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AAC to consider creating bowl game

Published May 22, 2013

PONTE VEDRA BEACH — As the American Athletic Conference looks at a new bowl lineup after the 2013 season, commissioner Mike Aresco said Tuesday that the conference will consider creating its own bowl game, potentially in South Florida.

"We think that's doable. We think the finances can work," Aresco said. "We think ESPN's done a heck of a job with some of the bowls they've created, and we think it's time we did something like that. We like the idea of it."

Miami already has the Orange Bowl at Sun Life Stadium, the home stadium for the Dolphins and University of Miami. One potential venue to explore is Marlins Park, the baseball team's 1-year-old stadium. The Big East has a strong recent history with bowl games in baseball stadiums. Its current agreement includes the Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium and the Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl at Tropicana Field. The league has sent teams to Toronto for the International Bowl.

Aresco could see considerable change from the Big East's current bowl lineup; the Russell Athletic Bowl in Orlando, the Belk Bowl in Charlotte and Pinstripe have all been discussed for new conference affiliations.

Aresco was "confident" the American would have continuing relationships with two ESPN-backed bowl games, the St. Petersburg game as well as the one in Birmingham, Ala.

A Marlins spokesperson said Tuesday that the team would be interested in hosting a bowl game and that Marlins Park can be configured for football.

OUT OF CONTENTION: Tampa has pulled out of consideration for the 2014 AAC men's basketball tournament due to a scheduling conflict with hockey at Tampa Bay Times Forum, USF president Judy Genshaft said Tuesday.

It's also believed that the new conference's women's basketball tournament will stay in Connecticut, perhaps moving from Hartford to the Mohegan Sun casino. Memphis has emerged as a front-runner for the men's event, with university incoming interim president Brad Martin telling the Commercial Appeal he is "very, very optimistic" about the event going to FedEx Forum, home of the NBA's Grizzlies.

Tampa had been under consideration for both events, and the field of options was narrowed by league officials Tuesday, with an announcement expected in coming weeks. The NHL requires its teams to reserve dates as being off limits in November of the previous season, so USF's move to the American came months after the window in which dates could be blocked off for hosting such an event.

END OF TERM: Genshaft finishes her two-year term as chair of the Big East executive committee next month, and she said that SMU president Gerald Turner will take over as chair, with UConn president Susan Herbst stepping in as vice-chair.

Genshaft also said she was pleased with the compromise reached on a distribution plan for the Big East's pot of exit fees and entrance fees, reported to be as much as $110 million. She said that USF athletic director Doug Woolard chaired a group of conference ADs that created the distribution plan, which is likely to give significantly larger shares to the existing Big East schools (USF, Cincinnati, UConn) compared to new arrivals from Conference USA.

As reported by the Orlando Sentinel, the three incumbent schools will each receive 20 percent of the total spread out over several years. The remaining amount would be distributed among the new arrivals.

"It was officially ratified. It was a great process … it was very fair," she said. "It was fair, and fair is not always equal."

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