News, Notes & Rumors – July 2
There are now 778 colleges and universities with intercollegiate football programs. That’s the most in history.
Of those 778, 666 of them participate under the NCAA umbrella, either at the FBS, FCS, Division II or Division II level. The rest are members of the NAIA or have independent programs.
During the last six years, 35 colleges have added football programs, while 11 have dropped their programs, including two schools that close. Alabama-Birmingham is in both categories, as the Blazers closed down their FBS program in 2015 and 2016 but returned to the gridiron in 2017.
There will be seven new college football programs this coming season – Allen University of Columbia, S.C., Alvernia University of Reading, Pa., Indiana Wesleyan of Marion, Ind., Keiser University of West Palm Beach, Fla., Lawrence Tech of Southfield, Mich., Ottawa University-Arizona of Surprise, Ariz., and the University of New England of Biddeford, Mass. Alvernia and New England will be DIII programs, while the others will compete in NAIA.
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The Big 12 Conference’s football officials have a new leader.
Greg Burks has been selected to serve as the conference’s coordinator of football officials. As the Big 12 coordinator, Burks will also administer the CFO West football officiating consortium, which includes the Big 12, Mountain West and Southland conferences.
“Greg brings both on-field and administrative experience to the post,” said Bowlsby. “I am confident he will continue the trajectory of our officiating program as a national model.”
For the last three seasons Burks has overseen the Mountain West football officiating program. Prior to that, he spent 24 years as an on-field official, working Big 12 games from 1996-2014. During his career, Burks officiated in 17 bowl games, four Big 12 Championship games, and was also the referee for the first College Football Playoff National Championship Game.
“I am excited and honored to have this opportunity with one of college footballs’ premier officiating organizations,” commented Burks. “Since the Big 12’s inception, its commitment to excellence was something I was proud to be part of, and I look forward to continuing and growing that legacy.”
Burks succeeds Walt Anderson who is stepping down after 12 seasons.
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Burks is moving into a new officiating position. Meanwhile Gene Steratore is stepping away from his officiating jobs. A native of Uniontown, Pa., Steratore has long been an NFL referee, as well as working as an NCAA basketball official, primarily in the Big Ten.
He is retiring from his officiating duties in both sports, though he will still be involved in each. He has been hired by CBS to serve as a rules analyst for that network’s broadcasts of NFL and college basketball games.
Steratore, who was the referee for this past year’s Super Bowl, had previously worked both football and basketball games involving WVU. Steratore is the second member of the family with officiating ties to WVU. His father, Gene Steratore, Sr., was a college football and basketball official himself who officiated many Mountaineer games in the ‘70s and ‘80s. He seemingly was a fixture at the Coliseum in the Gale Catlett era.
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Need a row of stadium seats for your man cave? Well you may be able to pick up a three or four – or a few thousand – in the next year or two.
West Virginia University is soon going to announce another wave of renovations for some of its athletic facilities. The WVU Coliseum is going to be one of those that will undergo further changes. The concourse area of the Coliseum was renovated a couple years ago. Now most of the new changes will take place to the inner bowl. Besides putting in a new scoreboard and updating lighting, we understand that West Virginia’s athletic department is also looking at replacing almost all of the individual seats.
Most of the current blue plastic seats are original to the Coliseum, which was opened in 1970. So, those seats are now approaching 50 years of age. The company that fabricated them has long ago gone out of business, and parts are impossible to find, meaning any time a repair is needed, the WVU staff has to come up with an innovative solution.
For years Mountaineer officials have been looking at replacing the Coliseum seats, but the cost is prohibitive, estimated to be in the neighborhood of $3 million to change out most of the 14,000. But West Virginia officials now appear ready to bite the bullet and make the switch.
I don’t know if the old ones will be available to the public, but be ready to make a bid when some pop up on eBay … just kidding, I think.