Woolard confident in USF amid reshuffling
USF athletic director Doug Woolard spoke with reporters about the continuing reshuffling of college conferences, offering little specific direction on USF's future amid the change but reiterating his confidence that the Bulls are in a strong position moving forward.
"I don't have any better crystal ball than any of you guys do to know what's going to happen," Woolard said. "It's not appropriate or productive for me to comment or speculate on what might happen with regard to any particular institution or what might happen with any conference affiliation."
Woolard said he was "disappointed" by the news that Pittsburgh and Syracuse would be leaving the Big East to join the ACC. Asked to describe the atmosphere in the league among its current members, Woolard declined to speak for any other schools or his perception of them.
"Nothing surprises me anymore," Woolard said. "I'm disappointed both those schools have left the league. I think it's a great league, and I'm disappointed that they left. I can't speak for what other schools feel about Pittsburgh and Syracuse. ... This league has been and I think will continue to be a significant league."
As one of the newest members of the BCS's automatic qualifying leagues, even as a member of a conference that has lost two key schools and has other members considering leaving, Woolard still said USF is in a strong position nonetheless.
"I think we're in great shape," Woolard said. "I think our athletic department and our university is in better shape than its ever been ... our APR continues to soar, which is an important piece academically. Our football team has been nationally ranked the last four out of five years, and right now we're in the top 20. Our soccer program is ranked nationally. I think all of our programs have made good strides. You're all aware of what we've done facility-wise over the last 14 months ... I think our facilities are as good as any in America right now. The Sun Dome is going through a major renovation, and I promise you when you go in there next year, you're going to say 'Are you kidding me?'"
USF's football team opens its Big East season at Pittsburgh in nine days, on Thursday, Sept. 29, and Woolard acknowledged that the tone of that game, of any interaction with Pittsburgh's administration in light of what has happened, would be "different."
"It'll be a different feeling, I'm sure, just because of the scenario," Woolard said. "It's still student-athletes playing against student-athletes. We need to try to keep the best interests of student-athletes at heart when these things are happening. I'm not sure that's occuring all the time."
Woolard seemed disappointed at the lack of oversight or intervention from the NCAA amid the massive changes being made to the constitution of how college football is organized.
"There's really no governance structure ... the NCAA's not in charge of conference alignment," he said. "There's no czar of conferences that can say 'Let's all sit down and make sure this all makes sense.' There's probably not a lot of organizations that don't have some kind of governance structure, that have some kind of process, procedures and approval process. That makes it a little bit awkward and less predictable."