The Business of the Big East: Sportfolio (11/21)

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Nov. 21 (Bloomberg) -- Big East Commissioner Val Ackerman speaks about the business of building a new basketball-centered college conference with a strong core of traditional rivals and a mix of new members. Butler University President James Danko, whose school joins the Big East this year, explains how basketball success has helped his University on all fronts. (Source: Bloomberg)

1 the big east is a brand-new basketball league with a brand- new tradition.

Commissioner val ackerman stops by to talk about the new world or conference could conquer.

It makes it easier when you have schools that really are aligned.

The butler bulldogs were scrappy underdogs who fought their way to a title shot twice.

The president tells us how high- profile hoops has turned his school into one of the big dogs.

I think anybody would have killed for the kind of record.

Sports biz meets showbiz.

He explains how he has helped turn to sports teams into box office blockbusters.

We went in the hearts and minds of our audience.

When it comes to sports business, we have the big picture.

"portfolio" starts right now.

Hello, i am rick horrow.

Welcome to sportfolio, bloombergs weekly inside look at the business of sports.

The business landscape of college sports has changed dramatically.

Changes in alignments have made big money for some schools.

Others are left scrambling to find a fit.

One seemed to have come through the turmoil with the boast of both worlds.

The big east includes five schools with over 30 years of history and rivalry.

Two others that joined the league and three new members who perfectly match the conference's athletic and academic profile.

The big east hired a commissioner who had the ideal background to lead this group into the future.

Val ackerman played college basketball, ran the wnba and study the structure of college sports as a member of the knight commission.

We are delighted she could join us.

Ms.

commissioner, are you doing the job so far?

It has been great.

Biggest challenge you had?

Just getting the infrastructure up and running.

When i was hired, we had a couple of very important ingredients -- agreements.

We had the big east name.

I have my iphone.

The rest was left to me and my staff to get it going.

Seven basketball schools broke off from the big east and formed the catholic 7. united not to buy sports but their academic mission and values.

How does that affect your mandate as a leader?

It makes it easier when you have schools that are aligned in terms of what they want to achieve.

Also, given their rarities on academic pursuits and in the case of our schools, they have a common view about service and about where they fit in in terms of other initiatives.

I think in time, we are going to build on those attributes.

Values, significant.

Revenues, big check.

$600 million deal with fox.

Does that make that easier?

What advantages does that liquidity give you ? a lot.

I am not sure the schools would have gone forward and done what they did in terms of breaking off and joining in if they didn't know that there was going to be wherewithal coming in from a major revenue source mike fox in order to do what you have to do.

That was key.

Fox is really an ideal fit because they are building new cable networks.

We are there ground-floor.

There is a lot of alignment there.

If you are a lean staff and you are growing, one of the best things you can do is latch on to a vertically integrated entity.

Will you explain that to us?

We have a television relationship with fox.

There putting exporting events on the air, mostly men's basketball but other sports as well.

They have been out in the marketplace selling our advertising inventory for our games.

We also needed a sales agent for our corporate sponsorships.

We were approached by many entities come our own conference at an agreement with an outside infancy to do that.

As we went forward and talked, it seemed clear that fox was the best fit.

They are selling the big east anyway.

They are aligned in terms of how we want to present the brand.

We actually have more control than if we have signed up a third-party, had them write us a check and have them do all the work.

It is a great situation for us and we look forward to successful outcomes thereto.

On princes do this differently.

How are you sharing the fox money among the member schools?

The conference office is much like professional sports league headquarters offices.

Certain revenue streams coming centrally.

They are in charge of certain expenses.

In the case of our conference, our principal revenue streams are the fox television revenues, the ticket sales revenues that we bring in from our championship events, our men's basketball tournament -- we have other championship events as well that bring in some revenue.

That comes in.

We have certainly spent so that our conference overhead.

What remains is distributed back to the schools under formulas that we developed internally.

It is not anything i can speak to but there is a way to divide that up.

The schools in turn take that revenue and add that to the revenue streams they control.

That is how they make their ends meet.

In your contract, you can watch any football games, is that part of your deal?

No, i am a football fan.

It is a great sport.

That is my point, you get a lot of money from the basketball tournament in the playoffs.

But a lot of the football related conferences like the pac-12 and others have a tremendous resource advantage because of the football money.

How do you feel about all that?

That is a fact of life for many leagues.

It hasn't stopped smaller schools like butler from being successful.

I think that is the beauty of that sport.

While resources can become a point of differentiation as among big five schools and others, the fact is i think you need fewer resources to make a successful run in basketball.

Our schools have a great history in basketball.

This is a conference that was basketball-centric at the core.

It has come back to that now.

