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RSTuthill
12-20-2011, 04:51 AM
This came across the wire yesterday and looks interesting:

STORRS, Conn. -- The University of Connecticut Division of Athletics has named Stafford Sports, LLC, a nationally recognized sports consulting firm, to conduct a complete evaluation of its menís ice hockey program. The purpose of the evaluation is to assess the programís current level of support to that of Atlantic Hockey league members and other programs in the region. The assessment will include financial support, staffing, facilities and potential revenue sources.

Stafford Sports, of Medford, NJ, provides strategic planning, negotiation services and operational consulting for the public and private sector in the development of sports and entertainment properties and facilities. Collegiate clients in the past have included UMass-Lowell, Georgetown, Villanova and Wake Forest. The firm currently is providing consulting and strategic services to the National Collegiate Hockey Conference, a newly formed, eight-team Division I menís hockey conference that will commence play in the 2013-14 season.

redrocker
12-20-2011, 07:17 AM
This came across the wire yesterday and looks interesting:

STORRS, Conn. -- The University of Connecticut Division of Athletics has named Stafford Sports, LLC, a nationally recognized sports consulting firm, to conduct a complete evaluation of its menís ice hockey program. The purpose of the evaluation is to assess the programís current level of support to that of Atlantic Hockey league members and other programs in the region. The assessment will include financial support, staffing, facilities and potential revenue sources.

Stafford Sports, of Medford, NJ, provides strategic planning, negotiation services and operational consulting for the public and private sector in the development of sports and entertainment properties and facilities. Collegiate clients in the past have included UMass-Lowell, Georgetown, Villanova and Wake Forest. The firm currently is providing consulting and strategic services to the National Collegiate Hockey Conference, a newly formed, eight-team Division I menís hockey conference that will commence play in the 2013-14 season.

Pretty sure this was from a few months ago.

RSTuthill
12-20-2011, 09:35 AM
Pretty sure this was from a few months ago.
Kinda don't think so. Just got it in the email yesterday from UConn Assistant AD Joe Donohue. Said he wanted the supporters to be the first to know.

brassbonanza
12-20-2011, 10:01 AM
There was something about this in the Hartford Courant a few days ago, and I think (my dad was telling me about this) it mentioned something about this being a first step towards a move to Hockey East. This review, in all likelihood, will lead to the removal of Coach Marshall, a recommendation of the upgrade of the facilities as they are woefully inadequate for Hockey East, and putting in place the funding for extra scholarships, should HE become a possibility. It'd be nice to see them make the upgrade, that program has been languishing in the gutter for decades, the old AD's Perkins and Hathaway didn't give two craps about hockey and let Marshall trod on running a horrendous program.

Patman
12-20-2011, 10:11 AM
Look, if Marshall ran any other D1 program he would have been fired a long time ago just over player treatment issues. Nevermind his questionable recruiting practices of bringing in 16 freshmen on a repeating basis.

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I find it interesting that UML is noted first in the press-release above the full D1 schools... why?

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Things remain the same... the issues will come down to rink, support, facilities, finding funding avenues, searching out donors (somebody other than ME Freitas), and institutional support.

I've always said that they can do the small things now and a lot of problems can be solved with a bucket of paint and caring. The others will take more time and will take a commitment from the school. I have no doubt hockey can be extremely popular at UConn. None. I think an on campus facility is necessary and I think it'd be a tougher downstate sale for attendance and the rest... it would be interesting to see if they tried to tie this into UConn bball needing a new facility to replace the HCC/XL... whether they'd tie it to hartford (and rentschler?) w basketball... whether they'd go nearer but not on campus (any options near the 195 exit? Manchester?). Do they go out and just replace Gampel w/ a 12,000 seat facility?

In either case, not an easy proposition. I find it interesting though... I always figured UConn would be embarrased into the sport by D1 rivals. Right now is Penn State and Notre Dame enough of a catalyst or is this a diversifying after finding their football program is in an epically tight spot in the conference shuffle.

