Monthly Archives: August 2011
Ok, so the move to the SEC isn’t official yet…but come on, we all know it’s going to happen. Texas A&M officially announced today it will be leaving the Big 12 and seeking another conference. No need to prognosticate over where they might land. They’ll be the 13th member of the SEC.
If you’ll allow me, I’d like to take off my journalist hat and put on my fan hat. Having lived in SEC country all but nine months of my life, and having graduated law school from an SEC school, I’d like to give A&M fans a primer on what to expect when they become a part of SEC nation.
- We operate as equals in the SEC. Alabama never lobbies to receive a bigger share than Vanderbilt. You get the same conference distribution no matter how many times you are or aren’t on television. Florida isn’t trying to start its own network. It’s all for one and one for all.
- You are no longer simply Texas A&M fans. You will be SEC fans. When any SEC team plays any non-SEC team, you will root for the SEC team to win. I’m a Gator fan who has rooted for every other SEC team at some point in time, including Georgia. Best example? Alabama and Auburn have perhaps the biggest rivalry in the SEC and one of the biggest in college football. Yet, over the past year they’ve each done something to help the other through groups called Tide for Toomer’s and Toomer’s for Tuscaloosa. Although a rogue Alabama fan poisoned trees at Toomer’s Corner in Auburn, Alabama fans created Tide for Toomer’s and pitched in over $50,000 to the effort to preserve the trees. Just a few months later, Tuscaloosa was devastated by a tornado. Toomer’s for Tuscaloosa formed and recently a flag football game, Rivals Unite for Recovery, featuring former Alabama and Auburn players was played to raise money for tornado relief. Bottom line: in the SEC we take care of our own.
- If you want to be a season ticket holder, you should act fast. It may already be too late given the news that all season tickets for this year are already sold out. It’s not likely to get any better. Last I heard the waiting list at Alabama is 10,000 fans deep. You’re not Alabama, but you’re a new Texas A&M. You have until the fall of 2012 to figure out how to get season tickets and then you should hold on for dear life.
- Speaking of waiting lists, you can get on the list for the 2012 SEC Championship game starting tomorrow. Yes, you read that right: 2012. The 2011 game is already sold out. On average around 200 tickets become available to those on the waitlist each year, but with each fan having the option to buy two tickets only about 100 people make it off the waitlist. The average ticket on the secondary market for the 2009 game was $583, so I’d get on that waitlist if I was you. Once you’re in, you’re in, so if you get off the waitlist, be sure to renew your tickets each year. Trust me, you’ll have no trouble unloading them if A&M isn’t in the game.
- If you want to travel to another SEC stadium for a game, make your hotel reservations at least a year in advance. Hotels in Gainesville routinely allow fans to sign a contract reserving a room for every home game weekend. Those contracts are signed a year in advance. Expect to encounter a lot of this around the SEC.
- “Nowhere in the SEC do SEC sports come second [except maybe Nashville, but Vanderbilt is often the exception].” I added the last part, but the rest of the quote is courtesy of Chadd Scott, who recently wrote about why Missouri isn’t a good fit in the SEC in terms of culture and passion. Don’t worry, Aggies, what Missouri lacks you all seem to have in spades.
- We travel around here. With visiting team ticket allotment going from the Big 12′s 4,000 to the SEC’s 7,000, roll out the welcome mat. SEC fans will descend upon College Station, and with few exceptions be cordial visitors.
SEC fans, what other advice or comments do you have to welcome Aggies into the conference?
We all knew it was coming and now it’s official: Texas A&M is leaving the Big 12 and seeking conference affiliation elsewhere.
The school’s press release is here: http://www.tamu.edu/athletics/conferenceChange.html.
Someone recently contacted me and said they read University of Kentucky’s football program makes more than its basketball program. They found this hard to believe given the success of the two programs comparatively.
It’s true. Kentucky football brings in almost twice as much in revenue as the basketball program. Not only that, Kentucky basketball comes in behind quite a few other basketball programs in terms of profit: Marquette, Northwestern, Pitt, and Louisville, just to name a few. In-state rival Louisville boasts the highest profits of any basketball program in the nation and the 21st most profitable sports program overall. You can see all football and basketball program profits ranked here.
Where is Kentucky falling short? The number one source of revenue for most programs is donor contributions. Many think it’s conference distributions, but even with Kentucky’s $18.3 million SEC distribution and Louisville’s $1.2 million Big East distribution, Louisville still comes out on top. In a previous post, I showed you how the majority of last year’s BCS top 25 relied more heavily on donor contributions than conference distributions. What’s the best way to get those contributions? Require them for access to season tickets and premium seating areas.
Now you might be thinking that Louisville’s success is owed to its new arena. However, Louisville was the largest profit-producer in college basketball the season before the new arena. In Freedom Hall, Louisville basketball’s previous home, it made $1.6 million on suite rentals and $10.8 million in ticket-related contributions required to be eligible to rent those suites. In the new arena those numbers have sky-rocketed to $5.7 million in suite rentals and $17.2 million in ticket-related contributions.
What about Kentucky? How much are they making for suite rentals and ticket-related contributions required to be eligible to rent suites? Nothing. Zero. Zilch. Nada.
