Thursday, May 27, 2010

Maturity, confidence lifted Hines to Hall of Fame

In one moment, in a game at Maryland in 1987, a Hall of Fame career took flight.

Duke wide receiver Clarkston Hines had beaten the defensive back deep, but quarterback Steve Slayden had underthrown the pass.

As the Maryland player recovered, it appeared he was going to intercept. But Hines, a sophomore, leaped high into the air to snag the ball over the defender’s outstretched arms.

"That play gave me a huge shot of confidence and the belief that from there on out I could catch anything that was thrown to me,” Hines said.

Hines, who played at Chapel Hill High and lives in Statesville, went on to a career that landed him in the National Football Foundation’s College Hall of Fame. The formal announcement was made Thursday, although Duke coach David Cutcliffe called Hines to breathe word of it to him Wednesday.

The numbers Hines posted – he still leads the ACC with 38 career touchdown receptions and 17 100-yard receiving games in his career – testify to a career that took off that sophomore season.

As a freshman, Hines had suffered a knee injury that took two years to rehabilitate. But he returned to the field confident and mature, and he fit perfectly into a Steve Spurrier scheme that carried Duke to an 8-4 record and a share of the ACC title in 1989.

"I just think that I was at the right place at the right time,” Hines said. “I had the opportunity to play for a very innovative offense, especially in the 1980s, that had a strategy and schemes that were groundbreaking in what Coach Spurrier brought in terms of his offense.

"I had some really good quarterbacks that threw the ball, and they learned a lot from Coach Spurrier and heeded his coaching, and I had arguably, one of if not the best offensive lines that Duke has had in many years.”

Hines also came from an athletic family that stressed academics. His late mother, Jackie Hines, was an all-state basketball player at Hawley High in Creedmoor. His father, Eugene Hines, was an all-state football player at Chapel Hill High.

Both went on to be the first in their families to graduate from college.

“They were very instrumental in my becoming the person I am today,” Hines said.

Today, Hines is vice president of DaVita, Inc., which runs more than 60 kidney dialysis clinics throughout the state. Along with the rest of the 14-member class, which includes former N.C. State defensive tackle Dennis Byrd, Hines will be inducted into the Hall of Fame at a Dec. 7 ceremony at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York.

He has only been to New York City a few times, and has never been to the Waldorf, so the trip will be a treat for him.

“I’m proud to represent Duke Univeristy and my family,” he said, “and also the state of North Carolina."

Ken Tysiac

Byrd, Hines selected to college Hall of Fame

Former N.C. State defensive tackle Dennis Byrd and former Duke wide receiver Clarkston Hines have been named to the National Football Foundation's College Football Hall of Fame, it was announced today.

They were among 12 players chosen from a national ballot of 77 candidates and a pool of hundreds of eligible nominees for induction. The class will be inducted at the Foundation's annual awards dinner on Dec. 7 at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York City and will be enshrined in 2011.
Byrd, the first three-time All-ACC player, is the fifth N.C. State player to enter the Hall of Fame, joining Jack McDowell, Roman Gabriel, Jim Ritcher and Jim Donnan.

"Dennis Byrd is a part of a proud football legacy at N.C. State and we congratulate him on this well-deserved honor," N.C. State coach Tom O'Brien said in a statement.

Byrd, a native of Lincolnton, played under Earle Edwards from 1964 to 1967 and was twice named a first-team All-American. He led N.C. State to a share of the 1965 ACC title and the school's first postseason win, a defeat of Georgia in the 1967 Liberty Bowl. Selected sixth overall in the 1968 draft, he played two seasons with the Boston Patriots before a nagging knee injury suffered at N.C. State ended his career.

Hines, who's from Chapel Hill, holds school career records for pass receptions, receiving yards, receiving touchdowns and 100-yard receiving games. He remains first on the ACC list in career touchdown receptions and 100-yard receiving games, and is a three-time, first-team All-ACC selection.

In 1989, he led Duke to the ACC title, an 8-4 record and an appearance in the All-American Bowl against Texas Tech. He was a ninth-round selection of the Buffalo Bills in 1990.

