Director of Athletics Jim Sterk News Conference Quotes

Nov. 20, 2012

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Director of Athletics Jim Sterk

Opening statement:
Given there was some information put out yesterday and there were some changes and speculations in a lot of things, I felt it was important to address you all today. Then I'll make a brief statement and open it up for questions. I want to make the point that we're excited about our move to the BIG EAST. The BIG EAST it committed to a national strategy with football and San Diego State is committed to that strategy and to the BIG EAST. We have a great leader, Mike Aresco is our commissioner and there's nobody I'd rather have in that position during this time of change. The change has happened over the last three years, there will probably be continual change and we have a strategy to deal with that and a leader that will work through that. I'm also blessed at San Diego State to have someone like Dr. Elliot Hirshman as our President, who is a strong leader and someone I really respect and (he) is a great person to have at this time. In athletics, we deal with setbacks and challenges and we never know one day to the next what we're going to be faced with or in a game, you never know what you're going to be faced with. In athletics we're trained to regroup, to come back stronger and work hard to make things turn out very positive. It made me think of today as I was thinking about what to say to you all, the great example is our football team this year. We started off with a loss and we ended up 2-3 and a lot of people started to question our football team of, `do we have the players, are we going to have a winning season, is there going to be a bowl (berth) in our future this year?' Now we sit here at 8-3, going to play a tough Wyoming team this Saturday and playing for a conference championship, going to a bowl (game) for a record third straight season. That happens because of hard work, leadership and perseverance. I can say that the BIG EAST took a hit, may take some others, but I can tell you that the league will continue to be strong. Right now it sits as one of the top five in the country, performance-wise. We have six programs that have been in the top 10 in the last six years and we'll continue to do that and challenge for the BCS championships next year and we'll continue to do it after that. I'm excited about the future and wanted to make sure that was clear and the direction that San Diego State is taking.

Q. Is the situation a lot more fluid than you were anticipating or hoping to face?
Just as recently as a few months ago I was talking to a colleague in another league where there's been some change, but he felt things were settled for four to six years because of the long TV contracts. The Big 10 changed that yesterday, and then suddenly there's a ripple effect through the nation basically when a decision like that is made and teams move. So (I'm) surprised, but as I said, we're in a complicated game of musical chairs. There are a lot of things moving around, and you want to be a part in a conference that has an opportunity to be a national brand, and that's what we have in the BIG EAST.

Q. Is there sort of a line in the sand drawn somewhere? Is there a point where you go, hey, we got to change this whole thing up, maybe talking in terms of going back into the Mountain West or that sort of thing?
Yeah. I want to make that clear. I think a lot of Craig Thompson, but he hasn't talked to me since May. So there's been no discussion about San Diego State going back into the Mountain West Conference. So I just wanted to make that clear. I don't speculate. I try to look and see where things might go and as we looked at the BIG EAST to begin with, we knew there would probably be some change. I believe in the national strategy that they developed. I think it can really pay off, both from an exposure of the program standpoint and from a revenue standpoint. One's not stronger than the other, but I think this institution has been on a tremendous growth mode and athletics can help do that. The two guys that you just had in here prior to me are doing a heck of a job in helping that continue to grow.

Q. The landscape has significantly changed and probably will continue to, do you have a clause in your agreement or contract with the BIG EAST that says, if these certain teams are not there when we're scheduled to join, we can pull out?
No. There's not specifically any teams, but they used kind of I think a similar contract with all the teams that came in. That there's some check points of where the buyout would be reduced if certain things happen, but to tell you the truth, I haven't looked at that because I'm one to move forward, not backwards.

Q. With the amount of people in the BIG EAST that may move forward as well, with Maryland vacating the ACC. We're hearing Louisville or UConn may jump out of the BIG EAST. The BIG EAST in 2013 may be just San Diego State by the time that comes around?
If we're a team of one then we're not a conference of one. That doesn't work, obviously. But I don't see that happening. I think the East-West strategy in football can work, and to tell you the truth, it gives us opportunity.

Q. Is there any scenario you can envision where you would stay in the Mountain West?
I don't see it at this point.

Q. How come? I feel like the league seems so tenuous right now.
If you look at the western division that was announced and if Temple goes to the eastern division, there's an opportunity for a western school. So the majority of our games, nothing's changed from yesterday to today. And so I don't see that changing significantly in the future to warrant a change.

