Feb. 7, 2012
John Paquette (Associate Commissioner of Communications for the BIG EAST): Thanks everyone for joining us for this announcement by the BIG EAST Conference and the Naval Academy. Let me talk briefly about our order for some remarks. First will be John Marinatto, the Commissioner of the BIG EAST Conference, then Greg Williams, President of the University of Cincinnati who will be representing the BIG EAST Board of Directors, then Naval Academy Superintendent Admiral Michael Miller, Chet Gladchuk, Director of Athletics Naval Academy and then the head football coach Ken Niumatalolo. First, for some opening remarks, John Marinatto. John.
John Marinatto (Commissioner of the BIG EAST conference): Thank you, John, and good afternoon everyone and thank you so much for joining us today. As you all know, it was just 48 days ago when we announced a new era for the BIG EAST Conference. One that brought five new members to the league and expanded the BIG EAST television footprint from coast to coast, making it the first true national conference in America. Today, it is both a genuine pleasure and an honor to announce that we’ve achieved our next step in our expansion process with the announcement that the United States Naval Academy has formally accepted an invitation to join the BIG EAST Conference as a football playing member, effective July 1, 2015. The long and storied football history of the United States Naval Academy has been well documented over the past century plus. As a football independent, it boasts significant national appeal, enough to have its own national television contract. The Academy’s decision to make the BIG EAST Conference its first-ever home after over 100 years of football independence underscores the long- term viability of the BIG EAST and its new membership configuration. Navy is universally considered among the very best academic university’s in the United States and has one of college football’s most storied football programs. Its academic and athletic cache is best demonstrated by noting that it is one of just four universities in America to produce both a Super Bowl-winning quarterback and a United States President. Navy football had been to eight-straight postseason bowl games prior to this season and has been to 17 bowl games overall, which ranks second among our ongoing BIG EAST Conference football teams. With this addition, the BIG EAST has expanded upon its nation-leading television footprint to over 31 million television households. Effective immediately, the BIG EAST Conference also automatically amends its bylaws to double the withdrawal penalty for football- playing members, raising it from five million dollars to 10 million dollars. Our President’s and our Athletic Director’s have long believed this union to be a perfect partnership. A conference with a national television footprint and a university with a tremendous national brand. As I told Admiral Miller in our very first meeting last January, the Academy would be right at home in a conference that its official colors are red, white and blue. I would like to also extend my most sincere appreciation and gratitude to Admiral Miller and Chet Gladchuk for their extraordinary efforts in making this partnership come to fruition. Both of you have been steadfast in your support of the BIG EAST Conference since our first meeting in Annapolis a little over 12 months ago and I look forward to having the two of you being on our side of the table as we work together in the future. In closing, please know our membership has worked hard to get to where we are today, but also know that we aren’t done yet. We feel we can get even stronger and will continue to pursue interest from top-notch institutions to further enhance our competitiveness in both football and basketball. Thank you all again for your interest and support for the BIG EAST Conference.
Greg Williams (President of the University of Cincinnati representing the Big East Board of Directors): As the President of the University of Cincinnati and a member of the BIG EAST Conference CEO Executive Committee, I’m very pleased to welcome one of the most prestigious academic institutions in the country and one of the most storied programs in the history of college football into the BIG EAST Conference today. We worked extremely hard to develop a national football conference, which is unlike any membership model ever created. Today’s announcement that the U.S. Naval Academy has accepted our membership invitation further adds to the standing of the BIG EAST new model and this partnership will no doubt enhance our visibility and reputation while the Academy is provided with the prestige that goes along with being associated with a founding member of the Bowl Championship Series. Navy’s elite academic reputation of course speaks for itself. Its list of notable alumni is astounding including a President of the United States, Nobel Prize winners, astronauts and Heisman Trophy winners. Navy annually ranks near the top of the NCAA’s APR and graduation success rates for student-athletes and last year Navy’s graduation success rank of 96 percent placed the Academy in the top four of all FBS institutions. In closing, Navy’s unwavering commitment to the development of future leaders fits perfectly with the BIG EAST’s mission to achieve at the highest level in intercollegiate athletics. I know I speak on behalf of all of our President’s when I say that we are truly excited to officially welcome the United States Naval Academy to the BIG EAST Conference and we all look forward to working with Admiral Miller and competing with the Academy in the future.
