I had a chance to talk with SoCon commissioner John Iamarino during halftime of the Davidson-Citadel game Monday night. Here’s what he had to say about some current issues in the league:
– On procedures for the SoCon Hall of Fame:
“The one thing I would mention that might clarify things is that we had already decided that the 2014 class would be the last time we would restrict selections from the old era, the modern era or by gender. From now on, it’s just five or six candidates irrespective of whether they played in the 1940s or the 1990s, whether male or female. It will just be the next five or six selections who get the most votes. We’re just going to say, here’s the ballot with the names, and the top five or six that get votes will be elected. I think that will make it easier for some of the athletes, guys like Armanti Edwards and Stephen Curry and others who will start now coming on the rolls.
“The restrictions were put in initially to make sure we had a balance. My great fear was that if we didn’t have the restrictions, the first class would be all guys with hair like mine or dead. We did have modern athletes and females because we did have restrictions, and I wanted to make sure we had a good diversity initially. It was not easy getting a Hall of Fame put in. There’s a reason none of my predecessors got it done, because there’s an incredible amount of red tape. But we were able to convince the members we needed to do this, but now I think we can take the restrictions off.
“We will continue to have a Hall of Fame class every other year, because that’s what the members wanted. That’s because of a combination of funds — it’s in excess of $20,000 to do it each time — and there was a interest among the members in spreading it out a little bit, to make it more of a special event.”
On a central video web-streaming site for the SoCon:
“We are committed to making that happen as soon as possible. If I have my way, it will happen with the coming 2014-15 year. We have meetings coming up with our presidents and I hope to be able to get their approval to use some of the assets that we will have coming in from the departed schools to get us up to speed with that.
“Frankly, we have fallen behind the curve. The Ivy League has a great network with NeuLion, which is our current provider. The Horizon League was one of the first to do it, and the Big South just went to a system where everything’s available through one source. There’s a lot of examples and we’ve looked at all of them. What I envision is someone being able to go to the SoCon website, see the offerings of all the games on a given night, click on a link that will take you to the home team’s website and be able to see the game free. That’s what we are trying to do that for 2014-15, right away for football and basketball and then add to that with other sports. It depends on venues and broadband capability, but I think we’re not far from doing that.”
How much exit and entrance money has the SoCon received thus far from departing and in-coming schools?
“We’ve only received money from the one team that’s left so far, College of Charleston. The rest of the monies are due June 30, the very last day that the other schools (GSU, App State, Elon, Davidson) are members of the conference. The entry fees are spread over a five-year period, so we have not received anything yet, but it will be coming.”
NOTE: College of Charleston paid an exit fee of $600,000. Total exit funds from the departing members, including CofC, will be $3 million.
And will that money be used toward the video web-streaming service?
“It has to be approved by the presidents, but yes, that’s my intention.”
On the league’s struggles in basketball this season and what the addition of Mercer, ETSU and VMI will mean:
“It’s no secret we’ve had a down year in basketball. All three of the new members would have helped us this year. I’m very much looking forward to Mercer coming in. It seems like they have very much a Davidson type program that can reload instead of rebuild year after year. ETSU has a loyal fan base and they will probably move into a new venue called Freedom Hall in Johnson City that’s very much like the building in Asheville where we play the tournament. It seats about 6,000, and that will be great for them. The Mini-Dome is just not a great venue for basketball, and they recognize that. And then VMI, they are a very entertaining team and will be instantly competitive in our league. I’m excited about the future in basketball and I think they will all help us.
“I hope what we are going through now is cyclical. Six of our 11 head coaches are either in their first or second year and are starting to play with their own recruiting classes. We hope it will turn around and that those three new schools will help us. We are losing some quality, but we are looking forward and I think those three will help us.”
Where do things stand for TV for the 2014 football season?
“We are working on some things with regard to broadcast television. We will again have the ESPN3 package and if we are able to pull of the digital network, it will be easy to see all the games on a computer or a phone, or on a flatscreen with an internet hookup. But I recognize we don’t have broadcast exposure like we used to and we are trying to see if we can make something happen.”