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September 2020
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College AD News: NIGHTCAP


Mon, Aug 3, 2020


West Coast Conference Creates ‘The Russell Rule’ to Encourage Hiring of Minority Applicants

“It is my hope the West Coast Conference initiative will encourage other leagues and schools to make similar commitments. We need to be intentional if we’re going to make real change for people of color in leadership positions in college athletics. I’m proud to assist the WCC and Commissioner Nevarez by endorsing this most important initiative.” - Bill Russell, 11-time NBA Champion

The West Coast Conference announced the adoption of the “Russell Rule” as the first conference-wide diversity hiring commitment in Division I. The “Russell Rule” is named in honor of WCC and NBA legend Bill Russell and is the main part of a groundbreaking series of initiatives implemented under the “We are Committed to Change” platform.

Bill Russell, the 11-time NBA champion with the Boston Celtics, has endorsed a measure that will make the West Coast Conference the first Division I league to require all schools to include a minority finalist for job openings in athletics, the league announced Monday.

Backed by Gloria Nevarez, the first Latinx Division I commissioner, and unanimously approved by the league’s 10 presidents, “The Russell Rule” is the hallmark of the conference’s equity, diversity and inclusion platform. According to the new rule, finalists for any opening for an athletic director, senior administrator, head coach or full-time assistant coach within the league must include a member of a “traditionally underrepresented community.”

The “We are Committed to Change” platform will continue to guide conversations and actions in pursuance of equity, diversity and inclusion in the WCC. Here are the initiatives the WCC released to jumpstart the implementation of the Russell Rule:

  • Diversity Hiring Commitment: The “Russell Rule” is the first conference-wide diversity hiring commitment in Division I.
  • Education: Conference-wide series of antiracism educational webinars for coaches, administrators and student-athletes on June 29, 2020. Participants included more than 500 student-athletes and more than 400 coaches and administrators.
  • Policy Making: The Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Committee (EDI), formed in 2019, will be expanded with representation from all 10 institutions. This group will feature a student-athlete subcommittee with representatives from each member.
  • Civic Engagement: A Civic Engagement Pledge to facilitate annual voter education and registration for student-athletes.
  • Video Campaign: The “We are Committed to Change” video message, featuring representatives from all 10 institutions, will be played prior to WCC contests and will be included in WCC Network programming as well as digital and social platforms.
  • Juneteenth: Beginning in 2020, the Conference office observes Juneteenth as an official holiday.

Nevarez said the killing of George Floyd accelerated some of the league’s ongoing plans to promote diversity. Since 2018, Crystal Hogan has been the only female referee in Division I men’s basketball. Right now, 40% of the league’s men’s basketball coaches are Black. Nevarez created the equity, diversity and inclusion committee last year. As part of the league’s new initiatives, it will recognize Juneteenth each year.

“I’m particularly passionate about it,” Nevarez said. “I also realize the national temperature right now is a window we can’t miss.”

and on to the day’s news.