Admiral Michael Miller, USN (Superintendent of the Naval Academy): Thank you Commissioner Marinatto and President Williams, it’s a great honor to be on this call today. The Naval Academy is very pleased to accept an invitation for our football team to join the BIG EAST Conference. After careful consideration, we believe this affiliation to be in the best interest of the Naval Academy, our athletic programs and our Brigade of Midshipmen. While our Independent status has served Navy football well to date, BIG EAST Conference affiliation will help ensure our future scholar-athletes and athletic programs remain competitive at the highest levels for the foreseeable future. I think we all recognize the landscape for Division I FBS football is changing and the separation between BCS and non-BCS schools is growing ever wider. We look at scheduling, television and bowl opportunities and we see a great opportunity to be shared with the BIG EAST. Perhaps the vision for the future is still a bit cloudy, but it’s clear to us that this affiliation with the BIG EAST will provide critical opportunities for major programs and we wish to continue to compete at the highest levels of intercollegiate football. In closing, for us, this is a welcomed opportunity and I thank both the commissioner and all my fellow President’s that sit on the Board of Directors for this invitation to take the Naval Academy football team to the next higher level. Thank you.
Chet Gladchuk (Naval Academy Director of Athletics): John (Marinatto), first of all, thank you for your incredible patience and your composure through this entire exercise. I know there were some very stressful moments. We’ve been talking about this for the last 10 years, but for the last year or so it’s been very detailed, very much in a context that the possibility could become a reality. Your composure through all the moving parts has been extraordinary and I think the confidence that you brought to this exercise has delivered a tremendous amount of confidence to the Naval Academy. We want to thank you for your leadership.
The Superintendent and a number of others at the Naval Academy have been studying for quite some time the possibility of conference affiliation. Opportunities to exist as an Independent into the future are clearly in jeopardy. When you look at scheduling and the conditions being imposed on institutions into the future regarding conference scheduling versus scheduling as an Independent, bowl associations, television opportunities and external opportunities to generate resources, these challenges are going to be managed much more effectively through conference membership. The Superintendent asked us as a senior leadership team to convene a group of administrators to launch a study to determine if this direction is something that the Academy seriously needed to consider. Over the course of the last year, we talked at length in the context of morally, mentally and physically, which is the mission we subscribe to at the Naval Academy, and that dialog included the head football coach, the Commandant of Midshipmen who is the Dean of Students, the Academic Dean, our Chief Financial Officer, the Chief of Staff, and the Dean of Admissions. We shared information with our alumni, the foundation, our trustees, the Board of Visitors, and our oversight Board of Control to determine if in fact this was a direction we wanted to go and if it was in the best interests of the institution.
The objective was to protect the relevance of Navy football as a program of continued national stature. As we looked at each of the components, starting first with scheduling, these future dynamics are clearly moving towards conference affiliation. Television influence is so significant in the conferences today, and into the future, that in the months of October and November, television is dictating that conference games must be played. As we looked into the future, certainly past 2015, we could envision television would preclude member institutions from making a scheduling commitment to Navy based on the fact that they had to hold their scheduling dates for conference priorities.
We addressed that we must protect our very important rivalries and the scheduling priorities that we have with Air Force, Army and Notre Dame. The BIG EAST was able to accommodate this priority as their priority as well.
We felt that traditionally our home football games have been played on Saturday for reasons being close to Washington and the proximity to our dignitaries and alumni. That was another consideration the BIG EAST felt comfortable with regard to accommodations, Navy home games on Saturday.
The limited opportunities that will present themselves in the future for Independents with regards to postseason bowls was another discussion we had. Because we have some wonderful relationships with a number of postseason bowls, we wanted to continue those relationships through the duration of their existing contracts. The BIG EAST will accommodate that and also provide us with other postseason opportunities after 2016.