"This is an extremely fantastic honor to be nominated and inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame," Hines said. "It's something that I never set out to do on my list of goals 24 years ago when I enrolled at Duke University, but I am very happy and I feel honored. As I think about this individual award I'm receiving, I can't help but think about my teammates and my coaches - Coach [Steve] Spurrier, Coach [Steve] Sloan, who recruited me to Duke, in particular - and think about all of the people that had a small or large part in me being able to receive this honor."

Other inductees are Ronnie Caveness (Arkansas), Ray Childress (Texas A&M), Randy Cross (UCLA), Sam Cunningham (Southern California), Mark Herrmann (Purdue), Desmond Howard (Michigan), Chet Moeller (Navy), Jerry Stovall (LSU), Pat Tillman (Arizona State) and Alfred Williams (Colorado).

Ken Tysiac

UNC trustees approve Kenan expansion

A UNC Board of Trustees committee on Wednesday signed off on the second phase of expansion to Kenan Stadium. The full board approved it today.

The privately financed, five-story addition to Kenan will be built in the stadium's east end zone and will house club seats, individual suites, a visiting locker room, the academic support center for athletes, the Carolina Leadership Academy and a strength and conditioning center for the school's Olympic sports.

Athletics director Dick Baddour said Wednesday the school will add a second video board with the expansion.

Construction will begin immediately and is expected to take about 15 months to complete in time for the start of the 2011 football season. The addition, named the Center for Excellence, will replace Kenan Fieldhouse, which was built in 1927.

Sales of club seats and suites began in October of 2009 and will provide about half the funding of the $70 million project. Private donations will supply the rest of the funds, and the athletic department will not use state funds in the project.

"The Carolina Center for Excellence will help us provide exceptional academic support to our nearly 800 student-athletes," Baddour said in a statement. "It also creates a new source of revenue that over the next 30 years will help us maintain the broad-based, 28-sport program we have long enjoyed."

Robbi Pickeral

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

UNC's Kenan Stadium expansion in motion

CHAPEL HILL — Construction on an addition to Kenan Stadium at UNC may begin soon.

A committee of the university's board of trustees signed off Wednesday afternoon on a plan to pay for the $70 million project, and the full board will likely do so as well Thursday.

Once that happens, athletics officials are free to start the five-story addition that will close in the east end zone of the football stadium.

Construction would begin in June and officials expect the project to be complete by fall 2011.

The bottom two floors will be an academic support center for athletes. The top three floors will be premium seating, including 20 luxury suites.

Half of the project will be paid for through private fundraising. The university hopes to raise $35 million by 2015. This year, the fundraising project's first, the university surpassed its $10 million target by bringing in $10.3 million, athletics director Dick Baddour said Wednesday.

A new academic center for all Carolina athletes has proven popular among donors, Baddour said.

"I really think there's a lot of affection for the academic support center," he said. "That really resonates with people."

Fifteen of 20 suites have sold - at $50,000 each - while lower-priced luxury seating, which will also offer access to restrooms and other amenities, is selling at a slower pace.

Beer and wine will be available to occupants of those seats, a first for an athletic venue at UNC. Alcohol is not and will not be sold at regular concession stands.

For more on the stadium expansion, read Thursday's News & Observer.

— Eric Ferreri

Monday, May 24, 2010

N.C. State students salute athletic department

N.C. State's student government has selected the school's athletic department as the recipient of the 2009-10 Jenny Chang award for outstanding service to the student body, according to an athletic department news release.

The student government cited the athletic department's efforts to improve student seating locations, ticket procedures, sportsmanship and facilities, and assistance in numerous fund-raising efforts led by students.

"This award goes to recognize not just the outstanding efforts of the athletics department this past year, but for their many years of outstanding student service," student body president Jim Ceresnak said in a statement.

Ken Tysiac

ACC upgrades football replay system

Improved technology may make it easier for ACC replay officials to make the right call in football.
The conference announced this morning that it will upgrade its football instant replay systems from standard definition to high definition.
The new system, by DVSport, Inc., purports to provide replay officials with improved clarity of a high definition picture and an enhanced tool set to review every play. It will be installed in time for the 2010 season.
"Over the past five seasons, DVSport has provided the ACC with excellent service as our instant replay provider," ACC commissioner John Swofford said in a statement. "During the last two ACC championship games, we utilized HD Instant Replay and feel that by integrating it into the regular season we are providing our officials with the best technology available, which insures the integrity of the game and is in the best interest of the coaches, players, officials and fans."
Ken Tysiac

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Video may just show 'poor judgment' by Byrd

Despite the looks of a Youtube video, N.C. State cornerback Jarvis Byrd told an athletic department spokeswoman that he did not steal a T-shirt at a Wal-Mart in Florida.

