Cincinnati president courts ACC with holiday card, stadium upgrade talk

Cincinnati pushed to join the ACC a few months ago, and apparently the university is still making its presence known to ACC officials.

Public-record emails show Cincinnati President Santa J. Ono sent ACC presidents a holiday card in December and a message about Nippert Stadium renovations in January.

Cincinnati, a Big East member, was among the schools in consideration for ACC membership after Maryland left for the Big Ten in November. The league voted to add Louisville later that month.

In separate Jan. 16 emails titled “ACC Communication -- Holiday Card” and “ACC Communication -- Nippert Stadium,” Ono notified Cincinnati vice provost for faculty development Ryan Hays of his recent communication with the league presidents.

Ono told Hays that he sent the holiday card on Dec. 12 “to many university presidents across the country, including presidents of institutions in the ACC.”

“May your holidays be joyful and your New Year filled with happiness,” read the card, signed “President Santa J. Ono, Wendy Yip and Family.”

On Jan. 11, Ono sent a notice to each ACC president about the renovation plans of Nippert Stadium, considered a detriment to Cincinnati’s quest for a spot in a power conference because of its capacity of only 35,097. The message included a video about Cincinnati’s plans.

A $60 million-$70 million renovation is expected to increase the seating to at least 40,000 while adding suites and club levels.

“UC’s 120-year tradition of great college football is taking a major step forward with plans to renovate our historic Nippert Stadium,” Ono wrote to the presidents. “Located in the heart of our campus, Nippert shines as one of the nation’s oldest college football venues. I invite you to watch the enclosed DVD to learn more about our exciting plans. All the best, Santa J. Ono.” requested records of Ono’s emails from early December to mid-January in light of the Big East Conference’s breakup with the Catholic 7 basketball schools.

It’s no secret that several Big East schools would be at the ACC’s doorstep upon invite because of the financial disparity in television rights. While the Big East is closing in on a football television rights deal with NBC Sports worth about $2.5-2.9 million per year per school, according to the Sports Business Journal, ACC schools corral a reported $17.1 million per year in television rights.

UConn and USF also were considered by the ACC in the days after losing Maryland.

In December, the Cincinnati Enquirer reported on the email correspondence between athletics director Whit Babcock and Ono about focusing on joining the ACC and the Big 12.



Our Latest Stories