The Day’s News

  • The Sun Belt Conference is keeping its eight-game league schedule and will allow members to play four non-conference games, The Austin American-Statesman Keff Ciardello reports.
  • ESPN’s Adam Rittenberg reports conference presidents met Monday morning.
  • The Southern Conference could push back the start of its football season, commissioner Jim Schaus says, as the league awaits further clarity on the fate of the FCS playoffs and the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on college campuses.
  • Schaus said a conference-games only schedule, much like what the SEC and ACC have announced on the Power 5 level, is one of the scenarios the SoCon is considering.
  • “We’ve looked at a lot of scenarios, and I hope we’ve looked at everything under the sun,” he said. “There is a lot of merit to the conference-only concept, and the reason is that it allows you to delay, and I think that part of the strategy is some sort of delay.
  • The college football season felt a little more real last week. Some conference schedules were released. Award watch lists continued to come out. Some preseason camps even started. Commissioners and athletic directors held remote press conferences about their plans, which are admittedly tentative.
  • Speaking to The Athletic on Saturday morning, UConn head coach Randy Edsall had a question: What about the players? Where is their say in all this?
  • “I’m not playing it, athletic directors aren’t playing it, presidents aren’t playing it, conference commissioners aren’t playing it. It’s the student-athletes,” Edsall said. “It’s important that I hear what our student-athletes want to do and what they think is best for the experience with them, their health, their welfare and safety. That’s one thing that we’re going to make sure that we hear and look at.”
  • A new modeling study published Friday by researchers at Harvard and Yale Universities concluded that a safe way to bring college students back to campus this fall would be to test them for COVID-19 every two days using “a rapid, inexpensive, and even poorly sensitive” test, and to couple this testing with strict behavioral strategies to keep the virus’s rate of transmission (Rt) — the average number of individuals infected by a single contagious person — below 2.5.
  • Such a strategy, the authors wrote, “was estimated to yield a modest number of containable infections and to be cost-effective.”
  • The study, “Assessment of SARS-CoV-2 Screening Strategies to Permit the Safe Reopening of College Campuses in the United States,” appeared in JAMA Network Open, an open-access journal published by the American Medical Association.

Bowl System May Change with Coronavirus Alterations

  • The recent changes to Power 5 football schedules could impact the entire bowl system, as bowl organizations and conferences are contemplating adjusting the schedule and eligibility requirements for teams during a season that has already been drastically altered by the coronavirus pandemic.
  • Nick Carparelli, who oversees the 42 bowls as executive director of the Football Bowl Association, told ESPN on Monday there have been discussions about minimizing the importance of a team’s final record as a criteria for selection.
  • Under current NCAA rules, teams with a .500 record or better are bowl-eligible — an easy transition with 10-game schedules — but with the Pac-12, Big Ten and SEC using conference-only models this fall, some deserving teams could slip below .500.

Charleston Southern Plans to Play Football Regardless if There is Playoff or Not

  • Charleston Southern athletic director Jeff Barber said the Buccaneers are determined to play their season this fall, whether there is a playoff to aim for or not.
  • “We want to play,” Barber said recently. “And people say, why do it if you can’t play for the playoffs?
  • “The playoffs are always our goal, but our goal also is to do what’s best for the student-athletes. I’ve talked with our coach and our president, and we really want our kids to play this fall, and our kids want to play.”
  • Dylan Jordan, a redshirt freshman linebacker, wrote in a message posted to Twitter that Patterson, during Sunday’s practice, chastised him for saying a racial slur in a team meeting room. Then, on Monday morning, Jordan said “we refused to go to practice,” causing Patterson to go into the locker room to explain himself.
  • “We refused to go to practice this morning and [Patterson] came to the locker room and said, ‘I wasn’t calling him a [racial slur]’” Jordan wrote. “This behavior is not okay now or ever and there needs to be repercussions to these actions.”
  • Artayvious Lynn, a senior tight end, wrote on Twitter that Patterson told Jordan to “stop saying n-word” in meetings. When Jordan replied, “What?” that’s when Patterson said, “you’ve been saying [racial slur] in meetings,” according to Lynn.
  • “People are taking it as if he said it that way,” Lynn said in response to former TCU linebacker Montrel Wilson. “We discussed it as a team and all told Coach P how we felt and that the word is unacceptable under all context.”

