Category Archives: Uncategorized

A Look Back at Conference Realignment 2004-2005

Conference realignment is nothing new. In 2004 and 2005, 16 schools moved from one FBS conference to another. Earlier this week, I wrote a piece for ESPN detailing how those schools have fared financially (and even academically) since their respective moves. Those who know me know I love Excel spreadsheets, and I had quite a few that we didn’t include in the piece. Below you’ll find a chart for each public school who moved in 2004 and 2005 detailing the growth each school saw in major revenue categories from the year before they moved conferences to the year after. Check out my piece for details on expense growth and overall financial picture for each school.

Virginia Tech

2003-2004 2010-2011 Growth
Ticket Sales $12,684,737 $18,979,129 50%
Student Fees $5,782,195 $7,237,091 25%
Guarantees $784,257 $2,551,600 225%
Contributions $8,561,075 $15,849,981 85%
Comp and Benefits by Third Party $55,000 $185,000 236%
Direct Institutional Support $408,962 $353,531 -14%
NCAA/Conference Distributions $4,960,919 $12,467,870 151%
Broadcast, TV, Radio, Internet $1,907,452 $3,954,669 107%
Royalties/Licensing/Ad/Sponsor $503,186 $1,384,437 175%


2004-2005 2010-2011  Growth
Ticket Sales $3,889,980 $8,485,966 118%
Student Fees $0 $0
Guarantees $1,232,500 $871,905 -29%
Contributions $4,636,229 $5,848,897 26%
Comp and Benefits by Third Party $0 $0
Direct Institutional Support $5,642,852 $14,708,672 161%
NCAA/Conference Distributions $3,492,095 $7,731,939 121%
Broadcast, TV, Radio, Internet $0 $0
Royalties/Licensing/Ad/Sponsor $1,000,000 $1,841,836 84%


2004-2005 2010-2011  Growth
Ticket Sales $12,767,307 $26,467,598 107%
Student Fees $1,633,024 $1,861,502 14%
Guarantees $1,030,000 $1,001,150 -3%
Contributions $11,507,810 $28,224,908 145%
Comp and Benefits by Third Party $0 $0
Direct Institutional Support $1,500,000 $2,152,967 44%
NCAA/Conference Distributions $2,430,632 $8,629,513 255%
Broadcast, TV, Radio, Internet $1,643,061 $1,180,000 -28%
Royalties/Licensing/Ad/Sponsor $2,875,850 $3,527,018 23%

South Florida

2004-2005 2010-2011 Growth
Ticket Sales $2,975,011 $5,828,048 96%
Student Fees $9,183,299 $15,231,708 66%
Guarantees $1,058,491 $1,704,000 61%
Contributions $2,675,193 $2,735,003 2%
Comp and Benefits by Third Party $0 $95,550
Direct Institutional Support $1,093,589 $1,329,909 22%
NCAA/Conference Distributions $1,426,973 $8,873,398 522%
Broadcast, TV, Radio, Internet $400,000 $507,577 27%
Royalties/Licensing/Ad/Sponsor $1,042,549 $4,885,785 369%

Central Florida

2004-2005 2010-2011 Growth
Ticket Sales $1,317,224 $5,167,757 292%
Student Fees $11,932,441 $18,818,806 58%
Guarantees $788,430 $663,750 -16%
Contributions $3,357,302 $6,370,570 90%
Comp and Benefits by Third Party $0 $0
Direct Institutional Support $1,474,967 $2,424,099 64%
NCAA/Conference Distributions $749,684 $3,826,564 410%
Broadcast, TV, Radio, Internet $65,000 $0 -100%
Royalties/Licensing/Ad/Sponsor $615,374 $3,684,133 499%


2004-2005 2010-2011 Growth
Ticket Sales $1,961,713 $3,946,607 101%
Student Fees $3,667,214 $4,287,724 17%
Guarantees $966,967 $1,231,653 27%
Contributions $3,256,311 $3,855,746 18%
Comp and Benefits by Third Party $0 $0
Direct Institutional Support $2,430,614 $5,439,689 124%
NCAA/Conference Distributions $1,087,603 $2,911,073 168%
Broadcast, TV, Radio, Internet $652,990 $1,231,121 89%
Royalties/Licensing/Ad/Sponsor $206,704 $176,079 -15%


