This summer, Washington State University and the other nine schools in the Pac-10 conference expanded to the Pac-12, welcoming the University of Colorado and the University of Utah. WSU Athletic Director Bill Moos has been part of the changing conference for decades: as a football player at WSU in the Pac-8, as an associate athletic director and athletic director in the Pac-10, and now back at WSU for the Pac-12. The conference also gained the most lucrative television deal in the history of college sports, worth up to $20 million a year for WSU, which splits conference games between ESPN and Fox.
Larry Clark of Washington State Magazine sat down with Moos for a discussion on what it means for WSU to be part of the Pac-12 conference, the television deal, and his vision for WSU’s athletic programs and facilities.
What does the expansion of the conference mean for WSU and its athletics programs?
I really feel that the conference expansion was a positive move, not just for the conference, but for the member institutions. Colorado and Utah fit the profile of the other ten institutions, in that they are major research institutions with doctorate programs that are really a prerequisite for any institution to be in our conference.
That’s why we can hold our heads high and have our chests out, because we truly are both an academic and athletic conference. We’ve had remarkable accomplishments in both areas.
Speaking of academics, the NCAA academic progress rate (APR) report came out last May, and WSU athletes met or exceeded all the benchmarks.
I think it illustrates the importance we place on the academic component of being a student-athlete at Washington State. Our young people are here to get an education, obtain a degree, and compete in what I believe is the finest conference in the country.
When we see the results in any of our academic areas, such as the APR, it’s a source of pride not just for me, but should be for Cougars everywhere.
How will the conference’s new television contract help WSU athletics?
I’m very pleased that my peers and I were able to hammer out a revenue-sharing formula that provides equal shares of that television money to all 12 institutions. That’s extremely important for us here at Washington State as we’ll be able to see our budget grow and hopefully we can compete better with the 11 other schools.
I also want to emphasize the value of the [national] exposure. Literally every football and men’s basketball game will be televised live, and for Washington State, it’s very important to be seen nationwide to showcase our wonderful university. For those prospective student-athletes to be watching our players, our teams, our campus, you can’t really put a price tag on that.
When it’s all said and done that might be the biggest boost that Cougar athletics has ever had.
We will invest a lot of the resources into facilities. We’re lagging way behind in that area, and facilities are the primary focus of today’s young recruits. We’ve got some catching up to do there.
Upon my arrival I wanted to address the proposed stadium expansion and also prioritize the need for a football operations building to house our football program, feeling that was more important than the renovation and expansion of Martin Stadium.
As it turned out, it made sense to do both projects at the same time and really make them fold into one building.
We have a great many investors in the Martin Stadium project who were hanging tight to see where we were going to go with this. We wanted to make sure they got what they had been promised, but in a different location as we changed the stadium plan from the north side to the south side.
What’s the proposed timeline for the facilities expansion?
We’ve moved ahead quite quickly, having visited six different campuses to look at similar facilities. The design team took over 6,000 photographs and volumes of notes, and we were able to sit down and cherry pick the best features of each of those facilities. I like that it will look like one complete building and complement the existing facility, and I think aesthetically blends in with the rest of campus.
Hopefully we can get started immediately after the last game of the 2011 season, and have fans in the new seats and new suites for the 2012 season, which by coincidence is the 40th anniversary of Martin Stadium.
We want to take advantage of construction costs now, and again we have recruiting classes coming in to see what we’re all about. As soon as we have shovels in the ground and steel going up, they’ll know that we mean business when we talk about improving our facilities.
How do you feel about the Pac-12’s structure?
I like the way the conference is divided. The NCAA allows a conference that has 12 or more institutions to conduct a conference championship game, which will be very exciting and another revenue stream for all 12 of the schools.
I was adamant in protecting the Northwest rivalries. We’ve been playing each other for over a hundred years and we were able to assure that would continue. Then we added Stanford and Cal to the four Northwest schools. That gives us a good, competitive division that’s easily accessible to the fans and should provide a lot of fun.
What’s your vision for Cougar athletics over the next two or three years?
We’ll see far more competitive sports programs. We’ll be solvent and have reserves in place so that we can create the stability necessary so we can be successful.
I’ve been known in my career as an athletic director who puts a lot of focus on facilities and marketing. When those are clicking just right, the fundraising improves, morale improves, attendance improves, and our ability to serve as ambassadors for the university improves as well.
Bill Moos (Derivative from photo by Shelly Hanks)