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College Football Playoff Foundation Goes the Extra Yard for Teachers

Teachers were celebrated and recognized during the weekend of the 2018 CFP National Championship.

Adam White

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The EYFT bus was just one of the many activations aimed at raising money for teachers. (Photo via the CFP)

Amongst the fanfare of the College Football Playoff National Championship, the College Football Playoff (CFP) Foundation throws its own party centered around supporting teachers and education through its Extra Yard for Teachers platform.

The Experience

Teachers had the opportunity to be on the field during the National Anthem (Photo via the CFP)

Over the course of the weekend leading up to the national championship game, teachers found themselves invited to immerse in activities hosted by the CFP Foundation that ranged from a 5K run to an all-day “teachers only” lounge that allowed them to kick back, relax and learn some new skills.

Outside of celebrating the teaching profession through various events, the CFP Foundation also partners with the National Teacher of the Year Program, run by the Council of Chief School Officers, to host an elite group of teachers during championship weekend through the Teacher of the Year Championship Experience presented by Dr Pepper. This group is comprised of the State Teacher of the Year from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, the Department of Defense Education Activity and the territories.

“Recognizing teachers for their commitment to their students is something that needs to happen every day,” said CFP Foundation Executive Director Britton Banowsky. “We are honored to be able to recognize the very best in the profession on one of the biggest stages in sports. It sends a powerful message.”

“One of the lasting and most profound gifts of the Teacher of the Year Championship Experience is the opportunity to show students that teachers, the teaching profession, and life-long learning are worthy of the spotlight at our most celebrated national events,” said James Harris, the 2017 Alaska State Teacher of the Year. “By sharing this experience with me, my students have new reasons to view their teachers and their own learning journeys as heroic.”

At each CFP and CFP Foundation event throughout the weekend, moments were created to recognize the State Teachers of the Year and honor the teaching profession.

The Activations

Kirk Herbstreit helping raise $500,000. (Photo via Karl L. Moore)

To bring the Extra Yard for Teachers (EYFT) mission to life, the CFP Foundation hosts the EYFT Lounge, EYFT Summit, Extra Yard 5K, Taste of the Championship and partners with ESPN on the EYFT Bus activation within CFP’s Playoff Fan Central.

Starting on Saturday, Jan. 6, the CFP Foundation hosted the teacher-centric EYFT Summit and EYFT Lounge at the Georgia World Congress Center. The EYFT Lounge drew in more than 1,500 visitors by offering over 50 activities for teachers and their families. These activities included lesson planning workshops, massages and giveaways courtesy of DonorsChoose.org and School Specialty. In the afternoon, the EYFT Summit was attended by more than 800 educators for a series of gripping, wide-ranging presentations and performances focused on the teaching profession.

On Sunday, Jan. 7, the CFP Foundation put on two public-facing events in order to continue to elevate the teaching profession to the hoards of college football fans that had invaded the city. Although the temperatures in Atlanta were in the teens Sunday morning, a record 1,565 participants walked and ran the Extra Yard 5K, and the overall male and female race winners each won two tickets to the national championship game. That evening, the Taste of the Championship brought over 25 chefs to the Georgia Aquarium for a night of sampling gourmet food and drink. Both events recognized the State Teachers of the Year in unique ways, and proceeds from the events benefit EYFT.

Fans were also able to get in on the action at the CFP Foundation and ESPN joint EYFT Bus activation inside Playoff Fan Central starting on Saturday, Jan. 6, and continuing until just hours before the national championship game on Monday, Jan. 8. An interactive carnival style game, the bus’s windows went up and down as fans attempted to throw footballs through the windows. Each football that was successfully thrown into the bus /equaled $1 towards Atlanta Public Schools (APS). In all, over $10,000 was raised for APS teachers and students.

“All of the CFP Foundation’s energy is focused on leveraging college football to benefit teachers,” said Banowsky. “During championship week, we have multiple events that not only compliment the game, but also are a big win for teachers.”

Game day, Monday, Jan. 8, was chalked full of great moments. Smithfield Foods Foundation donated $500,000 to the CFP Foundation as part of the Eckrich Million Dollar Challenge after ESPN analyst – and former college quarterback – Kirk Herbstreit, threw a football through the target 20 yards away on his third attempt. The culmination of championship weekend took place at the 2018 CFP National Championship in Mercedes-Benz Stadium as the State Teachers of the Year were honored on-field prior to kickoff in front of 77,430 attendees.

“It was incredible to be recognized in that way,” said Jennifer Wise of South Carolina. “The game was unbelievable and standing on the field for the national anthem is an experience I will forever cherish.”