2004-2005 2010-2011 Growth
Ticket Sales $3,639,657 $3,308,099 -9%
Student Fees $2,952,176 $4,219,929 43%
Guarantees $430,000 $983,700 129%
Contributions $3,029,606 $3,071,855 1%
Comp and Benefits by Third Party $0 $109,307
Direct Institutional Support $4,994,481 $6,424,788 29%
NCAA/Conference Distributions $1,130,878 $3,124,801 176%
Broadcast, TV, Radio, Internet $7,828 $337,744 4215%
Royalties/Licensing/Ad/Sponsor $1,272,179 $1,415,759 11%


2004-2005 2010-2011 Growth
Ticket Sales $211,352 $1,077,790 410%
Student Fees $1,851,406 $2,317,147 25%
Guarantees $894,552 $1,063,980 19%
Contributions $2,022,954 $2,148,835 6%
Comp and Benefits by Third Party $179,000 $381,000 113%
Direct Institutional Support $2,153,302 $2,778,311 29%
NCAA/Conference Distributions $523,352 $2,004,217 283%
Broadcast, TV, Radio, Internet $128,042 $50,000 -61%
Royalties/Licensing/Ad/Sponsor $717,898 $730,462 2%

Utah State

2004-2005 2010-2011 Growth
Ticket Sales $1,032,946 $1,965,806 90%
Student Fees $1,602,768 $3,798,541 137%
Guarantees $1,430,500 $831,640 -42%
Contributions $985,783 $1,869,811 90%
Comp and Benefits by Third Party $0 $140,000
Direct Institutional Support $2,270,523 $9,109,963 301%
NCAA/Conference Distributions $436,950 $2,507,973 474%
Broadcast, TV, Radio, Internet $74,000 $0 -100%
Royalties/Licensing/Ad/Sponsor $710,719 $564,983 -21%

New Mexico State

2004-2005 2010-2011 Growth
Ticket Sales $1,029,077 $1,771,334 72%
Student Fees $1,776,389 $2,952,320 66%
Guarantees $861,000 $754,000 -12%
Contributions $1,409,625 $883,239 -37%
Comp and Benefits by Third Party $0 $0
Direct Institutional Support $3,347,148 $9,078,575 171%
NCAA/Conference Distributions $361,505 $2,118,375 486%
Broadcast, TV, Radio, Internet $0 $0
Royalties/Licensing/Ad/Sponsor $711,384 $2,414,076 239%

Keep in mind there are many reasons for fluctuations in revenue, including new stadiums, expansion of stadiums, and sometimes even changes in reporting methods. It’s important to talk to each school before drawing any conclusions about why a specific revenue category has increased or decreased.

New Links – June 20

The latest in college sports business news from around the web:

University of Houston selects architects for new stadiums

Have you heard of the design firms PageSoutherlandPage and DLR Group? Well, they have just both been selected to help construct University of Houston’s new football stadium. Read more about the costs, the dimensions, and the estimated time frame for the project.

Injured student athletes lose bid to revive NCAA suit

What would you do if you were an injured NCAA athlete who lost his or her scholarship due to injury? Two former college football players sued the NCAA when this happened to them back in 2010 claiming that “they were wrongly denied scholarships that would have covered the cost of their bachelor’s degrees despite their injuries.” How did the case turn out? Were these arguments valid?

National Center for Spectator Sports Safety and Security Partners with eVerifile to Improve Security at College Sports Facilities, Entertainment Venues

Did you know that Homeland Security ranks stadium attacks in the top 12 most devastating acts of terrorism? It is obvious precautions must be taken to help protect and secure players and spectators alike at sports facilities and venues around the country. Read more about the pilot security program several big name schools are participating in.

College football: OSU brass spells out pact terms

Urban Meyer is the new coach at Ohio State. Yet, his team is currently under a year one suspension from bowl games due to a NCAA rules violation. Does his new contract do anything to help reduce the possibility of this happening again? What are the compensation terms of this multi-year contract?

