UConn has chosen to leave the American Athletic Conference in order to move its basketball programs to the Big East.
As the official* spokesman for every fan base in the conference, I have a message for the Huskies:
Imagine being UConn AD David Benedict. Imagine being forced – by alums, by big-money donors, and by your women’s basketball coach – to effectively kill your football program. Imagine that being your legacy.
UConn believed they were a natural fit for the ACC but were never in serious consideration when the Big East imploded. They believed they would get a Big 12 invite but none came. Instead of pressing ahead and improving all of their programs for the next round of realignment, the UConn administration is bowing to pressure from a loud minority.
By exchanging AAC mediocrity for Big East mediocrity, they’ll get some headlines while their football team morphs into New Mexico State.
The UConn athletics department is leaking cash. Last year, UConn lost $40,486,676.
According to a Hartford Courant study of the NCAA Membership Financial Reporting Database, UConn lost $13 million on football in 2017. That year, Men’s basketball lost $3 million and women’s basketball was $4.4 million in the red. In the three sports where the Huskies could turn a profit, they combined to lose over $20 million.
By comparison, UH lost $12,566,641 in the same year in the same three sports. And that was with basketball and WBB bringing in very little money at Hofheinz.
An argument could be made that moving to the Big East, in order to increase MBB/WBB revenues, coupled with dismantling their football program could be the savvy move. But UConn doesn’t plan to shutter their football program – they will continue playing a nomadic FBS schedule.
They will lose access to bowls (lol), the league’s bowl revenue, and NY6 money. And their football team will have no national television contract unless C-USA or the MAC gift them membership. If that happens, enjoy Tuesday nights! As well as an even greater loss of revenue.
UConn must formally terminate their membership by July 1st or they will be on the hook for another season in the American. And unless a new league member is found and admitted in the next couple months, every team on UConn’s 2020 schedule (including UH) will be short a game. The Huskies are scheduled to come to UH in 2020.
UConn alums have always believed their program was too good for the American. With a football league record of 10-38 in 6 years, it is true that someone didn’t belong. Their men’s basketball team has gone 55-53 in conference play in the American – just 43-47 since the 2014 national title.
There may be a national perception that this will be a loss for the AAC but on-field results suggest that UConn was a drag on the league. They’re the Longhorns of the AAC: a lot of name recognition but little bang for your buck.
Besides the units produced from the 2014 title, UConn hasn’t helped the conference in either of the big two sports and those units will end this year. Women’s basketball is cool but doesn’t alter the league’s perception or our TV rights deal. UConn will leave the AAC and their only lasting achievement will be creating the worst rivalry in sports history.
But good luck, Huskies – you’re going to need it. Jim Calhoun isn’t walking through that door anytime soon. Your basketball program is likely to be a rural DePaul for the foreseeable future.
*In this context, official means self-appointed and definitely unofficial.
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