Rover
12-20-2011, 10:32 AM
I'm wondering if they already have a donor (or donors) largely in place. If the goal is to join Hockey East, that would be the first step as an infusion of cash is going to be needed to upgrade facilities. The only other thing I can think of is if they plan on building an arena that is in use year round, sorta like what BU does with Agganis for concerts, etc and want to see if it can pay for itself.

brassbonanza
12-20-2011, 10:36 AM
Look, if Marshall ran any other D1 program he would have been fired a long time ago just over player treatment issues. Nevermind his questionable recruiting practices of bringing in 16 freshmen on a repeating basis.

---

I find it interesting that UML is noted first in the press-release above the full D1 schools... why?

---

Things remain the same... the issues will come down to rink, support, facilities, finding funding avenues, searching out donors (somebody other than ME Freitas), and institutional support.

I've always said that they can do the small things now and a lot of problems can be solved with a bucket of paint and caring. The others will take more time and will take a commitment from the school. I have no doubt hockey can be extremely popular at UConn. None. I think an on campus facility is necessary and I think it'd be a tougher downstate sale for attendance and the rest... it would be interesting to see if they tried to tie this into UConn bball needing a new facility to replace the HCC/XL... whether they'd tie it to hartford (and rentschler?) w basketball... whether they'd go nearer but not on campus (any options near the 195 exit? Manchester?). Do they go out and just replace Gampel w/ a 12,000 seat facility?

In either case, not an easy proposition. I find it interesting though... I always figured UConn would be embarrased into the sport by D1 rivals. Right now is Penn State and Notre Dame enough of a catalyst or is this a diversifying after finding their football program is in an epically tight spot in the conference shuffle.

I have trouble seeing Gampel going anywhere, and Geno and Jim would probably both aim ICBM's the AD's office if he tried to retrofit a hockey rink in there. I could see them renovating Freitas, there's certainly plenty of room over there. It would be a shame to see the team play at XL, even if it was massively renovated as was laid out a few weeks ago, too far from campus for a sport with little following. You're not going to get any students to go to Hartford on a Friday night for a hockey game. But I agree with you, I think the sport could be very successful on campus if it were upgraded to HE and were competing regularly with better programs. What player treatment issues has Marshall had?

brassbonanza
12-20-2011, 10:38 AM
I'm wondering if they already have a donor (or donors) largely in place. If the goal is to join Hockey East, that would be the first step as an infusion of cash is going to be needed to upgrade facilities. The only other thing I can think of is if they plan on building an arena that is in use year round, sorta like what BU does with Agganis for concerts, etc and want to see if it can pay for itself.

They already use Gampel for concerts if they need to, but that area of CT is not a place where concerts go. Population isn't that big, Hartford is 30 minutes in one direction, and the smaller and more attractive Mohegan Sun Arena is 30 minutes in the other direction.

RSTuthill
12-20-2011, 11:06 AM
A search of the Courant yielded the following from December 10 Jeff Jacobs column on the BB practice facility:

And I also can tell you while Pendergast said UConn has not been extended an offer to join Hockey East, he did say there's some evaluation going on whether to extend scholarships to men's ice hockey. In short, UConn's considering possibilities.

We have known that for quite awhile. This announcement yesterday is new. Hiring a consulting firm is the second step forward. Out of their work will come a recommendation that the Athletic Department and the trustees will have to consider seriously.

Regarding Bruce Marshall bringing in a lot of freshmen, that's what you do when you have no scholarships to work with and everyone involved knows it including the recruits. Bring in a lot of kids who aren't good enough to get scholarships elsewhere, coach them up, and see who develops into viable D-1 players. Of course you also have to put up with a lot of discontented players who didn't make the cut and (with their friends) post to discussion boards, but that is part of the territory and doesn't influence anything on the ground.

Patman
12-20-2011, 11:17 AM
RST,

RIT and Union have the same problems on top of being a private school (common practice is for the students to establish state residency asap).

A rink retrofit is hard in any circumstance... you'd have to start over on the same property more or less... its mostly a question of what to do with the soccer fields... Gampel is a non-starter

CHFAN222
12-20-2011, 11:29 AM
Smart move on UCONN's part. If they have a plan in place it will make it easier to raise money from the big time donors.

I think the Football issue has kinda been resolved. While not ideal it seems that with Boise State, SDSU, SMU, and the others the Big East will survive and probably retain its BCS bowl bid. At the very worst the ACC will expand again and take in Rutgers and UCONN to complete the east coast TV market. With that being said I don't think the football program have the same issues they where facing a few months ago.

