College Basketball Nation: Dan Beebe

1. The new Big East athletic directors and coaches will meet next week in Palm Beach, Fla. But they still don't have a commissioner, let alone an office, a schedule and compliance bylaws and staff. Athletic directors are getting anxious that a commissioner hasn't been named yet. Presidents are running the show and keeping the ADs in the dark. The athletic directors wanted a commissioner yesterday, or at the very least in time for next week's meeting. But that may not be possible. If not then former Big 12 commissioner and conference advisor Dan Beebe will run the meeting. Competition in the conference starts in August in fall sports.

2. Conference USA is meeting in Destin, Fla., this week and the coaches are trying to get the league to switch its current stance and have all 16 schools -- instead of just 12 -- at the conference tournament in El Paso in March 2014. The league added Charlotte and Old Dominion for the upcoming season after losing Memphis to the American conference. Tulsa, East Carolina and Tulane will leave for the American conference in 2014 but the league will add Western Kentucky. That means Conference USA will go from 16 schools down to 14. The question for the athletic directors will be whether they are willing to bring everyone to the tournament site.

3. The ACC meetings began Monday with the athletic directors. The coaches arrived later in the day to start talking Tuesday. Future ACC tournament sites will be discussed. The ACC has a golden opportunity to penetrate the New York market by looking at the Barclays Center as an option beyond the Greensboro Coliseum in the middle of North Carolina. Madison Square Garden is locked up for the new Big East. The Greensboro Coliseum is slated for the ACC through 2015. Atlanta, Charlotte, Tampa, Washington D.C., and Greensboro is also an option beyond '15. Having New York in the rotation would be a smart, shrewd move by the ACC with Syracuse, Notre Dame, Pitt and in a year, Louisville joining the conference. The ACC will have a huge northern influence, not to mention plenty of alumni in the New York area.
1. Being on the NCAA tournament selection committee has become a bad omen for athletic directors or commissioners keeping their jobs, with a third member losing his day job while on the committee. Last year, Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe was fired and had to step away from the committee; he was ultimately replaced by Oklahoma AD Joe Castiglione. Then, UConn athletic director and chair Jeff Hathaway was forced to “retire.” He had to take a faux consultant job with the Big East to stay on the committee. Hathaway is now the athletic director at Hofstra. The latest to lose his job is SMU AD Steve Orsini, abruptly fired Thursday. Chair Mike Bobinski of Xavier and new NCAA vice president Mark Lewis will now have to huddle to find a replacement for Orsini on the committee. If they stay in the Big East/Conference USA area, they should look at USF AD Doug Woolard, Big East associate commissioner Dan Gavitt or East Carolina AD Terry Holland.

2. Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said Kentucky’s Anthony Davis -- the consensus No. 1 pick in the upcoming NBA draft -- brings shot-blocking, something the U.S. Olympic team may need this summer in London. Davis’ chances have risen due to the injury to Orlando’s Dwight Howard. Krzyzewski said Davis isn’t “trying out” for the team; rather, Davis is now in the pool of players who may be selected. Krzyzewski said it would be good to get Davis indoctrinated right away into USA Basketball. “He’s a great talent and a good kid," Krzyzewski said. “Hopefully we don’t get any more guys hurt."

3. Organizers for the Battle 4 Atlantis -- the top non-conference tournament -- won’t decide on the bracket until August for the November event. The event, at the Atlantis Hotel on Paradise Island in the Bahamas, could put all eight teams in the NCAA tournament. They are: Louisville, Duke, Stanford, Missouri, Minnesota, Memphis, VCU and Northern Iowa.

3-point shot: Castiglione to replace Beebe

November, 15, 2011
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1. Oklahoma athletic director Joe Castiglione is expected to replace former Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe on the NCAA men’s basketball selection committee and complete the final two years of Beebe's term. An announcement is supposed to come from the NCAA sometime next week. The Big 12 nominated Castiglione. The other nine members of the committee are: chair Jeff Hathaway (Big East consultant), Steve Orsini (SMU AD), Scott Barnes (Utah State AD), Lynn Hickey (UTSA AD), Doug Fullerton (Big Sky commissioner), Jamie Zaninovich (WCC commissioner), Mike Bobinski (Xavier AD), Ron Wellman (Wake Forest AD) and Joe Alleva (LSU AD).