The Impact

It was a weekend full of smiles. (Photo via Karl L. Moore)

The CFP Foundation was able to make a significant impact on teachers, students and schools in the Atlanta area, especially through the partnership with the Atlanta Football Host Committee who poured $1 million worth of resources into support education in the city through Extra Yard for Teachers.

While championship weekend encompasses many different events and activities, it all comes back to celebrating teachers and the work they have done. For Kate McCann, the 2017 Vermont State Teacher of the Year, the experience was like nothing else she has ever been a part of.

“In Vermont, there is a lot less fanfare around the naming of the Teacher of the Year. There are no invitations to serve on state committees, no big check, no car to drive, not many speaking engagements, no celebration or gala at the Governor’s Mansion, no TV interviews, and no throwing out the first pitch at a professional sports game. So for me, this felt like ’the moment‘, the point in time where the magnitude of our accomplishments was realized. All weekend it felt as though it was one big celebration in our honor. And when we walked out onto the field, even for the practice the day before, it felt just unbelievable. The focus was on us, for what we do for students, parents, and our community, and for what we do for our profession.”

When championship weekend was all said and done, the hours spent on every project and every last second change were worth every smile, thank you and moment the teachers got to experience as part of 2018 CFP National Championship Weekend.

“Our work expands every year,” said Banowsky. “In Atlanta, we had amazing support from so many partners, and our focus was transforming the system through early literacy. We expect to build on that success in the Bay Area where we will focus much of our work on helping teachers expand opportunities in science and math.”

The 2019 CFP National Championship will take place in Santa Clara, CA on Monday, January 7, 2019.

*The College Football Playoff is a Proud Partner of Front Office Sports

Adam is the Founder and CEO of Front Office Sports. A University of Miami Alum, Adam has worked for opendorse, the Fiesta Bowl, and the University of Miami Athletic Department. He can be reached at adam@frntofficesport.com.

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Meet the WNBA’s New Boss

Deloitte CEO Cathy Engelbert will become the first commissioner of the WNBA and the first woman to lead a Big Four professional services firm in the U.S.

Front Office Sports

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Photo Credit: Jennifer Buchanan-USA TODAY Sports

*This piece first appeared in the Front Office Sports Newsletter. Subscribe today and get the news before anyone else.

For the first time ever, the WNBA will have a commissioner. Before now, all of the league’s previous leaders like Val Ackerman and Lisa Borders were given the title of president. 

Cathy Engelbert, the current CEO of Deloitte, will take control of the role on July 17th and will report directly to Adam Silver. 

What should you know?

1. By the time she is done at Deloitte, Engelbert will have spent more time at the company (33 years) than the WNBA has been a league (23 years)

2. Engelbert is the first female to lead a Big Four professional services firm in the U.S.

3. She is the fifth person to lead the league after Val Ackerman (1997-2005), Donna Orender (2005-10), Laurel Richie (2011-15) and Lisa Borders (2016-2018)

4. Engelbert has spent the past four years in charge of Deloitte’s U.S. operation.

Basketball is in her blood…

Although she might be an accountant by trade, Engelbert is no stranger to the game of basketball. 

According to Bob Hille of Sporting News, she played at Lehigh for Hall of Fame coach Muffet McGraw and was a team captain as a senior. Her father Kurt also played and was drafted in 1957 by the Pistons.

What are they saying?

“Cathy is a world-class business leader with a deep connection to women’s basketball, which makes her the ideal person to lead the WNBA into its next phase of growth. The WNBA will benefit significantly from her more than 30 years of business and operational experience including revenue generation, sharp entrepreneurial instincts and proven management abilities.” – Adam Silver on the hiring of Engelbert

“I think that’s probably one of the reasons I was selected for this role, to come in and bring a business plan to build the WNBA into a real business and a thriving business, quite frankly.” – Engelbert to ESPN’s Mechelle Voepel

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Adam Silver Wants More Gender Diversity

The NBA commissioner states his desire to get more women into the sports industry. The NBA currently has a 31.6 percent ratio of women in team management.

Front Office Sports

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Photo Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

*This piece first appeared in the Front Office Sports Newsletter. Subscribe today and get the news before anyone else. 

If Adam Silver has his way, 50 percent of the new incoming NBA officials will be women.

That number applies to coaches too, Silver said speaking at the Economic Club of Washington.

How do the leagues stack up?

The following numbers, outside of MLB, come from 2018 reports put together by The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sports (TIDES) at the University of Central Florida. MLB is the first league to have a report done on it this year.

1. NBA – 31.6% of team management are women / 37.2% of team professional admins are women

2. NFL – 22.1% of team senior admins are women / 35% of team professional admins are women

3. MLB – 28.6% of team senior admins are women / 26% of team professional admins are women

4. MLS – 26.5% of team senior admins are women / 31.6% of team professional admins are women

5. WNBA – 48.6% of team VPs and above are women / 58% of team managers to senior directors are women

6. NHL – No report done

Quotes from Silver… 

“It’s an area, frankly, where I’ve acknowledged that I’m not sure how it was that it remained so male-dominated for so long. Because it’s an area of the game where physically, certainly, there’s no benefit to being a man, as opposed to a woman, when it comes to refereeing.”

