Stuart Todd

New CIAA commissioner Carpenter faces uphill financial battle

Posted September 20, 2012

— Jacqie Carpenter was recently named the new commissioner of the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association, but the first appointed African-American female commissioner of the conference accepts the position with considerable problems to solve.

Carpenter comes from the NCAA where she began as an assistant before being promoted to associate director and for nine years, she served as alliance director of the Women’s Basketball Division I Championship. With the CIAA, Carpenter is taking on a multitude of issues, beginning financially.

For starters, the CIAA is a 501 (c) 3 non-profit that uses donations to survive. That poses a fundamental economic problem when considering the following:

According to a WBTV in Charlotte report last updated Wednesday, the CIAA is facing a $500,000 deficit due to poor ticket sales, decreasing sponsorships and unexpected legal bills. In order to make up that difference, the CIAA Board of Directors has asked each member school to contribute $25,000 to help the conference close the gap.

That in itself may be a difficult proposition for many of the 12 CIAA schools as many of them are facing financial shortfalls of their own. Schools such as Shaw, Saint Augustine’s and Virginia Union are already having to make some hard-line cuts for the upcoming year. And St. Paul’s College has recently gone through a 12-month probationary period for their accreditation due to financial limitations.

Then there is the matter of the conference tournaments and their association with the city of Charlotte. There appears to be a profit gap between what the CIAA brings to Charlotte, where they have been for the past seven years, and the amount of money the conference brings in by hosting events in the Queen City.

A report from the Greater Charlotte Hospitality & Tourism Alliance in March stated that the CIAA conference basketball tournament a year ago brought in $44 million. That is roughly 2.5 times what the ACC brought in to the city when Charlotte hosted their conference tournament in 2008. A subsequent article written in November of 2011, just before the departure of then-commissioner Leon Kerry, stated that the CIAA generated almost $270 million for the state of North Carolina alone since 2000. Add to that, the conference partnered with ESPN to broadcast the CIAA Tournament in 2005.

Is it time for the CIAA to become for-profit and start taking a bigger piece of these pies?

For more than just financial reasons, change to the conference tournaments is imminent. The recent addition of Lincoln University expands the CIAA into Pennsylvania and will add some diversity to contract talks when the tournament goes up for bid next year.

Carpenter is a former volleyball and basketball player at Hampton University and holds a Master of Arts in Sports Management and Administration from Temple University. Her biggest challenge moving forward may be steering the nation’s most prestigious HSBC conference that just celebrated 100 years of operation, into the financial black.

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