New Links – June 15

My Town My Team

Do you eat, live, and breathe Florida State Seminole Spirit? Are you from Northern Florida or Southern Georgia? Well, here’s a competition of a lifetime to fulfill all your Seminole Dreams!

UF aggressive in marketing unsold football tickets

In this tough economy, the amount of season tickets being sold to UF Gators fans is down. What tactics is UF using to get more people to enjoy the game-day experience and is this new marketing campaign effective?

Naval Academy to expand football stadium

The Naval Academy is set to transition into the Big East Conference in 2015. As a result, what renovations is the Naval Academy Athletic Association undertaking to make sure that Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium is ready to compete in a more competitive conference?

Pac-12 Network trailer debuts

Are you ready for the new Pac-12 Network? Check out this trailer promoting the debut, see what’s it’s all about, and find out the debut date!

New Links – June 13

The latest in college sports business news from around the web:

Maryland AD Kevin Anderson explains why ACC TV windfall won’t be enough to spare sports due for elimination

In light of the ACC’s new contract with ESPN, the University of Maryland is looking to cut 8 of its 27 varsity sports in the upcoming year. Even with the added $4 million in TV revenues, the economic times currently do not allow for these teams to stay afloat. But is there anything these teams can do to continue playing at UMD?


Perhaps Stony Brook’s College World Series run will make college football’s honchos wake up

Could you ever imagine underdog teams like Stony Brook’s Men’s Baseball or Butler’s Men’s Basketball ever winning in the current set-up of College Football? It will continue to be virtually impossible unless NCAA Football adopts a new playoff schedule that could potentially involve the 11 conference champions plus one at-large team. Will College Football ever be conducive to having the underdog at least be in the running to win it all?


Richt’s new deal leaves door open

Mark Richt finally has a new contract at Georgia, a member of the SEC. In the past, SEC teams have proven that they are willing to give coaches a hefty price tag to “resign” or leave when they believe a certain coach isn’t the long-term answer. Does Richt’s new contract therefore have a high buyout-price, or is it more set in reality?


Florida State spending big money on football recruiting

The amount spent on football recruiting at FSU is up nearly 86% from the amount spent on recruiting under former Coach Bobby Bowden. Yet, is this increased spending just frivolous or does it come with the new realities of recruiting in the current day?

Television Contract Breakdown – Updated

One of the most popular posts in the history of was Kristi Dosh’s post breaking down the television contracts in each AQ conference. She’s updated that post over on with the news of the ACC’s new deal. 

Guest Post: Mercy Project

Chris Field is the founder and executive director of the non-profit organization Mercy Project. His claim to fame is that his first varsity hit was a three run homerun. Unfortunately, that was his only hit of the entire season (he finished 1 for 26 with a .038 BA). You can find him on Facebook and Twitter under mercyproject.


This site has successfully established a rich and complex relationship between college sports and business. It’s fascinating for the sports nerds among us (and you probably qualify unless you ended up here by accident) to pore over the numbers game behind the teams and sports we love to watch and cheer on. Sports are indeed big business, and it’s riveting stuff.

But today, Kristi and Alicia have graciously given me the chance to write about another part of the world of sports that I don’t think we talk about enough—the ways sports can bring us together and bring out our best.

This weekend, from Friday to Sunday, a group of 56 players from around Texas will play a non-stop, 49-hour baseball marathon that will land them in the Guinness Book of World Records. As the game is played none of the players involved will leave the playing area. Food, short naps, and bathroom breaks will all take place within a few hundred feet of the foul lines. To be clear, these are not All Star baseball players either. Just one of the players had a short stint playing college ball, and the rest of them would do well to look smooth in front of your typical freshman high school team. But what this group lacks in athleticism they more than make up for in sheer insanity.

How crazy are they? This will actually be their third world record in the last 24 months. First they played kickball for 50 hours, then flag football for 24 hours, and now baseball for 49 hours. So who are these people, and what do these world records have to do with the best of humanity? To answer that, we have to go back to August of 2009 when I found myself in a boat, in the middle of a huge lake, in Ghana, Africa. It was there that my life would be changed forever when I met a 9-year old boy named Tomas. It was there that I held the hand of a child slave.

