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By: CUBuffs.com
CU Athletic Director Mike Bohn (left) and veteran KOA radio announcer Larry Zimmer
Brooks: CU Working On 'Either-Or' Scheduling Scenarios
Release: July 19, 2010
By: B.G. Brooks, Contributing Editor
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WINDSOR - With exit and entry details possibly requiring more time to finalize than originally expected, the University of Colorado is building scenarios for a departure from the Big 12 Conference in 2011 as well as one in 2012 if the earlier exit can't be accomplished.

"We'll be prepared with a significant change in our schedule for 2011 in the event we're in the Pac-10, and we'll be prepared for a schedule in the event we're (still) in the Big 12," Athletic Director Mike Bohn said Monday at the conclusion of the 16th Count Casotti Classic, a CU-sponsored golf outing at the Pelican Lakes Golf and Country Club.

Bohn said there is "a big swing there . . . it'll be just whichever one we can get put together when we have our marching orders from our chancellor and our campus leadership team that's working on that.

"It's a challenge but that's why we've been very, very busy this summer. We've been focused on trying to be prepared for both scenarios."

Utah, which is leaving the Mountain West Conference to join the Pacific-10 Conference, hopes to begin football competition in its new league in 2011 - the same season Nebraska wants to open play in the Big Ten. A 2011 start likely would be the best-case scenario for CU, the Big 12 and the Pac-10, but particulars - including any monies owed the Big 12 by CU - are yet to be resolved.

"We have an idea of a range, but it's inappropriate to comment and have the wrong number out there and have that viewed by either league representatives as some type of posturing as we're working through that process," Bohn said. "It's complex, extremely complex."

He said a "financing model" associated with Pac-10 membership could be "part of the solution, but again that's unresolved as well . . . it's going to take us some time to get that right."

Bohn and Utah Athletic Director Dr. Chris Hill will attend a Pac-10 ADs meeting on July 30 at the Rose Bowl. More details associated with their schools' impending dates for Pac-10 competition could be forthcoming then, although Bohn has tempered his hopes in that regard.

Earlier this summer, he said he believed that key element of the conference switch could be resolved by the end of July. But Monday, he called that "just a personal goal" and conceded he might have been overly optimistic.

A "soft" drop-dead date for deciding those issues has been mentioned, but Bohn noted he hasn't had recent contact with the Big 12 leadership mainly because Commissioner Dan Beebe has been out of his office.

"I think I have an idea of where the Pac-10 would like to be, but in fairness to the Big 12, I think I have to wait (to disclose the date)," Bohn said.

Beebe and the Big 12 staff "could not be more professional, more engaging and more focused on this," Bohn said. "They've been terrific (in) ensuring that our last year or years in the conference are well-coordinated."

Bohn said he maintains confidence that the timing issues surrounding CU's departure for the Pac-10 will be handled smoothly.

In the meantime, CU is trying to maintain flexibility with its football scheduling for 2011 and 2012. Two future Pac-10 opponents already appear on CU's schedule over the next three seasons. A return game with California - the Buffs visit Berkeley on Sept. 11 - is scheduled for Sept. 10, 2011 in Boulder and a two-year home-and-home series with Utah is set for 2012-13.

CU is working around those games, as well as the Buffs' 2011 trip to Hawaii. Regardless of when the conference switch takes place, Bohn said CU is committed to opening the 2011 season at Hawaii (Sept. 3). Plus, the island trip gives CU the flexibility of adding a 13th football game in 2011 if necessary.

"We don't know how many league games we're playing - in either league," Bohn said.

But he is a proponent of playing nine conference games in the Pac-10 - a scheduling model that seems agreeable to most of the league's athletic directors.

"There is some positive traction associated with a nine-game schedule," Bohn said. "That's a big challenge for us because we're building scenarios for both leagues across the board in all sports. But it's one we're committed to putting together."

Also still to be determined by the Pac-10 leadership and membership are how or if the 12-team league will work a divisional format and if it will hold a championship football game.

"I know our fans and media are hungry to know what division we're in, who we're playing, who's our rival, how many basketball games, how many football games," Bohn said, adding that ironing out those details simply isn't possible yet. 

Bohn characterized conversations among the Pac-10 ADs on a number of possible divisional alignment scenarios as personable and informative. "It's really refreshing to be part of that type of exercise," he said.

Like most of his Pac-10 peers, Bohn is in favor of playing one of the Southern California schools - USC or UCLA - every season. CU has a strong alumni base in Southern California and also heavily recruits that area.

PROFITABLE YEAR, SMALLER BUDGET: Bohn said his department ended the last fiscal year with a profit, but his budget for the new fiscal year likely will be smaller. Last year's athletic department budget was about $47 million.

"We closed the books with a profit, which is obviously very important to us," he said. "I really have to credit our coaches and our staff for doing a great job of staying within their budgets. But more importantly, our donors, corporate sponsors and season-ticket holders helped make that possible, too. That was a very positive end for a very challenging year in many, many ways for us."

Bohn said the 2010-11 budget still is being "pulled together . . . we had a couple of late issues that we were dealing with. . . . we don't have a final number to announce what our budget will be this year, but it'll probably be down a little bit from last year."

Bohn said some "strategic cuts" continue to be made in the program to cope with on-going fiscal challenges, "But ending the fiscal year with a profit is a significant accomplishment."

SEASON TICKET UPDATE: Season ticket sales for the 2010 football season have dropped slightly compared to mid-July 2009, but CU athletic department officials remain hopeful of a sales uptick that usually occurs at month's end and runs through August. The biggest reason offered ticket office personnel by fans choosing not to renew season tickets was cost, Bohn said.

