In professional sports the rookie orientation program has been around for quite some time, with the governing bodies doing what they can to help their franchises’ newest additions with the transition to the pro level. Topics such as off-field behavior, money management and the history of the league are discussed, and in most instances the experience is a positive one for those who attend.
And while college athletic departments have orientation programs for their new student-athletes, no conference has put together such a program. That changed Tuesday, as the Big East announced that it will be holding a two-day “Freshman Fundamentals” program for its men’s basketball freshmen. The program will be held in New York City September 12-13, with panels consisting of former Big East players and workshops on media training and personal branding on the docket.
Big East Senior Associate Commissioner for Men’s Basketball Stu Jackson, who announced the beginning of the program, worked in the NBA in various capacities for 13 years before joining the Big East in 2014.This program seems to be along the lines of the NBA’s rookie orientation program, where its’ newest additions spend a couple days learning about the various aspects of being a professional.
This program could be a good one, especially when it comes to helping the freshmen understand not just the on-court aspects of the game but some off-court issues they’ll be faced with as well. While teams themselves do what they can to aid in the transition, hearing those lessons from a different voice (especially from former players) can have just as much of an impact on freshmen, if not more.
Derrick Gordon, who began his playing career at Western Kentucky and then transferred to UMass, announced on Sunday that he’s decided to spend that year at Seton Hall where he’ll be eligible to play immediately. As a redshirt junior the 6-foot-3 Gordon averaged 9.8 points, 4.9 rebounds and 2.7 assists per game in 2014-15, making the decision to leave the program shortly thereafter.
Gordon joins former Fresno State forward Braeden Anderson as transfers who will be eligible immediately for Kevin Willard’s team, with Anderson having two seasons of eligibility remaining. Gordon can certainly help the Pirates on both ends of the floor, as Seton Hall has to account for the loss of two key perimeter contributors in Sterling Gibbs and Jaren Sina (who left the team in January).
Among the returnees on the perimeter are sophomores Isaiah Whitehead and Khadeen Carrington, and they add two more players in freshman Dalton Soffer and former Kansas State point guard Jevon Thomas (he’ll sit out this season).
Gordon, who last spring became the first openly gay athlete in Division I college basketball, joins the Seton Hall program at an interesting time for the athletic department. Friday morning Rev. Warren Hall announced via Twitter that he’d been fired as the director of the school’s campus ministry for supporting the “NOH8” campaign on his Facebook page.
The “NOH8” campaign began as a silent protest of California passing a proposition that amended that state’s constitution to ban gay marriage in 2008.
Rev. Hall also served as the team chaplain for many of Seton Hall’s, a Catholic institution, athletic teams. According to the Washington Post, it is the Archdiocese of Newark that handles decisions regarding the Director of Campus Ministry position and not Seton Hall.
On Friday afternoon the Big East Conference announced it would launch a year-round digital network with Fox Sports beginning this academic year. The Big East Digital Network will debut later this month providing live streams for up to 100 conference games.
The Big East Digital Network will be featured on the Fox Sports GO mobile app, the first conference to utilize such a platform.
“The Conference is proud to team with Fox Sports to introduce the Big East Digital Network,” Big East Conference Commissioner Val Ackerman said in a press release. “While fans of the conference will be able to see all of our men’s basketball games on television, the BIG EAST Digital Network will allow easy access to other programming valued by our schools, including women’s basketball and Olympic sports competitions and features. Thanks to FOX Sports GO’s reach, the Digital Network will provide substantial distribution of BIG EAST sports to a wider audience and better serve our student-athletes and their supporters.”
In 2013, after splitting from the original Big East, the Catholic 7 agreed to a 12-year rights deal with Fox Sports. However, the first year on Fox Sports 1 brought in less than stellar numbers for the new Big East basketball conference, according to Sports Illustrated.
The official launch of the Big East Digital Network is scheduled for Sept. 25 with the first contest to be a Georgetown-DePaul women’s soccer match.