March 16, 2013

More like the after-affects and details of expansiopocolypse.

How badly did the Big 10 want the Baltimore/DC market for the Big Ten Network Maryland? Enough to sweeten the pot for Maryland by subsidizing their looming jump in travel costs.

Since financial details of the agreement are kept private — the amount of the subsidy is not publicly available. But the amount is in the range of $20 million to $30 million, according to sources familiar with the deal.

Maryland got the subsidy after assessing the travel-cost implications of leaving the Atlantic Coast Conference, its home for 60 years.

The cost of sending its teams halfway across the country — as far away as Lincoln, Neb. (1,201 miles), and Iowa City, Iowa (905 miles) — was projected by the school to approximately double its travel budget.

Wow. Jim Delany really wanted to get back at John Swofford for the Notre Dame arrangement. That is a hell of a deal. It isn’t clear if it will be a lump sum or an annual subsidy.

Maryland was obviously in a position of strength in the negotiations with the Big 10. For as dire as their financials were, they had a safe, stable conference to fall-back to. A lump sum infusion would be really interesting since it could be the sort of thing Maryland would need to help pay its ACC exit fee — pending the court case.

Rutgers, naturally, got squat because they just wanted out of what was left of the Big East. Still, it will be interesting to see if there is any minor resentment from their fanbase over not getting the same deal. Not to mention Penn Staters as College Park is less than 200 miles from State College. Even the Hoopies have to be looking at this news with more than a little annoyance.

It also sets a precedent. Any other team from the ACC that the Big Ten shows interest will expect a similar subsidy. It’s the sort of extra that may actually slow down any efforts by the Big Ten to go all the way to 16. They will have to see how this plays out on their end as well.

The battle for Madison Square Garden could soon be on.

The ACC is considering moving its tournament to New York City, a top league official confirmed Friday.

The ACC Tournament is in Greensboro for this weekend, 2014 and 2015. The ACC was founded in Greensboro in 1953 and its headquarters remain in the city.

Many cities covet the tournament, and the ACC will announce the host cities for at least 2016-2021 this spring. Karl Hicks, the league’s associate commissioner who runs the tournament, told WNCN the conference will discuss the matter at its April meetings and again in May. He said a decision is possible in April but more likely in May.

It’s possible, Hicks said, that the tournament could announce dates through 2023.

Now MSG and Barclays (Brooklyn) did not submit bids to host the ACC Tourney, but the ACC may be rethinking their strategy. The Big East Tournament this week has been a wonderful reminder that there is no better site for a conference tournament. The energy. The size of the city that has all the fan bases there. Compare that to the ACC tournament which had the provincial feel of a host-school site.

Pete Thamel at laid out exactly why the ACC needs to make every effort to change their plan.

MSG and the ACC would be the perfect marriage of a premiere league and the best postseason hoops venue, a union of power, media muscle and geography. And it would be more important symbolically, as the Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany has visions of moving his conference’s tournament to New York. A proactive move for the ACC could also be a critical defensive move to keep the Big Ten out of Manhattan.

All the ACC is doing by continually moving its tournament is watering down its brand. Forget cameos in Atlanta, Washington D.C. and Tampa and plant a flag in New York. The ACC will become the envy of college basketball. Kids all over the country dream of playing in New York.

The old timers on Tobacco Road would spit out their sweet tea at the mere notion of leaving Greensboro or other southern destinations. The ACC’s nexus of North Carolina, N.C. State, Wake Forest and Duke would go apoplectic. In sentimental terms, Greensboro Coliseum is their Fenway Park. It’s spacious enough for multiple fan bases and located within driving distance of most conference schools. It has been a fine home, but times are changing.

This move goes well beyond Jim Boeheim’s jokes about Denny’s in ACC country. This is a matter of a league positioning itself for the long haul.

Greensboro is certainly quaint, but this isn’t a time in college sports for quaint. Missouri and Kansas aren’t playing these days. Neither are Syracuse and Georgetown. Or Texas and Texas A&M.

