What the Death of the Real CAA Means for JMU
ODU formally announced they are accepting their invitation to Conference USA today. They will be joining in all sports except football beginning Summer 2013 and for football in 2015. Obviously this is disappointing, concerning, disturbing, and largely just plain sad for JMU fans. To watch a school we wouldn’t wipe our feet with academically that just started football three years ago pass us by and leave us holding our shiny new stadium (and our dicks) just makes you feel like some big meathead kid stole your middle-school girlfriend.
There are a million JMU angles to cover from this story and we need to credit the following Twitter folks (schools they cover or are associated with in parens) in advance for ripping off some of today’s best material: @BGMull (UNCW), @defiantlydutch (Hofstra), @caahoops, @MarkRSelig (JMU), @ChrisMottram (GMU), @CAArleigh (JMU/CAA), @SeanDKennedy (CAA Norfolk angle), @batogato (W&M), @Brian_Ewart (Nova), @Gheorghetheblog (W&M), @FairbankDP (ODU), @Dukie95 (JMU), @ry_hudson (JMU), @CurtDudley (JMU), @NUHF (Northeastern), @D1scource. Thanks to all of you for making today a little more light-hearted than it otherwise might have been.
Here are the important links for your consideration:
The Norfolk view of the move. What this story fails to mention is that in addition to the $250,000 exit fee for the CAA, ODU is on the hook for a $2.5M entrance fee to CUSA, and you know, the added forty five or so scholarships (jump in football from FCS to FBS plus accompanying jump in women’s schollies to remain compliant with Title IX). So that’s really nice that ODU claims they’ve raised $3M in private donations and won’t be raising student fees, but that’s close to $5M a year increase for a fledgling program already in the hole from startup costs who plays in an ancient p.o.s. stadium with no parking and little chance of short-term expansion or increased revenue streams. Good Gosh! Bet the Virginia General Assembly’s going to be thrilled if ODU comes looking for a handout ten years from now!
For reference’s sake, here’s an amazing chart from USA Today that breaks down the finances of 227 schools. That “% subsidized” column on the end represents the percentage of that school’s athletics budget that comes from student fees. You will notice that the Virginia schools have some of the highest percentages in the nation. But before you go freaking out and calling your local Tea Party rep, you need to hear the whole story. As it turns out Virginia is one of the only states that doesn’t allow it’s public schools to pad their athetic budgets with money from the university’s general fund (i.e. tuition). In other states, schools just steal from their academic funds to pay for sports and don’t have to tell anyone. At least at JMU it’s honest and transparent that thet is where your student fees are largely going. You can always vote with your feet by going somewhere else, but you’d be a dumbass because even after these fees, JMU is one of the best values in public higher education in the country when you compare it with the tuition at other schools (tuition, by the way, that is presumably inflated by having to unknowingly subsidize athletics).
The CAA’s statement on the matter from Commissioner Tom Yeager. The highlight here are that he believes the dust has finally settled for this year and the CAA can now aggressively pursue new members. Those rumored to be at the top of the list include Stony Brook (solid football in a solid location for growth and would please the football-only affiliate members up north), Davidson (has football and more suited academically to CAA than their current conference, but why would they leave the cushiness they enjoy in hoops?), UNC-Greensboro (no football, but would be a solid and appeasing rival for UNCW with a large enrollment in a metro area), Coastal Carolina (has football, sucks academically, would be natural rival for UNCW), and College of Charleston (not gonna happen though would make for a nice road trip occassionally).
Yeager also provided the comment that led to my favorite part of the day. The CAA has a rule in place that when you leave the conference, you are no longer eligible for the CAA Hoops tourney. He stated that the remaining members would vote on whether to lift the rule for ODU for this year because ODU requested they be allowed to compete since they’ve been such a long-time member. WAAHHHH, WAAHHHH! Said @defiantlydutch: ODU wants to be allowed to compete in CAA Hoops tourney next year. Related: I want $40M dropped from a plane onto my lawn. That’s chutzpah from ODU. Like dumping your wife for a trophy blonde and asking if you can still store your stuff at home.
Here is the statement from JMU today and if you read nothing else, read this one. It’s appropriate and says basically all the things we want to hear. Of course, one could also snark that what it doesn’t say is “we’re all committed because we’ve got no place else that want our sorry asses.” It’s also nice that we want to maintain our high standards on the academic side, and if you told me something like, say, JMU and W&M were going to the Patriot League and deemphasizing football, it would be hard to say that’s entirely wrong. But then again, there’s that shiny new $70M stadium that says that was never the plan but we’ve been derailed by the lack of a television market.
On that note, rest assured we’ll have plenty of time for the knashing of teeth and to debate the merits of the FireJeffBourne crowd this summer and presumably on the occasional fall Saturday without even an internet feed at ghetto Bailey’s/Big Al’s for years to come so we’d kindly ask that we all back off of our Gingrichian reactionary statements and let this breathe for a day or so. After all, JMU isn’t doing shit this year except trying in vain to convince football recruits JMU remains a better option than the school in Norfolk they don’t have to study to attend. And it’s not that a long history of things like “@ Eastern Kentucky” don’t make it extremely difficult to trust our AD’s competence, it’s just that there are a lot of ways to look at this and not all of them involve football. (wait, what the f did I just say?!)
Finally, I loved this from @D1scource today and I think it was echoed well in JMU’s statement on our own mission: “The three most powerful forces in conference realignment are fear, greed, and a myopia that fails to recognize nothing is permanent.” That last one in particular is what stands out. If ODU is sure that a nationwide conference of mostly financial losers is going to be around for them in the 2015 college football season, then good for them. But if JMU wants to consider our own academics, the academics of our conference brethren, and the long-term plan for the university (you know, the EDUCATIONAL institution we all attended), then I’m going to give them a little longer leash to explain JMU’s position and direction.
Okay, that wasn’t the end. One last thing: I friggin’ hate ODU now. I fake hated them before, but this is damn miserable and I hope they bankrupt their entire athletic department and they get their ass handed to them every time their women’s basketball team makes an overnight flight to San Antonio or Ruston, Louisiana (as Curt Dudley said, Kenny Brooks’ teams finally ran them right out of the league!). As always It’s also going to be this blog’s mission from now until this year’s game in the ‘Burg to make ODU’s fans’ trips for that tilt as miserable as humanly possible. Monarchs: GFY dbags!