The Big Ten eyes further expansion, FSU looks beyond the ACC and RBC renews its deal with the PGA Tour
We've reached the point in the calendar where many of you will be dealing with the internal struggle between hanging on to every remaining moment of summer, while at the same time impatiently waiting for the football season to arrive, and today represents a big milestone down that path. The NFL regular season kicks off in five weeks on Thursday, September 7th, so you know it's not that far away. Even sooner if you're a college football fan, as it's just over three weeks until toe meets leather. But tonight there's real live football for your viewing pleasure as the annual Hall of Fame game kicks off from Canton, Ohio between the Jets and the Browns at 8:00 PM Eastern on NBC. For those of you who celebrate this occasion, enjoy. Good morning. It's Thursday, August 3rd. This is your SBJ Morning Buzzcast. I'm David Albright filling in for Abe Madkour.
The Big 10 has begun exploratory discussions about expanding membership to 18 or even 20 schools, as a group of four Big 10 university presidents began the preliminary process on Wednesday. The schools being considered all come from the Pac-12, Oregon and Washington if the league adds two schools, and Cal Stanford if it wants to move to 20. The discussions are in the very early stages and no decision, including on whether to expand or stay put at 16 teams, has been made or is considered imminent. The Big 10 may also patiently wait to see what happens with the other Pac-12 schools and their potential move to the Big 12 before acting at all. Speaking of which, as realignment continues to dominate the college football landscape, the Arizona Board of Regents has scheduled another meeting from 6:00 to 7:30 PM Mountain Time today, with the board planning to discuss review of assignments for Arizona State University President Michael Crow and University of Arizona President Robert Robbins, as well as possible legal advice and discussion regarding university athletics.
In other realignment news, Florida State University President Richard McCullough told his board of trustees during a meeting Wednesday that the university would have to very seriously consider leaving the ACC unless there is a radical change to the conference's revenue distribution model. McCullough addressed the board to give an update on where Florida State stands after a year spent exploring options about what the future holds in the wake of conference realignment and big money television contracts in the Big 10 and ACC. The moves are in line to put a ACC schools $30 million behind per year from a TV revenue distribution standpoint. The ACC recently changed its revenue distribution model to reward success on the field in football and basketball, but Florida State has also pushed for changing the model to reward programs that generate higher television revenue and marketability, areas where FSU believes it has an advantage.
Arizona State Sun Devil Stadium has a new name, Mountain America Stadium, following a naming rights deal between the school and the Utah-based financial institution Mountain America Credit Union. The 15-year agreement is worth north of 50 million over the life of the deal, sources tell our Brett McCormick, and appears to be the largest naming rights deal for a college football stadium. Mountain America's agreement builds on its existing support of the school, including owning naming rights to the community iceplex connected to a ASU's Mullet Arena hockey facility. Oakview Group Global Partnerships arranged the deal on a ASU's behalf. OVG was hired by ASU several months ago to pursue a football stadium naming rights partner, following years of informal stop-start efforts by the school to line one up. ASU is one of about a dozen Power Five schools with a football stadium naming rights partner. Several more have field level naming rights holders. The naming rights deal is OVG's third in the college space within the last year following the University of Maryland's SECU Stadium, and Memphis's Simmons Bank Liberty Bowl Stadium.
The PGA Tour has come to terms with a key sponsor heading into next season, as RBC has renewed its deal to title sponsor both the RBC Heritage and the RBC Canadian Open, according to our Josh Carpenter. Financials and length of the agreements is unclear. RBC's previous pacts for the tournaments expired earlier this year. Specifically for the Heritage, there had been some questions as to whether RBC would renew. Sources previously told SBJ, the bank had been unsure about agreeing to the tour's $25 million per year asking price for designated events. RBC also has been outspoken about Saudi Arabia's human rights issues, notably ending sponsorships with players Dustin Johnson and Graham McDowell when they joined Live Golf last year.
However, following the tour's framework agreement with the Saudi Public Investment Fund back in June, sources expected that $25 million asking price to go down for the designated events, which reportedly will be called Signature Events going forward. It was not confirmed that the Heritage would be a signature event next year, but sources this week said they believe there would only be one change among those events on next year's schedule. The one change is expected to be the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, picking up signature status while the Waste Management Phoenix Open is not expected to carry that status any longer. Sportfive later this morning will announce that it will manage and operate the PGA Tour's Myrtle Beach Classic, which will be added to the schedule as a new event in 2024. Sportfive will oversee all operations for the event which is being sponsored by Visit Myrtle Beach. Sportfive won the bid after the tour issued an RFP earlier this year.
The event will be a full field tournament next season, played opposite a signature event. Next year's schedule is expected to be announced on August 8th, ahead of the start of the FedEx playoffs in Memphis. While an exact date for the Myrtle Beach Classic was not revealed, one source said it would be in Q2 of the 2024 season. Sportfive manages other PGA Tour events including the American Express, the Barbasol Championship, and the Puerto Rico Open.
NWSL club NJ/NY Gotham FC has hired former New York City Marathon race Director Mary Wittenberg as its new president. She will lead the club's business operations and replaces Nan Vogel who had served as acting president since March and who will remain with the club. Gotham contracted General Sports Worldwide to assist in the search for a full-time president. Wittenberg served as the president and CEO of the New York Roadrunners, as well as the leader of the New York City Marathon from 2005 to 2015, becoming the first woman to hold both titles.
That's your SBJ Morning Buzzcast for Thursday. I hope everyone has a great day and we'll see you back here tomorrow morning.