New stipends put spotlight on colleges’ math

COA

The start of a new school year ushers in a new financial reality for college athletic departments and, with it, questions about the hot new statistic in college sports: cost of attendance, or COA.

Schools use cost of attendance to determine a student’s need for financial aid, and federal law dictates the types of expenses that can be taken into account when a financial aid department determines its COA figure for the academic year. Athletic departments have traditionally provided grants-in-aid to cover a majority of COA components — tuition, books, room and board — but NCAA rules have prohibited them from covering travel/transportation and personal and miscellaneous expenses.

In January, however, the power five conferences — the ACC, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac-12 and SEC — granted the ability to offer student athletes stipends to cover the full cost of attendance, and the other Division I football conferences followed suit.

And that’s where the questions come in. The methods that financial aid offices use to determine figures for travel and personal expenses differ from school to school. Different methods mean some schools offer larger stipends than others, creating a new point of differentiation in the hypercompetitive world of college athletics recruiting.

The change sparked a debate about whether the system could be manipulated to provide higher COAs, and the accompanying recruiting advantage, for some schools.

Click here to continue reading my piece in last week’s SportsBusiness Journal (no subscription required).

College Football’s Most Expensive Tickets for 2015

CFB Most Expensive Tix 2015With home games against Texas and USC, Notre Dame has the highest average ticket price at home this season at $332.09, according to ticket search engineTiqIQ. It’s the highest preseason average TiqIQ has recorded in the past five years.

Three of the five most expensive games right now will feature Notre Dame, two in South Bend. Notre Dame vs. Boston College at Fenway Park is averaging a whopping $919.90 per ticket. Texas at Notre Dame comes in second at $829.29, and USC at Notre Dame ranks fifth at $590.81.

Want to see the Top Five most expensive games this year and the Top 10 most expensive teams?

Click here to read my piece on Forbes.

Tailgater Concierge Makes Tailgating Easier For Fans

Tailgater ConciergeLast year, college football attendance at the FBS level topped 34.7 million fans over 787 games, an average of 44,190 fans per game. One of the advantages to attending a game in person is, of course, the opportunity to tailgate. If you’re anything like me, you try to find friends who are willing to schlep around the tables and chairs and tents and get there six hours before the game to claim a prime spot.

Personally, I enjoy the good food with good friends part of tailgating more than the setup and cleanup portion of the day. If you’re with me, you’ll appreciate the news today. This fall, a new service will launch at 18 universities that takes all of the hassle out of tailgating: Tailgater Concierge.

Click here to keep reading my piece on Forbes.

NLRB Dismisses Northwestern Unionization Petition

NorthwesternStudent athletes came the closest they’ve ever come to being classified as employees when Northwestern scholarship football student athletes petitioned the National Labor Relations Board in early 2014. That journey, however, came to an end today when the full NLRB panel in D.C. dismissed the petition.

Click here to keep reading on Outkick the Coverage on FoxSports.com.

New Collegiate Handbags from Vera Bradley and Dooney & Bourke

Vera Bradley collegiate merchandise
Vera Bradley’s new collegiate merchandise line

The latest brand to dip a toe into the collegiate merchandise market is Vera Bradley, which has created a line for 15 schools, each featuring five different options: a tote, a backpack, a duffel bag, a cross-body bag and a wristlet.

Dooney & Bourke entered the space last fall with 17 schools. The company’s early success led to 15 schools being added this fall.

To learn more about both lines, check out my piece on Forbes.com.

An Argument for Allowing Student Athletes to Profit from Endorsements

ArgumentGuest post

Earlier this year, a federal judge ruled in favor of all collegiate athletes featured in past EA Sports NCAA video games to receive payment for the use of their likeness. The settlement ended up being worth $60 million overall with each athlete receiving just over $7,000 each. The big question now is, what could this possibly open the door to, and what could be next for these athletes before they head to the pros? Will the NCAA consider permitting endorsement opportunities for their athletes?

According to the NCAA’s website, current or future student-athletes could face major consequences if they accept endorsement money:

College-bound and current student-athletes who want to compete at Division I and II schools need to preserve their eligibility by meeting NCAA amateurism requirements. If a college-bound student-athlete is paid for appearing in a commercial or receives an endorsement before he or she is accepted at an NCAA member school, his or her eligibility could be affected.

The interesting part of the latest EA Sports ruling, is that a federal court is overruling the NCAA rule and is ordering the player be paid for use of their likeness. As we know, the association is very against the payment of athletes, this may not be a bad thing all around though. Especially when you consider the burgeoning NCAA betting industry.

The impact of the gambling industry

Millions of dollars are bet on college basketball and football annually, with online sportsbooks like TopBet (or Bovada, etc.) increasing the financial flow of NCAA betting beyond the reach of Vegas. None of this money will go to the universities or players, but to the oddsmakers, winners, and government (assuming taxes are paid accordingly).

However, the massive growth of collegiate sports gambling is a major indication that there is big interest and a bigger market than anticipated for these players. There is money to be made. If betting on the NCAA eventually becomes fully legal and sanctioned, players will need an alternative way to earn if the NCAA expects to keep point spreads honest. This means opening up their (player) opportunities to be paid for use of their personal brand.

