Thursday, April 1, 1999

Bonnie Signs up for Five More Years

Wednesday afternoon, just hours before the women's basketball rally at Cassell Coliseum was slated to start, Tech held a press conference and announced that Bonnie Henrickson had signed a five-year contract extension and will stay on as Tech's head coach through (at least) the 2004 season.  As a sidebar, Bonnie talked with national champion Purdue on Tuesday, but if they were offering, it wasn't enough to pull her out of Blacksburg.

The fiscal numbers, which were not included in the press release on the official Tech site, are eyebrow raisers.  Bonnie gets a package similar in magnitude to that of new men's coach Ricky Stokes, and it totals up to about $200,000 per year, which means that Bonnie stands to make a cool million over the next five years.

There's no doubt she's worth it.  In a year in which the men's team was floundering, the performance of the women's team and the popularity of its coach and players dominated the local sports pages and kept a positive impression of Tech in the public eye during the months of January-March.

Women's basketball isn't a big money maker, and as a matter of fact, is a money loser.  Expenses run in the $750,000 range, whereas revenue, even for an NCAA team like Tech, only totals in the neighborhood of a couple hundred thousand at best.

But this year, Tech's gate revenue went from something like $8,000 the previous year to nearly $100,000.  The Hokies made it to the Sweet 16, which no doubt brought in some bucks, and the NCAA sub-regional that was held in Cassell made at least several dozen grand more, as well.  So Bonnie brings in the bucks, relatively speaking, and it's only fitting that she should be rewarded monetarily.

She's already got everything else - great players, a great place to play, and an enthusiastic fan base.  Now she's got the bucks, and Tech fans have the knowledge that for the next five years, at least, the Hokie women's team will continue to rock the Cassell with Bonnie Ball.


Big East Rumors Hit the Mainstream Media

Monday, on the very day that I ragged on The Roanoke Times for not reporting on the Big East conference membership rumors, Jack Bogaczyk came out with an article that covered the subject bigger and better than The Richmond Times-Dispatch had the day before - Tech's role in Big East may expand, Monday, March 29th.

This takes the "Tech to the Big East soon" rumors from mere message board fodder and drags them out into the light of day.  It's hard to say if this scenario is going to come true, but I will tell you that all of the behind-the-scenes talk continues to be positive.  Then again, that's worth less than Mike Tranghese's brain would fetch on the open market (so, how many pieces can you divide a penny up into, and wouldn't that still be too much?).

It's interesting how calm we can all be as the rumors build that our long-time dream of all-sports conference membership may finally come true.   Perhaps it's because we've wanted to belong to an all-sports conference for so long, that we've forgotten what it's like to think of it as anything other than a pipe dream.

Or perhaps we're too smart to get worked up, having been burned in the past.  Or perhaps now that we've been looking at the Big East Conference up close for six years, we've come to know it, warts and all, and we realize it's not the best-run conference in the world.  Or perhaps we understand that if we do make it in, we'll be rubbing elbows with a number of schools that didn't want us in.

Whatever.  I'll believe it when I see it.

The single most important sentence in Bogaczyk's article is this one:

To gain admission, the Hokies would need nine of 13 votes. That means two among Notre Dame, Seton Hall, Georgetown, Providence, St. John's and Villanova must give Tech the nod.

Okay, it's two sentences.  So sue me.

Message board posters have been racking their brains, trying to figure out which two schools will lean Tech's way.  Popular opinion seems to think that one school will be Villanova, who, if I remember correctly, has a pretty decent football team and perhaps dreams of going Division 1-A some day.

The other school would be ... who?  I can't see it being Seton Hall or Providence, and I think St. John's voted against us last time (but provided the swing vote that got WVU and Rutgers in, if what I read on the message board was correct).  So that leaves Notre Dame and Georgetown.

Notre Dame?  I don't know.  I'm sure the Irish aren't interested in acknowledging our existence, but you never know.  They're from such a different world that I can't predict what they'll do, anyway.  And who knows, maybe they'll vote yes because they want a shot at revenge for the 1973 NIT.

Georgetown is said to be a more likely option than before, because John Thompson, who cast a very big shadow over that school, is gone now, and Thompson was opposed to Tech's admission.  So maybe G-Town will come to their senses.

That's all guesswork.  Perhaps a more likely scenario is that a mass eruption of common sense will occur, and more than one of the schools in question will come around and realize that a conference that includes Virginia Tech for all sports is a stronger conference that is more likely to hold together.

Yeah, right.  Such "eruptions of common sense" only occur when the numbers add up, because it always comes back to money.

One popular theory holds that Tech will make revenue-sharing concessions, at least temporarily, in order to make our sudden entrance, and the resulting revenue-sharing dilution, a little more palatable to the current schools.  That sounds like one reasonable possibility, and it's one I'm in favor of, as long as we don't give too much away.

Another possibility, and it's one I've privately thought the conference should consider for a long time, is to share part of the football money with the basketball schools, to shore up any revenue loss they might suffer from the addition of yet another team to an already-large conference.  I'll admit that I've never really thought that one through, so don't roast me if it's a dumb idea.

In any event, with the talk that occurred at the Final Four, it's one more piece of evidence that something is going to happen soon, one way or the other.


HokieCentral Members Only Note

Today - and the next few days - promises to be a harrowing day here at HokieCentral.  As of today, for the first time, some Members Only username and password combinations are going to start expiring.  For everyone who signed up during the first three months of 1998, you were given a username and password combination that expires today.  That includes approximately 200 people.

I was able to get to most of you and notify you that it was time to renew, and many of you did, but I'm sure that there are a bunch of you out there who didn't know, didn't renew, or had no idea your username and password were about to expire, and are about to get surprised.

One request:  If your username and password don't work, and/or you're not sure of your membership status, and you need to email me for help, please do the following:  tell me your full name, what your username and password are that you were trying, and EXACTLY what happens when you try to log on to Members Only.

Please don't send me an email that says, "Will, I can't get into Members Only - what's wrong?" without identifying yourself, what you're trying, and what results you're getting.  It's so much faster to help you if you give me the information I need.


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