By David Teel
4:17 PM EDT, May 14, 2012
Twitter erupted Monday afternoon when Florida State president Eric Barron, in a statement regarding the Seminoles’ conference affiliation, called the Big 12 “academically weaker” than the ACC.
As a keyboard jockey with a mere bachelor’s degree, I’ll let Ph.Ds such as Barron debate the point, no matter how inartfully made.
But Barron’s remark masks some salient points he makes regarding a potential Florida State move from the ACC to Big 12. The fact that Barron used to work at Big 12 flagship Texas also is intriguing and, as you can read below, gives him great pause about the Seminoles aligning with the Longhorns.
I’m not sure whether Barron's projection of Big 12 scheduling and revenue sharing is accurate. Nor can I forecast where this is headed or whether Barron is the ultimate arbiter in Tallahassee.
I do know that his statement, emailed to those who contacted his office about the ACC-Big 12 issue, is beyond unusual for a university president – silence may have been the more prudent course -- and makes for a lively read.
Here is the complete text as published by many sites, including CBSSports.com and Warchant.com.
I want to assure you that any decision made about FSU athletics will be reasoned and thoughtful and based on athletics, finances and academics. Allow me to provide you with some of the issues we are facing:
In support of a move are four basic factors argued by many alumni:
1. The ACC is more basketball than it is football, and many of our alumni view us as more football oriented than the ACC
2. The ACC is too North Carolina centric and the contract advantages basketball and hence advantages the North Carolina schools
3. The Big 12 has some big football schools that match up with FSU
4. The Big 12 contract (which actually isn't signed yet) is rumored to be $2.9M more per year than the ACC contract. We need this money to be competitive.
But, in contrast:
1. The information presented about the ACC contract that initiated the blogosphere discussion was not correct. The ACC is an equal share conference and this applies to football and to basketball there is no preferential treatment of any university with the exception of 3rd tier rights for women's basketball and Olympic sports. FSU is advantaged by that aspect of the contract over the majority of other ACC schools.
2. Colorado, Missouri, Nebraska and Texas A&M left the Big 12, at least in part because the Big 12 is not an equal share conference. Texas has considerably more resource avenues and gains a larger share (and I say this as a former dean of the University of Texas at Austin - I watched the Big 12 disintegration with interest). So, when fans realize that Texas would get more dollars than FSU, always having a competitive advantage, it would be interesting to see the fan reaction.
3. Much is being made of the extra $2.9M that the Big 12 contract (which hasn't been inked yet) gets over the ACC contract. Given that the Texas schools are expected to play each other (the Big 12 is at least as Texas centered than the ACC is North Carolina centered), the most likely scenario has FSU playing Kansas, Kansas State, Iowa State, and West Virginia on a recurring basis and the other teams sporadically (and one more unnamed team has to join to allow the Big 12 to regain a championship game), we realize that our sports teams can no longer travel by bus to most games the estimate is that the travel by plane required by FSU to be in the Big 12 appears to exceed the $2.9M difference in the contract actually giving us fewer dollars than we have now to be competitive with the Big 12 teams, who obviously do not have to travel as far. Any renegotiated amount depends not just on FSU but the caliber of any other new team to the Big 12.
4. Few believe that the above teams will fill our stadium with fans of these teams and so our lack of sales and ticket revenue would continue.
5. We would lose the rivalry with University of Miami that does fill our stadium
6. It will cost between $20M and $25M to leave the ACC we have no idea where that money would come from. It would have to come from the Boosters which currently are unable to support our current University athletic budget, hence the 2% cut in that budget.
7. The faculty are adamantly opposed to joining a league that is academically weaker and in fact, many of them resent the fact that a 2% ($2.4M) deficit in the athletics budget receives so much attention from concerned Seminoles, but the loss of 25% of the academic budget (105M) gets none when it is the most critical concern of this University in terms of its successful future.
I present these issues to you so that you realize that this is not so simple (not to mention that negotiations aren't even taking place). One of the few wise comments made in the blogosphere is that no one negotiates their future in the media. We can't afford to have conference affiliation be governed by emotion it has to be based on a careful assessment of athletics, finances and academics. I assure you that every aspect of conference affiliation will be looked at by this institution, but it must be a reasoned decision.
Buckle up, kids. It’s going to be a wild spring and summer.
I can be reached at 247-4636 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow me at twitter.com/DavidTeelatDP
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