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This is a thread for general Summit league strategy and opeartional news.  Josh Fenton has been with the Summit League for nearly a year now, and we are yet to see him make a move.  It has been reported elsewhere that they are reviewing their TV/Multimedia strategy, but there are other potential developments up in the air, such as NIL, conference membership, sports sponsorship (Fenton has yet to shut down the concept of adding hockey or football).  I'm creating this thread to keep track of interesting news tidbits and larger developments, because I think Fenton will make one or more big moves starting this spring.


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General 11/16/2022 2:00:00 PM

Summit League partners with College Sports Solutions, LLC

Story LinksSIOUX FALLS, S.D. – The Summit League announced today a partnership with College Sports Solutions (CSS) to conduct an operational review and help facilitate the creation of a strategic plan for the 10-member conference.

“The future is bright for the Summit League and the partnership with CSS is going to help us create a plan that will enhance the experiences of our student-athletes and fans, while serving as a road map for our future,” said Commissioner Josh Fenton. “We look forward to working with respected intercollegiate athletics veterans Jeff Schemmel and Kevin Weiberg to build a dynamic strategic plan that will strengthen the League as a whole.”

The CSS team is led by its founder and president, Jeff Schemmel. He has more than 30 years of intercollegiate athletics management experience at the highest levels, including a stint as the athletics director at San Diego State before he founded CSS.

“Our team at College Sports Solutions looks forward to working with Commissioner Fenton, his conference office team, and the member institutions of the Summit League,” said Schemmel. “This is an important time for Division I athletics and its conferences. Having a substantive and meaningful strategic plan, with the ability to adjust to and capitalize on the continuing changes in college athletics, is critical. We look forward to helping the Summit League grow and prosper.”

Joining Schemmel on this project is former Big 12 Commissioner Kevin Weiberg, who brings extensive knowledge and experience in the conference operations space after also serving in various roles at the Big Ten and Pac-12 throughout his career.

“Having experienced support is critical to the long-term success of the Summit League,” said Dr. Jeremy Haefner, Chancellor of the University of Denver and Chair of the Summit League’s Presidents Council. “I look forward to seeing the results of the partnership with College Sports Solutions, and all it will do to strengthen the programs of Summit League schools.”

The Summit League’s Presidents Council approved the hiring of CSS, who is scheduled to have its comprehensive work completed by late May and present those findings at the League’s annual meetings. Along with CSS, the League will integrate all member institutions within the strategic planning process.

About College Sports Solutions
“College Sports Solutions (CSS) is a leading full-service and integrated provider of collegiate athletic consulting, strategies and solutions to universities, intercollegiate conferences, and collegiate organizations. Areas of service include comprehensive assessments and evaluations, including organization, staffing, operations, risk management, compliance, academics, fundraising, student-athlete welfare/experience, Title IX/equity, strategic branding/marketing, public relations, social media, crisis and media management, coach and administrator executive searches, championship event planning and execution, NCAA reclassification, and conference affiliation planning and execution. Its team of industry-leading professionals is unmatched in college athletics

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AUGUST 20, 2022

Miami (OH) AD Sayler: End of NCHC, CCHA possible

“I don’t know what the single-sport conference future is,” Sayler said. “With all the stuff going on at the NCAA level right now, there’s been tons and tons of dialogue about pushing decisions down to the conference level and the NCAA not sort of putting edicts out that everybody could get sued because of antitrust reasons. So if conferences are going to be making decisions and conferences are going to be managing compliance and academic eligibility and enforcing infractions and setting punishments, I don’t know that a single-sport conference is set up to handle that. In fact, I know that none are. So would the NCHC and the CCHA be able to exist as they do today? I know the schools in those leagues don’t have robust compliance departments to deal with these issues – they’re not even Division I athletic departments in some cases. So I don’t so much look at it as the choices of being NCHC or CCHA, I look at it as being: Is the future going to dictate that we need to be in an all-sport conference for hockey?”

“So what I’d say for everyone to watch for is how does this all unfold without the NCAA structure system, and then once that has time to happen, then the next step is going to be: What does that do to hockey and these set-ups that they have?” Sayler said. “The Big Ten is already there. If you had three all-sport conferences sponsoring hockey away from the east coast I just think it strengthens the sport. So that would be my goal, I would like to strengthen college hockey and bring it more inline with other sports.”

“Long term, I think the thing to really watch for is: Will the Summit League want to sponsor hockey – which is an all-sport Division I conference? Will the MAC consider sponsoring hockey, which is an all-sport conference that we can populate?” Sayler said. “Those are things in the future that if single-sport conferences don’t really have a place, those D-2 and D-3 schools would really benefit from being in an all-sport conference because of all these things that are coming down from the NCAA.”

“Whenever the league throws out a doomsday scenario, it usually involves four schools being in the Frozen Faceoff in St. Paul: Miami, Western (Michigan), CC and Denver. Because then you have no local team participating, right?” Sayler said. “You don’t have any of the Minnesota schools, you don’t have North Dakota. Sometimes I do sit back and say, how does that make us feel, that we’re a member of this conference but yet a doomsday scenario is us being good? So there is some concern for that, and that tournament in St. Paul, plus the round of playoffs to get into that tournament are probably the most important revenue-drivers of the league. And Miami has the smallest rink in the league and we would probably sell as few tickets as any team in St. Paul, in the league. It does set up kind of funny that way when you start thinking about having more success and not driving more revenue for the league, and what is the league really focused on? And there has been constant chatter about Arizona State, and I just have no interest in crossing another time zone to play sports. So if the league is going to continue to push that direction, that is certainly something that would cause us to think differently about what’s going on.”