Q. In the article this morning you were quoted as saying one of the motivations to move the BIG EAST was the TV contract and eyeballs. You've lost your biggest market, that being New York, with Rutgers going out. I don't know how strong Rutgers was in that market to begin with, but all of a sudden the reasons you're moving are dissipating and you don't have a new contract. Are you concerned about the fact that an estimated contract with the BIG EAST may be much less?
You know, the contract and the TV deal got a lot of noise because of dollars and cents and speculation and all that. But that wasn't the only reason for the move. If you talk to Rocky Long or if you talk to Coach Fisher, I think the opportunity for us to move forward and get more exposure for our program, put our program more on a national level than we have been, those are part of the reasons why moving forward. Yeah, the money is great, but I don't see it going backwards, and it'll be significantly stronger than what we have right now. So yeah, there may have been a hit there, but I don't know what that is. It's all speculation, and as I said to start it off, we have one of the best leaders in the country to be in a position to maximize that opportunity that the BIG EAST has of being the last major conference that's going out into the marketplace. And there is a huge appetite for live intercollegiate sports that has been expressed to him, and I think moving forward will continue.

Q. Now that the BIG EAST might lose a couple teams, does that give SDSU and Boise State more leverage to say add a western team? Have you had talks with Mike about that?
Yeah. I think it does give the opportunity. Where that might be or who that might be, I'm not sure. So there will be a balance with the western schools. There are Texas schools and us out here. So I don't know where it'll be, but it'll be a lot closer than Temple.

Q. Would you say that the fate of Boise State and SDSU are sort of tied at this point? If Boise said tomorrow that they're leaving, what would SDSU do?
Well, I don't look backwards. San Diego State and Boise State made a statement yesterday that we're moving forward and there's no question that we're not going into the BIG EAST. So I don't speculate.

Q. I know you haven't talked to Thompson since May, but is it possible or can you speculate on whether the Mountain West could make moves to try to coach other teams around the conference, try to beef up their own conference?
I think they've done that, and I complimented them on San Jose State and Utah State additions, that that was a good move for them. And I don't wish them any ill will, but I think we made the decision to move for a number of reasons and I wish them the best.

Q. Moving forward in the BIG EAST, is there any chance that you're other sports or any other sports may join the BIG EAST, such as men's basketball?
Other sports have a challenge of playing multiple league games in a week, and that presents a challenge that's unlike football. And football has fewer games, as far as league games. So who knows how this thing evolves down the road, but there could be something forming in the west, if you will, and that could happen. But I think it could be under the umbrella of what we have right now, and I think we have, as I said, a strong leader and (he) will help work through all of that. But I don't see right now where basketball is going to play BIG EAST basketball. Coach Fisher, you know, I was excited of the relationship of having some BIG EAST games. Well, I don't know if I want to go all the way east to play basketball games. And so that's the concern right away. But we're going to have some games with a Temple and with a Memphis and others moving forward that we're going to be playing those schools on a home-and-home relationship, and I think here and there it works out in basketball. But I think a steady diet, that wouldn't work.

Q. If Craig Thompson was to call and inquire about your interest in coming back to Mountain West in football, would you have an open ear or is it, hey, we're going to the east?
You know, we've had those discussions of before the decision was made. And there wasn't anything compelling that would have us make a move like that.

Q. Perhaps being a bit facetious, but do you think this league, the BIG EAST should perhaps consider selling naming rights to a new name for the league?
I'll leave that up to smarter people than me as far as the marketing and the branding, but I think there is a brand with the BIG EAST that's national in scope. I'm okay with the western division of the BIG EAST right now.

Q. Is there any concern on your part, when you joined the BIG EAST it was a BCS conference and it will be for a year and then everything is changing. Are you concerned at all that this BIG EAST basically becomes, not to knock a Mountain West, but another Mountain West Conference, another second tier conference which you left behind to try to get to a bigger conference?
I think there's a big separation from where we are now to where we're going. If you look back four years ago when Utah, BYU, TCU, (now) Boise State and us were in the league, that's a different league. But if it was that, then I would say that's a strong league and we probably wouldn't be talking about this right now. But things have changed significantly, and I think for us to have the opportunity to do that, it was important for the growth of the program and growth for football, growth for our entire program to move forward, and I think it was important to do that.