No one knows the high stakes of college sports better than the ACC, as the league already cannibalized the old Big East to the brink of irrelevancy. Why not rob the new Big East of its second biggest asset (behind its Fox TV contract) before it even begins?

Let Delany and the Big Ten settle for Brooklyn or Newark. Bludgeon the Catholic Seven before they even tip off.

Now is the time for the ACC to make a power play for Manhattan.

Nails it.

Finally there’s the Big Priest/Catholic 7/future Big East. They want — heck, expect to keep MSG as their home for the Tournament. And no doubt they will have an opportunity. Yet, it seems as if there is a little bit of infighting already as Georgetown has been a little too controlling.

Recently, John Thompson III joked that he’d love to call the new Big East “the Georgetown league.” But when you look at what’s happened, he may not be joking. There have been formal discussions about the new league’s office being in Washington. The lawyer who is essentially acting as commissioner, Joe Leccese, is a Georgetown graduate. The person who will be spearheading the search for the new commissioner, Liz Boardman of Russell Reynolds, is a former Georgetown field hockey player.

While Georgetown’s fingerprints are obvious, a big test of Georgetown’s power will be whether or not VCU joins the league in the next wave of expansion. While Georgetown hasn’t lobbied against VCU in meetings, television sources say that the Hoyas don’t want VCU in the league. (The prevailing thought being that VCU is too close geographically for Georgetown’s comfort and being a public school doesn’t fit the profile.) Many schools in the Catholic Seven are enamored with VCU, especially because the league’s bottom four teams — Providence, DePaul, Seton Hall and St. John’s — have combined to win just one NCAA tournament game in the last 10 years.

Thompson III’s “Georgetown League” may be closer to a reality than most people realize. And as the “new” Big East sits on the cusp of a promising new future, some are wondering if there’s too much Georgetown in the “Georgetown League.”

One of the things that set the other members off is a story from last month by John Feinstein in the Washington Post that was a puffer on Georgetown’s President John J. DeGioia role in the Big Priest that made him look like the force behind all of it.

The man who has been charged with piecing together the new league is Georgetown President John J. DeGioia, a job handed to him, according to those who know, in large part because of a lack of interest on the part of the presidents of St. John’s, Villanova, Seton Hall, DePaul, Marquette and Providence.

The piece also says that DeGioia has already targeted the guy to be commissioner.

Not that any of this is going to derail the conference, but no one should pretend that the new conference is at full cohesiveness.

Speaking of which, local papers for both Butler and Creighton are reporting the respective schools are going to be part of the new conference. In fact they will be announcing it next week. Xavier is still considered a lock, but no news on them yet.

Regarding VCU and the new BE….

I live in Central Virginia and the prevailing thinking down here is that VCU is not a candidate because they are not a “like-minded institution”. Richmond is the preferred choice for that reason and its rumored that Georgetown and Villanova are pushing for the Spiders to round out an Eastern Division …. with Butler, Xavier, St. Louis and Creighton rounding out the Western Division. Dayton doesn’t get the nod due to TV overlap with Xavier.

It is surprising that a league which would include Providence and Seton Hall would not even consider Duquesne – at least to get the Pgh TV market.

Comment by Joe Lawrence 03.17.13 @ 9:21 am

Greensboro is just awful as a venue for a BB tournament. If the ACC can grab NYC, great. Otherwise, DC makes the most sense. Like NYC, it’s a destination location….and as much as Charlotte and Atlanta would like you to believe they are – they are not.

Comment by Joe Lawrence 03.17.13 @ 9:27 am

The ACC Tourney will never leave NC. The Southern folks that run the ACC in NC wouldn’t have it. In their eyes NC and basketball are leap years ahead of NYC. It will stay in NC for many years.

Comment by Upittbaseball 03.17.13 @ 9:43 am

@Joe Lawrence
Duquesne is a victim of it’s own unprecedented incompetence.
Good for them they are in the A10 which will survive nicely.

Comment by SFPitt 03.17.13 @ 6:38 pm

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