Tom McGann, director of game management and operations, said 18,152 season tickets for 2010 have been sold to the public - about 1,000 below the 2009 total at this time last summer. The current total reaches 20,352 when allotments "for various constituencies" is added, McGann said. That number for 2009 was 22,020.

The 2010 season-ticket total is expected to reach at least 30,000 when students return for the fall semester. CU put 12,000 student tickets on sale this spring during registration for fall classes. Incoming students are able to purchase season football tickets when they register and obtain a Buff Card number.

With Folsom Field seating 53,613, McGann said the school will be "trying to move about 20,000 tickets every (home) game - which is doable. We're probably down a little bit (overall), but I would say from four years ago, we're way up.

"You have to remember (in 2006) in our season ticket number was just over 15,000. So in the ebb and flow of the ticket world, we're kind of right in the middle. We're not at our high, but we're above our low."

In 2009, CU averaged over 50,000 (50,088, six games) for the 14th time in school history. The Buffs remained the second-largest per game draw in the state, trailing only the Denver Broncos.

McGann said he still senses "a lot of passion out there among our supporters. Every year we see (some attrition) . . . we're always constantly rebuilding the season ticket model. There's a lot of passion for Colorado football (but) getting people to buy early is always the problem - especially in this economy.

"Right now, not many people are thinking football. As the season approaches, they say, 'Oh, my gosh, it's here.'"

Historically, said Bohn, "Our fans and season ticket holders have showed some attrition, then a rebound as camps across the NFL open and college football excitement grows. We certainly anticipate that again."

Added Will Simpson, director of ticket operations, "In August, in the ticket world, we call that 'go time.'"

Bohn said he expects Folsom Field's 41 suites (one suite is a double) to sell out while a slight attrition rate that matches the rest of the stadium is expected in the sale of Folsom's 1,903 East side club seats and the 951 Flatirons seats on the stadium's West side.

"Right now, we're down about 12-18 percent, but we're hoping to make that up," Bohn said. "That's not good for us (but) we still anticipate an opportunity for an uptick in ticket sales down the stretch."

A slight bump in ticket sales was experienced in June when CU's acceptance of an invitation to join the Pac-10 was announced, Bohn said, adding that the increase was noted "in the premium seat area and virtually every category in the stadium.

"It's not significant but it's certainly an uptick, and that is appreciated. It's something that we think is an indication of the excitement people have for the long-term excitement associated with the conference move."

CU's 2010 schedule features games in Folsom Field against Hawaii (Sept. 18), Georgia (Oct. 2), Baylor (Oct. 16), Texas Tech (Oct. 23), Iowa State (Nov. 13) and Kansas State (Nov. 20). The Buffs open against Colorado State on Sept. 4 at Denver's Invesco Field.

NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP PACKAGE: CU will honor the 20th anniversary of the 1990 consensus national championship team on the weekend Georgia visits (Oct. 1-2). That game will be part of a National Championship Package that also includes tickets for the Hawaii and K-State games.

Season-ticket holders, including suite and club seat ticket holders, can purchase single-game Georgia tickets, but Bohn said CU does not anticipate a large number of single tickets being available. The Southeastern Conference school asked for 9,000 tickets but was given 5,000, according to Bohn.

However, a "three-pack" (Hawaii, Georgia and K-State) is being offered, starting at $130, "exclusively to our fans, starting on July 26 through August 1," Bohn said. On Aug. 2, the National Championship Package will go on sale to the general public.

"We want to reward our fans who have been good to us, our former season ticket holders . . . people that have bought tickets before. We want Buffs fans to have the first access to that," Bohn said.

At the home opener against Hawaii, former Buffs defensive end Alfred Williams will be honored for his upcoming induction into the National Football Foundation College Football Hall of Fame.

The K-State game could be CU's final Big 12 home game if entry into the Pac-10 is approved for the 2011 football season. In any event, the game against the Wildcats will mark Senior Day for the 2010 Buffs.

Former season ticket holders can get more details concerning the National Championship Package "three pack" at CUtix@Colorado.EDU.

CEC CONSTRUCTION UPDATE: Four "fly-away" baskets have been installed - two on each side - of the basketball court at the Coors Events Center. Tests currently are being conducted for the installation of the same type of baskets at each end of the court for game-day purposes.

"We believe that helps our sidelines . . . our intimacy on the end lines," Bohn said.

Also, video boards adjacent to the CEC scoreboards and ribbon boards are scheduled to be up by the end of this month or the first of August. New facades for concession stands and additional graphics inside the arena also are planned for the upcoming season.

"The arena is going to appear to our fans to be, in essence, brand new . . . it's going to be a lot of fun," Bohn said. "We're really excited about that."

He said construction of the basketball/volleyball practice facility alongside the CEC "is on target." Completion of the $10.8 million project is scheduled for August 2011.

TREE IT UP: Six or seven pine trees growing on the site of the new basketball/volleyball facility have been moved elsewhere on campus.

"We've gone out of our way to save as many trees as possible," McGann said. "It helps beautify campus; you don't get mature trees like that very often. Let's respect them."

Mature trees such as the ones moved are worth "anywhere from $15,000 to $30,000," he said, adding that relocating the trees is best done in the spring or fall and that tree specialists have made monthly trips to campus to give the transplanted trees vitamins to ensure their survival.

BZDELIK BUYOUT RESOLUTION: Former men's basketball coach Jeff Bzdelik's contract with CU mandated a $500,000 buyout when he left this spring for Wake Forest.

Asked the status of CU's collection of that buyout, Bohn answered, "We do not have any outstanding challenges or issues associated with Jeff Bzdelik's contract."

Contact: BG.Brooks@Colorado.EDU

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