2. San Diego State is taking a wait-and-see approach on a possible move to the Big East in football. The Aztecs may form a possible Western Division with BYU, Boise State and Air Force as those three schools contemplate an possible offer from the Big East. But the problem for a school like SDSU, according to a source, is whether the money makes sense and if there is a true home for the rest of the sports like men’s basketball. BYU is safe with the WCC, a solid home for a faith-based institution. Air Force could land there, as well. But Boise State and a school like SDSU can’t go to the WCC. With the WAC going to far-flung places in Texas, the option is more likely conferences like the Big West or Big Sky, a decided downgrade for a program like SDSU.

3. One of the more significant results from Monday night was Providence’s win at Fairfield. New Providence coach Ed Cooley beat his former team in his old building in Bridgeport. The win will help propel the Friars under Cooley as he tries to fast-track the rebuilding job. But for Fairfield it’s a disappointing start to the season. The Stags, the favorite in the MAAC, needed to beat a team projected at the bottom of the Big East. Now Fairfield will need to raise its profile even more with an Old Spice Classic win next week in Orlando. The Stags must build a non-conference resume with positive points, not holes, if they’re going to be taken seriously in March. Fairfield won the MAAC regular season last year but it wasn’t enough. More needs to be done in November and December.

3-point shot: B1G should nominate Hollis

October, 11, 2011
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1. The NCAA is waiting for the Big East to decide if it will hire former UConn AD Jeff Hathaway either to its staff or as a paid consultant so that he can continue as chair of the men’s basketball selection committee. Two weeks ago, the NCAA’s administrative cabinet denied a request from outgoing chair Gene Smith to let Hathaway serve out his term. The league -- preoccupied as it is with expansion dealings -- hasn’t moved on the matter. NCAA executive vice president Greg Shaheen said he is hopeful the Big East will alert the committee as to its decision by the end of the week.

2. No one is trying to save former Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe’s spot on the 10-member selection committee. His replacement has to be from the Midwest or South as well as from a FBS conference (the Big Ten, Big 12, MAC and Sun Belt, specifically -- the SEC and ACC already have members on the committee). Oklahoma AD Joe Castiglione is a candidate to replace Beebe for a full term. The committee should also consider Michigan State AD Mark Hollis; he’s exceedingly well-respected and created the Carrier Classic game on 11-11-11. The Big Ten should nominate him.

3. Indiana coach Tom Crean needed to catch a break in his tireless efforts to resuscitate the Hoosier program. He didn’t get one with the news that Maurice Creek is likely out for the season after undergoing surgery to repair a torn Achilles tendon. Crean has improved the talent level at Indiana and finally brought in a top in-state player in Cody Zeller, but he needs a veteran presence to take pressure off the newcomers. College basketball needs this historic program to be relevant. Let’s see how much the Hoosiers will matter this season.
I'm not sure whether this is encouraging or not. At the very least, it's good to know that the NCAA isn't planning on merely sitting around in Indianapolis and letting Texas A&M's move to the SEC spring another six months of conference realignment madness. Sure, that may happen. But at the very least, NCAA president Mark Emmert seems to want a role in the discussion. Even more encouraging is the news that some conference commissioners want Emmert to want a role in the discussion.

From the New York Times's Pete Thamel:
Mark Emmert, the president of the N.C.A.A., reached out to several top college officials Monday, suggesting a meeting to discuss a less cannibalistic and more collegial way to approach conference expansion.

“I think people have asked him to make some phone calls,” Pacific-12 Commissioner Larry Scott said. “He’s doing exactly what he should be doing.” [...] “Those conversations start and stop with that there’s no N.C.A.A. authority on these topics,” Scott said.

Emmert has the support of Scott, ACC commissioner John Swofford, Big East commissioner John Marinatto, and Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe, the latter of whom shared a heated phone call with SEC commissioner Mike Slive about A&M's potential move last week, according to the Times. In other words, these commissioners are seeing what's happening and getting visions of Armageddon; there's a lot of "Desolation Row" on these guys' iPods. Rather than stand by and watch the SEC tear the Big 12 apart -- and then react by scraping and clawing for the leftovers -- they'd like Emmert to step in and try to prevent that from happening.

