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Conference paired with concerns

The Temple News looks ahead to the challenges that come with the Big East. Temple returns to the Big East after an unceremonious exit from the conference in 2004 and while the university stands to reap the benefits from moving into a Bowl Championship Series Conference, there are still a myriad of issues to be… Read more »

The Temple News looks ahead to the challenges that come with the Big East.

Temple returns to the Big East after an unceremonious exit from the conference in 2004 and while the university stands to reap the benefits from moving into a Bowl Championship Series Conference, there are still a myriad of issues to be resolved to ensure this go-around is more successful than last time.

“I think [getting in the Big East is] a wonderful opportunity for Temple, it’s great for the student body and it’s great for Temple as far as promoting its name and image on a larger scale,” said George Moore, the senior vice president of university council and secretary to the board of trustees who served in negotiating Temple’s agreement to enter the Big East. “It’s also a big responsibility, we have to do it right this time, I mean we really do, and everyone understands that so I think we’ll be in a position to do it right and make it successful.”

“It’s not as if all the problems, issues, concerns and challenges go away, it’s difficult, intercollegiate athletics is difficult to keep at an appropriate level with the appropriate amount of resources and for everything to work right,” Moore added.

The Temple News spoke with with Moore, Chief Financial Officer Anthony Wagner and Athletic Director Bill Bradshaw to understand what lies ahead for the university in the Big East, apart from a change of conference opponents on the field.

THE FINANCIALS

Trustee Lewis Katz said at the March 7 Big East press conference that the move changes the university’s athletic budget by “800 percent,” but in reality, the changes won’t be that drastic.

“In the near term, there’s not going to be much of a change,” Wagner said. “Our entry into the Big East is phased so with respect to the near term it’s only a fraction of what it’s going to be when it’s fully implemented.”

An exact dollar figure for what will become of the university’s athletic budget and the subsidy to athletics has not been compiled yet. The Board of Trustees and university administration are still in the process of sorting out how the increased expenses and revenues associated with entering the conference will play out, but some things can already be said with certainty.

One of those is that the university’s athletic subsidy, which currently sits at  $8,645,410, is slated to decrease with the added revenues.

“One of the major reasons we went into the league is that the revenues have a great opportunity to relieve the subsidies for athletics, not entirely, but to reduce the subsidy,” Bradshaw said.

“I would suspect that the net will have a dividend to the academic side of the house because those dollars that previously would have subsidized athletics will be available for other purposes,” Wagner added.

On the expenses side of the equation, it’s already known that athletics is expected to have to spend more for traveling and that the university will be working with a different scale for salaries, Moore said. There is still some uncertainty with the non-revenue sports as far as how much has to be invested in them to meet the Big East’s standards.

“For example, the Big East has requirements in so-called non-revenue sports, for one or two full time coaches in various sports or one or two part time coaches in various sports, so we may have to increase our coaching staffs for some of these sports to qualify for their standards and to bring things up to the level that the Big East competes in and we have to look at that,” Moore said. “If we have to plan on spending more money for those sports, then that’s what we have to do, we’ll have to put that into the equation,”

Deciding on a solid spending plan was one of the major reasons why all of Temple’s sports will be entering Big East in 2013 instead of 2012.

Another unresolved issue is whether certain non-revenue sports will receive the full amount of scholarships and grants-in-aid allowed by the NCAA as a result of the increased revenues. Bradshaw said that athletics would explore the possibility of increased scholarships.

CO-EXISTING WITH VILLANOVA

Another adjustment for Temple will be finding a way to share the Philadelphia marketplace with old Big 5 and new Big East rival, Villanova, a private institution, that was not always in favor of Temple’s admittance into the Big East.

“Last October, [President Ann Weaver Hart] had said that they wouldn’t object to Temple being in for football, but they didn’t feel that way for Temple in basketball and other sports,” Moore said.

Moore declined to share specifics about the university’s interaction with Villanova while trying to get in, but said that the two sides shared a lot of dialogue on the subject of the Big East as the school played a role in the Big East extending Temple its invitation.

“I can’t tell you a whole lot, but I can say there were conversations with [Villanova president the Rev. Peter Donahue] at times over the course of several months about it, there were other conversations that went on,” Moore said. “A.D.s talk to A.D.s all the time, we play Villanova in basketball every year so those conversations were there, I would probably say at the coaching level there had been conversations too, but yes, we had conversations with them to try to answer any questions or concerns they might have, we also had conversations with representatives with the Big East about Villanova and that was part of the range of circumstances that had to be considered.”

Before the rest of Temple’s sports join the Big East in 2013, the two schools will continue to talk with the Big East to find a way to work together within the conference.

“Certainly we’ve shared this market for years with St. Joe’s and La Salle in the [Atlantic Ten Conference]. This a different stage, different television exposure, so it’s very important for the Big East and certainly for Villanova that this transition be an important one, that it’s done with great care, with great respect for both programs,” Bradshaw said.

Moore said that while the Big East may be concerned about Villanova sharing a marketplace with Temple, he does not see this as a major issue.

“I will tell you I don’t share the same level of concern about that, look at USC and UCLA in Los Angeles…They seem to do well in that market and don’t cannibalize one another,” Moore said. “But if they have that concern and want to explore it with us and work it through this year, which they do, we’d be happy to do it.”

Brian Dzenis can be reached at brian.dzenis@temple.edu.

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