Category Archives: Danielle Donehew

Get Ready For The American

by Categorized: American Athletic Conference, Danielle Donehew, Tonya Cardoza, UConn women's basketball Date:

When it became clear to UConn that its immediate future would not be in the ACC or Big Ten, but as a charter member of the American Athletic Conference, Geno Aurieimma immediately looked for the bright side.

“We told every school [in the conference] this is the way they have to think,” Auriemma said. “There’s an opportunity here. Some other school has the opportunity to do in the next 10-15 years what we’ve done.”

That process begins Dec. 28-29 when the inaugural games in The American are played. UConn’s opener is Dec. 29 at Gampel Pavilion against Cincinnati.

The 10-team league consists of Big East carryovers UConn, Louisville, Rutgers, Cincinnati and South Florida — along with Temple, Houston, SMU, Memphis and Central Florida.

Next season, Louisville moves to the ACC and Rutgers joins the Big Ten. They will be replaced by Tulsa, East Carolina and Tulane.

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Starting Tuesday, It’s Officially Game On For Mohegan Sun And The American

by Categorized: American Athletic Conference, Big East women's basketball, Danielle Donehew, Jose Fernandez, Mitchell Etess, Mohegan Sun Arena, UConn women's basketball, XL Center Date:

On Tuesday morning, Mitchell Etess, chief executive officer of the Mohegan Sun Resort and Casino, convenes his first staff meeting to discuss the promotion and execution of the newest sporting event on his campus.

    The American Athletic Conference’s inaugural postseason women’s basketball tournament will be held at the Mohegan Sun Arena in March 2014.

    For years, Etess had tried to lure the event from Hartford’s XL Center, the host venue since 2004. Not until last year’s breakup of the Big East Conference resulted in the birth of The American’s new conference dynamic was the casino able to prevail for 2014 and likely 2015, although the conference holds the option for the second year.

  South Florida women’s basketball coach Jose Fernandez, the president of the Big East’s coaches association for the last two years, is looking forward to it.

“It [moving] has been something the coaches have wanted for a long time,” Fernandez said. “For the last four years we have asked the athletic directors to consider the Mohegan Sun.

“Look, Hartford treated the Big East very, very well over the last nine years. But we thought it was in our best interest as a league [to move]. There were multiple places we could have considered, but it would have been very difficult to ignore that Connecticut possesses an incredible amount of women’s basketball fans.

 “Mohegan was the best option for us now. It’s going to be great. It’s the home of a WNBA team [the Connecticut Sun]. It’s a destination that fans want to visit and enjoy. It was a logical move.”

   The moving delay brought about by the stern objections of many of the presidents representing the old Big East, the majority of them Catholic institutions who felt the casino setting was unsavory.

 “From a conference perspective, the idea is to represent the goals and aspirations of the membership as a whole,” said Danielle Donehew, the American’s associate commissioner for women’s basketball, who served in the same position for the former Big East.

  “The discussion was an important one. The event is one of the major assets we manage for the membership. Discussion about [where to host] needs to happen every few years to make sure membership is happy with the way things are going and offer the chance to continue or change things.

“Our past group was not comfortable with considering a casino site, but the new members at the table know that other national conferences are already hosting at casino sites. It’s a different time now and our members have now decided it was a decision [to move to Mohegan] they were comfortable making.”

   The American coaches and athletic directors feel the Mohegan Sun, with its wealth of on-site housing and entertainment options, will give more fans incentive to travel.

   Conference demographic studies show few out-of-state fans, outside of close family, traditionally traveled to Hartford despite aggressive marketing initiatives.

  “We also provide other ancillary benefits that help make all the events we have here successful; free parking, easy access to restaurants and so forth,” Etess said. “I would think The American is thinking, ‘We can enhance our revenue by selling more tickets and reduce our overhead because it’s cheaper to operate here [than in Hartford].”

  But the decision also came down to money – big money. According to sources, the old Big East wasn’t making enough of it in Hartford.

