For the first time he can remember, Tulane Athletic Director Rick Dickson is attending a conference spring meeting at which none of the schools were either coming or going.
“We’re starting to get some traction,” Dickson said from Key Biscayne, Florida, where the American Athletic Conference began its three-day session Wednesday. “That means, as a group, we’re gaining stability and that we will be together for the foreseeable future.”
That includes adding new members as well. Dickson said there is no planned discussion about expansion.
Actually, there was one incoming school at the meeting — Navy, which joins the league as a football-only member this season, but the academy was represented as last year’s meeting as well. The Midshipmen will be in the Western Division, as is Tulane.
The addition of Navy gives the 3-year-old league 12 football members, meaning it will stage its first conference championship game in December. The game will be played at the school with the best conference record.
Dickson said the logistics of the game will be among the topics of discussion along the AAC’s intention to follow the lead of the Power 5 conferences in providing the full cost of attendance for some or all athletes. The estimated cost for Tulane would be $750,000 per year.
“This is an important issue for us,” he said. “We have to find a way to implement things smoothly.
“It’s something we’ve been studying at an institutional level, but now we can look at it a whole from the conference viewpoint.”
Dickson added that the biggest benefit to Tulane from its first year in the AAC has been the increased TV exposure.
In the previous decade while in Conference USA the school appeared on national TV in all sports 23 times. This year alone the number is 47 with more to come in the NCAA baseball tournament this weekend.
“It made a big difference for us in men’s basketball recruiting and put us on a bigger stage in all sports,” he said. “This year has also shown us that we’re in a room full of schools with similar resources so nothing should be out of reach for us.
“Now that we’ve been given this chance, it’s up to us to knuckle down and do something about it.”
Football dates, times set
The regular season-ending game against Tulsa has been moved up a day to Friday, Nov 27. Dickson said the kickoff time and TV network have not been set yet.
The Sept. 19 game against Maine will have a 7 p.m. kickoff and air on ESPN3 while the Oct. 16 game against Houston will have an 8 p.m. kickoff and air on ESPNU.
The switch of the Tulsa game means Tulane will play only three home games on a Saturday — Maine, Central Florida on Oct. 3 and Connecticut on Nov. 7.
Tulane will open the on Sept. 3 at home against Duke.