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2011 Big East tax returns


I've been periodically checking GuideStar every so often to see when the Big East would release an updated 990 form (which nonprofits have to file with the IRS.) It was tough slogging for a while, but once again I finally hit pay dirt. Want to see what John Marinatto made last year for his "leadership"? That'll be page 7. Revenue numbers start on page 9. What exactly is the difference between the two sets of payout figures? One says Rutgers was paid $8.16 million by the Big East, while the other says $4.36 million. (Both sets include all schools, and aren't broken down by sport.) In fact, I think they went and filed an updated 2010 form that didn't include that breakdown, as I remember it from last year. Forms for private universities such as Syracuse remain a useful source of information - the last page of SU's sheet indicates a $1.9 million payout to Jim Boeheim, and a $1.26 million payout to Doug Marrone. Another item of note: the Big Ten paid approximately $23 million to its member teams in this time period, while the ACC ranged from $11 to $14 million.

The Big East finds a commissioner


Rutgers athletic director Tim Pernetti may not be the Big East commissioner, but no athletic director arguably holds more sway over the future of the conference. A little over a year ago, it was Pernetti, West Virginia's Oliver Luck, and Pitt's Steve Pederson dragging the Big East kicking and screaming into a modern age focused on football and television revenue. Luck and Pederson split, meaning Pernetti was all alone on an island. Yet here we stand today, with the league remade in his image, and ready to stare down ESPN in a game of chicken. Pernetti's former colleagues from CBS and CSTV are now in charge of negotiations, and his bold vision for the conference and Rutgers athletics looks poised to come to fruition. We're not out of the woods yet, with ESPN poised to sling every bit of mud possible to lower the conference's asking price. The league finally has competent leadership in place after decades of futility though, and looks poised to prove the naysayers wrong once again.

Navy supposedly joining the Big East for football


That's the word from Brett McMurphy from CBS. Talk was that this would happen eventually. Navy clearly wanted to have access to a BCS bid and a better television contract, but had to work out clearing their future schedules first. Now the Big East just needs to find a twelfth team (Temple?), and John Marinatto needs to stop opening his big mouth, sit back, and let Tim Pernetti take charge on negotiations with ESPN and Versus. Update: Tom Luicci said that the BE had to make major concessions to Navy. Naturally, the Louisville to the Big XII rumors also restarted, although no one would ever accuse Brad Wolverton of knowing what he's talking about.

Some optimism on a Big East television contract


Feeling gloomy about Rutgers continuing to be stuck in the Big East? Who isn't, but Matt Hayes from the Sporting News at least reports that NBC/Versus continue to have interest in bidding on the Big East's television contract. That's important, if only to scare ESPN into pushing another conference to act. Well, until the one true superconference comes into fruition. This conversation is also interesting in the context of growing cable provider frustration over ESPN's fees. Right on the heels of that, the NY Times crunched the numbers, finding that the average cable subscriber pays $100 a year for sports. Maybe this is just anecdotal evidence, but it does seem like more and more people are dropping cable for iTunes/Netflix/Amazon/etc... All the more reason for sports networks like ESPN to actually get their heads together and offer a comprehensive on-demand service. Why, oh why, do consumers always seem to feel the negative effects of cartels, and never the seemingly-benevolent benefits? Is the lack of any half-way decent on demand (which would at most require the finest technology that 1996 have to offer) more a result of rights issues, or of ESPN and the various leagues being scared to death of anything that could even theoretically seem like a slippery slope to ala carte cable?

Lenn Robbins says Memphis could get in over Temple


In case there was any question that the Big East basketball schools run the conference like a dictatorship. The Big East is reportedly poised to add Memphis, because Temple would be too threatening to Villanova's privileged status. The same Memphis that would be the third BCS conference team in a relatively small state. The same Memphis that has one of the worst football programs in the country. I don't know if West Virginia's suit will succeed, but yeah, I think they at least have a good point that the Big East conference is intentionally wrecking football. Now everything is poised on federated members like Boise and Air Force actually joining - which probably happens, as the Big East is still far more desirable than the MWC or similar options. Stay tuned.