“We’re going to keep Miami hockey in a strong position and keep growing it back to what it needs to be,” Sayler said. “That’s something I’m committed to. I enjoy hockey games and my son plays travel hockey so I’ve spent a lot of time at that rink and I want to see Miami get back to what it was, whether it’s in this league or any other league.”

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Jan 24, 2023 

Top administrators aren't just showing up for Omaha sports, they're promoting them

On Thursday night, Jan. 12, more than 200 former UNO football players gathered at a Maverick basketball game at Baxter Arena.

The old Bulls hung out in the end zone, hugging teammates and friends they hadn’t seen in years. They drank. They told stories. They were introduced to the crowd at halftime.

Then they went back and stayed until the end.

On the next night, at the UNO hockey game, NU President Ted Carter hosted a tailgate party on the practice ice at Baxter for the bigger boosters and “key stakeholders” of UNO. Chancellor Joanne Li also attended, along with athletic director Adrian Dowell.

The football reunion went so well that Dowell says they want to schedule more events with former football players.

Trev Alberts set the table. But he couldn’t do this as athletic director. He couldn’t bring the football players and wrestlers — who all have check books — back into the fold.

It’s been a while since we’ve seen such stability and teamwork at UNO. Maybe the Del Weber and Don Leahy days.

But the stakes are higher now. A hockey arena must be filled. A Division I men’s basketball team must pull its weight. Standards for NCAA Division I membership keep evolving. UNO has to keep up.

I don’t know what the ceiling is for UNO sports. With only 16 NCAA hockey bids, it’s hard for Mav hockey to make the tourney on a regular basis. Harder still for the basketball team in a one-bid league.

But with this kind of administrative support and alums standing together, Dowell’s department has a chance to find that ceiling. Or create a new one.

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Jan. 17, 2023

St. Thomas receives record-setting $75 million gift to build new sports arena on campus

Esten said the Anderson’s gift puts the school 60% toward its fund-raising goal of $131 million. If donations fall short, new UST President Rob Vischer said the university will finance the rest. The project cost includes demolition of three buildings on UST’s South Campus in St. Paul to make room for the arena – McCarthy Gym, an intramural facility; Cretin Residence Hall, built in 1895 and remodeled in 1989; and a service center.

Esten said UST added basketball to the plan last July after abandoning efforts to build the arena in the Highland Bridge development in Highland Park. Men’s and women’s basketball play on campus at 1,800-capacity Schoenecker Arena, one of the Summit League’s smallest venues.  Both teams need more seating to generate additional revenue and attract better non-conference opponents.

“As we pivoted from Highland Bridge and looked at bringing hockey to campus, we looked real hard at whether it would work for basketball as well,” Esten said. “We just thought it made financial sense, and it was economical prudent to double down on that and make sure that those facilities are used in an efficient way.”

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  • 1 month later...

7/19/2022 5:00:00 AM

The Summit League tabs Collegiate Sports Management Group exclusively for conference media rights strategy

SIOUX FALLS, S.D.  - The Summit League announced today that Collegiate Sports Management Group (CSMG) will be exclusively representing them to play a key strategic role in formulating their conference media rights strategy under new Commissioner Josh Fenton.

Headquartered in Sioux Falls, S.D., The Summit League consists of 10 full members (Denver, Missouri-Kansas City, Nebraska-Omaha, North Dakota, North Dakota State, Oral Roberts, South Dakota, South Dakota State, St. Thomas and Western Illinois) and six associate members (Drake, Eastern Illinois, Illinois State, Lindenwood, Southern Indiana and Northern Colorado). The League sponsors nine men’s sports and 10 women’s sports teams with its membership representing more than 178,000 enrolled students.

“The Summit League is continually focused on enhancing the experiences for and connectivity with both our student-athletes and passionate fans,” said Fenton. “We look forward to working with trusted leadership at CSMG in a media rights evaluation process with the goal to provide broader exposure to the successes of Summit League student-athletes, while building stronger fan affinity with our devoted students, alumni and fans.”

The partnership with The Summit League marks the eighth Division I Conference to partner with CSMG which is rooted in intellectual property rights management, acquisition, and development through media rights, Name, Image, and Likeness (NIL), valuation services, licensing, and sponsorship sales. CSMG also manages ESPORTSU, focused on uniting the collegiate esports community through original content and events, including the Collegiate Esports Commissioner’s Cup (CECC).

“CSMG is excited to partner with The Summit League which is home to great institutions and one of the best college basketball tournament atmospheres in the country,” said Ray Katz, Co-Founder and Chief Operating Officer for CSMG. “With the ever changing college landscape and a lens on what’s next, we are confident we will drive a winning media rights strategy with regards to revenue and exposure on behalf of this exceptional conference and its members.”  

About CSMG
CSMG is an integrated sports and entertainment media company focused on esports and traditional sports in the new creator economy. We are an experienced, trusted results-driven team with a lens on what’s next. The focus of our business verticals - CSMG and ESPORTSU - is rooted in intellectual property rights management, acquisition, and development through media rights, Name, Image, and Likeness (NIL), valuation services, licensing, and sponsorship sales. We offer expertise in developing communities through brand building, original content, and event production & management. We drive our partners’ success at the crossroads of tech, sports, entertainment, and video games. To learn more, visit us at https://collegiatesmg.com/.

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