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CIAA chief: Plans in place to boost tourney, finances
Charlotte a 'great' partner, but new bids pending
 
Published Thursday, February 28, 2013 10:59 am
by Herbert L. White

CIAA Commissioner Jacqie Carpenter has a full agenda.

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PHOTO/CURTIS WILSON
Lincoln (Pa.) women celebrate after winning the school’s first CIAA tournament game with a 50-46 victory against Johnson C. Smith Tuesday at Time Warner Cable Arena. Commissioner Jacqie Carpenter said the league will consider fan and sponsor feedback to find ways to improve the tournament, which Charlotte has hosted for eight years.


With the league hosting its annual basketball tournament in Charlotte – her first as the  top executive – Carpenter has spent the last six months leading a rebranding of the CIAA as a business and sports enterprise. In an exclusive interview last month with The Post, Carpenter talked about finances, branding and what it would take to keep the tournament in Charlotte. Responses are edited for brevity and clarity.


• On taking stock of the league’s assets and liabilities upon being named commissioner in August:


“When you look at your assets and what’s protected in your assets, you’ve got to look and say this has to change because if this doesn’t change, we’re going to go in the hole here. If this doesn’t change, the messaging and the branding will get lost, so how do we make sure we recover all that to protect who we are.


• On taking vendors and party promoters to court over unauthorized use of the league’s marks and logos:


“Sometimes I feel like more people have the CIAA than the CIAA has more people, so my goal is wherever we are as the CIAA that people surround us and support us but we’re still the core. You don’t get to make decisions about the CIAA; the CIAA makes decisions about CIAA. That’s with our branding, that’s with our financial, that’s with our student athletes.”


• On fiscal responsibility and erasing debt that at one point was $500,000:


“I think we’re probably a couple of years (away from) making sure we are in the black. I think this year we are working very hard to meet budget and not be over, so that means we have to  make cuts and we’re fine with that. I think we’ve made some good decisions that make sense. What I tell our staff is whatever decisions we make, who does it impact the most? Do the student athletes benefit from it? If the student athletes don’t benefit from it, it’s probably not something we should be thinking about right now. If we keep our mindset on that, we’re going to be fine.”


“There’s work to do. I’m not saying we’re changing everything in one day. There’s work to do to get ourselves in position in the next couple of years that the CIAA is in great financial, academic and branding stability.


• How fan and sponsor feedback will impact how the tournament going forward:


“When we get through this tournament here and after May when we have our spring meeting, we’ll be going full blown on how we’re going to promote this tournament and its accomplishments, so the buzz next year will be a lot busier. But right now we’re trying to make sure that we can get through and do the best we can given that we’ve got some new staff in our office that’s trying to get abreast of what we’re doing, getting our membership to get used to the changes we’re doing.”


• On hyping basketball to improve attendance:


“We’re all the walking PR people about our own tournament. We’ve got to tell people we need you in the venue to support our student athletes. Go to the parties and have a good time but go to the games first. Take advantage of the whole culture of the event. That’s what you’ve got to get people to start believing in.”


• On what the chances are that the tournament will return to Charlotte after the current contract ends in 2014:


“We’ve been working very hard to get our bid package together so we can push it out. I’m hoping probably sometime early spring that we’re able to make the announcement of the timeline of the bid process by end of the summer we’ll make an announcement of where we’re going to go. It could be Charlotte; it could be somewhere else. We don’t know who’s going to bid.”


• On the relationship with Charlotte as host city:


“Charlotte has been a great partner of ours. I’m sure they’d love us to stay here and I don’t want to commit to say we’re going to stay here but there are some things in our bid package that are going to be very different than what we’ve done in the past. …Scholarships are very key but there are some operational things that we also need to manage as a whole.”

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