Why is the Big East sabotaging Big East football?


Mark Blaudschun from the Boston Globe is well-established as a mouthpiece for the Big East conference leadership. Blaudschun's story today about merging the Big East with Conference USA and the Mountain West can only inspire two possible, related reactions. 1. Pure horror and revulsion. 2. Now more than ever, it is crystal clear that the Big East conference leadership stands firmly against the Big East football schools, and is trying to thwart and denigrate them at every turn. What possible upside is there for Big East football in this story? Merely contemplating this scenario is crossing an unforgivable rubicon. It is in the interests of the Big East conference to extract as large a television contract as possible for all sports, but that isn't necessarily in the best interest of the traitorous basketball schools. For all the talk of collective good, they only care about their own immediate gratification, and have zero regard for any possible consequences. This leak is a shot across the bow against Big East football, and the continued behind the scenes angling to take the conference's television rights to the open market. The basketball schools now that they are the losers in any split, and are making a last ditch effort to flex their muscles and jockey for negotiating position. It won't work, and this latest gesture of bad faith will do them no favors once the knives really start coming out.

2010 Big East tax returns


I was just looking at my 2009 copy of the BE's form 990, and decided to check GuideStar to see if they had the 2010 form yet (as they hadn't as of a few months ago.) Lo and behold, it's there now. Want to know why the Big East is about to die? Let's use UConn as an example, as there are few athletic departments more skewed towards basketball over football than UConn. However, UConn barely made less than 100k more for basketball than it did for football. Football, now and forever, is the television revenue king - even in a conference like the Big East that tried to marginalize football at every opportunity. Digging around GuideStar for info on non-profits can be hit or miss, but occasionally there is informative stuff; like the BE return, Big Ten, ACC, or page 52 of Syracuse's.

Exit fee increase approved unanimously


This actually wasn't a fake vote. The football schools shouldn't have to play this blackmail, but consider it insurance while working on a way out.

Big East football should vote no


Big East football should vote no

Providence is leaking info again


First it was to Lenn Robbins in the NY Post this morning, reporting that the Big East would expand to twelve football teams, double the football exit fees to $10m (with no change for basketball), and that Villanova successfully blocked Temple's admission for all-sports. Now Brett McMurphy is seconding that report. Let's recap: 1. Big East football is dying, and yet the conference's first (and only) priority is to preserve undeserved privilege for its eight basketball programs no matter what the cost. That is exactly why Pittsburgh and Syracuse left for the ACC. They're conceivably adding a second team in Texas now instead of, you know, a program that actually plays in the Northeast in Temple. The fact that John Marinatto still has comfortable job security (as do Jim Burr and Tim Higgins!) speaks volumes about where the league's priorities are at right now. 2. Given how these leaks are coming from John Marinatto's trusted mouthpieces, there's still hope that the Big East football schools aren't going along with raising the exit fees. That would be foolish and unnecessary. The only scenario where it makes sense to up the exit fees is if the conference where to split. None of the football schools can afford to be trapped in a conference with eight unwelcome leaden anchors. 3. Not only is raising the exit fee a bad idea, but the basketball programs kept their exit fee at only $5 million dollars to make sure Notre Dame maintained precious negotiating leverage. Yep. Priorities are crystal clear. The only things the Big East conference cares about are Touchdown Jesus and filling seats at the Dunkin' Donuts Center. Blow it up, Tim and Ollie. Blow it up. Update: surprise, surprise, the leaks may end up being wrong. With C-USA and the MWC merging, there's no need to up the exit fee. Why would the likes of UCF and Boise want to stick around in that monstrosity? Update2: no vote Sunday, although Blaudschun says everything is still going to happen.

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