“We have always felt, even from the previous time when we weren’t accepted by the Big East, that it was unlikely the XL Center could have provided a better financial package than us,” Etess said.

 Etess would not say what specific financial incentives were offered to The American. But its arena’s overhead is relatively small; its operating company owns the arena and employs all the security and staff that cares and protects it.  The XL Center relies on union employees and comparatively expensive city police and fire protection.

  The Mohegan Sun also does not charge for patron parking. Sites around Hartford were charging up to $15 a day, almost matching the package ticket price ($99) the Big East was charging for the entire five-day tournament.

  The casino can also assist The American promote with its multi-million advertising and marketing initiatives.

  “I think the teams [in the American] are going to find fans interested in coming here,” Etess said. “We don’t make bad [financial] decisions for us and it [the casino’s deal] was appealing to them. I would call it “competitive.”

 “We don’t look at this as we would a convention. We look at this as a major event.”

   The effort of the XL Center to retain the tournament was somewhat hampered by the timing of the shift in management to Global Spectrum, which was awarded control of the building and Rentschler Field in February. The company is still in the process of setting up shop.

   “As a result, it was difficult for us to try to project what our expenses might be, or to even to present an accurate proposal for consideration,” said Chris Lawrence, who will manage XL Center for Global. “We put an aggressive bid together and The American, sensing they were in a little bit of a transition period as well, made the decision to try something new and see how it works out.

 “When the contract comes around again we’ll certainly be as aggressive as we possibly can to bring the women and the men. We couldn’t worry about that. Our focus was entirely on what Hartford had to offer and we feel it has a lot to offer.”

  Lawrence also wouldn’t specify what the XL Center was charging or would charge the conference to hold the event. But public records about what UConn pays to operate at the XL Center and Rentlschler provide a window to the bottom line.

  For men’s and women’s basketball games last season, UConn paid AEG Management $48,000 per event, but a sliding scale was in place for that would have increased the rental to $55,000 had UConn cut back its schedule of Hartford games. For football, the cost was $170,000 per game.

  “What’s been misconstrued is there is a tremendous economic benefit to having the tournament [at Mohegan] that just doesn’t benefit us,” Etess said. “The prosperity and money the tournament brought to Hartford will bring the same to businesses that surround us.

  “Not everyone will stay here [at the Mohegan Sun hotel]. We don’t have enough rooms. And not everyone wants to stay here. Hotels and restaurants in this county will be doing big business because of the tournament.

 “When I hear the loss of the tournament is costing Hartford something like $2 million, I understand that. But it’s not revenue that is leaving the state. It’s far better the tournament is here than in Memphis or elsewhere.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One Person’s View Of The Future Of Women’s College Basketball

by Categorized: Anucha Browne, Danielle Donehew, USA Basketball, Val Ackerman, WBCA Date:

I spent the majority of last week preparing a story that digs a little deeper into the specifics of Val Ackerman’s “White Paper” which takes a wide-angle view of women’s college basketball.

Here is the story. Big changes may be coming – and some as soon as this season – with the NCAA women’s basketball tournament.

The American Way: Follow The Money To Mohegan Sun

by Categorized: 2013 Big East Tournament, American Athletic Conference, Danielle Donehew, Jeff Walz, Jose Fernandez, Louisville women's basketball, Mohegan Sun Arena, UConn women's basketball, WNBA Date:

   More information is beginning to emerge regarding the decision of The American Athletic Conference to hold its first women’s basketball tournament at the Mohegan Sun Arena.

  You’ll recall, especially if you enjoyed dining near the XL Center in Hartford, that the Big East conducted the tournament there for the last nine years.

  But in March 2014, and maybe March 2015, it will be played at the home of the WNBA’s Connecticut Sun.

 Why did it leave Hartford? Well, primarily because of money.

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No Travel Partners For The American This Season

by Categorized: American Athletic Conference, Danielle Donehew, UConn women's basketball Date:

  In the course of commeneting today on The American’s decision to host its first women’s basketball tournament at the Mohegan Sun, Danielle Donehew, associate commissioner of the conference, reiterated the 10-team conference will play an 18-game league schedule in 2013-14. Each team will play the other home and away.