To use an extreme example, the state of Colorado legalized the sale marijuana in 2013. The state then brought in $53 million in tax revenue in the first year alone. It was a radical move to legalize something that politicians had fought so hard against for decades. However, the state was immediately in the black considering it hadn’t been introduced ever before. This analogy is a little different though, because there were actual costs involved to the state, whereas there would be little to no challenges in the way for the NCAA.

The argument for permitting endorsements

Now let’s circle back to the argument of why student athlete should be allowed to profit off their own name, image and likeness. The EA Sports decision is the first stepping stone in something that could benefit the association.

Let’s just admit what we already know – the vast majority of high profile student-athletes have typically signed on with shoe or apparel companies once they’ve left their respective schools. In fact, some have even had released commercials before they’ve played in their first professional game.

According to a piece released by the Houston Chronicle, a sports agent’s commission for an endorsement is generally between 10 and 20 percent. If endorsements were allowed while student athletes were still in college, the NCAA could take that endorsement percentage.

It’s just one idea among hundreds of other scenarios, where the association could add millions of dollars to its bank account. It’s hard to find reasons why permitting student athletes to profit off their names wouldn’t work wonders for the players, teams and association itself.

College Athletics Construction Roundup: August 2015

http://businessofcollegesports.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/College-Athletics-Construction-Roundup.jpgThe “College Athletics Construction Roundup” is a monthly series on the construction of intercollegiate athletics facilities. Each month we’ll provide a list of announced, in progress and recently completed athletic construction projects from around the country. You can view previous editions of the “College Athletics Construction Roundup” here.

Master Plan

Eastern Kentucky unveiled its strategic campus plan. Among the athletic items include a $27 million addition to Roy Kidd Stadium, a new wellness center / indoor practice facility and enhancements to the baseball and softball stadiums.

Wake Forest is in the middle of an athletic facility plan. The $21 million indoor practice facility for football and $4.5 million facility for the golf programs will open this fall. The school is looking to begin construction on a $10 million project for the baseball team which includes a clubhouse, locker room and coaches’ offices. The school is also exploring premium seating additions to Joel Coliseum.

Virginia is eyeing upgrades to facilities across several sports. Highlights include a new $12 million outdoor tennis facility, a $50 million football support building (to include locker rooms, coaches’ offices, auditorium and academic support space) and $12 million in improvements to baseball’s Davenport Field (to include added premium seating, additional indoor batting cages and the replacement of wooden bleachers with chair-back seating. Continue reading College Athletics Construction Roundup: August 2015

Travel Stipends for NCAA Final Fours and College Football Playoff a Huge Success

NCAA and CFP Travel StipendsLast year, the NCAA did something unprecedented: they approved a pilot program to provide travel stipends to the parents or guardians of men’s and women’s basketball student athletes participating in the Final Four (up to $3,000 per student athlete) and National Championship (an additional $1,000 per student athlete).

The program also authorized the College Football Playoff to provide up to $3,000 per student athlete for the College Football Playoff National Championship, although the CFP ultimately adopted a $2,500 per student athlete stipend program.

Men’s and women’s basketball travel stipends

A month ago, the NCAA announced it would be extending the program for men’s and women’s basketball for a year, and then Tuesday the College Football Playoff followed suit and extended its program for another year.

Click here to keep reading my piece on Outkick the Coverage on FoxSports.com

Four New College Football Teams Take the Field in 2015

Four New College Football Teams Take the Field in 2015UAB made big headlines last December when it announced the end of its football program (which has since been reinstated*). Everyone wondered – would this become a national trend?

Since the day UAB cut the program, I’ve been very outspoken about the fact that I think it was an isolated incident. I’ve spoken to athletic directors and presidents around the country, and no one believed any other school was seriously considering dropping football.

Need more convincing? The National Football Foundation & College Hall of Fame announced today that colleges and universities offering football is at an all-time high of 773 programs with four new teams taking the field this fall: East Tennessee State University and Kennesaw State University begin in the Football Championship Series, Finlandia University starts a Division III team, and Lyon College joins at the NAIA level.

Current tabulations have eight additional programs launching from 2016-2018, including UAB’s reinstated program. From 1978 to 2014, 179 football programs were added to colleges and universities across the country.

There’s an entire chapter in my book Saturday Millionaires: Why Winning Football Builds Winning Colleges about the benefits of a big-time college football program, from increased enrollment to free advertising for the university. Although my book focuses on programs at the FBS level, programs at other levels often experience some of the same benefits.

Finlandia University, for example, is launching seven new athletic programs over the next seven years in an attempt to increase its enrollment, which currently sits at just 485. The goal is to bring in 217 additional student athletes (70 for football alone), which would result in a whopping 44 percent increase in enrollment.

Finlandia’s current tuition is $21,610 annually (and there are no athletic scholarship at the Division III level), equating to a $4.7 million increase in revenue annually if there were 217 additional students (obviously not accounting for any discounted tuition rates or financial aid that might impact Finlandia’s bottom line).

What Finlandia is doing is nothing new. It’s a trend we’ve seen at quite a few smaller schools in recent years.

Included with the NFF’s press release was a great list showing all of the programs being added in the next few years, as well as a look back at additions made since 2008: Continue reading Four New College Football Teams Take the Field in 2015

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