February 2021

Collegiate Consulting Assists the Texas 4

In mid-January, the Western Athletic Conference (WAC) announced the formation of an FCS league to begin play in 2021 and the addition of five new member-institutions. Over the past six months, Collegiate Consulting worked with each of the four Southland schools that joined the WAC (Abilene Christian, Lamar, Sam Houston State and Stephen F. Austin). The projects entailed comprehensive benchmarking analyses and conference realignment assessments.

During this process, Collegiate Consulting assessed sports sponsorship, travel considerations, conference competitiveness, institutional fit, athletic expenses (scholarships, operating budgets, staffing) and athletic sources of revenue. With current Texas members – Tarleton State University and the University of Texas–Rio Grande Valley – Collegiate Consulting ascertained the WAC and a Texas-centric division would provide a viable solution for both institutions. Since the completion of our studies, all four of the institutions have received membership offers from the WAC.

Collegiate Consulting has previous experience with the institutions, having conducted a FBS Feasibility Study for Sam Houston State in 2012; an Operational Review and Strategic Plan for UTRGV in 2015 and Tarleton State’s Division I Feasibility Study in 2018.

The four schools have experienced significant success within the Southland Conference. Most notably, Stephen F. Austin has won 15 Southland women’s basketball tournaments since 1981. The four schools have a total of 12 Southland men’s basketball tournament championships since 1981. They also share eight baseball championships and five in softball.

Additional Projects

    After an 18-month partnership, the WAC announced the addition of the Texas 4, as well as the return of football. Collegiate Consulting partnered with and assisted the Texas 4 with their move to the WAC. In addition, we have worked with 10 WAC members on 17 projects in the last nine years.

Lindenwood Transitioning Hockey to Division I

Lindenwood University, located in Saint Charles, Mo., recently announced it will move their men’s hockey program to NCAA Division I in 2022-23. In May 2018, Collegiate Consulting, as part of a partnership with the National Hockey League (NHL), National Hockey League Players Association (NHLPA) and College Hockey Inc., completed a comprehensive hockey feasibility study for Lindenwood.
The study recommended a three-to-four year ramp up with a focus on conference membership in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA). The projected annual budget for the program ranged between $1.4 – $1.6 million, which included 18 scholarships and three-person coaching staff. The men’s program would play at the 2,500-seat Centene Community Ice Center, which opened in Sept. 2019. The men’s program would join the women’s team at the Division I level.
The Division II ACHA team has experienced distinctive success in recent history; the team appeared in six title games, winning three, in the last 12 years. Lindenwood could also benefit from being one of the few Division I Hockey programs in the Midwest, as Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Iowa do not have an institution that sponsors NCAA Division I hockey.
Currently, there are 35 institutions in the country that have Division I women’s hockey, and 60 institutions with a Division I men’s hockey program. In total, these teams are divided into 10 conferences.
Collegiate Consulting completed Lindenwood’s Hockey Feasibility Study (with support from the St. Louis Blues) along with studies for Oakland University (Detroit Red Wings), University of Illinois (Chicago Black Hawks) and two other institutions. In addition, Collegiate Consulting has completed 20 hockey projects, including Simon Fraser, Bemidji State, Utica, Alabama-Huntsville and Stonehill.

Quick Bytes

  • The Division I Competition Oversight Committee consolidated locations for 2021 women’s volleyball, bowling and ice hockey national championships; additionally, contingency plans for the 2020-21 DI winter and spring championships (other than basketball) were approved
  • Federal Lobbying by the NCAA
    • The Power Five conferences and the NCAA spent 2020 lobbying Congress toward legislation that would create a uniform standard for athletes earning money from their, name, image and likeness (NIL) while largely maintaining the status quo of amateurism in college sports.
    • The Power Five spent a total of $1.73 million, with each league hiring its own dedicated firm and the five leagues giving $40,000 apiece to two firms — one Republican and one Democratic.
    • The NCAA had a lobbying budget of $480,000, bringing the total spent by the leagues and the NCAA to $2.21 million.
  • Citing low participation numbers among member schools, the NCAA has canceled its Division III winter championships. 
  • Due to COVID-19, most of the cuts that have been made have been made in sports information and communications. Check out the average number of creatives staffers cut per conference institution.

What's The Word?

As times continue to change in college athletics, we continue to see changes in the types of studies we are doing.  At this time last year, we worked with seven our our partners on strategic plans. Now, almost all of our projects are made up of Feasibility Studies and Conference Membership Studies. As we have heard from our partners and sources in the industry, there has been a lot of talk of movement – across the country at all levels.

We have anticipated this change since we began working with the WAC 18 months ago. Since the announcement at the beginning of the month, we have seen many institutions reach out and capitalize on this market.

In last six months of 2020, we worked on 11 Feasibility Studies, 15 Conference Membership Studies and two Reclassification Studies. We expect this pattern to continue for at least the first six months of 2021.

Collegiate Consulting Twitter Growth

Since November 2020, we have seen a significant amount of growth in our Twitter following and engagement. We have loved connecting with our previous and potential clients on this platform.

Unfortunately, at the beginning of this week we were hacked and no longer have access to our Twitter account. We are working to solve this problem! We are looking forward to logging back into our Twitter to continue our dialogue.


Russell Wright to Appear on Extra Points Podcast

Keep an eye – and an ear – out for Collegiate Consulting Managing Director Russell Wright’s Q&A on Extra Points with Matt Brown’s podcast. Anticipated release is Friday, Feb. 19.

Managing Director
Russell Wright
Collegiate Consulting

1040 Grant St SE, Atlanta
GA 30315 United States