If UCONN does this right they could possibly break even or make a little bit of money on their hockey team instead of just losing money. Throw in the added bonus of having games on NESN and Versus and it makes a possible move to HE makes sense.


Whether or not the people of CT will support a mens hockey team is another question. The Whalers where very popular. The Hartford AHL affiliate had some success I believe. Not sure if they would be able to be as popular as them though.

Patman
12-20-2011, 11:37 AM
Smart move on UCONN's part. If they have a plan in place it will make it easier to raise money from the big time donors.

I think the Football issue has kinda been resolved. While not ideal it seems that with Boise State, SDSU, SMU, and the others the Big East will survive and probably retain its BCS bowl bid. At the very worst the ACC will expand again and take in Rutgers and UCONN to complete the east coast TV market. With that being said I don't think the football program have the same issues they where facing a few months ago.

If UCONN does this right they could possibly break even or make a little bit of money on their hockey team instead of just losing money. Throw in the added bonus of having games on NESN and Versus and it makes a possible move to HE makes sense.


Whether or not the people of CT will support a mens hockey team is another question. The Whalers where very popular. The Hartford AHL affiliate had some success I believe. Not sure if they would be able to be as popular as them though.

they will come... i once saw the rink half fill at a halftime of a soccer game as UConn and BC's club teams were playing... of this i have no doubt

brassbonanza
12-20-2011, 11:41 AM
Whether or not the people of CT will support a mens hockey team is another question. The Whalers where very popular. The Hartford AHL affiliate had some success I believe. Not sure if they would be able to be as popular as them though.
There are a good number of youth hockey organizations in the state, and also a good number of private high schools with hockey programs. I think that's who they'd be targeting as fans, along with the students. Whaler fans would be kind of an unknown. It's been so long since they were around, and a lot of them aren't really interested in supporting the AHL team because it's really not the same thing (raises hand) so I wouldn't count on them flocking to UConn games. I would think the casual UConn sports fans would line up to see them play BC and Notre Dame, and once they figure out who's who in college hockey, BU, UNH, and (maybe) Maine. Also, the prior affiliations with UMass and PC will help. It could really be a winning move for the school if they invest in it correctly, and don't move it off campus, I'd love to see it happen.

RSTuthill
12-20-2011, 11:54 AM
RST,

RIT and Union have the same problems on top of being a private school (common practice is for the students to establish state residency asap).

A rink retrofit is hard in any circumstance... you'd have to start over on the same property more or less... its mostly a question of what to do with the soccer fields... Gampel is a non-starter
Good points, Patman. But Union now gives scholarships in the form of loans to foreign students (including Canadians) that do not have to be repaid and that program has been on the rise ever since they started doing that. And RIT is practically in Canada and can give need based aid to Canadians based on American need definitions. Until recently (do not know the current situation) UConn could not give need based aid to foreign students.

On the rink, the north and west walls can be moved out without much trouble. Believe there is room. Seats could be added to the corners. At most, you could probably get to 4,000 capacity without moving the ice. Is that big enough? Dunno. There are some rinks in HE which are no bigger and even less than that, aren't there?

brassbonanza
12-20-2011, 12:09 PM
On the rink, the north and west walls can be moved out without much trouble. Believe there is room. Seats could be added to the corners. At most, you could probably get to 4,000 capacity without moving the ice. Is that big enough? Dunno. There are some rinks in HE which are no bigger and even less than that, aren't there?

Yes, the building only abuts the soccer field on one side, which I believe is the long side. One side is (Stadium Drive?) which could be a bit of a problem, but there's some room there. The other two sides are trees and a parking lot, so if they decided to rip out those two walls and expand in each direction, it could easily be retrofitted. Not much to tear down, it's basically a giant tin shed as it is now.

