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August 17, 2010

Tech AD provides answers on several topics concerning Tech athletics

By: Jimmy Robertson

Jim Weaver

Virginia Tech is entering its sixth year as a member of the ACC, and as usual, the department continues to invest for future success. But the landscape of college athletics continues to change and the question remains how that will impact Virginia Tech going forward. We sat down with Tech AD Jim Weaver and posed some questions related to this and other topics.

Q: It’s been a crazy spring and summer in college athletics, with several teams switching conferences (e.g. Nebraska, Colorado, Boise State) and the threat of the Big 12 breaking up. What was your take on that and where do you see conference expansion headed in the future?

JW: “It’s always been rumored that Colorado would have an interest in the Pac-10 because they have recruited California for a long time. I was somewhat surprised at the Nebraska move.

“I think this is it for expansion for the immediate future. Obviously, no one can know for sure. What is the Big 12 going to do? Who are they going to take? Maybe they go after TCU and the Mountain West loses numbers. I think it’s all going to settle down.

“Personally, if four mega-conferences were the objective, I think it should have happened around a meeting table, and all the conferences who were going to comprise those mega-conferences and get everyone taken care of. Obviously, it didn’t happen that way and that tells me it [mega-conferences] wasn’t the objective.”

Q: There were rumors of Virginia Tech being on the SEC’s list if that league were to expand. Was there anything to that? Do you think the ACC is pretty solid as it is?

JW: “To be honest, I don’t think we were ever in the mix. I think a lot of people thought that way when the SEC was talking to Texas A&M. But I don’t think that was the case. It was said later they were looking at Oklahoma and Texas A&M. I did not get a call [from the SEC] about expansion.

“I think the ACC is solid and I thought it was all through the process. Why would the SEC take schools from areas where they already had representation? They have Georgia, South Carolina and Florida, so why take other people from those areas? It doesn’t help drive the revenues.”

Q: The ACC recently agreed to a television deal with ESPN that’s going to bring an additional $6 million in much-needed revenue to the each league member. What were your thoughts on the deal and how will you go about investing that additional revenue?

JW: “I think the ACC staff and our television committee did an outstanding job on the new television contract. There is obviously going to be increased revenue in the distribution per school and I’m pleased about that. In addition, I’m very happy to see that more Olympic sports telecasts will be on, along with more telecasts for women’s basketball.

“I don’t have a plan in place for the revenue simply because we don’t know how the money is going to be distributed – is it going to be front-end loaded or back-end loaded? You can say it’s $6 million, but that’s an average. We might not get that amount in the first year. Many times, these arrangements are back-end loaded. I don’t know what the formula is at this juncture, and that’s not uncommon because the contract doesn’t start until next year. So we’ll have time to work on that, discuss that, and find out how it’s going to be implemented.”

Q: The new football locker room is nearing completion. What is your take on the project and its potential impact?

JW: “It’s something we needed to get done. If you’re going to play in the upper echelon of college football, you’ve got to have your facilities in the upper echelon and that’s what we’ve tried to do. To be honest, Coach Beamer never came to me and said we needed a new locker room. It’s something that, as an administrator and former football coach, I know what needs to be done and we were finally able to get it done.

“One of the things we’ve tried to do when we do a big project is to have other people benefit from it. We’ll be able to take the current football locker room and make it into three locker rooms for Olympic sports, and that’ll be upgrades for those people.”

Q: Speaking of facilities, what is on the horizon?

JW: “The first project I identified when I got here was to build a new field house and Dr. Torgersen gave me permission to work on that. It was the first thing that I saw that needed to be done, but in priority, it wasn’t as important as some of the things we’ve done the last 12 years. We now need to do that and finish that off because we can now have an indoor track [at Rector Field House] next to our outdoor track and we can let other sports have use of the indoor field house in the winter to get ready for their outdoor seasons in the spring. We’re hoping to build it just east of the current football practice fields so everything will be right here almost in a circle.

“We’ve got to raise funds first. But I’m hoping we can get that done in three years. It’s not going to be a difficult facility to construct because it’s a big rectangle with open space, with restrooms and lights. That’s pretty much it.”

Q: What is the latest with head men’s basketball coach Seth Greenberg’s contract extension?

JW: “The contract has been agreed to, but I don’t want to get into the terms just yet. I want to wait until the contract is signed. There is a deferred compensation segment to the contract and the tax laws have changed. Our legal counsel is meeting with a tax attorney who can help structure it in the most advantageous way for Seth. It’s the same with Bud Foster. We need to do an addendum to his contract. There is a letter of agreement that has been signed and is binding. Our legal counsel is working on all that.”

Q: What is your outlook for Virginia Tech athletics, both in the short term and the long term?

JW: “This past year may have been the very best year Virginia Tech has ever had. Why do I say that? Look at football beating Tennessee in the Chick-fil-A Bowl and finishing in the top 10. The basketball team won 25 games, tying the record and getting a bye in the ACC Tournament. Our baseball team was ranked as high as 12th in one poll and went to an NCAA regional. Kelly Cagle [women’s soccer] has done an outstanding job, and this past year, they went to the Sweet 16 and also upset No. 1-ranked North Carolina. The swimming teams were ranked in the top 25 for the first time ever. The wrestling team was ranked and men’s tennis went to the NCAAs. The men’s golf team went to the NCAA regionals. The women’s track team finished fifth at the NCAA outdoor meet and Queen Harrison won two national titles, and the men’s track team finished 10th. That’s an incredible accomplishment.

“We didn’t win one ACC championship, but when you look at the overall competitiveness and our graduation rate was 72 percent … we’re headed in the right direction.

“Facilities-wise, we’re always looking to enhance those in all sports. I’m probably known as a facilities AD and that’s from my background as a coach. You’ve got to be able to recruit. You recruit with three primary ingredients – with facilities, with strong academics and with good people. We happen to have all three right now and I think our future is very, very bright.”