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July 10, 2013

Stansbury talks court, USF rivalry

UCF Athletic Director Todd Stansbury says he couldn't be happier with the Knights' new black-stained basketball court, calling it "edgy" which is reflective of the school's younger brand.

The new court, which generated considerable national publicity when it was unveiled last month, was among the topics discussed in the latest edition of the "Conversations" video series produced by the school and hosted and play-by-play voice Marc Daniels.

"I never could have imagined the kind of buzz we'd end up getting because of it," Stansbury said in the video. "The floor turned out beautifully."

The American Athletic Conference's deal with ESPN means UCF will see a record number of nationally-televised basketball games this upcoming season. The black court - unique in college basketball - will be instantly recognizable as belonging to UCF.

"Part of what we need to do here is elevate the brand," Stansbury said. "With ESPN being our new media partner with the American, for a lot of people that will be their introduction to UCF. Our niche is looking forward. We're a younger school and a younger brand, so being a little edgy and a little bit forward I think is exactly who we need to be... It's a classy look, not gimmicky in any way. I think it's definitely a floor that people are going to remember and recognize."

UCF officially became a member of the American on July 1.

"I think it's exciting to finally get to this point," Stansbury said. "We know who we're going to be playing. It's going to be an exciting year as we elevate our brand and also become part of the development of the brand of the new conference. When you look at our home football schedule it's going to be pretty incredible, and having two national championship teams playing on this floor this year is going to be pretty cool."

Stansbury touched on the similarities between the league's member schools.

"If you really look at the programs that are a part of this league, we're a lot alike for the most part," Stansbury said. "We're in large urban areas. We're large urban research institutions. So many things make us similar, so it makes it easy to come to the table when we have common missions and common goals. It's been a great experience to really start a conference from scratch."

The two recent coaching transitions in women's soccer and track & field were also discussed.

"When I met with the soccer team after losing Amanda Cromwell to UCLA, I told them 'It's a credit to you and this team that a program like UCLA would come and recruit your coach.' We were very fortunate to attract Tiffany Roberts, a gold medalist and part of the team that I think put women's soccer on the map in the U.S., a 1996 gold medalist and the 1999 World Cup champions.

"Then we turn around and we attract the head women's track coach from UCLA. So when I was talking to our track team, 'It says a lot about what you women have done and where the program is to attract another gold medalist from the 1984 Olympics, Jeanette Bolden.' She's already a Hall of Fame coach and has won numerous national championships at UCLA.

"A lot of people think we're a sleeping giant, but we're obviously not asleep. Not many staffs in the country can say they have two Olympic gold medalists as head coaches."

Stansbury ended the interview with more talk about the "365-day rivalry" against USF. In April, he talked about the possibility of an all-sports trophy that could incorporate fan and business involvement.

"Us and USF, we're working together to create the new 365-day rivalry that's really looking forward," Stansbury said. "It's the rivalry of the future. I believe it can be the next great rivalry in this country. The fact we're going to now be playing each other every year. We'll be rolling out information about what that rivalry is going to look like. It presents both of us an incredible opportunity as we elevate our brands and become more well-known nationally. Really, when you look at the size of our institutions and the size of our business communities, I think we're going to show what Central Florida and Tampa Bay is all about."



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