Emmert is in a difficult position. He can try to influence the realignment debate and use his clout, as it were, to bring those rapacious capitalists in the conference commissioner seats to a mutually beneficial conversation. What he can't do, as far as we know, is anything to actually stop realignment from happening. He might be able to organize the process. He could raise the level of decorum involved in the debate. But realignment is really the conferences' business, and if massive changes are going to come -- if Texas A&M really wants to SECede (see what they did there?) -- it's not clear Emmert can do anything to stop them.
Conference realignment changed our world! OK, not really. It tweaked things here and there -- a couple of teams left the Big 12, a couple of teams went to the Pac-10, a couple of teams went to the Big Ten -- but it didn't fundamentally alter the landscape of college basketball in the way we once feared it would.

What conference realignment did do is make things incredibly irritating for people who like numerical organization. The Pac-10 now has 12 teams. The Big Ten now has 12 teams. The Big 12 now has 10 teams. Sure, each conference's name has more to do with brand than accuracy -- the Big Ten has been rolling with its deceptive moniker since Penn State joined the conference in 1993 -- but still, that's confusing stuff.

Since this order was finalized, most assumed the conferences would stick with their names. Then, this week, the Pac-10 announced it would be changing its name to the Pac-12. That announcement was highlighted by commissioner Larry Scott's declaration that the conference will be "mathematically correct going forward."

The question now is, will other conferences do the same? ESPN's Big 12 blogger David Ubben sat in on Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe's press conference Wednesday. Beebe's answer: maybe.
"I'm going to spend the next eight to nine months, prior to our next year when we have 10 members, fully exploring what we want to do in that regard," he said.

"I've heard of conferences that have not had the exact numbers they have in their names actually be representing their membership," Beebe deadpanned in the direction of the Big Ten [...] "I think we need to look at not just whether we change our name or our brand, but what are the messages we want to convey going forward? We'll engage in a process to do that and hopefully in the spring, early summer next year, we'll have a better idea of what we want to do going forward."

David thinks the conference will ultimately end up sticking with the name, which is a fair prediction. After all, despite Beebe's joke of a swap between him and Big Ten commissioner Jim Delaney, it's not as if the Big 12 can just change its name to the Big Ten. That would be even more confusing than the current situation. And somehow, "10 Teams From The Lower Midwest, The South, And The Great Plains States," doesn't quite roll off the tongue.

Still, it's interesting to contemplate. In the end, maybe a batch of new conference names will be the lasting legacy of the realignment-dominated summer of 2010. I could live with that.

Beebe's other dire sales pitch

June, 15, 2010
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Diamond, my blog brother from another blog mother, already told you about Dan Beebe's June 1 memo to Big 12 officials considering defection. That memo [PDF] included the warning that Pac-10 fans were "fair-weather." It's an eyebrow-raiser of a statement, whether it's true or not. (Most Pac-10 fans would probably disagree.) If anything, it shows how desperate Beebe was to build some semblance of of Big 12 pride in his conference's teams in the face of a potentially disastrous migration westward.

There's at least one other somewhat comical warning in Beebe's memo, one that probably had very little to do with convincing Texas and company to stay in the Big 12, but one worth recounting here anyway. That warning? If you leave for the Pac-10, you might one day have to -- gasp! -- pay your players:

"Pressure to compete may rise with resulting higher salaries and more churning of ADs and coaches," Beebe wrote. "Clear identification of the highest level of intercollegiate athletics reduced to a smaller grouping of schools (e.g., four 16-member conferences) could cause eventual tax consequences and tremendous pressure to pay those student-athletes responsible in programs driving the most revenue and pressure, and whose coaches and administrators are receiving more and more financial rewards."

Oh, the horror! Actually having to face pressure to pay "the student-athletes responsible in programs driving the most revenue"? The very thought is enough to make a college president shudder.

Beebe's claim is circumspect. It would take a lot of realignment, a lot of imbalance, and a lot of sudden political interest from the highest levels of government to coordinate that sort of widespread "pay the players" movement. It's been a conversation for as long as the NCAA has existed. It's hard to imagine 16-team superconferences facing that much more pressure on this point than 10- and 12-team conferences already have. And even if the pressure came, that's no guarantee anything would change.

Still, it's funny to hear a conference commissioner use this is a dire warning. You mean schools might have to actually pay the people primarily responsible -- Beebe even calls them "responsible" -- for generating the millions of dollars in revenue annually sloshing around bigtime college sports? Something schools should probably be doing anyway? A terrifying dystopian future indeed.
Conference realignment, which appears to be mostly tidied up for now, wasn't much of a realignment at all. The biggest implication is confusion. As many have already written, we now have a Big 12 Conference that features 10 teams and a Big Ten that features 12. (Not to mention a Pac-10 with 11 teams for now, but that can be forgiven.) We can't just switch the names, right? Or can we? This is going to vex me for months. Maybe years.