   However, the league has decided not to pair the teams into travel partners for 2014, a move some expected to make things somewhat easier for the student-athletes who will be shuttled as far as Texas and South Florida for games.

  “Distance and location will definitely be taken into consideration as we formulate the schedule,” Donehew said.

 

 

Big East’s Future Could Impact An XL Center Staple

by Categorized: 2012 Big East tournament, ACC, Big East women's basketball, Chuck Steedman, Danielle Donehew, UConn women's basketball, XL Center Date:

While the Big East waits for its seven catholic institutions to decide their future, the conference is busying itself planning for any contingency that may result – including where future conference women’s basketball tournaments will be played after this season.

Danielle Donehew, associate commissioner of the Big East for women’s basketball, says the conference office is waiting just like everyone else for a resolution, buti is not inactive as it does.

“Everything is on the table now, as far as timing and pending litigation of some of our members is concerned,” Donehew said. “That requires to us to pay attention to what may happen, the timing of it all, in terms of making a decision for the future of our sport.”

The Catholic 7 have retained a lawyer and consultant to help it decide what its options are. There’s a possibility the schools could secede and start play in 2013-14, either in a newly named league or one that bears the conference name.

Donehew says the Big East office staff has managed to stay focused on working at if all will be status quo.

“I’ve been extremely impressed with our staff. It’s a tremendous group, talented and committed to the league,” Donehew said. “Many of them have worked here for more than 15 years. It’s been encouraging for someone like me, just in my fourth year, to see.

“And we have taken the approach that we will work with the information we’re given and think outside the box by preparing for any scenario that might happen. We’ve developed a number of contingency plans and strategies which has provided us solid exercises for preparedness.

“There are many possibilities we will be ready when something happens.”

With SMU, Temple, Central Florida, Houston and Memphis, perhaps even Tulane, scheduled to join UConn, Cincinnati and South Florida as basketball schools, the Big East could have as many as 17 or 18 teams or as few as eight next season, depending on the Catholic 7 and Louisville and Notre Dame, which have not officially announced when they will join the ACC.

“We committed, as a conference last year to an 18-year conference schedule [in 2013-14],” Donehew said.

Still, one thinks if a mass exodus left the conference with just eight or nine teams next season, the conference would need to reconsider the format or else be faced with a logistically difficult task.

The Big East currently plays a 16-game conference schedule in women’s basketball.

The Big East tournament, which has been played at the XL Center since 2004, is in the final year of a two-year deal. No one knows what the future of the event will be.

“The XL Center is in its own [managerial] bid process,” Donehew said. “AEG Management is trying to retain its management of the facility. So once that decision is made, then we can do what we need to do as a conference to take into account what our membership wants for what’s best for the future.”

Donehew has had a close working relationship with AEG during her tenure. But she knows change in XL Center management, and a change in league membership, could result in the tournament being moved to a new location.

“As the membership continues to change, we’ll have different people at the table [league members] and we will be able to continue to work on what to do about the championship. We’ll see what the right choice might be.”

 

The Future Of Big East Scheduling

by Categorized: 2012 Big East tournament, Big East women's basketball, Danielle Donehew, XL Center Date:

Big East basketball is still very much in flux – and we don’t mean just because of the statistically offensive [and we don't mean scoring] Georgetown-West Virginia semifinal Sunday afternoon.

The conferemce awaits the arrival of Central Florida, SMU, Houston and Memphis, the possible addition of Temple and the date when Syracuse and Pittsburgh will be allowed to join the ACC.

And that means its conference and non-conference schedule slots are just as undecided as the league prepares for next season and beyond.

“Both pieces of the schedule are important for all of our teams,” said Danielle Donehew, the Big East’s associate commissioner for women’s basketball. “For non-conference purposes, we want to make sure our teams schedule strong opponents with strong strength of schedules and RPI so we can take advantage of those games by getting some wins. That way, when we play within conference, we can beat each other up and it will be OK.” Continue reading