Seth Greenberg has carved out a national voice as a college basketball analyst for ESPN, but he remains a Hackensack guy at heart. The 1978 Fairleigh Dickinson University grad does a lot behind the scenes for his alma mater, and today he’s going the extra mile.
Greenberg convinced ESPN’s celebrated College GameDay crew to do a virtual show as part of FDU’s homecoming tonight from 6:30-7:30.
“They were 100 percent supportive,” Greenberg said via phone. “I joked that there’s only eight College GameDays a year (for basketball) and we’ve added a ninth at FDU, who would have thunk it?”
The idea grew from a talk Greenberg gave to business-school students earlier this fall.
“We started talking about the different ways we could help the university in these difficult times,” he said.
The coronavirus pandemic’s fallout is hitting colleges hard as enrollment falls and safety costs rise. Athletic departments everywhere are feeling the pinch, and that’s doubly true at a place like Fairleigh Dickinson, which doesn’t reap the windfall from a Big Ten or Big East television contract.
“It’s brutal,” Greenberg said. “They have a very, very small margin for error financially. When a school like Stanford is dropping sports, how do you think this effects FDU?
That will be one of the show’s topics discussed by Greenberg and co-hosts Jay Bilas, LaPhonso Ellis, and Rece Davis. They’ll also discuss the other pressing issues in college basketball—COVID-19 protocols, the difficulty of scheduling right now, the addition of a fifth year of eligibility and the loosening of transfer restrictions.
“You’ll have a ton more transfers, guys who will leave after their fourth year,” Greenberg said. “It will be a huge issue for mid-major basketball.”
Greenberg played basketball at FDU under North Jersey legend Al Lobalbo. He earned a degree in broadcast journalism and became a Columbia University assistant. Later he won 383 games as the head man at Long Beach State, South Florida and Virginia Tech.
“Seth has done a lot for us,” FDU basketball coach Greg Herenda said. “He’s talked to our team in the past and does our games for ESPN. He’s risen through the ranks of college basketball TV and it’s a great marriage.”
The second part of the virtual GameDay will feature a one-on-one with Greenberg and Herenda, whose Knights are the preseason favorite to win the Northeast Conference. Senior point guard Jahlil Jenkins might be the league’s best player.
“Jahlil is really good,” Greenberg said. “They play well together and they’re freed up to play, and Greg has great passion.”
Herenda said FDU expects to play the full complement of 27 games, including contests at Rutgers and Providence (at deep discounts from the normal “guarantee” fee FDU would collect for such contests). To limit travel, the Northeast Conference is turning home-and-homes into back-to-backs. For example, the Knights would play both games at Sacred Heart (Conn.) during one weekend instead of having a return date later in the season. Since the gyms are expected to be devoid of fans, the site doesn’t much matter.
“It’s going to be a season like none other,” Herenda said. “Everything is day to day. You have to keep your players healthy and make sure they realize how lucky they are to be playing college basketball while so many people throughout the world and the country and right in our own state have lost so much.”
That’s good perspective, but it doesn’t change that fact that these are precarious times for college sports, especially at the mid- and low-major level.
“You just try to survive it as best you can,” Greenberg said. “If this event can give people a little bit of an awareness of what’s going on. I’m glad to do it.”
The virtual ESPN College GameDay at FDU is free and open to the public. Those interested in viewing it can register at https://support.fdu.edu/events/homecoming/registration.
Jerry Carino has covered the New Jersey sports scene since 1996 and the college basketball beat since 2003. He is an Associated Press Top 25 voter. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.