Ohio Order Prevents Fans at Games

  • A new order in Ohio signed Aug. 1 allowing contact sports, but without fans, reportedly applies to the state’s NFL and college football teams.
  • The state department of health’s press secretary confirmed Monday morning to the Dayton (Ohio) Daily News sports reporter Marcus Hartman that the order includes the Ohio State Buckeyes.
  • According to Hartman, the order remains the case until Gov. Mike DeWine’s state of emergency is no longer in effect. The Ohio Department of Health could also rescind or modify the order, Hartman said.
  • Texas has released its COVID-19 safety measures and guidelines for fans looking to attend Longhorns football games in the fall.
  • The newly released guidelines come as UT officials continue talks with local health authorities and the Big 12 Conference about potentially dropping the capacity limit at Darrell K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium from 50% to 25%.
  • Texas Athletic Director Chris Del Conte said the athletic department was “working closely with President Hartzell and Chairman Eltife to explore a 25% capacity model at football games this fall.”
  • “Our priority is to create the safest game day environment for our student-athletes, coaches, game officials, fans, staff and visiting teams,” Del Conte said.
  • Northwestern has paused workouts after one player tested positive for the coronavirus, the team said Monday.
  • Workouts will be on hold until Wednesday at the earliest. The player who tested positive is self-isolating, while those who were in close contact with him must test negative before being cleared to return to activities. Northwestern held its last workout on Friday.
  • “Medical staff will implement the university’s rigorous contact tracing and quarantine protocols to protect the health and safety of student-athletes, coaches and staff,” Northwestern said in a prepared statement.
  • The Cincinnati Bearcats, a member of the American Athletic Conference, are scheduled to begin training camp Wednesday and are set to open their season against Austin Peay on Sept. 3 at Nippert Stadium.
  • Cincinnati Director of Athletics John Cunningham told The Enquirer on Monday any football player at the institution with similar concerns may opt out of the season without their decision impacting their scholarship. University of Cincinnati compliance officials said players who opt out will not lose a year of eligibility.
  • “The concerns are legitimate concerns,” Cunningham said. “So if a student-athlete has a concern, we want to hear from that student-athlete. We want them to be able to — with their parents and with their own doctor or whoever it is — make a decision that’s best for them. So if they have concerns, we will keep that scholarship in place and they will be able to opt out and not play.”

Lawyer: COVID-19 Liability Waivers May Not Be Enforceable

  • U of L’s Athletics Participation Assumption of Risk and Waiver of Liability, “is intended to be as broad and inclusive as is permitted by the laws of the Commonwealth of Kentucky.” In signing it, athletes acknowledge that they “understand and voluntarily assume all responsibility for risks resulting from my participation, whether known or unknown, direct or indirect.”
  • In a June interview with The Courier Journal’s Cameron Teague Robinson, U of L athletic director Vince Tyra described the document as being “as much a pledge as it is anything else,” emphasizing the importance of following protocols to prevent placing others at risk.
  • Though the U of L waiver clearly contains language to that effect, its overriding concern would appear to be eliminating the risk of lawsuits. “That is a thoroughly lawyered waiver,” Louisville attorney Sheryl Snyder said after reviewing the document.
  • “Liability waivers are generally not worth much anyway,” Louisville attorney Steve Romines said. “The lack of bargaining power on behalf of the athletes make them almost worthless in this situation in my opinion.” There is value, of course, in avoiding courtrooms. To that end, a document need not be ironclad to intimidate potential plaintiffs.


  • There are a lot of questions about what the future of college sports will look like, but a lot of questions about the current state of Fresno State. The Bulldogs athletic director, Terry Tumey, sat down with us to talk about navigating the department through this pandemic.
  • On whether there is an “act of God” clause in a non-conference slate, “I literally need to be a little bit careful as far as how I talk about that, but I will say that yes, there are always clauses as it relates to force majeure and things of that nature for contests of that nature. However, there’s also some uniqueness that goes along with those games. “
  • On the financial scenario of the athletics, “Well, the conditions are still dire. Without having the ability to truly understand where many of our revenue-generating sports are going to come from. We all know the importance of what football does for our athletic deptartment… so we all understand that it doesn’t make football more important than any other sport, but it does add to that contribution of the thing you’ve talked about in terms of the financial condition.”