We have schools that are very lined up in terms of wanting to be successful in basketball as much as any other sport.

At some level, they are prepared to spend what they need to in order to be competitive.

You but your iphone, your logo and your brand.

What else do you need?

Now we talk about expansion.

How do you make the leap to adding 2, 4 more teams?

What is your timetable for that?

We don't have one at the moment.

We love 10. that is the easiest way to put it.

We have 10 schools which are very much lined up in terms of their values.

For now, it is in the back of our minds.

At another school or community brings in some significant incremental ad dollars or viewership, you are amenable to listen?

Absolutely.

It is incumbent on all conferences and schools to monitor the landscape.

It is just that world we are living in.

They have to be attentive to what is going to put their school or conference in the best is about position going forward.

It is just the way of the world.

Our conference is no different in that regard.

We are going to look at all factors before you make a decision.

Macle -- val ackerman has a big job in front of her but she has a great track record behind her as well.

Bloomberg.com webloomberg.com will talk about the work she has done to advance the integrity of college sports and the business of women's sports.

Much more with val ackerman as "sportfolio" rolls on.

? welcome back to "sportfolio." our guest, val ackerman.

You have been a member of the commission for eight years.

A couple years ago, they recommended that a stipend to supplement scholarships might be a good idea.

The ncaa has not adopted that.

Are you pushing for that?

Lots of groups are pushing for that.

I think that is likely to happen.

The notion that there are enhanced benefits that can be paid to student athletes are now aren't permissibly covered seems to everybody to be a good idea.

That is a development that i think is more likely than not to unfold.

We have spoken to the butler president, james danko.

He is open-minded as a relates to stipends for schools and players.

I am wondering if you think generally college presidents are softening to the idea.

We are living in a time now there there is a greater openness to things that maybe weren't so clear a few years ago.

I think the focus really is on what is going to enhance the student-athlete experience.

How can we take the tremendous revenues being generated in college sports and make sure that at least some of them are directed back to the student- athletes themselves.

The infrastructure cost of college sports has gotten bigger and bigger.

A lot of cost is directed in that way.

Many agree that student athlete interest can be better supported and that makes a lot of sense.

Before you took the job, you delivered a white paper to the ncaa about women's sports.

It basically said that the interest of women's sports may have plateaued.

How do we expect?

My report was really focused on women's basketball, which i would say is the crown jewel.

It is on tv the most, has the most anticipated championship in the women's final four.

It is generating money in the big programs.

I am a big believer in the power of women's sports.

I think more can be done to enhance the commercial outcome of women's basketball.

I think what we are trying to do is get women's -- people in women's sports to focus on that.

It isn't just about title ix.

It is about how we can take advantage of marketing opportunities in television and fan development and build this into a better property.

At the same time, making sure that student-athlete needs are being addressed.

So few of these women are going to play in the wnba.

Clearly.

Then you become the commissioner of a conference that might be the laboratory for some of these changes.

How do you believe the big east is going to take some of those next steps?

I would like that to happen.

The old big east with schools like notre dame and connecticut had tremendous strength in women's basketball.

Our school does need to get there.

I think we can do that.

I would love to take some of the ideas that many gave to me last year when i wrote the report and use the big east as a way to test whether it is in playing roles, marketing opportunities, just as a creative marketing.

I think women's sports has tremendous potential.

I would like to focus on how we are enhancing the leadership training they are getting and make the big east a model for that as well.

Do you think one of the issues is that the wnba hasn't taken off as fast as some people would have liked?

How linked our professional basketball and college women's basketball?

I think they are very linked.

It is hard not to be proud of the wnba.

Many think -- people thought it was not going to last five years.

We are at 18. it is the most vibrant sport globally for women.

No sport is coming close to what basketball is accomplishing.

Women's college basketball and the wnba are very aligned.

There is more opportunity for collaboration because it is indifferent seasons.

There is no early entry in the wnba.

They have to go to college for four years.

They become stars by the time they come out.

Men's basketball doesn't really have that anymore.

That is an opportunity.

There can be some increased collaboration with the wnba and i look forward to talking about that in years ahead.

The olympics is only a little more than two years away.

That will help too.

Absolutely.

The platform has grown over the years.

We have so many women's athletes.

Women's basketball is blessed because it is played every year year-round.

For many women's sports, that is their 15 minutes.

It is a great opportunity for these great start to be seen.

Val ackerman, thank you very much.

Best of luck with the new big east.

Thanks again for all the positive changes you are accommodating.

Thank you so much.

Coming up, the butler bulldogs were the billings -- darlings of college basketball.

University president james danko tells us butler's still riding that wave and it goes way beyond hoops.