Experts estimate that slavery is more prevalent in the world today than at any other point in history. That’s depressing to think about, isn’t it? It certainly is for me. I had heard snippets here and there about modern day slavery, but it all became a crushing reality the day I met Tomas. To actually hold the hand of a child who had been purchased for about $20, and was now owned by another human, was simultaneously shocking and heart wrenching.

I was even more shocked to find out that Tomas was just one of an estimated 7,000 children in Ghana who have been sold by their destitute parents to work in the labor intensive fishing industry. These children can be as young as five years old, and they work nearly 100 hours a week for their slave masters. To look into their eyes is to see the living dead as they convey an emptiness that still haunts me nearly 2 ½ years after first meeting Tomas.

One of the many children Field has met while on the lake in Ghana.

I’ve now been to Ghana 14 times, and my wife and I run a non-profit organization dedicated to helping children like Tomas to be rescued and brought new life. Our model involves teaching new methods of cage fishing (called aquaculture) so that the men who own the children will no longer have the need for this child labor.

Mercy Project founder Chris Field and a child in Ghana.

We are literally “teaching a man to fish” so that these children can be rescued and returned to their families.

So that these children can actually be kids again.

So that these children can run, and laugh, and play games like baseball.

That’s why we keep doing these crazy world records. Not for the chance to show our kids we made it into a fat book of records at their school library but so that we can tell our kids we really tried to make a difference. We saw something that was broken, and we tried to find creative ways to fix it.

These events have given us an outlet to do that. They are a way for the average person, athlete or far from it, to be a participant in a way that connects them to something bigger than themselves. Because that’s what sports do, isn’t it? Connect us to something bigger than ourselves? We become fans of a team and get the chance to live vicariously through their touchdowns, three pointers, and triple overtime wins. To feel like a part of an exclusive club because these are “our guys or girls” and “my team.” Sports does that in us.  It does that to us. It gives us a way to feel like we belong.

In the case of these ridiculous sports marathons, it gives us the chance to feel like we belong to something bigger than ourselves. To play a kid’s game, for kids who don’t get to play, is fiercely symbolic and richly poignant. Playing baseball for 49 hours gives us an opportunity to say, “I’m doing this on your behalf, Tomas. Because every child should get to run and play games like this. I’m playing because you don’t get to, and I will keep playing until you get to sub in for me at one of these events.”

Participants enjoy a game of football to support Mercy Project.

But it’s not just symbolic. This game also gives us the chance to do something really tangible and significant. General donations (from people like you) and player sponsorships from this weekend’s game should total more than $30,000. That’s enough money to fund an entire village’s economic development project. That’s enough money to rescue an entire village of slave children. All from a simple baseball game.

The power of sports is broad, and it’s certainly big business. But it’s also world changing. Don’t believe me? Just ask Tomas in a few years.

***To make a donation for this event and the kids in Ghana, you can go here.***

Recruiting Success Has a Last Name: M-E-Y-E-R

What began as a run of the mill class for Ohio State has evolved into one of the top five classes in the country under the direction of new coach Urban Meyer. The facts speak for themselves:

Before Meyer? 13 commits prior to 11/22/11, a period of 17 months.

After Meyer? 12, in a period of nine weeks. This is as many commitments on 11/22 or later as Ohio State has had in the last three years (’09-’11) combined.

Before Meyer? An average of 3.39 stars per player.

After Meyer? 4.0 stars per player.

Before Meyer? A class ranked in the 20’s nationally, according to ESPNU’s Quint Kessenich.

After Meyer? A class ranked 3rd by, 4th by, 5th by, and 6th by

Even more impressive is the fact that in college football, an abbreviated first recruiting period often lends itself to a lower recruiting class ranking in year one. Meyer’s first class in Gainesville was ranked 15th, followed by 2nd, 1st, 3rd, 11th, and 2nd, respectively, according to’s year-by-year team recruiting rankings. If that pattern retains its shape in Columbus, expect “Titletown, USA” to have a new home.

And how about the fact that Meyer is credited this season with “flipping” six players who were previously committed elsewhere?

