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University of Memphis Tigers’ New Athletic Director not afraid of pressure

University of Memphis introduced Ed Scott as its new Athletic Director. (Photo: Terry Davis/Tri-State Defender)

Ed Scott was named the new Athletic Director at the University of Memphis. He becomes the first African American to lead the department. He comes to Memphis from the University of Virginia, where he served as an Assistant Athletic Director. Previously, he was the Athletic Director at Morgan State University in Baltimore, MD.

He arrives in Memphis during a very critical time for the university. The school must raise $27 million for the Federal Express matching funds to kick in for the Simmons Bank Stadium expansion. Memphis is hoping to be included in the next round of conference expansion. The college landscape is in a whirlwind with the Name, Image, and Likeness (NIL) and the transfer portal.

Scott is not a stranger to Memphis. In 2015, he was in Memphis for a wedding. Scott, on his visit with his wife, said, “If this job ever becomes available, I am going after it. It has always been on my radar. It was something I was ready for.”

On being the first Black AD at Memphis, Scott said, “It is bigger than me. I am how I am. I did not choose to be Black, but I am who I am, and I am proud of it. I look at all the Black and Brown children that are aspiring to be ADs. If I am successful, they are going to think that they have a chance.”

Fundraising

This is the area of most importance for colleges. With the competition growing for the best student-athletes to attend and stay on campus, Memphis is faced with a large construction bill for the acquisition of Simmons Bank Stadium.

The City of Memphis gave the university the stadium. With that, the university is responsible for the maintenance and renovation costs of the facility. Scott mentioned that a focus will still be on getting people to attend the games, but there will be an added effort to improve the luxury areas to increase revenue.

Conference Expansion

There is massive pressure for the University of Memphis to move to a power conference. They have been on the cusp of being invited to a power conference. Scott was not shy to address the issue. Scott said, “Pressure does two things: it bursts pipes or makes diamonds. I like jewelry. I am going to take the pressure because it is a privilege. I don’t have to do this; I get to do this.”

There has not been a timeline for when the next round of conference expansion will occur. This fall, there will be new members in the SEC, Big Ten, and ACC. This year will be the first year of the expanded college football playoffs. If Memphis is successful and has a significant impact, it could boost their resume to move to a power conference.

Scott on conference expansion said, “I think we are at a different place than most at this level. Depending on what happens in some other conferences, that may open up some opportunities for us. There are currently two options everyone knows about, the Big 12 and the ACC. I think the Big 12 is firm with their membership right now. There are some lawsuits pending in the ACC. My job is to position us to be ready if something were to happen.”

Revenue Sharing

In the very near future, there will be revenue sharing with student-athletes. Scott mentioned that Memphis would opt into revenue sharing. How this works is every school in the conference can share a set amount of funds with all the student-athletes. The amount has not been determined, but it could range from $10 to $20 million per year.

This would work like a salary cap. This would have no impact on NIL. The student-athletes will still have the ability to sign any contract on their own for additional compensation.

There is no start date yet for when Scott will begin his tenure at Memphis. When he gets there, his plate will be full. He must hire a softball coach and fill many open positions on his staff.

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