Saturday, February 15, 2014

Mike Aresco Addresses Some Concerns About American Athletic Conference

Mike Aresco addressed the media an hour before tip-off today. Here's some of what the AAC commish had to say:

“The conference is doing well, obviously having five teams in the Top 25. It’s not something that necessarily surprised us. We knew we had good teams. We thought Temple might be in a transition year, they’ve gone to six straight tournaments. But SMU picked up the slack and ended up being ahead of schedule. It’s been a good year, and obviously that’s on the heels of the Fiesta Bowl and UCF, and what the football teams have done in our conference.”

(on how important SMU’s success has been)

“It’s huge. You can’t overstate it. We need that additional team, and a team that’s going to have that kind of focus. Larry Brown is Larry Brown, you’ve got a Hall of Fame coach. (Rick) Pitino’s leaving the conference, obviously, a Hall of Fame coach. In addition, he’s got some great recruits coming in … we know he’s got great people coming in. That’s going to be enormous. There’s a special thing going on down there. They’ve been selling out. They’ve got Moody Coliseum renovated. I’m going down March 5 – I had been down there before they opened it – it’s a beautiful place. People have really embraced the team in Dallas, and I think it’s going to continue.”

“Next year, you’re still going to have Temple, UConn of course, Cincinnati, Memphis, and Tulsa, with its basketball tradition and Danny Manning, coming into the conference. Our lower-tier teams have not had a lot of success this year, but they’ll get better, quickly. Their recruiting will be improved, because of the conference they’re in. Donnie Jones at UCF told me his recruiting has been way better than it’s been, because of the conference he’s in. We’re really optimistic about basketball.”

(on whether AAC could offer student-athlete stipends if power-5 do so)

“Yes, indeed. This is permissive legislation … Although we don’t have the resources they have, we don’t have the TV deal money they have – we have exposure just as good as any of them – (and) they can do certain things, but it’s permissive, meaning we can do it, too. As a conference, we’ve already committed to provide a full cost of attendance stipend, if that’s passed. It’s unclear yet what that’s going to be – whether it’s going to be based on federal guidelines, whether it’s cost of attendance for each individual school, and that can include incidentals, laundry, travel and other kinds of things that kids have not necessarily had covered by their full scholarships. But whether it’s a fixed amount, we’ve committed as a conference that we’re going to do it. And we’re probably going to do other things that they plan to do (paying for families to come to certain events, etc.) … we have every intention of being a conference just like those other five, which we’ve always been as a BCS conference.”

(would the league let some schools do things that others can’t?)

“We’ll let the individual schools make those decisions … for instance, there are some programs in certain conferences that are really good in one sport, and they would want to compete for national titles where maybe they can’t do it elsewhere. Would that particular school be allowed to reinforce that particular sport? We’re going to have Title IX issues, we want to ensure that if there’s a stipend, it would include our women’s sports. There’s a lot unclear we need to settle. Right now, I think the concept of autonomy in terms of financial issues with those conferences, I wouldn’t say it’s settled, but it’s moving in that direction. I think if there’s no real opposition among the NCAA, the real issue is how it’s going to be defined.”

“The one thing we do know, our group of five conferences – we want to be viewed like those other five – we as an individual conference, we’re establishing that we’ll be able to do what the other five are going to do, if we want to. How we vote and how we determine that, we don’t know yet.”

(on Cincinnati AD Mike Bohn’s assertion that his chiefgoal was to get Cincy out of AAC and into a power-5 league)

Aresco added: 

“Right now, realignment seems to have settled down. We’re very proud of the conference we have, it’s a strong conference. We want people to support our conference. Cincinnati will support our conference. I think you’ll see a lot of supportive comments coming out of Cincinnati about our conference.”

Elswhere, Omar Calhoun was putting up some pregame shots:

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