Television is always key. The partnership with CBS was one of the reasons why this agreement has taken a little bit of time to finalize. CBS has been a wonderful partner and has done an amazing job of supporting Navy football over the years and all of Navy Athletics for that matter. We were very sensitive to make certain that the CBS
partnership with both cable and our affiliation with the CBS network regarding Notre Dame and also the Army-Navy game could be protected. We are now comfortable that the BIG EAST will allow us to continue with that into ’15 and then the BIG EAST will assist us to try and transition our television into whatever the network or cable commitment that ultimately affiliates with the BIG EAST.
So, with CBS being addressed, the bowls being something that’s important to us and of course scheduling satisfied, which was critical, these concessions set the stage for a logical transition over the course of the next three years leading to full football membership in 2015. So thank you very much, John, we appreciate it and we thank the BIG EAST for their support.
Ken Niumatalolo (Head Football Coach At The Naval Academy): First of all, I would like to thank you, John, and the BIG EAST and all of its member schools for inviting us to the BIG EAST and to this storied conference. It’s a great day for our football program. As Vice Admiral Miller mentioned and also Chet Gladchuk, there has been a lot of thought and debate about this transition, but we’ve come to the conclusion that this is a great day for our school and for our program and I know we are very excited about this opportunity. I’ve been out on the road recruiting and there has been some talk about the possibility of us joining. I know there has been excitement among the recruits we’ve been talking to, among the current players on our team and from the former players. As a football coach here at the Naval Academy, we are very excited about this opportunity. We are excited about the opportunity to compete at the highest level. We understand who we are as a football program. We are here to develop leaders for our country and first and foremost for us is the moral and mental mission and we take that very seriously. As bad as we want to win and be competitive in this conference, we won’t do anything to compromise who we are as the United States Naval Academy. Hopefully we can come in and enhance this great conference. Nobody knows more than I do the great challenge that we have ahead of us. We have played some BIG EAST schools and there are some great programs, great football teams, great coaches and great players, so we have a definite challenge ahead of us, but we at the Naval Academy are about excellence in the classroom and on the field. We are always pushing our student-athletes to excel at the highest level and we just thought this would be very appropriate for us to be challenged on the athletic field at the highest level. We couldn’t be more excited and proud for this opportunity. I would also like to thank publicly our Superintendent, Vice Admiral Mike Miller, and also our athletic director, Chet Gladchuk, for having the foresight for our program. This is something we’ve been thinking about and we are grateful that the future is now and it’s here. Thank you very much.
Paquette: Now we will open it up for questions from the media. You can ask a question and one follow up by hitting *1.
Don Markus (Baltimore Sun): This is for John Marinatto first and then for Chet. In terms of the dynamic with Air Force, John, you said you weren’t done. Is Air Force still in the mix and for Chet, is Air Force definitely on the schedule for the foreseeable future?
Marinatto: As you know we haven’t publicly, formally anyway, discussed specific schools by name and I’m not going to start now but what I will say is, like I said earlier, I’m not done with regard to our expansion efforts and there are a lot of scenarios that are on the table that we are looking at right now in order to finish, for the time being anyway, this initiative, but it’s inappropriate for me to comment specifically on any institution.
Gladchuk: Don, the Air Force and Army Commander-In-Chief rivalry will always be prioritized and the BIG EAST is very much aware and sensitive to it. It’s a national treasure and something that is very special to the three Academies. In our discussions with the BIG EAST, when we talked about scheduling and our commitment to a BIG EAST conference schedule, it included the scheduling priorities of Army, Air Force and, of course, the extended contract with Notre Dame as matchups that would be protected.
Brett McMurphy (CBSSports.com): John, you said there are still scenarios on the table. Is it your hope the 12th team that you are seeking would be added to come in 2013 with the previous five schools or could they not come in until 2015 or is there no set timetable on the addition of that 12th team?
Marinatto: I think we are flexible. It depends on the scenario and the situation we would be facing, but we will be flexible in regards to that.
McMurphy: One follow up, I know the membership number is kind of undetermined with the West Virginia situation. At any point if you have less than 12 members, would you want to have a championship game and if so, how soon in the future would you do that? I know you would have to appeal and go through a process for that to happen.
Marinatto: It’s our objective to create a championship game and obviously it’s our plan to getting to 12 members in doing that. We haven’t discussed the possibility of specifically going after an exemption for that if need be. That isn’t something we’ve talked about with our membership at this point at least.