While historical “fringe stats” such as this are not kept on file, that has to be some sort of “irritate your competition” record, no? Steve Wiltfong, national recruiting reporter covering the Big 10 for, says it’s no fluke. “Urban works as hard or harder than any coach in college football. Some coaches say they’re the closer. Meyer is the starter, the middle-relief ace, and the closer.”

How does Meyer compare to recent other big name faces in new places?

Butch Davis at North Carolina opened with the #31 class in his first class of 2006 before climbing to #9 in ’09. Bill Snyder, the only coach who has won consistently in Manhattan, Kansas in this generation, capitalized on the excitement of his return with a class ranked #27 in 2008, but has managed to win with some sub-top 50 classes since. Steve Spurrier opened with less fanfare, with a class ranked #35 in 2004, yet over time has improved the reputation of Gamecock football and today the typical South Carolina class is between #15-20.

Urban Meyer has been called the best recruiter in the nation. To serve as an assistant to him, one must be willing to spend countless hours, days, and months travelling around the midwest and the country in search of the nation’s top talent. Nine hour car trips. Overnights in towns you’ve never heard of. Red-eye flights that even Visine can’t correct.

That is the expectation for employment and performance at The Ohio State University under new head coach Urban Meyer. It’s an internal drive that’s led Meyer on a journey to a 104-23 career record, including 7-1 in bowl games and two national championships. It’s also one that’s brought him to a virtual collapse, chest pains, near blackouts, hospital visits, and a resignation for health and family reasons at an uncommon age (46).

But Meyer is now refreshed and reinvigorated. He knows to challenge the present SEC domination in college football, the SEC athletes must be matched by those in Columbus. After all, “If you’re not a good recruiter, you have no value on our staff,” Meyer said.

Meyer was officially introduced as the next coach of Ohio St. on 11/28, and online reports confirming Meyer’s decision began to be leaked on 11/22. Adolphus Washington, who committed to the Buckeyes on 11/22/11, went so far as to mention Meyer in his announcement.

Meyer, seemingly, is in a class accompanied by he, Nick Saban, and nobody else. Certainly, Ohio State and its football program has recovered about as nicely from the indiscretions of Terrelle Pryor, Jim Tressel and company as possible. An interesting dichotomy is forming among college football fans. Those who can’t stand when the same powerhouse teams win big every year (this author raises hand), and those who love the traditional powers returning to their rightful perch on the top of the college football landscape, believing that it truly is in the best interest of the sport.

And with Meyer at the helm, the typically cloudy climate of Columbus seems poised for some sunshine. Pressed in an “on-the-spot” question as to whether Ohio State has a crystal ball in its future under Meyer, Wiltfong didn’t hesitate. “I do think they will (win a national title). Absolutely.”

Marc Ryan is a sports talk radio personality in Pensacola, Florida. You can follow him on Twitter: @marcryanonair.

New Writer: Marc Ryan

EDITOR’S NOTE: would like to welcome a new writer to the team: sports radio personality Marc Ryan!

When the following is said of someone else, “He/She was born to do this,” it’s generally viewed as a compliment of a person’s skill or talent in a given area. When someone says that about him/herself, hubris is often suspected. I will spend the rest of this introduction attempting to disprove that, because in my case, sports has always been not only my passion, but what I was destined to do.

Born in Syracuse, New York, my family moved to Houston Texas when I was four, Fort Collins, Colorado when I was 13, Florida at the age of 15, and while in Florida, I’ve moved around from Lakeland, where my family resides, to Gainesville for school, to Orlando to begin my sports radio career, and finally to the Florida Panhandle, where I presently reside.

I host a morning drive sports radio program, “The Morning Wrap,” for 100.3 FM and “The Ticket Sports Network.” The show airs daily from 6am until 9am central time. You may stream the show live at I’ve been in the panhandle, home of the world’s most gorgeous beaches (see attached picture) since mid-2009, and experienced my first national hosting experience here, as a fill-in on Sporting News Radio, now Yahoo Sports Radio. Prior to this stop and during my time in Orlando, I hosted of “Marc Ryan’s Sports Section,” on ESPN 1080 – “The Team,”, where I was fortunate enough to have been named “Best Sports Host” by Orlando Magazine.

