It’s been a few weeks since we’ve had a chance to talk with UW athletic director Scott Woodward, so I thought it would be worth to catch up with him and get his thoughts on some of the major issues revolving around Husky athletics — specifically, Pac-10 realignment, revenue sharing, and the Husky Stadium renovation.
Woodward and the rest of the Pac-10 ADs are due to meet in San Francisco next week (Oct. 6-7) to take another step toward resolving some of the issues left over from expansion — most notably, how to align the divisions and schedule for football.
Woodward said today that “everything is still on the table. It’s very fluid right now.”
One scenario gaining some steam, however, is to split into North (UW, WSU, Oregon, Oregon State, Cal, Stanford) and South (everyone else) divisions, but then schedule via a three-pod system. For instance, UW would be aligned with UW, Oregon and OSU and play each of those three every year. Then, it would play three of the four Califronia schools every, and three of four from the remaining pod (the Arizona schools, Utah and Colorado) each season.
That would make for nine conference games and assure, as Woodward says, that UW would play in LA and the Bay Area three out of every four, or four out of every five, seasons.
“We are fighting to make sure that we have that good balance,” he said. “That we play in the proper areas of our conference and we maintain these great games that we have played in the past.”
One issue with that scenario is that it technically violates an NCAA rule that teams have to play every member of their division each year. Woodward said, however, the Pac-10 could apply for a waiver to get the okay for a pod system, and that there are some other similar scenarios on the table that could accomplish the same goals.
Woodward said he doesn’t feel UW has to be in Los Angeles every year but that “we want to make sure we are there” regularly. A pod scheduling format would get that done, though Woodward reiterated that no scenario has yet risen to anything approaching a consensus level.
“It’s such a difficult thing to get 12 people to agree and get that fairness into the mix,” he said. “We’re still just trying to figure out a consensus, a position where it works for us all.”
Scheduling for basketball and other sports is much closer to finality. There won’t be divisions for basketball and other sports and there will instead be a rotating schedule designed to keep traditional rivalries while also getting everyone appearances in each locale regularly. Basketball is likely to stay with an 18-game schedule.
No final decisions are expected at the SF meetings but could come when the conference’s presidents and CEOs meet on Oct. 21.
Woodward said the conference is “very, very close” to agreeing on a revenue sharing plan.
Essentially, Woodward said, “all your revenue becomes equal share,” similar to plans already in place in the Big Ten and SEC.
What that would impact the most is TV revenue. Currently, 45 percent of all revenue is shared while 55 percent is based on appearances (meaning the schools that make the most appearances — or the ones that pay the most — get the most money). It will also require schools to share gate revenue equally (something where UW will benefit slightly when it comes to the Apple Cup, where UW has been paying more to WSU than it gets in return due to the difference sizes of the stadiums).
Woodward said conference ADs have come to agree, as he says, that “a rising tide lifts all boats.” He says a healthier conference from top-to-bottom will ultimately mean more money for everyone. “There’s a reason the SEC and the Big Ten are so successful financially because they equally revenue share,” he said. “Frankly, I think that’s why you have all the discontent that you have in the Big 12 because they have disproportionate
Washington last month selected a design team for the renovation of Husky Stadium (details here) and here. The hope remains to have construction begin after the 2011 season, play 2012 at Qwest Field, and return to a renovated Husky Stadium in 2013.
The next tanigble step in the process, Woodward said, is to get the pre-design finished and then have the schematics and a final design approved by the UW Board of Regents. He said “we will hopefully look for November or December to get something in front of them, a plan in from of them, that makes sense. We’re still working feverishly on that.”
Until then, UW also continues the work of raising money to fund the renovation.
Essentially, of the estimated $250 million it will cost for the renovation, $200 million will be paid for by future revenue generated by the new stadium (suites, etc.) UW needs to raise the other $50 million on its own, and needs to raise $25 milliion of that by March. The school says it has about $13 million or so now.
Woodward says he is confident the rest will get raised.
“That’s about where we are,” he said, when asked if the $13 million raised number was correct. “But we have some ‘asks’ out there that we think are very positive and very tangible but that we haven’t closed yet. So we have a ton of work to do and we are looking for those big, major league gifts. But I am happy with the direction we are going. We just have a lot of work to do.”