TigerFan86-87
12-20-2011, 12:54 PM
But Union now gives scholarships in the form of loans to foreign students (including Canadians) that do not have to be repaid and that program has been on the rise ever since they started doing that. And RIT is practically in Canada and can give need based aid to Canadians based on American need definitions.
Giving scholarships to international students is not unique to RIT and Union, and is by no means new. Many D-III schools have been doing that for years. That being said however, that is not a replacement for offering athletic scholarships. They still have to follow the same rules as they would with any other form of financial aid. If athletes are awarded any form of scholarships at an inordinately higher rate than the rest of the student population, the school would be in violation of D-III rules. Hence SUNY Geneseo's semi-recent troubles. Of course none of those regulations affect UConn in any way. They are a D-I institution and are allowed a full (full by AHA rules, at least) allotment of scholarships for their hockey team if they choose to use them. If they wanted to give them out, they wouldn't need any "back-handed" way to do so. To this point, they have just not chosen to prioritize hockey enough. So they're unlikely to divert some other financial aid avenue for the hockey players as it would be somewhat unnecessary.

kingdobbs
12-20-2011, 01:05 PM
Re: the announcement - Unsurprising, as it was leaked out into the press a while back that UConn had spoken with Atlantic Hockey about the possibility of exiting the conference.

Re: the arena - UConn has to do it on campus. The XL, renovated or not, should be at best a temporary solution (and/or a staging ground for bigger games). Gampel would be too difficult to retrofit, as far as I know, and the will definitely won't be there. Pat brought up Rentschler, and I've long been saying that it could be a great idea to build a UConn arena on the spot as well; there's already enough parking to handle the crowds, and traffic would be immeasurably easier even compared to XL downtown. But it's not a great idea for college hockey, especially not at UConn where there isn't a 'traditional history' of a successful and supported program.

There's enough space to squeeze in a HEA-sized arena on the current plot, if they manage it something like Northeastern's arena where there's an overlapping upper deck of seating, or recenter the ice sheet (possibly even dropping it down below ground level to minimize the amount of upward growth).

RE: fan growth - The bar does not have to be set at a Whalers-level of support, and I think trying to be "CT's team" is probably a folly. There's a built-in fan base with students and youth/community programs, who do show decent if not committed levels of support; a strong outreach into youth programs in the Hartford area could yield strong dividends as well, and the UConn brand is significant enough across the state to attract non-local support. I think a reasonable upper bound would be about 3,000, and I think that with an appropriately sized arena, an HEA schedule and some marketing muscle (seriously, post ads on the video board at Rentschler and Gampel, already), that's easily reachable.

The end goal ought not to be profitability, but self-sustenance.

Re: Football and its aftereffects - I still think we're far from out of the water yet, and it will have everything to do with whether the "Lemonade League" that is the 2013-onward Big East can manage a sizeable media contract for football. Obviously, a shift upwards to a conference looking to go 16 will be preferable, but if the Increasingly Misnamed Big East can keep on par with the other leagues percentage wise, then I'd expect the board to be amenable to a good plan. I also expect that the consulting firm will tell them "Donor outreach, NOW!" even before their first report goes through.

RSTuthill
12-20-2011, 01:54 PM
They are a D-I institution and are allowed a full (full by AHA rules, at least) allotment of scholarships for their hockey team if they choose to use them. If they wanted to give them out, they wouldn't need any "back-handed" way to do so. To this point, they have just not chosen to prioritize hockey enough. So they're unlikely to divert some other financial aid avenue for the hockey players as it would be somewhat unnecessary.
Problem is they are in full Title 9 compliance and have to stay that way. Eighteen rides for men's hockey means 18 more rides in women's sports. Thirty six scholarships is a huge cost. Don't forget, they could just decide to eliminate men's hockey as economically unfeasible too.

RSTuthill
12-20-2011, 01:59 PM
Re: the announcement - Unsurprising, as it was leaked out into the press a while back that UConn had spoken with Atlantic Hockey about the possibility of exiting the conference.
Incorrect. What was just announced was not leaked to the press awhile ago. What was leaked to the press several weeks ago was that they told the AHA they are talking to HE. This is different and is a step that costs a fair amount of money and will be used to justify a decision one way or another. It is also an indication that the trustees will be formally involved when the AD brings the issue to them and makes a recommendation for action.

Nick Papagiorgio
12-20-2011, 02:21 PM
Don't forget, they could just decide to eliminate men's hockey as economically unfeasible too.

That's probably the best solution right there.