Blog Entry

Big 12 commissioner candidates

Posted on: January 31, 2012 4:39 pm

Now that the Big 12 has formed a search committee to find a permanent replacement for Dan Beebe, it’s time to line up a list of candidates.

These four have been most often mentioned in administrative circles and published reports: Conference USA commissioner Britton Banowksy, West Virginia AD Oliver Luck and NCAA interim vice president of championships and alliances, Greg Shaheen, Notre Dame AD Jack Swarbrick

--Banowksy, 51, is so highly thought of that his name was dropped by Neinas in September during his introductory teleconference. Banowksy is in his ninth year with Conference USA, which is currently in talks to combine and form a new conference with the Mountain West. There is already speculation that Mountain West commissioner Craig Thompson would retain that title with the new conference, ostensibly leaving Banowsky free to take the Big 12. 

--Luck, a former NFL quarterback, has extensive administrative experience. In 1991, he made an unsuccessful run for Congress in West Virginia. Following that, he was general manager for two different teams overseas in the World League of American Football. Luck, 51, was the WLAF's president from 1996-2000 before the league rebranded as NFL Europe. From 2001-2008, Luck was CEO of the Houston Sports Authority and president of the Houston Dynamo of the Major League Soccer. Since June 2010 he has been West Virginia's AD. The school is in the process of moving from the Big East to the Big 12. Among his accomplishments at WVU is successfully implementing beer sales to increase revenue.

--Swarbrick reportedly finished as runner-up to Beebe the last time the Big 12 went searching for a commissioner in 2007. He was also a finalist for the NCAA president’s job in 2002. Swarbrick, 57, has a legal background having practiced law for 28 years before taking the Notre Dame job in 2008. He is credited with consulting on the NCAA’s move from Overland Park, Kan. to Indianapolis. Since he joined the Irish, football has continued its mediocrity. Swarbrick has had to fire Charlie Weis. Brian Kelly has yet to find traction in getting ND to the championship level. Heck of a question: Which job is considered better in the world of college athletics – Notre Dame or Big 12?

--Shaheen might be the most intriguing candidates. He is seen as one of the brightest minds in sports today. As NCAA vice president of basketball and business strategies, Shaheen was credited for the basketball-in-the-round concept that allowed the Final Four to be played in football stadiums. Also, during his watch the NCAA in general has become more open and media friendly. I reported in March 2009 that the Pac-10 twice took a run at him to be its commissioner before hiring Larry Scott. 

Here is a Sports Business Journal profile of Shaheen in 2010. He was mentioned on Jan. 23 in SBJ as a possible candidate for the Big 12 job. 



Since: Jan 1, 2011
Posted on: February 1, 2012 8:10 pm

Big 12 commissioner candidates

What a putz you are, and where in the world do you get your information.  Did you grow up in Pittsburg, or did Huggie Bear run over you tricycle when you were 6?  Grow up and get a clue.  Luck is a very accomplished AD, and businessman.  WVU has reason to be optomistic about both their BB and FB programs.  If you think we are in trouble, look at Clemson vs. WVU in the recent BCS game.  Coaches out of controll?  Yeah Right.

Since: Jan 21, 2012
Posted on: February 1, 2012 8:25 am

Big 12 commissioner candidates

I vote for anyone but Luck. He needs time to follow Junior around the NFL, so I doubt he's got the focus needed to put together a Super Conference. More importantly, look at the destructive culture that has invaded WVU sports during his tenure: His coaches are out of control and shoot their mouths off and complain about player performance in the media. Bush league. Crabby old Bobby Huggins griping about his freshmen in the student newspaper???!!! Give me a break - the only time fatso sees the top of a rim anymore is when he's looking at his beer glass at a WVU football game. Oh, I forgot, that's Ollie's single biggest accomplishment.

Since: Dec 1, 2009
Posted on: February 1, 2012 7:06 am

Big 12 commissioner candidates

prplehaze: That move seems inevitable, given the NCAA's aspirational emulation of the Super Bowl. The latter owes much of its outsized success to the adoption and adaptation of the sports business model that Mark McCormack created to monetize the cultural popularity of Arnold Palmer, which IMG later extended to the entire PGA TOUR. (The latter, conceived as a member organization of touring PGA playing pros, was converted, bloodlessly, into the creature of a shifting alliance of corporate interests and insider intermediaries.) Maximization of revenues, both those of the organization and its constituent corporate interests, becomes the paramount goal.

In the case of the Super Bowl, tickets are allocated based on a hierarchy of goals. Corporate needs for synergistic client development and ongoing nurturing are controlling; fans of the competing teams take the hind teat, if they're lucky. (See mail-in lottery.) Similarly, at PGA TOUR events, pride of position goes to favored corporate guests in both separated seating at the home hole and siting of corporate tents. It is thus no longer about thee and me, or the fans of the participant teams, at the Final Four. Nor is it about egalite et fraternite; I'll keep my own dark thoughts about liberte to myself.

Bad seats? So what? The point is to be there and thereafter to be able to boast about it. And to capture the dividends that come with the goodwill thus generated. The game? Assuming they actually are basketball fans, they can always Tivo it and watch it in their offices while they're "working" 24/7/365. Because, you know, our Lords' and Masters' work is never done. (Even their bowel movements have shareholder value.)

Cheer up; it could be worse. As you say, at least it makes for good TV. In order to both maximize its metrics and capture more and more of the revenue streams, the PGA TOUR has built a series of owned-&-operated golf courses, with layouts that increase crowd sizes, as well as both space for and access to the corporate tents. It makes for dreadful golf, BWTF, that's at best of tertiary concern.

Since: Nov 25, 2006
Posted on: January 31, 2012 9:05 pm

Big 12 commissioner candidates

So, now we have the identity of the man who ruined watching the Final Four in person. Oh, it's a great TV program, but basketball in domes is an idea that should never have lived past UCLA-Houston in the old Astrodome with Kareem Abdul Jabar and Elvin Hayes.  There is no, I repeat no, good seat for a Dome game.  I have attended several Final Fours, including the Superdome and the old Hoosier Dome, with floor seats, which obstensibly was as good as it gets.  They weren't on the first row but close enough and it was still terrible viewing with the players too far away to distinguish who was who and what exactly was going on.  From higher seats at a different dome, just one level up, I ended up watching the game on the video monitor since I couldn't see anything on the floor.  Make him Big 12 Commissioner?  This guy should work for a TV network and get out of sports before he ruins some other sport.

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