Application have gone up 43% and held.

Our "sportfolio" number involves the schools of the big east conference.

Which of the 10 member universities has the largest endowment?

Here are the schools.

We have the answer when we return.

? there is only one big east cool within endowment of over $1 billion.

That is georgetown.

With a total enrollment under 5000 students, butler university is the big east's smallest school.

It has the highest basketball profile around thanks to consecutive runs to the ncaa tournament title game in 2010 and 2011. i sat down with other's president, james danko at the recent sports business summit.

He told me how big-time hoops has meant big-time business for his school.

Mr.

president, when you introduce yourself to people, how many people immediately say, butler basketball.

I wear my butler paraphernalia.

You are walking through airports, somebody stops me and says, i am really rooting for that team.

The david goliath aspect of what they accomplish has gained a lot of attention for the university.

A lot of people take credit for event that happens not on their watch.

You were the transition of it.

The leverage of final four appearances what is very important even though you weren't on the watch for them yourself.

How have you been able to leverage that businesswise?

Anybody would kill for that kind of recognition.

The media attention, the brand of awareness has been terrific.

I was interviewed during the final four run.

How do you take it vantage of this great opportunity?

To me, that was the exciting aspect of it.

Applications have gone up 43% and held for three years running.

A lot of times when you have that sports operation, they settle back down.

We have been able to get the stories out quite a bit more about our academic performance.

We have outstanding colleges across our university where we are continuing to build the brand.

We are really trying to take advantage of the recognition butler has.

A lot of television revenue, a lot of exposure.

The big east is a perfect fit for butler, why?

The universities we are allying with right now are very similar.

There is discussion among the presidents, not just about basketball and athletics, but also how we can make connections in other ways, academic, classrooms, perhaps online learning.

The focused on student-athlete, not just catholic, is another.

I am very pleased with the big easy -- 80s. -- the big east.

How do you feel about getting into bidding wars for coaches?

The great thing about brad stevens is he doesn't think financial.

He knew his value and he was content with the compensation.

For him, it had more to do with basketball.

I remember talking to him at one time when there was a discussion about going to the nba.

He talked about that is going to a phd in basketball.

It was not about money.

It was for him always about leveraging the opportunity to pursue something different.

You are known as an entrepreneurial leader.

You brought in some concepts and approaches to his college leadership, the empowered college approach.

You the colleges's move in their own ways.

The network in the broad riddick -- were brick of college athletics?

What it is requiring is an approach that i think is open- minded to new approaches and ideas.

There is a lot of discussion going on in terms of compensation issues, schools, writes to individuals.

I think we have to speak about this deeply.

We have to mediate some of the consequences.

It is a different world today than it was 8, 10 years ago.

Let's talk about who owns the rights to certain individuals.

But other's basketball is a big business.

Does this involve and is paying -- into paying student-athletes?

It is complicated.

Of those premier star athletes, there is really a small percentage of these entire body of students across many sports.

We can't dismiss, there are certain athletes, johnny manziel, that whole story the way that has played out.

His cost has risen.

He has to worry about people wanting to manage him.

Should there be some level of understanding around him?

Do we mediate the needs of the star athletes while they are in college?

I think we have to think about this.

A lot of people say it can't be done and rely on some technical reason why it can't be done.

You are of the, let's figure out how to get it done?

I tend to think about these things.

I believe in a more creative, open-minded way.

The reality of universities, they are bureaucratic.

They have been around for hundreds of years.

I guess the way i like to push against it is to open our eyes and minds of it in terms of approaches that are more irrelevant for today's reality.

In 2013, u.s. news & world report gave butler the number two ranking among all schools in the midwest.

Number one, another university that joined the big east.

Creighton.

Still to come, to west coast sports teams are thriving under a hollywood owner.

Peter guber shares his thoughts on the success of the dodgers and the revival of the warriors.

Stay tuned.

Cap -- get "sportfolio wherever you go on the bloomberg west tv app for ipad.

? next week, an actor is taking on a challenging role.

He is going to play yogi berra on stage.

How do you turn a sports legend into a broadway hit?

People talk about it on "sportfolio." three years ago, peter guber teamed up to by the golden state warriors.

In 2012, he purchased a stake in baseball's lutz endless dodgers.

Both franchises are winning and both are increasing in value.

Guber joined jon erlichman on bloomberg west to discuss the sport interest.

We decided that we had to change everything, top to bottom.

Almost all of the management was changed.

We had to design a completely different culture.

Culture is critical.

It is the foremost element that makes the change.

We were here from the warriors ceo in an upcoming edition of "sportfolio." that will do it for this edition of "sportfolio

This text has been automatically generated. It may not be 100% accurate.

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