Greg Logan (New York Newsday): I would like to ask Admiral Miller and Mr. Gladchuk what you both felt you needed to see from the BIG EAST in terms of stability before maintaining this commitment and secondly was the fact that Air Force was not prepared to come along and apparently Army isn’t ready to step up, was that any detriment in your thinking?
Admiral Miller: Obviously stability in the BIG EAST was a very important aspect of our discussions with the Commissioner and I’m very pleased quite frankly as Commissioner Marinatto has navigated through what is obviously a very dynamic environment these days in college football. So stability was very important to us and we believe the BIG EAST now has incorporated that and what we see is a very bright future for the conference. Clearly, the rivalry that Chet just referred to and I will give him a chance to comment in just a second, but our rivalry with Air Force and Army transcends the normal college rivalry. The schools are very similar and the competition is extremely keen in everything that we do here. But anytime we are playing a Service Academy rival, we are the best of friends off the field and we are the biggest of competitors on the field, so we will always want to protect that affiliation and fortunately the BIG EAST has afforded us that opportunity.
Gladchuk: We had some dialogue in the early going with Air Force and we had some discussion with Army, as you might expect being two of our sister Academies. I think the facts were on the table. I believe they understood the dynamics, but where they are today in their thinking I really can’t be sure. Obviously, Air Force is in the Mountain West, they are in a conference, so they have an affiliation today and are probably very sensitive to discussing potential change in public. Army has the facts in regard to what the BIG EAST means and what it can bring to an Academy and to a program. I imagine they will be taking a look at this scenario into the future, but right now I just don’t know what their thinking is and our action today is independent of the other Service Academies.
Logan: If I could follow up just briefly with Mr. Gladchuk. By the BIG EAST accommodating you with these games, obviously that’s three games in a 12-game schedule and there may be more BIG EAST members. Is it possible that any of these games will count as conference games?
Gladchuk: I don’t believe they will unless they are members of the conference. Right now the commissioner and I talked about those being non-conference priorities, but unless they became full members they would not count as conference games.
Ed Owens (Dominion Post): This is for Commissioner Marinatto. I was wondering in regards to the West Virginia lawsuit if the announcement of Navy as a member changes anything for you guys?
Marinatto: It has not. Our position with regard to that situation has been advanced in numerous pleadings that we have filed, all of which are publicly available and I’m really not going to comment further about that other than saying that.
Owens: Just to follow up, are you guys any closer to a settlement in regards to that case?
Marinatto: And I’m not going to comment on that either.
Andrea Adelson (ESPN.Com): This question is for Chet and coach. From your perspective, given that you guys have always been an Independent, how much of a risk is it becoming a conference member?
Gladchuk: I will start off. That’s a competitive question and I’m sure Kenny will follow up. A lot of the teams that are in the BIG EAST today are institutions that we have competed against over the years. There has been a history and tradition with some of these programs that goes way back. When you look at the teams we have on our future schedule, there are a number of these member institutions that we are matched up against. We will be gearing up over the next three years in preparation for 2015, and coupled with the foundation that we have put in over the last 10 years which includes an outstanding coaching staff, wonderful facilities, a terrific fan base, a stadium that has a character and personality that is unique to college football, a media market locally that is extraordinary, I believe that not only are we a good fit, but the BIG EAST in this media market with the base we have put in place minimizes our downside.
Niumatalolo: Hi Andrea. Actually this discussion for myself has been years in the making for me. Part of being the head coach, you have to think about the future of your program and as the college football landscape has changed I’ve been thinking. This has kept me up many a night. What’s going to happen to us? Being a program on the outside looking in. I don’t think anybody can talk about what’s actually going to happen. All of us are maybe speculating on the future of college football and what’s going to happen, but the one thing I was concerned about was thinking about the have’s and have not’s and I thought that drift was going to get wider and wider and there is some great concern on that part. Being a coach, we know how good these teams are that we are going to have to play. We’ve played Rutgers several times and they are a great program and we know when we play those kinds of people it’s going to be a tough challenge for us. But as we thought about it and talked it over with Chet and our Superintendent, we feel like for us this is the route we wanted to go. That’s who we are as the Naval Academy. To challenge our students in all facets and to try to be the best. I’m not really sure what’s going to happen, but we felt for us this is the road we need to go. We have to up our recruiting, up our facilities and do certain things without compromising who we are as an institution. As we talked about earlier, the academic and graduation rates and developing leaders for our Navy and Marine Corps, that is first and foremost our priorities and as we maintain those parts of our mission, we feel like we can still compete. Are we biting off more than we can chew? I don’t know, but our guys are excited about it. Our players are excited about it, people in our program are excited about it and we are excited that the BIG EAST has welcomed us.