"It seems like he's guilty of poor judgment, but he assured us that he didn't steal anything," said N.C. State sports information director Annabelle Myers.

In the homemade video, Byrd and two friends identified as former Pahokee High teammates Nu'Keese Richardson and Kaalum Williams walk through a Wal-Mart store looking at clothing and playfully using foul language while they tease each other at around midnight.

Richardson, a wide receiver, was dismissed from the Tennessee football team after being charged with armed robbery and has enrolled at Hampton University.

Near the end of the video, Byrd removed his shirt in the store, took a T-shirt out from its packaging, put on the T-shirt and put his shirt over it. Byrd told Myers that he later paid for the T-shirt.

He said Williams is an employee at the Wal-mart, and that other Wal-mart employees were following them around and watching them in amusement at the store.

Myers said Saturday that she hadn't been able to speak yet with N.C. State coach Tom O'Brien about Byrd's involvement in the video because O'Brien was on his way home from Ireland.

Editor's note: Because of language that some might find offensive, the video is not linked on this site.

Ken Tysiac

Friday, May 21, 2010

Former UNC football recruiting target could make impact at LSU

While most of the off-season buzz about the LSU football team concerns the status of all-star center candidate T-Bob Hebert for the opener against North Carolina, a former Tar Heel recruiting target is emerging as a likely Tiger impact player in 2010.

Defensive end Sam Montgomery, a redshirt freshman from Greenwood, S.C., was a clear standout in the team’s spring game and will be among the preseason favorites for SEC freshman of the year.

The 6-foot-4, 245-pound Montgomery was hotly recruited by Clemson, South Carolina, North Carolina and Georgia Tech before deciding on the Tigers.

Meanwhile, Hebert is awaiting word from coach Les Miles and athletic director Joe Alleva (formerly of Duke) on his fate after being arrested for driving while impaired on May 3 near the Baton Rouge campus. The player was also involved in a traffic accident.

The son of a former NFL quarterback, Hebert was indefinitely suspended. As a sophomore on last season’s 9-4 (5-3 SEC) team, he was among the team’s best offensive linemen and excelled in a 24-15 loss at eventual BCS champ Alabama.

The Tigers and Tar Heels will open their schedules on Sept. 4 in Atlanta’s Georgia Dome. The 8 p.m. game will be televised by ABC-TV.

-- Caulton Tudor

Thursday, May 20, 2010

ACC should stay at 12

In a column earlier this week, colleague Tom Sorensen wrote that the ACC needs to expand again and suggests West Virginia, Cincinnati and Louisville as targets.

Sorensen is right about 90 percent of the time, especially when forecasting draft picks the Charlotte Bobcats should have made. As he often mentions, he wrote in 2006 that the Bobcats should draft Brandon Roy and in 2005 that they should trade up to get Chris Paul. Imagine how good the Bobcats would be if they'd followed Sorensen's advice.

But Sorensen isn’t right this time. Adding some combination of West Virginia, Cincinnati and Louisville might enhance football in the conference a bit, but staying at 12 makes sense for the ACC now.

Let’s assume the expected television deal with ESPN worth in the neighborhood of $150 million to $155 million per year is announced soon. If and when that happens, the ACC can remain fiscally competitive with (though not quite equal to) the SEC (whose deals are worth $205 million a year) and the Big Ten (which is tapping into a potential gold mine with its own TV network).

The ACC can do it without adding more schools that would have to share its money, and the TV revenue it will generate will be enough to keep schools from defecting. Although forecasting how the college athletic “seismic shift” will occur is dangerous, here’s a best guess for how it will turn out:

1. Notre Dame will stay independent. As long as it has its own, lucrative television network contract and doesn’t have to share that money with anyone else, there’s little incentive for the Irish to move. The only thing that could change that would be a collapse of the Big East that left Notre Dame without a conference for its other sports. But the Big East is not going to collapse.

