Private equity, television, availability reports and other closing thoughts from SEC meetings

DESTIN, Fla. — In the wake of the NCAA vs. House settlement, which calls for teams to pay around $20 million to athletes starting next year, there were a lot of ideas talked about this week at the SEC meetings for new revenue: sponsorships on fields, naming rights for areas, ticket prices.

But there was one idea that is a non-starter for now: private equity.

In private, athletic directors and presidents scoff at the notion of taking money from outside investors who would want a say in their operations. SEC commissioner Greg Sankey, speaking publicly, was a bit more measured, but his skepticism was clear. Sankey specifically pointed to Red Lobster, the seafood chain now in danger of going under after a private equity partnership.

“There are cautionary tales about private equity out there,” Sankey said. “I’ve had a half dozen or more meetings with representatives, all good people, all learning opportunities. But I think people have to exercise a level of care before just jumping in.”

The Pulse Newsletter

Free, daily sports updates direct to your inbox. Sign up

Free, daily sports updates direct to your inbox. Sign up

BuyBuy The Pulse Newsletter

Sankey said he understood why private equity would be interested in college sports, and not just football and men’s basketball, pointing to increased crowds at women’s basketball and baseball. But the concern among SEC administrators is that private equity would interfere, or at least want a say, in decision-making.

Sankey alluded to the Super League proposal, revealed by The Athletic in April, supported by the presidents at Syracuse and West Virginia, with the possibility of outside investor involvement.

“I’ve been interested in some of these league ideas that are generated out of Manhattan, as I see it, never mention academics in their pitch deck,” Sankey said. “It’s fascinating to me. Never once say anything about a young person’s education. Not a lot of evaluation from who benefits from this participation. About the level of control that’s ceded by public universities to private equity.”



Citing rivalry games, SEC looks for more money for 9 conference games

Rivalry and television

Part of the reason the SEC feels better about its financial situation is its lucrative new contract with ESPN-ABC, which kicks in this season. And with the flexibility that comes with having all its games under one network, it finished announcing game times for the first three weeks of the season, along with some later rivalry games, which each saw notable changes.

Two in-state rivalries are moving to Black Friday: Mississippi State at Old Miss will be at 3:30 p.m. ET, and Georgia Tech at Georgia at 7:30 p.m., both on ABC. The Egg Bowl has bounced around through the years between Thanksgiving and Friday or Saturday, but Clean Old-Fashioned Hate has been on Saturday since the 1990s.

Georgia athletic director Josh Brooks said the idea “came up organically,” not necessarily Georgia volunteering for it or being approached.

“The key piece is the exposure for the game,” Brooks said. “An opportunity to get the national stage, when there are fewer games you get more exposure for your program playing in game like that, where you’re going to be the marquee game on a Friday night.”

200923 AJW FB Ark stadium 057 scaled

Georgia athletic director Josh Brooks’ football team will face Georgia Tech on Black Friday this season. (Tony Walsh / UGA Athletics)

The Red River Shootout, now moving to the SEC, will see Oklahoma and Texas in the 3:30 p.m. slot on Oct. 12, rather than its customary Noon slot.

Sankey said it came after “a lot of talk” during about an eight-day period, not indicating who initiated it, but that both schools were good with it.

“That’s a good thing. Although my Twitter feed was filled with negativity,” Sankey said, smiling. “I went to (Texas athletic director) Chris (Conte), ‘Dude, you told me this is a good thing.’ He said, ‘Yeah, this is a good thing.’”

More game time announcements are coming next month: The remaining early window times, all the games from around noon to 1 p.m. ET, will be announced in mid-June. The remaining afternoon and evening windows could have some announcements, but there will be some flex scheduling. Either way, the conference said fans will know their team’s game will either be afternoon or evening well in advance.



SEC prepares for cost cutting, even in football: ‘This is a big deal’

Availability reports update

There was actual movement this week, though no decision, on a topic that’s been discussed for years: mandated injury reports, although they would look differently from what the NFL does and could also look different from what the Big Ten did starting last season.

Football coaches, the ones who like to be secretive about injuries, were receptive to the idea this week, enough so that there was enough movement that it could happen for this season. While that’s not certain, the concerns were real about gamblers trying to get inside information.

“If it helps with (curtailing) gambling, then I’m all for it,” Georgia coach Kirby Smart said. “If it’s geared to getting knowledge out there that people are trying to get from our student-athletes and text them, I’m certainly for that. But I want to find out more about it.”

The Big Ten had teams release in the hours before a game a list of unavailable players. The NFL does it much more in-depth, listing players as probable, doubtful and out and doing so several times a week leading up to the game.

Asked which model they prefer, Sankey said, “We’re going to prefer the SEC model, and that’s going to be a product from learning from all of the other models.”

Texas coach Steve Sarkisian, who has coached in the NFL, had a direct answer when asked how the SEC would prevent college coaches from trying to game the system.

“Fine us. That’s what they do in the NFL,” Sarkisian said. “I’m a big believer in this: The NFL has figured out a lot of this stuff already. They’ve already had to live through these things that have occurred. So we don’t have to recreate the wheel so much. If I try to game the system and I don’t report a guy (who is injured), fine us. We all like the money that we make. So that’s a really simple way to get us to adhere to the rules.”



SEC coaches on why they want higher roster limits and to keep walk-ons

Playoff means money

Besides just the prestige, it will pay off for SEC teams to make the expanded College Football Playoff.

The conference agreed to a bonus structure for the 12-team CFP: $3 million from the conference to a team that makes the first round, $3.5 million to a team that plays in the quarterfinals, $3.75 million for making the semifinals and $4 million for making the championship game. The SEC will provide a travel allowance, to be determined by the conference’s executive committee.

The teams can receive multiple payments. So for instance a team that plays in all four rounds would get $14.25 million.

This money will come from the payout the SEC receives from the CFP. The rest of the money not paid out to SEC teams will be split up among all teams, including the teams that make the Playoff.

In the four-team Playoff, participating teams got a $2.05 million payment and an additional $2.15 million if they made it to the championship game.



Emerson: What Greg Sankey didn’t say may be as important as what he did

A boon to baseball?

While football coaches argued against roster limits — potentially as low as 85 — the changes brought by the NCAA vs. House settlement could change the complexion of other sports, especially college baseball.

For decades, baseball has had a limit of 11.7 scholarships, meaning partial scholarships or walk-ons making up teams. But with scholarship limits being eliminated and the roster limit almost certainly having to be at least 25, the potential exists for schools to put a lot more commitment into baseball.

South Carolina athletic director Ray Tanner was his school’s baseball coach, winning two national championships, before going into administration.

“Nothing is set in stone yet; we don’t know the parameters of what this settlement will lead to. But when you think about baseball, and it was 11.7 forever. I never thought it would change. There’s now an opportunity now that it will change,” Tanner said. “And you don’t have to go to 30 or 24 (scholarships). But you get off 11.7. It could enhance the opportunity for student-athletes who play baseball, but other sports as well. This settlement has so many positives, but it’s also very challenging financially. We will adjust.”

(Top photo of Greg Sankey: Seth Emerson / The Athletic)

Source link

About The Author

Scroll to Top