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Thread: The Big East's Big Spenders?

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    Default The Big East's Big Spenders?

    March 8, 2010
    The Big East’s Big Spenders? Just Check Out the Standings
    The New York Times

    When the men’s Big East Conference tournament expanded to 16 teams last year, the prevailing notion was that the move would give coaches a shot to save their jobs and allow players a chance, albeit an unlikely one, at a charmed five-day run for an N.C.A.A. tournament bid.

    Now in its second season, the extra day in New York has come down to cold reality. Call it Résumé Tuesday, with teams trying to burnish theirs and coaches worrying whether they are going to need to update theirs.

    Prime among those on the hot seat are St. John’s Coach Norm Roberts and Rutgers Coach Fred Hill, both of whom could lose their jobs before the Big East final tips off Saturday night at Madison Square Garden. Roberts has lasted six seasons in Queens and Hill four seasons in New Jersey, with their common denominator being that neither has sniffed the N.C.A.A. tournament.

    As for team résumés, ninth-seeded South Florida and 10th-seeded Seton Hall appear to have a fighting chance at making the N.C.A.A. tournament with a strong showing. No. 7 Notre Dame could spend its Selection Sunday perspiring a lot less if it beats the Seton Hall-Providence winner on Wednesday.

    A subject lingering in the background, however, is how the financial investment of the league’s programs is seemingly tied to their success. It is not a hard-and-fast relationship, but it is easy to look at the standings and then the expense numbers and see how they are intertwined.

    Consider that three of the bottom four teams in the regular season — DePaul, Providence and St. John’s — spend the least on basketball among the non-football-playing institutions.

    “It’s just the circumstances of the programs and so on,” Syracuse Coach Jim Boeheim said. “It’s just one of those things. A couple of those programs have been down for a while. I don’t think it’s that. I think any of these teams are capable of being good. I don’t think it’s resources.”

    The Big East is sensitive to the notion that the football-playing universities, with their hefty television revenue from that sport, are pulling away from the non-football universities. Part of that is justified, with seemingly annual murmuring about splitting the 16-team league at some point.

    Despite that, Big East officials point to the programs that play outside college football’s top division that are seemingly annual N.C.A.A. tournament contenders — Georgetown, Villanova, Marquette — as examples of how non-Football Bowl Subdivision universities can thrive in the league.

    Perhaps not coincidentally, those three also spend the most on basketball among the non-F.B.S. universities. (Marquette’s expense listing in the latest available data from the United States Department of Education reveals that it spends more money — $10.3 million — than any other men’s basketball team in the league.)

    “I think there’s no mystery to why Georgetown, Villanova and Marquette have had success,” said Dan Gavitt, the Big East associate commissioner for basketball. “Part is investment. The other part is an institutionwide commitment to being good in men’s basketball.”

    That said, it would be naïve to think there was not a difference between a place like DePaul, which reported to the Department of Education that it spent $3.2 million on basketball, and Louisville, which spent $8.6 million.

    The teams with coaches on the hottest seats are among the most thrifty teams in the league; St. John’s spent $4.7 million and Rutgers $3.8 million. Perhaps surprisingly, South Florida, which has the benefit of football revenue, was the lowest in the league with $2.9 million.

    For the universities in the lower financial sectors, there is a danger of falling into a cycle. Rutgers would reportedly have to pay Hill $1.8 million if it fired him — nearly half a year’s expenses.

    It also means another coach would have to learn the culture of the university and the ways of New Jersey high school recruiting. Once that all happens, there is still no guarantee of success.

    “You keep changing the driver, that doesn’t mean you’re not going to hit the wall,” said the former DePaul coach Jerry Wainwright, who was let go midway through this season.

    One of the reasons Syracuse ($7.7 million) and Connecticut ($6.7 million) can spend so much is that their brand names and tradition are such that they are selling fistfuls of tickets and Nike gear by the closet, and can show recruits recent national championship trophies.

    Boeheim points to another factor.

    “I think wherever you are and whoever you are, you have to have facilities,” he said. “I think that’s something that’s important. Obviously Louisville is investing and Marquette has and we have. Obviously Pitt has. New facilities help.”

    Not surprisingly, none of the teams with the shiny new facilities that Boeheim mentioned are among the bottom eight in the league playing on Tuesday. For those universities pondering a coaching change, they have to ponder whether the cost of making a move will bring value in the long run.

    “Money is really important, but it’s time,” Wainwright said. “You have to hang in there over a period of time and have some degree of continuity.”
    Last edited by Palmetto Steel; Mar-09-2010 at 05:00 PM.
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