Adelson: If I can ask one follow up for Chet. I was just wondering if you looked at what worked for Air Force being a part of a conference and what didn’t work for Army being a part of a conference?
Gladchuk: Yes, we did Andrea. We actually did quite a bit of analysis on both counts. Without getting into too much detail, I believe we have a pretty good handle on some of the difficulties that Army had in their last experience. But in the meantime the BIG EAST presents, as Kenny mentioned, a tremendous opportunity that allows us to move forward in a position and protect what we would call national relevance. We aspire to be the best that we can be in virtually everything that we do. Yes, we did look at both conferences and the plusses and the minuses, but this is the best-case scenario we believe, for our Service Academy, that being to be in the BIG EAST.
Niumatalolo: Let me add to that Andrea. Like Chet said, we obviously had to look at the future and look at Air Force and look at Army and look at where we are at. But as we looked at the past, we know that the future has so much uncertainty. I don’t think any of us can dictate what’s going to happen and what’s going to happen with conferences, so as we looked back at that past some of this stuff we’re making a best-guess judgment and trying to be educated in our decision. But we feel like, as Chet said, this is the best route that we need to take and we feel good about it.
Gene Wang (Washington Post): Hey guys. Hey Chet, hey Ken. A question Chet for you first and then Kenny one for you. Chet, I imagine the BIG EAST raising the withdrawal fee to 10 million kind of influenced your decision and I wonder if you could address that, and Kenny, you have been part of a transformative era of Navy football as an assistant and now as the head coach and I kind of want to get your thoughts on taking the team towards another transformative step here in the BIG EAST and the challenges that present.
Gladchuk: Gene, I would simply say regarding the withdrawal fee now at 10 million dollars, it lends to the Superintendent’s comment about stability. Kenny is right, there is no telling what the future holds. It’s a changing dynamic. Television is changing, the BCS is changing, bowls are changing. So again we are not certain what the future will be, but we have a pretty good idea of what’s in place if the BIG EAST stays intact as it should, and we believe it will. The increased withdrawal fee is certainly a step in the right direction in bringing confidence to the Naval Academy that today we are all in this together. That was a condition that was important to us.
Niumatalolo: That’s who we are, Gene. As a program, as an institution, we are trying to be the best that we can be. Chet and I have had discussions in the past when he first brought up playing at Ohio State, going to South Carolina, playing at Penn State. Obviously those are huge challenges for our young men, but as I thought about it, for our program and for our young men, we were excited about those opportunities, to play the best. When this opportunity came, we just felt like we were at a place in college football right now that we needed to make a decision and we like the direction that the BIG EAST is going to go and we wanted to be onboard. Like I said, I kind of feel like there is a drift happening between the have’s and the have not’s and we want to be with the have’s. We are grateful that they gave us a ticket to the dance and we are coming inside to the dance. We’ve been on the outside looking in. We are grateful for have the opportunity to be inside.
Ralph Russo (Associated Press): Good afternoon, gentlemen. You talk about how uncertain it is which leads me to ask why was it so important to make the announcement now? What benefits do Navy and the BIG EAST get by making this announcement now when the move isn’t happening for 3.5 years?
Marinatto: Ralph, I can at least begin to answer that. Obviously, when we move forward with our television situation, we want to have our identity complete and knowing who it is that is going to be under the auspices of the conference moving forward it very important toward that goal. The other thing is that an institution such as the Naval Academy, which as we talked about for over 120 years has remained independent, by joining the BIG EAST Conference in and of itself underscores the premise that the model that we’ve created in moving forward is solid and is something that I think everyone is going to recognize as a formidable conference in the years ahead. So there are a lot of reasons, but I will just cite those two as an initial response to your question. Chet, do you want to follow up?