Vermont AD Jeff Schulman Named to DI Men’s Ice Hockey Committee

  • Jeff Schulman, the director of athletics at the University of Vermont, has been appointed to the Division I Men’s Ice Hockey Committee, effective Sept. 1.
  • He will begin a four-year term representing the Hockey East Association, replacing Steve Metcalf, the league’s current commissioner, whose term is set to expire.
  • Fairmont State University announced today that Greg Bamberger has been named the new Director of Athletics.
  • Bamberger has just completed his 15th year as the Director of Athletics at Kutztown University, a member of the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference.
  • The U.S. Military Academy at West Point has signed Legends to handle sales and marketing of what’s expected to be a $100 million modernization of historic Michie Stadium.
  • The stadium renovation will largely rebuild the East stands along the Lusk Reservoir and create premium spaces for more than 2,000 fans.
  • Army is in the fundraising stage of what it’s calling the Michie Stadium Preservation Project, which will totally renovate the East side.
  • Within the updates, with a goal of completion for the  2024 season, will come a full complement of new premium spaces, including suites, club seats, loge boxes and ledge seating.
  • Vice President and Director of Athletics Brian White has announced the formation of the Florida Atlantic University Athletics Inclusion and Equity Advisory Panel.
  • The FAU Athletics Inclusion and Equity Advisory Panel is tasked with reviewing current initiatives within the department and creating a diversity, equity and inclusion plan for FAU Athletics.
  • The panel will also develop and maintain initiatives to recruit and retain diverse student-athletes, staff and coaches, along with developing educational programs geared toward inclusion and equity and prevention of discrimination.
  • The 18-member FAU Athletics Inclusion and Equity Advisory Panel includes six student-athletes and is headed by Senior Associate Athletics Director for Academics and Student Development Eric Coleman.
  • Northeast Conference (NEC) Commissioner Noreen Morris today introduced NEC Champions For Change to highlight a series of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) initiatives set to debut during the 2020-21 academic year.
  • These initiatives were passed unanimously by the Council of Presidents in support of the NEC’s Strategic Plan and its goal to Support Diversity, Equity & Inclusion. Ratified in the spring of 2019, the Strategic Plan included the formation of a NEC Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Subcommittee with an eye on implementing conference-wide programming and providing educational resources to enhance DE&I efforts. Of note, the NEC hosted its inaugural DE&I Summit last December with close to 100 NEC athletic administrators and campus leaders in attendance.
  • NEC Champions For Change is designed to be a platform for the league’s student-athletes, coaches and administrators to share their experiences around social injustice and social change. The NEC will utilize its social media platforms to convey these messages as a first step towards the conference’s commitment to help create impactful change within our communities.
  • There’s at least a temporary delay in planning for more upgrades to Hilton Coliseum in Ames, the home floor for ISU basketball, volleyball and gymnastics.
  • The original schedule had called for Board of Regents approval last week, to kick off the process of seeking bids for designs that would expand the arena’s north and south concourses.
  • “It was to be funded by athletic department operations and private giving. This is an excellent project and will greatly enhance this facility,” said Milt Dakovich of Waterloo, an ISU graduation who is a member of the Board of Regents. “Exercising an abundance of caution in these uncertain economic times, we have deferred this project two months, to our September meeting.”
  • Penn State University Vice President for Athletics Sandy Barbour named Clarisa Crowell as the eighth head coach of the softball program Monday.
  • Crowell comes to Happy Valley after eight years as head coach at Miami (Ohio), posting a 208-182 overall record.
  • The North Dakota State University athletics department announced Monday that Stevie Keller has been promoted to director of track & field and cross country for the Bison, overseeing both the men’s and women’s programs.
  • Keller is entering his 21st year coaching NDSU track & field, serving as the head women’s coach for the past six seasons.
  • He replaces Don Larson as the head men’s coach, who retired this summer after 41 years leading the Bison.
  • UMass Director of Athletics Ryan Bamford issues a statement announcing the newest fundraising campaign, #FlagshipForward. From today through Friday, August 7 at 5 p.m., anyone can visit and select any sport programs, or athletics program as a whole, to make a philanthropic contribution.