2. Missouri will join the Big Ten. This would add the valuable St. Louis and Kansas City TV markets for the Big Ten Network to target and increase revenue. But Jim Delany will be savvy enough to realize that Rutgers won’t bring a substantial share of the New York TV market and that Nebraska doesn’t have enough TV sets in the entire state to be a strong addition. The Big Ten will become 12.

3. The Big 12 will get back to 12. There will be some minor rejiggering out west to address Missouri's departure. Perhaps Texas Christian will join the Big 12. Perhaps the Pac-10 will add some teams (Brigham Young? Colorado?). But all this will have little effect in the Southeast, and no 16-team superconferences will evolve.

4. This includes the SEC. There’s talk that if the Big Ten gets bigger, the SEC will expand, too. But again, the money is what talks here. Even if the SEC invites more teams, it’s unlikely to be able to renegotiate its TV deals that CBS and ESPN overpaid for two summers ago right before the recession hit. So there’s little incentive for the SEC to expand and add some combination of Clemson, Florida State, Georgia Tech and Miami, as some have suggested.

5. The ACC will stay at 12, too. The Big Ten won’t want Boston College, and the Big East doesn’t have enough money to pry away Boston College from the ACC. The SEC doesn’t need Clemson, Florida State, Georgia Tech or Miami to get into the markets in South Carolina, Georgia and Florida because it already has a strong presence in those states. Besides, remember that college presidents make these decisions. Clemson fans would love to have Alabama and LSU coming to Death Valley instead of Duke and Wake Forest, but there is value in being associated with schools with high graduation rates. College administrators, faculty and some alumni understand this, and it’s what makes the ACC (with schools such as Duke, Wake Forest, Boston College, North Carolina and Virginia) strong.

6. That’s why Sorensen’s suggestion is a flop. According to figures for 2009, the four-class average graduation rates for the overall student populations were 55 percent at West Virginia, 52 percent at Cincinnati and 42 percent at Louisville. Those numbers are far behind the lowest rate for an ACC school (Florida State, 68 percent) for the same period. That doesn’t mean West Virginia, Cincinnati and Louisville are bad schools; their missions and clientele are different from those of Duke and Wake Forest. But adding them to the ACC doesn’t increase the conference’s academic profile. That’s important to college presidents, and it should be important to alumni, too.

Ken Tysiac

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Amato recovering from cancer treatment

Chuck Amato, the colorful former N.C. State football coach, won't soon forget April 15 - tax day - of this year.

That's the day he was making a 150-mile trip back home to Tallahassee, Fla., from Gainesville, Fla., and his doctor called with good news. After a six-week treatment regimen that included twice daily radiation treatments five days a week and weekly chemotherapy, tests showed Amato had rid his body of cancer.

"Everybody said it's an 85 to 95 percent cure rate," Amato said Tuesday in a telephone interview from Tallahassee. ". . .but you know, it didn't say 100 percent. Somebody's not making it. It was good to hear [the cancer-free diagnosis]. There's no question, it was good to hear."

Amato, a former N.C. State football player and wrestler, was the Wolfpack's head coach from 2000 to 2006. After taking over for Bobby Bowden after last season, new Florida State head coach Jimbo Fisher didn't retain Amato.

Shortly afterward, Amato was diagnosed with cancer. Amato, 63, still hopes to get back into coaching, although he said that's unlikely to happen until after the 2010 season.

"I'm getting some strength back," Amato said. "I'm getting my energy back. I'm not as sleepy as I once was or as tired as I once was. Time will heal it all."

For more on this story, read Wednesday's edition of The Charlotte Observer or the Raleigh News & Observer.

Ken Tysiac

(2009 file photo above, Getty Images)

Tudor's Take: Fla. State pushes QB Ponder for Heisman

Since the timing’s rarely wrong to play make believe, give the Florida State football promotions department credit for getting a jump start on some serious wishing thinking this spring.

With Christian Ponder apparently healed from a shoulder injury that ended his 2009 season early, the Seminoles are suggesting the senior quarterback for preseason Heisman Trophy candidates list.

