PONTE VEDRA BEACH — Financial terms weren't released, but Mike Aresco, commissioner of the Big East and soon-to-be American Athletic Conference, said the league's member schools have ironed out a plan to split the conference's lucrative pot of exit and entrance fees, reportedly worth as much as $110 million.
Early reports had the three "incumbent" schools — USF, Cincinnati and Connecticut — receiving as much as $30 million each from that reserve, but the compromised figure is likely less substantial. With key football members leaving for other leagues and seven non-football members leaving (and taking the league's name with them), the remaining football members had a windfall to split with the new arrivals.
"There were a lot of predictions (that) it would be rancorous, all that money. It turned out to be extremely smooth," Aresco said at the league's annual meetings. "We made a fair and equitable distribution plan for the realignment money and the (NCAA) units left behind. Everybody's very happy with it. We had pretty much gotten that done before we came down. All we're doing here is ratifying it."
OLD RIVALS: USF football coach Willie Taggart doesn't know many of the other American coaches, but he has a rivalry with Memphis coach Justin Fuente — they met as rival quarterbacks in 1998 when Taggart's Western Kentucky team played Fuente's Murray State squad.
Taggart rushed for 101 yards and two scores and threw for another 104, but Fuente threw for 358 yards and two touchdowns in the Racers' 36-31 victory.
STILL TBD: Schools will discuss potential venues for the men's and women's basketball tournaments, with the Tampa Bay Times Forum being considered for both. Philadelphia (The Palestra) is seen as the favorite on the men's side, with Hartford or the nearby Mohegan Sun casino a safe bet for the women. The men's tournament will go from Wednesday to Saturday, with two games on the opening night and a traditional eight-game bracket from there.
THIS AND THAT: USF's "Around the Horns" booster tour will have a stop in Pinellas County on June 6, with Taggart and other coaches speaking at an evening reception at the Hilton St. Pete Bayfront. For information, visit mybullsclub.com. … Two years ago, UConn's Paul Pasqualoni was a new coach in Ponte Vedra Beach. This week, he's the only coach left from that group, with USF and Cincinnati hiring new coaches this offseason. … The league is showing its coaches and administrators its new logo, which will be publicly unveiled next week. The conference will also discuss changes to its bowl lineup, which could include a bigger role for the Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl at Tropicana Field, which has a Dec. 23 kickoff this year.