  • “This point in our year is usually one of anticipation and excitement as we prepare to play our fall sport seasons. As you know, these last months have been anything but usual,” he started. “We now stand at the onset of a year where we face a considerable reduction (approximately $5M) to our athletic department budget. Accordingly, we need to identify ways to handle our operations differently, all the while maintaining our commitment to meet our mission to educate, win, inspire, and invest.”
  • In an effort to bridge resource gap and keep momentum going, Bamford formally announces newest fundraising campaign.
  • An active United States senator believes the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed a “civil rights crisis” in the world of big-time college sports. And he’s using Michigan football coach Jim Harbaugh as an example.
  • Sen. Chris Murphy, a Democrat from Connecticut, took to social media platform Twitter Sunday morning to make the case that universities and leagues are spending too much money on administrators and facilities, and not enough on the players.
  • Murphy, reacting to a story from The Players Tribune published Saturday on behalf of a small group of PAC-12 football players demanding health-care protections, revenue sharing and guaranteed scholarships this fall, linked to an MLive article from October detailing Harbaugh’s $7.5 million compensation package in 2019, making him one of the highest-paid college football coaches in the country.
  • “Unpaid (Michigan) football players are playing in the middle of a pandemic to assure their coach can get his $7.5 million salary,” Murphy wrote.
  • “I want college football back if it’s safe. But COVID has exposed a civil rights crisis in big time college sports: unpaid kids — mostly of color — risking their lives to make millions for adults — mostly white. “This needs to change. NOW.”
  • While we know the Gators will be playing a conference-only, 10 game schedule, the pandemic has caused sports leagues at all levels to make changes to their season. This includes the start of non-spectator games. It won’t just be football fans missing out, but the local economy could take a major loss, according to Vice President of Greater Gainesville Chamber of Commerce, Alyssa Brown.
  • “There’s a very significant economic impact related to UF athletics, including football. UF-related visitors spent nearly $473 million in our community last year … and a significant amount of that was football-related,” Brown said.
  • According to UF Athletic Director, Scott Stricklin, there will eventually be a uniform standard in terms of how college stadiums will welcome or not welcome fans. But with the season over a month away, there’s still hope.
  • The Patriot League’s decision to cancel fall sports threatens to extend the negative impact the pandemic has had on revenue for Lehigh’s athletic department since the university’s coronavirus-related closure in March. Stacy Shiffert, the associate athletic director for business and budget, said in the spring her department estimated revenue losses of a little over $1 million.
  • Following the league’s latest announcement, Shiffert said as her department receives updated information, they will adjust their budgets and projections accordingly. “We are holding on fall budgets for now because there is a chance [fall sports]may have a season this spring.”
  • Shiffert said the primary sources of revenue during the fall are football ticket sales — especially those for the Lehigh-Lafayette game — as well as NCAA revenue distributions.
  • Last October, UNO signed a deal to lease 27 acres of university land to a group of donors for $10 a year. The rent the university charged wasn’t much, but it’s getting quite a bit back in return: a $23.5 million baseball and softball complex for the University of Nebraska at Omaha that’s completely paid for.
  • The donor group, operating under a nonprofit vehicle called the Nebraska Philanthropic Trust, pledged to raise the money, come up with the facility plan, hire the contractors and construction managers, and then donate the finished ball complex to UNO.
  • UNO Chancellor Dr. Jeffery Gold acknowledged that the structure of the deal was not typical of how many university projects have been done in the past, with the planning and oversight in the hands of the university.
  • LSU announced preliminary plans for ticketing and seating at Tiger Stadium for the 2020 football season Friday after the Southeastern Conference on Thursday said its teams are playing 10-game, conference-only schedules this fall.
  • The ticketing and seating plan prioritizes distribution to season ticketholders and students, according to a statement from LSU. The plan also ensures ticketholders will have the ability to opt out of the 2020 season while retaining their seats for 2021.
  • Ticketholders who want to opt out can do so via an online form that will be distributed next week. For ticketholders who choose to retain their 2020 tickets, ticket distribution and seat allocation will be finalized once capacity allowances and the updated football schedule are determined
And that’s that.

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