Never mind that Ponder didn’t make first- or second-team All-ACC last season and had a modest touchdown pass total of 14 (against seven interceptions) in nine games.
Expectations are high in Tallahassee for Jimbo Fisher’s first season as head coach and the ACC Atlantic Division looks invitingly soft on paper.

So what the heck, why not?

The 6-foot-2, 220-pound Texan is game for the extra exposure and hardly anyone remembers the 13 interceptions (14 TDs) he threw in 2008.

"It’s [Heisman] something every kid dreams of," Ponder told The Tallahassee Democrat newspaper. "To be placed in the same sentence with the Heisman Trophy is pretty amazing to me .. It's honestly a dream come true. As a kid, it's something I always wanted."

The Seminoles have had two Heisman winners at quarterback -- Charlie Ward in 1993 and Chris Weinke in 2000.

Since Weinke, the program hasn’t produced so much as a first-team all-ACC pick at the position, and Ponder is little more than an even money (if that) to end the drought in 2010. In preseason all-league voting, he’s likely to finish behind last season’s selection -- Georgia Tech’s Josh Nesbitt -- and N.C. State’s Russell Wilson.

If all goes as expected, Ponder should get off to an impressive statistical start when the Seminoles open their schedule on Sept. 4 against Samford. It’s the following game that be a big problem on the Heisman trail -- at Oklahoma on Sept. 11.

-- Caulton Tudor

N.C. State keeping an eye on adidas deal

One early item on the agenda after N.C. State hires a new athletic director is likely to be careful consideration of the school's apparel contract with adidas.

The school's deal for basketball expires June 20, 2012, with the football contract to end on June 30, 2012, senior associate athletic director David Horning said Tuesday.

Horning said adidas provides N.C. State with $420,000 for football and $250,000 for basketball, with payments coming in the form of free apparel and stipends for the coaches in both sports.

But adidas recently did not renew a deal with Arkansas, and Horning said the future of department-wide contracts between college athletics programs with adidas is something N.C. State officials will watch closely.

"We have two more years [with adidas]," Horning said. ". . .We're going to go, as the contract allows us, to renegotiate for an extension, or take [bids] from other people, if necessary, at the appropriate time."

Ken Tysiac

Some ideas for N.C. State athletic director

Members of N.C. State's search committee for a new athletic director want commercials to be less disruptive during sporting events.

They want the new athletic director to be visible and savvy with marketing. And they want the next AD to come in with a full understanding (and perhaps a forewarning) of just how passionate N.C. State's fans are.

One by one, members of the seach committee articulated what they want in an athletic director Monday. Some of the responses were fascinating.

Dan Parker, the Parker Executive Search president whose advice is costing N.C. State $75,000 as it seeks to replace Lee Fowler, asked the 13 members to spend two or three minutes each during Monday’s open meeting describing their criteria for an athletic director.

If you closed your eyes, you would have thought somebody was reading posts from one of the Internet message boards devoted to N.C. State. The answers of these high-ranking officials in many ways mirrored the sentiments of average fans.

They want to win more on the field. They want higher graduation rates. They want somebody who is an excellent fund raiser, and somebody with experience hiring and developing coaches.

But some of the more original and thoughtful responses are worth passing along:

- Committee members seem united in the idea that they want somebody who can market the university and its athletic department.

This extends in particular to the gameday experience at N.C. State events. Trustee Steve Warren wants advertisements at games to be less intrusive and more sophisticated.

Wolfpack Club president Ray Rouse seconded that notion, saying he doesn’t think the guy that runs the scoreboard is watching the same game Rouse is watching as a fan.

"To have a Jiffy Lube commercial when it’s first-and-goal at the 2 is ridiculous,” Rouse said.

- Senior associate athletic director David Horning said it’s important to have an athletic director who makes himself visible to athletes and employees.

Horning said athletes in exit interviews say they would like to see the athletic director at more of their games. He also said the expansion of facilities, with separate coaches in different buildings as far away as the Murphy Center for football, an athletic director will have to work hard to see everybody.

"We’re so decentralized now that it’s hard to be visible,” Horning said.