I carry with me sports memories from each of the places I’ve lived, and I’m frequently called a sports polygamist because of the multitude of teams I pull for – one or more from every stop. I remember rooting for the Syracuse Orangemen (now “Orange”) and the New York Yankees with my father as a toddler. In Houston, the Astros became my favorite hometown team, we were a regular at the games, but I retained my love for the Yankees as well. In Colorado, I fell in love with college football, and how’s this for luck? During my two years there, the Buffs played in the national championship both years and won once, if you’ll remember, on a Rocket Ismail kickoff return touchdown for Notre Dame that was called back on a clip. I also loved seeing the Rams of CSU play in and win their first bowl game in 35 years, a win over Oregon.

For as long as I can remember, I would lower the volume of the games I was watching, and I’d call them myself. I’m sure my parents were wondering if their child had issues, “talking to myself” in my room as much as I did.

Here in Florida, my sports team selections got off to a rocky start. You see, the most obnoxious neighbors on my street were Gators fans, so naturally, I gravitated toward FSU. They had this over-the-top RV decked out in total orange and blue annoyance, or so I thought at the time. It was only upon visiting colleges during my junior year of high school that I realized I had a very difficult decision to make. I played trombone in the band in high school, and temporarily was torn over which direction I wanted my career to take. The dean of Florida State’s college of Journalism and Communications told me their program was in a transition phase. I was lucky enough to gain acceptance to Florida State’s music program, which was and still is world renowned. On the other side of the fence, Florida was pretty mediocre in music but offered me a trombone scholarship, and more importantly had a communications program that was top five in the country. So it came down to this – music and the team I loved? Or sports media and the team I, up until that time loathed?

I’m proud to have made the right choice, and I’m a graduate of the University of Florida with a degree in Telecommunications – Go Gators! While my rivalry with the Noles runs deep, know that you can expect fair and honest coverage of Free Shoes U – kidding – Florida State University here, as well.

I’ve loved being a sports radio host, and plan to stick with this career path as far as it will take me. But something’s been missing. I’ve always been a bit of a stats geek. As a kid, I had a huge baseball card collection, and would memorize the stats on the back of the cards and dare my parents to see if they could stump me on a player’s numbers without looking. As far as I can remember, they never did. I was mesmerized by Don Mattingly’s .352 batting average in 1986, and Wade Boggs leading the AL with a .357 that same season. To this day, I’m still ranking, analyzing, tabulating, creating any stat I can get my hands on. Just this fall, I invented a new way to evaluate quarterbacks, a system I call QBV (Quarterback Value). What can I say? I’m a nerd for numbers.

But until now, I hadn’t found a proper outlet to satisfy the sports numbers nerd in me. And I can’t tell you how excited I am to get started here on a site that does all of the number digging and dirty work for you.

Having admired Kristi’s and Alicia’s work from afar for quite some time, it truly is a privilege to be able to contribute on a site that’s the only one of its kind. I look forward to hearing from all of you, our valued readers, on Twitter.  You can find me at my personal account @MarcRyanOnAir and via email at, but since you now know my age, please be kind.

Big East and West Virginia Continue Court Battle

West Virginia and the Big East continue to go toe-to-toe in the courtroom with their battle over WVU’s exit fee and the timetable for exit. Want to get up to speed with where they stand? writer Alicia Jessop details West Virginia’s lawsuit here.

ESPN’s Kristi Dosh (founder of details West Virginia’s lawsuit here and the Big East’s separate lawsuit here.

Sports law attorney Christian Dennie explains the motion to dismiss filed by West Virginia in the Big East’s lawsuit here and the motion to dismiss filed by the Big East in West Virginia’s lawsuit here.

What about Syracuse, who’s in a similar position to West Virginia? They’ve been pretty quiet and have not gotten involved with West Virginia’s lawsuit. At IMG’s Intercollegiate Athletics Forum in New York this week, ESPN’s Kristi Dosh tweeted Syracuse’s athletic director, Daryl Gross, said they are being cooperative and awaiting direction from the Big East. Gross expressed respect for the Big East’s process.