Gladchuk: I don’t mean to be misunderstood in minimizing the dynamics that go into shifting conference affiliations, but when you’re playing eight games in one conference and you go to another conference and drop those eight games and you pick up the other eight, it’s not that challenging. Most of the conferences are under similar television contracts so that’s not an issue, bowl affiliations are postseason and something that are earned through the course of the year, so bowls somewhat fall into play at year’s end. At the Naval Academy, we have worked very diligently over the last 10 years to put together an infrastructure that has led us to a very significant national television package with CBS, bowl affiliations of which we have contracts in place that take us through 2016 and a number of contracted scheduling commitments unlike a team in any conference. We have 12 games scheduled all under contract due to the fact that we are an independent so there needed to be some time for us to work through all of these issues. It’s impossible for us to flip a switch and become a member of the BIG EAST in short order. John’s point is well taken, but also there were some logistical issues here that are going to take some time, coupled with the fact that our coach will have an opportunity now to gear it up for a more competitive arena three years from now.
Sal Interdonato (Times-Herald Record): This question is for Mr. Gladchuk. Chet, after the 2014 season, what are the chances that the Army-Navy game is not your final regular-season game?
Gladchuk: Right now, we have agreed with the BIG EAST that game is the final game of the season. As it stands today, Navy is a member of the BIG EAST and Army is an Independent, so therefore regardless of the BIG EAST Championship Game, the Army-Navy game remains a non-conference matchup on that second Saturday in December.
Bill Wagner (Annapolis Capital): This is for Admiral Miller and Chet can chime in, as well. Obviously for the Naval Academy it’s been important to affiliate with institutions that are like-minded in academics, that’s why you are in the Patriot League. In terms of football membership, are there any concerns about that? Obviously from a recruiting standpoint you want to recruit on a level playing field. You have standards and your conference members have standards, was there any concern with being affiliated with like-minded academic standards and attitudes.
Admiral Miller: Thanks, Bill. I can tell you that the BIG EAST contains like-minded institutions, but it’s a fair question. The Service Academies, as you well know from where you live, our standards are very high and they are not going to be lowered and the school will remain as rigorous as ever. I will also tell you that as I’ve gotten to spend more time with the other Presidents in the BIG EAST, those schools have academic credentials. They may not exactly be the same size, but I think when it comes to what we value in terms of integrity and you heard Coach Niumatalolo talk about it just a moment ago, this is about developing leaders of character and that’s what each of the schools is producing. For us it’s very specific, we are producing leaders for the future of the Navy and Marine Corps. In that regard, we are very like-minded. The schools themselves may look a little different in terms of size, but not in terms of goals, and we feel like this will be a good fit for us.
Gladchuk: Bill, the Supt. has spoken. That’s it.
Dennis Dodd (CBSSports.com): I got on late, excuse me if this has been asked. John, when do you anticipate having a football schedule for 2012.
Marinatto: I’m really not going to be able to comment on specifics in regards to that question at this point.
Dodd: Also, this is for Chet. What is the future of postseason college football if there are no automatic qualifiers in the future?
Gladchuk: I’ll be honest with you, Dennis, I think that would be a better question to ask John. John is very much involved as the commissioner with those discussions and we’ve discussed it with him to some degree. But in all honesty, that topic is a moving target. Postseason play, BCS, AQ, we realize is up for debate, up for analysis. In the meantime we feel very strongly and it’s clear to us that the future of college football is in a conference and that’s our bottom line. There’s strength in numbers, there’s strength in the market, there’s strength in branding, there’s strength in the resources that a conference can bring regardless of the BCS/AQ status.
Dodd: John, do you want to handle that at all?
Marinatto: Obviously, no one has a crystal ball and no one knows what’s going to unfold over the next six months as we come to grips with whatever it is, whatever model it is we are going to employ. I read your tweets on a daily basis along with those from a number of other people. There are a lot of ideas out there, a lot of premises that we would all love to fulfill from an objective standpoint. I will say this about what it was that we set out to accomplish, which was basically to put ourselves into a position to ensure that whatever model got adopted for the future of college football that the BIG EAST was going to be aligned with those that have the ability to compete at the highest level. In so many ways I think the expansion model that we have undertaken and the steps we have taken since November in order to create that model have really solidified our situation in regard to our place nationally in terms of where we stand along with the other conferences, so we are confident no matter what model gets adopted as we move forward we will be in a very solid position.