- Student body president Kelly Hook added to the discussion about marketing when she mentioned that the new athletic director will need to take a serious look at the university’s apparel contract with Adidas, which expires soon.

She said students want the university to be affiliated with brands that help recruiting. With that mature and well researched suggestion, Hook demonstrated the sophistication as a student that would make her peers and N.C. State alumni proud.

- Faculty athletics representative Sam Pardue would like to see an athletic director implement a standard policy across the department for discipline when an athlete misses class.

Instead, Pardue said, that discipline is left up to individual coaches.

"I’d like to see some leadership in that regard,” Pardue said.

- Finally, women’s basketball coach Kellie Harper addressed perhaps the most controversial subject of all.

The ire some fans had developed for Fowler was one of the reasons he was asked to step down. Harper said the new athletic director needs to understand how passionate the fans are at N.C. State and use it as a positive, even as new technology makes it easier for dissenters to vent.

"It’s important [for the new AD] to know that we’re operating with a different group [of fans],” Harper said.

Harper, who’s just a year removed from being hired out of Western Carolina, also offered perhaps the best recruiting pitch to prospective candidates when Parker asked her what the biggest surprise was about her job.

"This is a great university,” Harper said. “I didn’t realize how good it was until I got here.”

There were knowing nods among the committee members. They were obviously eager for the next athletic director to come to the same realization as Harper.

Ken Tysiac

Monday, May 17, 2010

Q&A with Randy Woodson

During the initial meeting of the committee commissioned to search for a new N.C. State athletic director, chancellor Randy Woodson agreed to a short interview with reporters.

He talked about naming Parker Executive Search firm to assist in the process and about some of his expectations for the job. Here are excerpts from Woodson's interview:

Q: I see you’ve hired the Parker search firm. How important was that in terms of prestige?
A: It’s a process by which we solicit proposals and we receive proposals from a number of firms, I think four or five. When you add it all up and ask what’s been their previous experience, Parker has done the most AD searches in the country. They understand this environment. They know athletic directors around the country, so at the end of the day success is the best measure of performance.

Q: Why is a national search important?
A: It’s important because the university deserves to bring the best talent in for this position. Leading the athletic department, it’s a very complex organization. You’ve got a very large budget. You’ve got to deal with coaches. You’ve got to deal with marketing people. You’ve got to negotiate a lot of contracts with employees. So it’s a very large organization. And on top of it, you’ve got to manage legal compliance issues with the NCAA. So the level of responsibility, the commitment to a winning program, the commitment to helping student-athletes be successful in the classroom is something that’s a unique skill set. And it’s something that if we don’t look broadly across the entire country, we have the potential to miss bringing very strong talent to N.C. State.

Q: You said they don’t have to have previous experience as an athletic director. Why is that not a requirement?
A: Here’s the deal. You want to have a broad search because you don’t want to exclude anyone who’s unusually talented. But I will tell you that my personal bias is that having experience in leading an athletic organization is hard to replicate because of the complexity of the rules that apply to athletics. Now there have been a few cases where athletic directors have come to athletic programs from non-traditional backgrounds. They’ve been lawyers or managers of large private sector businesses. But if they have no experience or understanding of what it takes to run a college-based athletic program, it’s an awfully difficult hill to climb. But I don’t want to exclude the possibility that there may be somebody out there that is not an athletic director or a senior associate athletic director that might have the background and experience that’s relevant. So I’m going to look first at leadership skills, their ability to take an organization and bring a winning attitude to it, to hire, retain and in some cases fire people that you need in the organization to move it forward, and to do that in an environment where you’ve got to be compliant with very complicated rules from the NCAA.

Q: A mid-summer goal is an aggressive one. Is it realistic?
A: It’s realistic, but it’s aggressive. The reason for it is that we want to bring in the athletic director before the fall sports seasons get started so they can be part of the organization moving forward. It is aggressive, but it’s very doable.

Q: How important is fund raising experience?
A: Clearly fund raising is a big part of an athletic organization. You are going to oversee a big fund raising effort. I oversee a big fund raising effort as chancellor. But I also have a lot of other responsibilities.