“The goal is going forward, it should be roughly 50-50 of new officials entering in the league. Same for coaches, by the way. We have a program, too. There’s no reason why women shouldn’t be coaching men’s basketball.”

That’s not all Silver wants to see change…

Silver, who has been adamant about getting rid of the one-and-done rule, provided some clarity as to when that might be achieved.

According to the commissioner, the 2022 NBA Draft will likely be the first one since the 2005 NBA Draft to allow high school players to go straight into the league rather than playing a season in college first.

Citing “active discussions” with the NBPA, Silver noted that they are still “a few years away.”

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“I Thought This Was a Good Deal”: AAF Vendors Speak Out

Amidst the spring football league’s collapse, countless vendors are still waiting to get paid for services rendered.

Robert Silverman

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Ultimately, it was the little things that best told the story of how dire things had gotten for the Alliance of American Football (AAF), an ex-team social media manager said. Starting in Week Five, social media managers no longer traveled with the team for road games. Even before, they’d doubled up on hotel rooms. The final bit of penny-pinching was the most bizarre: For the eighth and final AAF game, social was told Getty’s photographers would not be in attendance. Instead they would have to rely on “generic images,” making the job vastly more difficult.

Less than a week later, on April 2, the chaotic, short-lived lifespan of the spring professional football league, launched in March 2018 by filmmaker Charlie Ebersol, the son of venerated TV producer Dick Ebersol, came to an abrupt end. A little over two weeks after that, the AAF filed for bankruptcy, as first reported by Front Office Sports.

In the aftermath, stories like the social media manager’s have become ubiquitous. A  former player was sent a medical bill for treatment received during training camp. Scores of others reportedly had to cover their own airfare or were sent four-figure bills for hotel rooms. There was the class-action lawsuit filed by two players, claiming that ownership misled them about the league’s long-term fiscal solvency. Founders pointed fingers at one another after the debt-ridden league came crashing down. All manner of now ex-employees, from team officials to players,  learned they were out of a job thanks to social media.

The league’s bankruptcy filing revealed that $48.3 million was still owed to a variety of creditors against a $11.3 million in concrete assets, a scant $536,160.68 of which remained in the league’s bank accounts. Moreover, the AAF informed the thousands of creditors that any attempts to recoup their losses would be pointless right now, because, per Sports Business Journal, its coffers are entirely bare… “If it later appears that assets are available to pay creditors, the clerk will send you another notice telling you that you may file a proof of claim and stating the deadline,” the filing states.

But like the social media manager, many of those selfsame creditors began to suspect the AAF was on rocky financial ground long before the league officially pulled the plug.

Shortly after Tom Dundon, the majority owner of the NHL’s Carolina Hurricanes, who built his financial empire on the backs of subprime auto loans, bought a majority share of the financially-strapped league, he started to cut corners, looking to pare down expenses by any means necessary according to a report by Sports Illustrated. “As soon as Dundon took over, our f——— expense reports were getting approved out of Dallas,” where Dundon Capital Partners’ office is located, a former mid-level AAF employee told the magazine. (Dundon did not respond to multiple requests for comment sent via the Carolina Hurricanes. The form to contact Dundon Capital Partners on their website was removed at some point in the past few months )

With the AAF bleeding millions each and every week it remained in existence, per USA Today, Dundon deemed it necessary to scrimp and save wherever possible including on the margins. So vendors—companies that supplied locker room supplies, traveling equipment and more—were approached hat in hand and offered less than the full amount owed by the AAF.

READ MORE: AAF Files for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy 

While AAF officials served as the point of contact, two sources involved with the negotiations told Front Office Sports that the debt-clearing plan was conceived and ordered by Dundon’s financial team. If that meant exploiting AAF officials’ pre-existing relationships with vendors and playing on the faith placed in the league, so be it. As one former AAF official told Front Office Sports, it was “just a shit situation.”

Some of the companies did take the lowball offers, but others refused to accept less, insisting on full payment. It didn’t matter. Both paths led to vendors getting stiffed by the AAF. Dundon’s financial team kept stalling, promising the equivalent of “the check’s in the mail,” right up until the moment when the AAF closed its doors for good.

Now those vendors have been reduced to poring over the bankruptcy filings. They know all too well that, despite being out five or six figures, they’re way at the back of the line, trailing giant conglomerates like MGM and Aramark which are owed millions. And they’re not happy about it.

“I definitely feel scammed,” one vendor said.

(more…)

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