Reports: Presidents meeting to discuss CFP expansion

Syndication: Greenville
0 Comments

The university presidents who oversee the College Football Playoff are scheduled to meet to discuss expanding the four-team format, re-opening the possibility that a new model for crowning a champion could be implemented as soon as the 2024 season.

Two people familiar with the situation told The Associated Press on Wednesday that CFP’s Board of Managers, led by Mississippi State President Mark Keenum, is set to convene by video conference.

There is no guarantee the presidents will take any official action or vote to approve an expansion model, but another person familiar with the situation told AP they would like to accelerate a process that had ground to a halt six months ago.

All the people spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because the board’s plans were not being made public.

The CFP management committee, comprised of 10 FBS conference commissioners and Notre Dame’s athletic director, is scheduled to meet next week in Dallas.

The management committee is responsible for hashing out a format for the CFP, but the presidents have the final say on what happens with the playoff.

Back in February, CFP Executive Director Bill Hancock announced expansion talks among the commissioners had failed to produce the needed unanimous consensus in time for the format to change before the end of the current contract with ESPN. That deal runs through the 2025.

The CFP recently announced the sites of the championship games for the final two seasons of the current 12-year deal.

Hancock said back in February that expansion talks would resume later in the year with a focus on what the playoff would be starting in 2026.

Since then, the commissioners who opposed the proposed 12-team format have seemingly softened their stances. The commissioners left a June meeting with renewed optimism their differences could be worked out, one of the people said.

Last year, the relatively new commissioners of the Pac-12, Big Ten and Atlantic Coast Conference pushed back against an expanded playoff plan that was unveiled in the summer 2021.

The 12-team model, that included six conference champions and six at-large teams, had been worked on for more than two years by a group of four commissioners, including Greg Sankey of the Southeastern Conference.

Concerns about automatic access for certain conferences, how the Rose Bowl would fit into an expanded format and the health and safety of players competing in as many as 17 games were cited as reasons against the 12-team plan.

Failure to get agreement on expansion left Sankey and others frustrated. Expanding the playoff before the end of the current television deal has been estimated to be worth an additional $450 million in media rights to the conferences.

At the SEC meetings in late May, Keenum said the presidents wanted the commissioners to provide a plan for the next CFP format no later than June 2023.

Keenum also said then that the presidents planned to take a more active role in expansion talks and that he wanted them to meet again before the end of the summer to “continue the dialogue.”

Georgia extends contract for AD Josh Brooks, plans two new football practice fields

Joshua L. Jones / USA TODAY NETWORK
1 Comment

ATHENS, Ga. – On the heels of a second straight national football championship, Georgia has rewarded athletic director Josh Brooks a contract extension that ties him to the Bulldogs through at least 2029.

The athletic association board, wrapping up its annual spring meeting Friday at a resort on Lake Oconee, also announced plans for a new track and field facility that will free up space for two more football practice fields.

Brooks’ new contract will increase his salary to $1.025 million a year, with annual raises of $100,000.

The 42-year-old Brooks, who took over the athletic department in 2021 after Greg McGarity retired, called the Georgia job “a dream for me” and said he hopes to spend the rest of his career in Athens.

“I am extremely grateful,” Brooks said. “I got into this business 20-plus years ago as a student equipment manager. My first job at Louisiana-Monroe was making $20,000 a year in football operations.”

The Georgia board approved a fiscal 2024 budget of $175.2 million, a nearly 8% increase from the most recent budget of $162.2 million and the sign of a prosperous program that is flush with money after its success on the gridiron.

The school received approval to move forward with its preliminary plans for a new track and field facility, which will be built across the street from the complex hosting the soccer and and softball teams.

The current track stadium is located adjacent to the Butts-Mehre athletic facility, which hosts the practice fields and training facilities for the football program.

Georgia lost a chunk of its outdoor fields when it built a new indoor practice facility. After the new track and field stadium is completed, the current space will be converted to two full-length, grass football practice fields at the request of coach Kirby Smart.

“He wants to find efficient ways to practice, and there is a lot of truth to the issues we’ve had with our current practice fields,” Brooks said. “There is a lot of strain on our turf facilities staff to keep that field in great shape when half the day it is getting shade, so that has been a challenge as well. For our football program, it is better to practice on grass fields than (artificial) turf, so to be able to have two side-by-side grass fields is huge. It makes for a much more efficient practice.”

The new track and field complex, which will continue to be named Spec Towns Track, will also include an indoor facility, the first of its kind in the state of Georgia.

Iowa AD Gary Barta announces retirement after 17 years at Big Ten school

Joseph Cress/Iowa City Press-Citizen / USA TODAY NETWORK
0 Comments

IOWA CITY, Iowa – Iowa athletic director Gary Barta will retire on August 1 after 17 years at the university, the school announced Friday.

Barta, 59, is one of the longest-tenured athletic directors in a Power Five conference. He was hired by Iowa in 2006 after being the AD at Wyoming.

An interim director will be announced next week, Iowa said.

In September, Iowa hired former Ball State athletic director Beth Goetz to be deputy director of athletics and chief operating officer, putting her in position to possibly succeed Barta.

“It has been an absolute privilege and honor to serve in this role the past 17 years,” Barta said in a statement. “This decision didn’t come suddenly, nor did it come without significant thought, discussion, and prayer.”

“That said, I’m confident this is the right time for me and for my family.”

Iowa won four NCAA national team titles and 27 Big Ten team titles during Barta’s tenure. The women’s basketball team is coming off an appearance in the national championship game and the wrestling team is coming off a second-place finish at the NCAA championships.

Barta served as the chairman of the College Football Playoff committee in 2020 and 2021.

He faced heavy criticism over more than $11 million in settlements for lawsuits in recent years alleging racial and sexual discrimination within the athletic department.

Lawsuits filed by former field hockey coach Tracey Griesbaum and associate athletics director Jane Meyer led to a $6.5 million payout.

Iowa had to pay $400,000 as part of a Title IX lawsuit brought by athletes after it cut four sports in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic. As part of the agreement, Iowa reinstated the women’s swimming and diving program and add another women’s sport.

Iowa added women’s wrestling, the first among Power Five schools to compete this year.

A lawsuit brought by former football players alleging racial discrimination within the program was settled for $4.2 million last March, which prompted state auditor Rob Sand to call for Barta’s ouster.

“Gary Barta’s departure is a long time coming given the four different lawsuits for discrimination that cost Iowa more than $11 million,” Sand posted on Twitter.

The university did not allow taxpayer money to be used for the settlement with the former players.

Barta led Iowa through $380 million of facility upgrades, including renovation of Kinnick Stadium, the construction of a new football facility, a basketball practice facility and a training center for the wrestling teams.

Under Barta, Iowa has had just one head football coach (Kirk Ferentz), women’s basketball coach (Lisa Bluder) and wrestling coach (Tom Brands). All were in place when he arrived.

Barta has also come under scrutiny for allowing Ferentz to employee his son, Brian Ferentz, as offensive coordinator. To comply with the university’s nepotism policy, Brian Ferentz reports to Barta.