Q: At the end of the whole process, when it comes time to hire somebody, how important is it to have somebody that you are able to strike a rapport with?
A: It’s always important to have the right people in your management, your leadership team, so your leadership, the trust you have in individuals who work together is important. I can tell you that I know most people we’ll look at will want to know they can work with me as much as I want to be sure I can work with them. The most important thing is that they bring the relevant experience and commitment to success for their athletic program. . . .I’ve said many times, you don’t want this chancellor to run athletics. Because I want it done well. That’s why I hire an athletic director, and I will hire someone that I have their confidence and they have mine as well.

Ken Tysiac

Report: ACC TV deal with ESPN a monster

ESPN won the TV rights to ACC football and basketball in a bidding competition with Fox Sports, and the new deal will net the league $155 million a year, dwarfing the $67 million average the league was getting with the old deal, industry sources told the Triangle Business Journal.

Here's an excerpt from the Business Journal story:

The back-and-forth bidding, which reached its final stages last week at the league’s spring meetings in Amelia Island, Fla., drove up ESPN’s rights fee from initial projections of about $120 million a year to $155 million, sources said, providing the ACC with more than double the revenue it was receiving from its previous football and basketball contracts.

ESPN’s increase was in response to an unexpectedly strong pursuit by Fox Sports and sources familiar with the negotiations say the bidding was neck-and-neck last week.

The ACC broke from its spring meetings without announcing a new deal, and the conference said a formal contract had not been finalized. But industry sources pegged a pending deal with ESPN at $1.86 billion over 12 years.

That annual figure of $155 million dwarfs the average of $67 million the league was getting from its previous media deals, which expire at the end of the 2010-11 season, but falls well short of the $205 million a year that the SEC gets from its new 15-year deals with CBS and ESPN.

Friday, May 14, 2010

N.C. State players get new court date

The court date for four N.C. State football players and a former Wolfpack volleyball player facing misdemeanor drug charges has been continued to June 11, Wake County court records show.

Defensive tackles Markus Kuhn and J.R. Sweezy, offensive tackle Jake Vermiglio and former volleyball player Allison Davis all were charged last month with possessing drug paraphernalia, simple possession of marijuana, and maintaining a dwelling for the purpose of using a controlled substance.

Tight end George Bryan faces a single charge of maintaining a dwelling for the purpose of using a controlled substance. All the charges are misdemeanors. The athletes originally were due in court Friday.

Thomasi McDonald and Ken Tysiac

Heels go formal; N.C. State plays it casual

After stopping by booster club rallies in Raleigh for North Carolina's Rams Club and N.C. State's Wolfpack Club this week, it's impossible not to reflect on how different the events were.

On Wednesday night, North Carolina held its Tar Heel Tour event at the North Ridge Country Club in North Raleigh. A crowd of 350 attended for $35 a plate.

The country club's business casual dress code required jackets and collared shirts for men, and slacks, skirts or dresses for women. Jeans weren't allowed, and reporters were asked not to complete their interviews early and not watch the coaches speak to the crowd.

Football coach Butch Davis enthusiastically spoke to the media before the event. Basketball coach Roy Williams arrived about 45 minutes after the dinner was scheduled to start and hurriedly spoke outside the club for 2 minutes, 20 seconds, glancing longingly over his shoulder at the front door during his interview.

N.C. State served barbecue at $15 per plate for adults to a crowd of 700 at an event held under a huge tent at the football practice field near Carter-Finley Stadium. Coaches spoke to reporters before the event, but media members were welcome to watch the speeches in front of the boosters, too.

Wolfpack Club executive director Bobby Purcell graciously invited reporters to eat some barbecue. Some of them accepted (although this reporter did not).

While the coaches were speaking, N.C. State athletes ran around the practice field, entertained and supervised the children who showed up for the event. Senior linebacker Nate Irving was among them.

"This is my family," he explained.

Class act, that guy.

This isn't to say one event was better than the other. I enjoy getting dressed up and taking my wife out to dinner on our anniversary. We also like to pile the kids in the minivan and share a pizza at Amedeo's. The formal evening and the casual dinner are both enjoyable for different reasons.

Rather, the point is that this area is fortunate to have a couple of state universities with vastly different cultures. It's part of what makes living in this area and covering sports in the Triangle interesting.

Ken Tysiac