Syracuse University director of athletics Jake Crouthamel participated in a press conference on Wednesday, June 4 at the conclusion of the visit from representatives of the Atlantic Coast Conference.
"I thought our visit with our guests went very well. It was encouraging to me that in our general discussions and in our private discussions that the issues that they seemed most interested in addressing were very consistent with the values that we believe are very important in terms of our student-athletes, in terms of the university in general, in terms of the conduct of an intercollegiate athletic program. It was kind of a fun experience to have some people from outside our group visit with us and share information with us about their institutions and their programs. I think you heard Debbie Yow speak very kindly of the impressions that she had in several of the areas that we take great pride in. So, again, I thought the visit was very fruitful. I think it was for them, it was certainly for us and quite frankly very enjoyable."
Now that they have left, do you feel more comfortable or less comfortable
about leaving the BIG EAST for the ACC?
"I can't say that the visit of the ACC site committee made me any more comfortable or less comfortable. It maybe reinforced an existing comfort level without saying I was more comfortable or less comfortable. Decisions still have to be made and as John Swofford indicated, there is still a process to be completed and it has not yet reached completion. Until that time, we are still involved in the process of – call it an evaluation. I guess I don't know what else to call it. There are some outstanding issues that John mentioned that we collectively and individually need to take a harder look at."
What are some of the things you have to take a harder look at and what are
some of the things that you guys agreed on?
"Well, we really didn't agree on anything. That was not the point or the purpose of any part of the visit. The purpose was really to share information, by both parties, to gain information, by both parties, by which we can better further evaluate the positions of both parties."
What is the process now on your end and on Syracuse's end?
"Wait for the ACC process to conclude and John Swofford laid that out for you in the best detail he could which was the nine presidents are going to convene by conference call and the presidents of Boston College, Miami and Syracuse are going to be invited to participate in that call as I understand it. After that call, I guess the nine presidents vote formally."
When is that conference call?
"I don't know. I'm not on the conference call. I don't know when it is."
Is there anything else working within the BIG EAST – do you have other
discussions planned with Mike (Tranghese) or other athletic directors or
"At this point in time, there is nothing scheduled to take place in the BIG EAST. It is my understanding – let me say that again to reinforce it – it is my understanding that other institutions in the BIG EAST are talking. I don't know what they are talking about, I don't know whether they are talking to other people, but that is the impression that I am left with."
Financially, what is the differences financially between staying in the
BIG EAST and revenue sharing compared to the ACC?
"The primary difference is in football revenue sharing and the fact that the BIG EAST has incentives built into the revenue-sharing program where the ACC has not, essentially - at least not to the extent that the BIG EAST has or in the areas the BIG EAST has - so that the winner of the conference and the BCS representative in the BIG EAST is recognized, financially. That's the only difference in terms of process."
Did you spend time talking about divisions and what are your issues with
some of the division models that are being talked about? What are some of the
things you would like to see?
"As it was indicated by the representatives of the Atlantic Coast Conference, the final decision on conference divisions would be made by the 12 athletic directors, assuming there are 12. I have seen, we all have seen, a proposal that was developed over a period of time by the nine Atlantic Coast Conference members and I think John Swofford indicated that was still a discussion item that was going that was going to be left to the 12 that was developed by the group of nine and that would be left – final discussion and determination of the divisions would be left to the group of 12. "
Would you have objections? Would you like to see changes if you were
included in that?
"Again, a lot of this is repetitious and I think John Swofford mentioned this too. We went through this in the BIG EAST – it's really no different. Gee, I'd rather be with this team or that team doesn't want to be with me so we want to do this and then you're talking about 12 teams. Each one of them has a self-interest and agenda and you end up nowhere. In order to make it happen -- unless you want to delegate that responsibility to someone else and you have no input -- is to compromise. If you are going to make anything work there's got to be compromise at some point in time and at some level."
I don't want to put words in your mouth but I believe you reportedly said
that you were interested in finding out their math in terms of the amount of
money that could possibly bring Miami, Syracuse and teams going into this
conference - Did you get those answers that you were looking for this visit or
is that something you will examine later down the line?