Kelly Whiteside (USA Today): John, just two questions for you. First, to clarify the $10 million exit fee, does that go in effect immediately for all 10-football schools?
Marinatto: It goes into effect for the current football schools in our conference, because it’s part of our by-laws. Once the schools that we have announced become part of the conference, it goes into effect for them, as well.
Whiteside: So for Navy, it doesn’t go into effect for them until 2015?
Marinatto: That is correct.
Whiteside: My second question is Chet referenced before that this has been discussed for nearly 10 years and I was wondering if you could comment how unusual that length of courtship is given what we’ve seen in the last years in the age of speed dating and schools joining other conferences. If you could just comment on the relationship between the league and Navy over the last decade.
Marinatto: I think, as you’ve mentioned, we kind of live in a microwave generation where things, or the expectations are, that things get done immediately. Over the last decade, I thought about this last night too, Chet, when I was preparing myself for today, over the last decade since I’ve actually been here in the BIG EAST office that it seemed like at least once per year Chet and Kevin Anderson from Army would come up and we would talk about the BIG EAST Conference and the Academies being a part of the BIG EAST Conference. We always kept in touch. We went back and forth through the years with various proposals on how we could create a marriage, because as I mentioned in my opening comments the union between the BIG EAST Conference and the Naval Academy is a marriage our membership has longed for, for many, many years and it just didn’t work over that time but we always kept in constant contact and we made it a point during especially when things were unsettled out there to keep in contact with one another because I think we both felt, Mike Tranghese before me and his relationship with Chet and then over the years since my relationship with Chet that there might come a time where we would make this marriage work. So he’s absolutely correct in the fact that we go back at least 10 years in having discussions on an annual basis about the potential of us coming together at some point, because we always did believe that this was a perfect union. Chet, do you want to comment on that?
Gladchuk: Those are the facts in all honesty. The other thing I really appreciated through the course of those discussions, as open as Michael was and John have always been, is discussing the overall temperature of college football. Navy was building its program. We came from some difficult times in the late ‘90s and transformed a mindset that we were going to become successful with our football program and put the necessary pieces together. There was always a courtesy with the BIG EAST of sharing information, knowing what other institutions were doing, understanding the dynamics of not only just conference affiliation, but the commitments other institutions were making to college football on their campus. The landscape and how it was changing, NCAA legislation coming down the turnpike so to speak. That dialog led us to being able to carefully analyze this opportunity and it was very, very helpful in our being able to come to a conclusion that the timing for affiliation was right at this point.
Niumatalolo: If I could add to that, all of that stuff is fine and dandy but we are the ones that have to play and with my discussions with Chet, if this was to happen at any other time I don’t know if I would be for it. But my analogy is in college sports there is a storm getting ready to come, a hurricane getting ready to come, and those that are in homes don’t really worry about it. But it’s the people that are on the outside looking in that need to find a place of refuge and that’s why we discussed it and why I was right onboard with Chet. It’s been great for us being an Independent, but with the landscape of college football changing, that’s changed. We are out in the open, we are fending for ourselves. We had to find a home and we feel like we found a great home in the BIG EAST for us.
Don Markus (Baltimore Sun): Chet, are there any plans or has it been discussed about expanding the stadium, the size of the stadium?
Gladchuk: Actually, there has been, Don. We have had some dialog with the Admiral and we have talked about it to some degree with the city of Annapolis. But one thing we are very careful about is the aesthetic character of what we call a memorial that happens to be a football stadium. We never want to lose that and also the accommodating infrastructure in the surrounding community is something we are sensitive too. Specific to your question, we have a vision for what we call Phase IV of Navy-Marine Corps, which will include expanded seating, additional hospitality areas, locker rooms will be upgraded and some other amenities that will put us competitively in-line with other BIG EAST institutions as they pertain to recruiting and fan accommodations.
Markus: Do you see these plans coming to fruition in the next few years as you join the league?
Gladchuk: Don, I’m going to start the moment we hang up this telephone.