was passed earlier today, which led to some quick reactions from commissioners of the ACC, Pac-12 and SEC. As you would expect to see, John Swofford (ACC), Larry Scott (Pac-12) and Mike Slive (SEC) had some positive comments about the vote for autonomy.

But what about the other conferences?

Mike Aresco, commissioner of the American Athletic Conference, has stated for over a year the conference plans to be included in the upper echelon of the college sports world, but now leads a conference left behind by the powers given to those in the ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12 and SEC. Aresco seems undeterred by the news and says the AAC supports the new governance structure.

The following statement was released by the AAC commissioner:

We are pleased that the NCAA Governance Redesign Model was adopted today by the NCAA Board of Directors. We extend our congratulations to Dr. Nathan Hatch and to the NCAA Steering Committee for its excellent work in designing a model that we believe will enjoy broad acceptance. We also appreciate the exemplary efforts of our NCAA Board representative, Dr. John Hitt of UCF, and our Conference Board chair, Dr. Gerald Turner of SMU, who were deeply engaged in this process.
 
Our conference membership supports the new governance model and the opportunities it will present to enhance the student-athlete experience and student-athlete welfare. Our presidents and athletic directors are steadfast in their commitment to these ideals and also to providing our student-athletes with the ability to compete at the highest level of collegiate athletics.

Sun Belt commissioner Karl Benson also released a statement, showing a different and perhaps more realistic spin on the situation. His statement:

“Today’s vote by the NCAA Board of Directors will have a significant impact on the future of intercollegiate athletics and more than likely will result in an increase in the cost of operating the athletic programs of the universities of the Sun Belt Conference.  While there will be challenges ahead, our universities are committed to the continued academic success of our student-athletes along with providing the necessary benefits to protect their overall health and welfare.  Our universities have integrated the values of intercollegiate athletics into their respective academic missions on each campus and the SBC looks forward to continuing to play a prominent role within the new NCAA governance as one of the 10 FBS conferences.”

Mountain West Conference commissioner Craig Thompson has issued the following statement as well;

“The Mountain West appreciates the efforts of the Division I Steering Committee and chair Nathan Hatch in developing a governance structure that meets the needs of Division I as a whole. Adoption of the new governance model will allow Mountain West institutions to determine how best to meet the needs of their student-athletes while continuing to provide opportunities to compete at the highest level of collegiate athletics.

“Student-athlete welfare and academic excellence have always been paramount in the Mountain West and will continue to be at the forefront of the discussion as we enter this new era of Division I. The Mountain West already has begun to involve student-athletes in its governance structure with the participation of two student-athletes at its spring 2014 Board of Directors meeting. This type of engagement will further enhance the overall experience of the student-athlete. The Mountain West membership has been actively engaged in conversations about the governance redesign for some time and we look forward to continuing the dialogue throughout the implementation phase of the new structure.”

Nebraska, Illinois to open 2021 season in Ireland

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Nebraska and Illinois will open their 2021 seasons in Dublin, Ireland, the programs jointly announced Monday.

“The University of Illinois, our football program, our alumni and fans, and the entire Fighting Illini family are in for a once-in-a-lifetime experience on the Emerald Isle,” Illini AD Josh Whitman said. “When first approached about this game almost two years ago, we had immediate interest. This game will provide an incredible educational opportunity for our football student-athletes who, because of their schedule, generally do not receive the same international experiences as many of our other student-athletes. For our fans, I hope they will journey with us across the Atlantic for a wonderful trip and a major football game, all set against the beauty of Ireland.”

The game will take place Aug. 28, 2021 at Aviva Stadium in Dublin, the same site that hosted Notre Dame vs. Navy in 2012 and will host the Irish and Midshipmen again in 2020. College GameDay will broadcast from the Notre Dame-Navy game in 2020. Penn State and UCF played in Ireland in 2014, and Georgia Tech and Boston College did the same in 2016.