"We have, to my satisfaction, the information. The examination of the information we just haven't had time to conclude because only yesterday afternoon did we really get that information and have a chance to discuss it so we understand it. We have not had a chance to evaluate it."
What are your first impressions of it?
"Here again, we're projecting for the future. If you hit the projection, you're good. If you don't hit the projection, you're not as good. And then it's a matter of how close to the projection do you miss. We can't define that at this point in time. Some of this is a leap of faith, but, it is a calculated leap of faith. Neither the nine members of the Atlantic Coast Conference or the three of us – Miami, Boston College and Syracuse – are engaged in making an irrational decision. There's got to be some substance to it or we wouldn't be engaged in the exercise from either side. We're dealing with projections and they are calculated projections but never-the-less they are projections."
In the conference overall, Mike Tranghese has a job to try and keep this
conference together – has Mike done enough?
"Some might say he's done too much. I don't want to come to the defense of Mike Tranghese but he has a job to do as the commissioner of the BIG EAST Conference representing 14 institutions of higher education. Fourteen. Not three, not eight, not nine, 14. I don't think that particularly the I-A schools in the BIG EAST have in this last month or three weeks or however long the intensity has increased in this process have taken specific note of that. I think particularly with the eight I-A's. I think collectively we thought maybe Mike's comments were directed more at us when in fact I think they were directed more to the 14. Not singling out anybody, any institution, or any group of institutions other than the group of 14. There's an emotional bond there. Mike was in on the ground floor with this too as the media coordinator of the BIG EAST when it first opened its doors. Mike has an emotional attachment to this conference as do I. I have to get through the emotional part of it because we are dealing with reality here. WE're not dealing with fun and games. We're dealing with the future of our program, the stability of our program, and that must be very personal. Not emotional. While I still have that twinge of emotion it's becoming a lot more of a personal decision – personal to Syracuse University and our athletic program. Our future. Our stability. Our ability to be competitive in the market place that John described which is where intercollegiate athletics appears to be headed."
You heard John say that he thought you were a good fit. As you look at
them do you think you are a good fit and what either opportunites or advantages
do you see joining an expanded ACC?
"Well, you also heard Lee Fowler from North Carolina State say that he has had the opportunity, through his position on the NCAA certification site visits, to visit a number of institutions and he has visited Miami and here and as he appropriately said, I think, the more you think institutions are different, the more they really are the same. There may be a little tweak here and a little difference there and there may be a little bit better way to run one program but you're not quite as efficient in the other program but basically we're all the same and we're all trying to accomplish the same things with the same goals and the same mode of operation. All of us. So, that being said, is there a fit when there is sameness? Sure. If there was a difference, would we fit? I don't know. But I don't see any differences. All I see is sameness – in goals, the way we approach achieving our goals – it's the same.
What advantages do you see that you've learned about the ACC that would be
good for Syracuse?
"I don't think it's a matter of knowing more about the ACC as a conference. I think it's more a matter of having, now, a clear awareness of where the ACC wants to position itself for the future and I can't help but applaud that. Maybe it could be said that we in the BIG EAST should have been more proactive in adding four teams. Well, we really couldn't add four teams the way the BIG EAST is configured as a conference but I think that the ACC being proactive, giving the current marketplace and the direction the marketplace seems to be headed nationally, I applaud them for their decision. Does that position set very well with other members of the BIG EAST Conference? Clearly not, and I can't blame them. But as I said to you a couple of weeks ago and to that group a month ago, I was sitting in their chairs, with no place to go."
You've heard about this leap of faith – are you leaping at this
"This decision is not going to be made by me. It will be made by the Chancellor. My guess is he will ask me what I think. That's only a guess but I think he will ask me what I think. He will make the decision and he has not told me what the decision is going to be."
What do you think?
"We still have some stuff to find out. We still have some information to collect. As I said we got a lot of information yesterday we just haven't had a chance to analyze it. We've got it now – we've got to analyze it."
Did they ask for assurances that you were on board when they left
"No. They did not ask for our assurance nor did they give us their assurance. That was not the purpose of the visit."