Q. From an administration standpoint, are you pleased with how college football is going towards this four game playoff type thing and how it's shaping up and the opportunity that it presents to the other five, if you will?
Yeah. If you had your druthers, you'd change that up somewhat, and I think change is a given. So don't get used to what you see right now because it's going to change. It's in an evolutionary phase and we'll see how that all works out. If you look at the power ratings of the conferences, the BIG EAST moving forward is significantly stronger and more like a top-five conference as it is the rest of the leagues.

Q. Are you concerned that Navy's athletic director expressed a little concern about everything that's happened?
No. He was on a call this morning, and he's fine. If you know Mr. Gladchuk, he clarified himself. I forget the word he used to describe it, but it's not concern. It's almost reflection of, `okay, what do we do now.' And I think that's kind of how everyone's shifting, and as I said, in athletics we're used to that. So we look to what can we do to improve and build and strengthen the league.

Q. From a football standpoint, when you say the BIG EAST is ahead of the Mountain West. From a basketball standpoint right now, the Mountain West would be above the Big West. Does that come into your decision at all or has that factored into your decision?
It did as we were analyzing what to do, and I think Coach Fisher explained it very well of how you develop and that our program is a national program. That's why it was important for us to play a Midway game, and we're playing in the Diamond Head (Classic) and we're going to play in the Maui (Invitational). We're going to do those kinds of games that continue to put us in that spotlight. The other part of it is the contract we have in the Big West is a significant upgrade to what we have right now. So I think you're going to see that, and you saw (UC) Irvine almost take down UCLA a week or so ago, one free throw from winning it. I think it's going to be competitive enough, that's for sure.

Q. You referenced a call this morning. Did the BIG EAST just have a call of all the ADs?
Yeah. They've been through this process. Mike Aresco has been updating us. We had one yesterday. We had one today, and we'll continue to monitor the situation. Mike is good about communication, and so we're continuing to talk.

Q. What is the sense you get from Mike Aresco? Is there any sense of panic, are they trying to rally the troops?
No. I think it made me all the more proud to work with a guy like that. He is committed, smart, connected and is a great leader. So I think it's important to have someone like that in that role, and he's doing a great job.

Q. I know much has been made of how you sort of hope to get Boise State into the league. With BYU now as an independent, if they decided to sort of get back into the league, would you approach them on behalf of BIG EAST? Have you had any thoughts about doing that?
I don't think they need me to do that. There will be others that would do that. But I certainly know Tom Holmoe and that group. So they have a good program. Who knows who it'll be, but there will certainly be others. The biggest thing that Mike Aresco said this morning was that he's getting significant interest from a lot of people that are interested.

Q. Would you be in favor of BYU joining the BIG EAST?
Yeah. I would.

Q. But you haven't talked it over with them?
Not recently, no.

Q. You speak very highly of the BIG EAST. Why are these schools leaving? Why is Rutgers jumping to the Big 10?
I think Maryland, for instance, that one is out of the ACC. I think they're having some financial problems and so they're looking at what the Big 10 can provide to them. It must be significantly more or enough to make them make that decision. And so I think the BIG EAST, the positive and the negative, the positive is they're the last major conference left out there that's unencumbered and hasn't signed their TV agreement. And there's a lot of people that are interested in programming right now that don't have a 12-year deal with one of those five conferences. So that's a real positive. The downside is that you don't know. And to tell you the truth, it probably won't drive a 25 million dollar a year per school agreement right now. But where does it fall? I don't know. People were surprised at the contracts that have come out and have continued to come out with the bowls, with ESPN paying a lot for the rights to certain bowls and the Rose Bowl. So I think with the PAC-12, I think they probably under shot it by 10 million a year per school. So who knows where this thing is.

Q. Just in maybe a short wrap up, what would you say to the Aztec Nation by means of saying don't panic, it's cool, we got this going? In your words.
I started out (with) we're a part and moving forward with a national conference, a national football conference that we made a strategic decision to do that last December and nothing has changed. Now, we knew that there would be some changes. We knew the BCS wasn't going to be around, and it's more important for our program to continue to grow and move forward and not go backwards.

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