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BOT notes: Olympic sports success, ‘right guy’ for football

Florida State athletics director David Coburn was awarded best introduction at the regularly scheduled meeting of the Board of Trustees on Friday when he led with his ace, softball coach Lonni Alameda.

Alameda, who was the pitching coach for the 2020 Canadian women’s softball team, handed the bronze medal her team brought home to the trustees to admire while she gave an inspirational talk about the transformational role universities play in the lives of students and student-athletes.

We’ll share more about Alameda’s talk in another story and the BOT members’ positive reaction.

After Alameda wrapped up, Coburn shared the following updates on athletics, in this order:

Soccer

“Soccer is No. 1 in the country as the President (McCullough) pointed out,” Coburn said. “Beat Pitt 5-0. They are loaded and I expect them to make a long run in the postseason tournament.”

Volleyball

“Volleyball is very young. They have a really good group of freshmen. They are 7-2 and beat No. 14 UF here last week, which always makes this AD happy. They start a pretty tough road trip today (Friday) at Notre Dame and then have a road trip at No. 5 Louisville.”

Cross Country 

“The women are ranked No. 18 in cross country. Probably better than that. They finished second in our meet here Friday to top-ranked Brigham Young. The men finished third. Adriaan Wildschutt won the race. He is really, really good.”

Football

“I have a couple of things, or three things, to say. We have the right guy. We will improve and we will win. That’s going to happen.”

Replacing Director of Academics for Athletics

“Joe O’Shea, the dean of undergraduate studies, and I have hired a new director of academics for athletics, Miguel Negron, who comes to us from Mississippi State with a lot of experience. He is doing a great job so far and we are very, very pleased.”

Stadium Issues

“As you know we had some staffing issues in Doak Campbell Stadium for the first game. I did apologize to our fans on the radio show. 

“We had roughly one-third of our security staff and our concession staff did not show up for the first game. Some of the concession staff who did show up left during the game. We are going through some of the same work-force issues that every company in America is going through. We are not alone. You look at Texas, Louisville and Ohio State, everyone is going through this.  

“Our vendors made some adjustments for the second game by bussing in workers from out of town and there was some improvement.” 

Coburn thought things should be “pretty-well worked out by the Louisville game.”

Golf course

FSU has decided to change management companies at the golf course. Troon is the new management company. 

“We are very excited about that,” Coburn said. 

Block seating

Athletics continues to work with Dr. Amy Hecht, Vice President of Student Affairs, and with Police Chief Justin Maloy on block seating issues, where student groups – including fraternities and sororities – may sit together in a block of seats. 

There were major issues during the first game and block seating was suspended for the second game. Coburn said he would like to see block seating resume by Homecoming. Coburn noted the need to send adequate information to the students ahead of time with information about who is sitting in which block and who is not. He noted adequate campus security is needed within the area and will work with Chief Maloy. He also noted there will be clearer delineation on the ticket for students.

NCAA update

“The NCAA is going through a constitutional re-write effort. They will have a membership vote in November. The NCAA surveyed members asking, ‘What should the NCAA be doing and what should they not be doing?’ ”

For example:

Administering National Championship competition

Setting eligibility and participation standards

Rules of Competition that apply to everyone

“The NCAA is also trying to simplify the structure and the processes. One committee in charge of one sport. If you want to make a rule change in football it doesn’t have to go through four or five different committees on its way to the board of governors.”

NCAA adapting to anti-trust issues

This is in response to a federal anti-trust case brought by a student-athlete (Alston) against the NCAA regarding right to compensation.

“They have to deal with the impacts of the Alston anti-trust case. Clearly certain functions they are performing will have to devolve to the conference or the individual schools due to anti-trust concerns.

“Commissioner (Jim) Phillips of the ACC is our representative on that committee and is doing a good job on keeping us informed.” 

NCAA rules to address 85 scholarship limits

“The churn that the transfer portal and the ability of football players to go pro early is causing on football rosters. Between those two factors, and injuries, it becomes difficult to keep your roster at the 85-scholarship limit for a lot of schools, including us.

“There’s an overall 85 limit on scholarships and we got behind last year, for the reasons we mentioned, and it can be hard to catch up with those limits, so they are looking for some flexibility to keep those limits up.”

The NCAA rules allow a team to have 85 scholarship athletes on a roster and sets a limit of just 25 signees each year. With the transfer portal, numerous players, signed by previous head coaches, were able to transfer to other schools, or turn pro. FSU was limited in replacing those positions because the current rule only allowed them to sign 25 high school prospects and players who wanted to transfer into FSU, leaving the Seminoles with less than 85 on their roster.

“Low rosters can present a safety concern,” Coburn said.  “They are looking at a ’25 plus seven’ model. If you signed 25 prospects in your early signing date, which is the 15th of December, then you would be allowed to sign up to seven more transfers, one for one for any players who transfer out after signing date.”

Coburn noted the rule change would be helpful but may not completely fix the problem as many kids will transfer before the Dec. 15, so this proposed rule will not completely address the issue as written.

“Coach (Norvell) agrees this would be helpful but it still must go before the council before (final draft approval).”

Academic awards

“This is growing out of the Alston case (the federal anti-trust case brought by a student-athlete against the NCAA regarding compensation) where the federal judge said we could award up to $6,000 per student-athlete (in financial award). The SEC announced yesterday it is leaving it up to the individual schools to decide whether and how much they will award up to that cap.”

The ACC has not yet made that decision but Coburn believes the ACC will take a vote on it next week. 

“There is no question in my mind that we will be doing academic awards. You are looking at potentially $3 million we are not spending now to do that but it will remain a question of remaining competitive so (FSU) will figure out a way to do that.”

New suit against NCAA

“There is a group of plaintiffs suing the NCAA for four years of retroactive damages for former student-athletes who were not able to market their NIL rights in previous years. That is another potential hit on the NCAA, which will filter down to us.”

Playoffs

Coburn addressed the proposal to expand the College Football Playoff from four teams to 12 or more. 

“The management committee itself met on Wednesday and they took no vote. They did not decide.” 

Coburn said there is some resistance to expansion and noted they will meet again next week. Coburn expects no vote again but will update the Board if there is any movement in that vote. 

He also noted that ESPN holds the rights for the next five years to the playoffs and the biggest value thus far is the two semifinal games and the final games which (the ACC) has thus far. 

Comcast and the ACC Network

 “ESPN and Disney continue to work with Comcast,” Coburn said. “They are the lone holdout.” 

Coburn said he was comfortable that ESPN and Disney are working to get an agreement done with Comcast and to have the ACC Network programming included in their package.

He did not offer a timetable, though the media has reported a Comcast agreement could be finalized by October.  

Blueprint votes Monday on funding repairs to Doak

FSU has a proposal for $20 million in funding for Doak Campbell Stadium infrastructure repairs with Blueprint, a joint city-county agency that will be voted on Monday. Coburn said he was hopeful the funding would be approved and would report to the board after the vote.