The Penn State Scandal: Crisis as Opportunity

Guest Author: Jamie Singer

The impacts of the Penn State child sex abuse scandal are expected to be far-reaching, from football recruits to alumni donations to student enrollment. But is it possible Penn State might emerge from this scandal a stronger brand because of it?

Crises can be tremendous opportunities for brands – from Fortune 500 companies to institutions like Penn State – to demonstrate humility and integrity, show a willingness to do the right thing, and strengthen values-based decision-making, all while the world is paying attention.

This scandal has revealed what appears to be a culture of cover-up at Penn State – a ticking time-bomb that gained momentum in the spring when the university initially learned of the Jerry Sandusky investigation and finally exploded this fall in news reports of the grand jury charges. Penn State cannot go back in time to defuse that bomb. But the university – like all organizations in crisis – has an opportunity to influence its long-term reputation by what it does AFTER the bomb detonates. In that respect, perhaps Penn State should earn credit where credit is due.

For one, the university ousted head football coach Joe Paterno. It was a difficult, but necessary, decision. It was the right thing to do precisely because Paterno – the football program’s unquestioned leader and university’s figurehead – did not appear to do the right thing with the information he received about Sandusky’s alleged crimes.

Additionally, the Penn State community has banded together to support the true victims: the abused children. Students held a candlelight vigil, and the university will donate $1.5 million in bowl game proceeds to sex-crime advocacy organizations.

Penn State will be reeling from this scandal for some time. It is horrific in nature, unimaginable in the isolated cocoon that is Happy Valley, and simply unprecedented in the world of college sports. But there are real-life examples of brands that have successfully emerged from a similar dire set of circumstances.

Take Johnson & Johnson in the 1982 Tylenol crisis, when seven people died in Chicago from cyanide-laced capsules of Extra Strength Tylenol. Although J&J’s market share initially plummeted in the wake of the crisis, today the company is universally referenced as a case study in exemplary crisis management. And while Virginia Tech was initially criticized for its handling of the deadly 2007 shootings, today the university has emerged a stronger and safer organization from which other academic institutions now turn to for crisis prevention and management best practices – from text message-based emergency notification to mass casualty trainings.

Penn State too may emerge as a brand that, in the most desperate of times, came out better on the other side. Here are some of the reputation management steps the university must take:

1)      Clean the slate. Crisis management best practices require an isolation of the problem (or problems) and its expeditious removal. What this means is Penn State must clean house by removing anyone else currently affiliated with the university that is uncovered as having been directly linked to the scandal. This “airing of dirty laundry” will require more short-term pain for Penn State, but it’s crucial for long-term reputation management.

2)      Create a leadership culture that is team-centric. Hero worship permeates the sports world, and Penn State is the quintessential case study for creating a “Cult of the Coach” around “Joe Pa.” This elevation of a single individual means his fall from grace threatens the entire Penn State enterprise. Going forward, Penn State should avoid the natural inclination to “coronate” coaches or any other single university official. In business, companies understand the importance of having a “deep bench,” so leadership and communications responsibilities don’t reside with one person. Penn State needs a team of leadership voices that extends beyond Paterno’s successor to encompass the athletic director, university president and other university administrators. College football programs are constantly building motivation on the field around teamwork; colleges should take this same approach off the field.

3)      Live your values. Penn State’s mantra, “Success with Honor,” is being questioned and, with it, the brand’s DNA. Penn State must now not only tell its values, but it must also show them. Show that Penn State is a place of integrity, through its athletic programs, academic achievements and community involvement. Show that Penn State is willing to foment real, institutional change by instilling a culture of open communication and accountability so that something like this never happens again. Show what it really means when students shout, “We are Penn State!”

Brands should be judged not only on the crisis itself, but also on how that crisis is handled (or mishandled). It won’t be easy for Penn State, but the chorus of one university fight song, “Nittany Lion,” urges Penn Staters to “fight for her honor.” And never before has that had so much meaning as it does today.

Jamie Singer specializes in crisis communications and reputation management at Cone Communications in Boston.