“It is a privilege to be here at the University of Illinois for the announcement of the teams for the 2021 Aer Lingus College Football Classic,” Dublin mayor Paul McAuliffe said. “I welcome the news that both the University of Illinois and University of Nebraska teams and fans will travel to Dublin in 2021 and I look forward to seeing the colour and energy that they will bring to the city of Dublin. Dublin and Ireland are ready to welcome you! This fixture is an important date in our calendar and showcases Dublin as a destination for hosting major international sporting events.”

The game was originally scheduled to be played Nov. 13, 2021 in Champaign, and likely will not be the last in Ireland, as the nation works to make Dublin the European capital of American college football.

Clemson moving forward with $70 million renovation for Death Valley

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Clemson’s building spree around campus for the football program isn’t slowing down anytime soon thanks to the Tigers winning two of the last three national titles.

The school’s Board of Trustees on Friday approved a massive $68.7 million renovation of Frank Howard Field at Clemson Memorial Stadium — better known as Death Valley — and a further $7 million devoted to expanding the already impressive football operations building.

“We haven’t had a major redo of the west end since 2006 so it’s time to pay some attention to that side [after] we redid the suites on the north side and created the south club on the south side,” Athletic Director Dan Radakovich told WNCT.

The stadium renovations are pretty typical of schools nowadays as it will add premium seating (i.e. suites), a new video board and upgraded LED lighting that peers like Georgia and Alabama have used to rave reviews in recent years.

New locker rooms at the stadium are also set to be the first thing accomplished in the project, which officials hope will be completely wrapped up prior to the 2021 season.

Given everything the school is doing for the program lately, ‘If you win it, they will build it’ might just be the unofficial motto at Clemson nowadays. Sure seems more accurate in 2019 than ‘BYOG.’

Thanks to alcohol sales, UNC made over $1 million from concessions in just three home games

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The state of North Carolina opening up beer and alcohol sales at sporting events has had a big impact on the flagship university’s bottom line so far this year.

According to WTVD ABC 11, UNC sold over 43,000 “units” of alcohol (beer/wine/hard seltzers) in the Tar Heels’ first three home games of the year. The end result to all those purchases? The team took in over $1 million in concessions in games against Miami, Appalachian State and Clemson, with all three contests selling more alcohol than soda (and nearly as much booze as water).

The school confirmed a number of figures, including roughly $325,000 in concession sales for the home opener against the Hurricanes and $393,000 against the in-state rival Mountaineers. The defending national champions’ visit on Sept. 28 was the high point however, with $416,000 worth of goods sold and some 15,737 units of alcohol bought.

WRAL reports that all three games exceeded the previous record amount UNC took in from concessions, set back in November 2016 against local rival N.C. State.

Kenan Stadium will host three more home games in 2019 against Duke, Virginia and FCS Mercer. Safe to say all three can already get counted as wins for the bottom line regardless of the result on the field for Mack Brown’s team.

Baylor LB Clay Johnston to miss rest of the season with knee injury

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If No. 18 Baylor is going to continue their remarkable pursuit of a Big 12 title in 2019, they’re going to have to do it without their best defensive player.

A school official confirmed to the Dallas Morning News on Sunday that senior linebacker Clay Johnston will miss the rest of the season after injuring his knee in the Bears’ double overtime victory over Texas Tech on Saturday.

The news is a huge blow to Matt Rhule’s defense, which was tops in the Big 12 in a number of statistical categories and the No. 17 scoring defense nationally. Johnston was all over the field against the Red Raiders, racking up 10 tackles (1.5 TFL) and an interception to help edge their conference rivals and remain undefeated.

For the season, which will sadly be Johnston’s last as a senior, he had 58 tackles, 2.5 sacks and that lone pick from Saturday. Freshman Matt Jones is listed as the next man up on the depth chart though given his youth and inexperience, it’s possible the Bears coaching staff will shift over a more veteran option to man the middle of the defense going forward.

Baylor doesn’t ease into the second half of the schedule either as they’ll hit the road to face a dangerous Oklahoma State offense in their first game without Johnston on Saturday.