While we're busy figuring that one out, let's do something simpler: A rundown of the winners -- college basketball-only, natch -- that emerged from the past few weeks of "Will they or won't they?" insanity.

That insanity has ended with Texas' pledge to remain in the Big 12 and keep lighting its cigars with $100 bills. A "collection of influential and interested people" worked behind the scenes to keep Texas in the conference, staving off the Pac-10's hurried attempts at expansion with the promise of a rather insane amount of TV revenue for the Longhorns -- about $25 million per year -- and an increased share for the rest of the conference's teams. It might seem like Texas was the big winner here, and that's undoubtedly true, but there were others, especially where college hoops is concerned.

With that, I give you the first Honorary College Basketball Non-Realignment Group of Teams Who Aren't Significantly Worse Off Now Than Three Weeks Ago. (Also known as: The Dan Beebe All-Stars). Catchy title, eh? Anyway, down we go:

(Read full post)

Beebe memo: Pac-10 has 'fair-weather fans'

June, 15, 2010
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Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe is scheduled to hold a triumphant teleconference today to discuss the survival of a 10-team conference and how he managed to salvage it.

SI.com appears to have uncovered one of Beebe's persuasion methods, as the website, through a public records request, obtained an e-mail Beebe sent to Big 12 presidents on June 1.

And in the e-mail in which Beebe urges the presidents to commit to the Big 12, he made one of his points by calling out fans of the Pac-10 for being "fair weather."

"For those considering possible membership in the Pac-10, I hope that full consideration is given to the student-athlete and fan experience," Beebe writes. "I grew up in Pac-10 territory and although there are outstanding institutions in the conference, the facilities and fair-weather fans are a disappointment. I suggest that the fan support for their regular-season games and championships, and the accompanying image that projects, should be carefully examined."

Was Beebe, a Walla Walla, Wash., native, being overly dramatic with the rhetoric in order to sway the presidents, or just simply telling it how it is?

The business of expansion revolves around football, but since Beebe doesn't make that distinction in painting with a broad brush, let's go to the NCAA's men's basketball attendance figures for this season as one measure to see if the Pac-10's fans indeed are fair weather.

The Pac-10, which experienced a talent drop-off with many players lost to the NBA, went through one of its worst seasons in recent memory.

Attendance certainly reflected that, with the conference's home games dropping to 8,164 per game, an average that ranks seventh in the NCAA among conferences and just behind the Mountain West Conference. The Big 12 averaged a conference record high of 11,214, good for third in the nation.

So knowing that along with your first-person experiences with Pac-10 fans, was Beebe right in his assessment? Or did he unfairly disparage the supporters of an entire conference for the sake of saving his own?

Either way, Colorado can't say it wasn't warned.
"Cause I'm ... I'm so in love with you/ whatever you want to do/ is all right with meeeeee ... unless that "whatever" is going to the Big Ten/ because that would be super lame." Those weren't his exact words, of course -- I may have thrown a little Al Green in there somewhere; you might not have noticed -- but that's essentially what Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe said to member schools in a press conference at the Big 12 spring meetings on Tuesday.
"I want to talk frankly about whether there's a date certain that our institutions can commit to the conference so that we know who's on board as we go forward," Beebe told a news conference. He said he hopes to get long-term commitments from his members before the meetings close Friday. "I don't know if that's realistic," he said.

Basically, Beebe is asking for Big 12 schools to pledge to the notion that they'll stay in the conference. That's probably not going to happen. It will be hard for the Big 12 to keep a school like Missouri from leaving, and Beebe knows it. Thanks to the Big 12's proportional allotment of postseason revenue based on television appearances, the Tigers routinely get a smaller share of the Big 12 pie than, say, Texas. In the Big Ten, every school gets the same amount of money -- around $20 million in 2009. That's more cash than Missouri gets now, and more cash than Texas gets now, and more cash than pretty much anybody gets now. It's a lot of scrill. And it's hard to turn down.

Sometimes, the lady in your life wants the fast cars and the shopping trips, and that means leaving you behind, no matter how much history you have together. It's always a sad story. But let's not make this any harder on each other than it has to be.

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