Rupp Arena doesn’t have a single suite for University of Kentucky to sell.
Kentucky’s not the only SEC school missing out on the opportunity to increase basketball revenue because they have no suites. Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi State, and Ole Miss also lack suites in their basketball arenas and coliseums.
Tennessee only recently added suites to Thompson-Boling Arena. According to the athletic department website, “Phase I [of the 2008 renovations to Thompson-Boling] also included new luxury suites and loge seating, which are a primary funding source for much of the renovations.” Each suite goes for $35,000-50,000 annually. Over at South Carolina suites bring in $42,000 each.
Reports this week indicated Kentucky’s Rupp Arena could be renovated if the convention center is relocated. If luxury boxes and other premium seating areas were added, it could mean tens of millions of dollars in additional revenue for Kentucky’s athletic department. It’s an opportunity they can’t afford to miss out on.
CORRECTION: Arkansas was inadvertently listed in the original piece as having no suites. Bud Walton Arena has 47 suites.
Today’s post is by guest contributor Ryan Beckler. You can follow him on Twitter: @RBecklerPSU.
Every year, a group of underclassmen forego their senior year to enter the NFL Draft. The fame and money of the NFL has had some players flocking to professional football like grown men to a Hooters restaurant.
Over the past dozen or so years, the number of college amateurs entering the draft has steadily increased. This year, a record 56 players renounced their remaining college eligibility in favor of pursuing a career in the NFL.
With all of that said, there’s one important question that really hasn’t been answered: Do underclassmen have better NFL careers than their senior counterparts?
So, I investigated. I looked at the career starts of every player drafted in the first round in an eight-year period (1999-2006). I used career starts to gauge a player’s long-term success in the NFL. More starts represent a more serviceable player with usually a longer tenure in the league.
Here’s a graph distinguishing the average career starts between juniors and seniors drafted in the first round.
This illustration shows that in 1999 and 2000, many underclassmen such as Edgerrin James, Jamal Lewis, and Jevon Kearse experienced great success during their careers. But since then, seniors have shown that they are a safer bet when it comes to first round selections. During the 2001-2006 drafts, first-round underclassmen have started 16% less games than players who have four years of college experience.
The most underclassmen busts appear at wide receiver. Twelve junior WRs were drafted in the round one from 99-06. They have combined for a paltry total of seven Pro-Bowls, five of which belong to Andre Johnson. David Terrell, Freddie Mitchell, Ashley Lelie, Charles Rodgers, and Troy Williamson were all underclassmen who have had vastly disappointing careers.
Now of course this isn’t a concrete report. There are many variables such as opportunity, injury, and coaching, but both sides of this story face the same issues, so I consider those a wash. The main culprit for lack of success for these younger players has to be lack of experience and preparation. More often than not, many of the underclassmen that do come out a year early have one stellar season. That one solid year usually excites NFL teams and players alike.
But lately, the excitement of many of these underclassmen seems to wear off quickly.
Take recently released Aaron Maybin as an example; the redshirt sophomore had just one great season at DE. He totaled 12 sacks in his lone full season as starter. Although many people felt he could have used some polishing before making the jump, Maybin quickly bolted to the NFL. After only two short years in the league, the once-thought franchise defensive end has been released by the Buffalo Bills, and is now beginning his next stint with the New York Jets.
And that tale is sadly one of many… Heard of David Terrell, Willie Middlebrooks, Jamar Fletcher, T.J. Duckett, William Green, Jarvis Moss, or Jamarcus Russell lately?
The most interesting thing about the future of underclassmen is the newly imposed rookie wage scale. Some of these players leave college early to earn a paycheck, which is fine. With the new scale in place, first round picks, particularly top 10 picks will take far less money than before. Cam Newton’s contract (four years, 22 mil) is only worth 29% of what Sam Bradford’s contract is worth (six years, 78 mil). Ryan Matthews, 12th overall pick in 2010 has 5 year $27 million contract while this year’s 12th overall pick, Christian Ponder is set to make only $11 million over four years.
Will the reduced money scare away some juniors from the draft? It might.
The above report shows that the extra year of college football can significantly prolong the professional career of a player. Perhaps the decrease in money will make underclassmen more hesitant to leave college for the NFL early.
But one thing is for sure, time will certainly tell.
BusinessofCollegeSports.com thanks guest contributor Ryan Beckler for today’s post. You can follow Ryan on Twitter: @RBecklerPSU.
Deep in the Heart of Texas: What The Longhorn Network Means to the NCAA’s Ability to Enforce Its Bylaws
There’s a four word saying which over the course of time, has come to define the pride and character of the state of Texas and its citizens:
Don’t mess with Texas. 
Today, Texans (Longhorns fans, at least) can further tout their state’s prowess as a national stronghold, as the University of Texas Longhorns become the first collegiate team to launch their own cable network—The Longhorn Network.
For Texans, Longhorns fans and college sports fans alike, the birth of The Longhorn Network brings great possibilities. The first perk born of The Longhorn Network is that Longhorns fans now have the ability to tune into a channel with 24-7 coverage of their favorite team. Non-Longhorns enthusiasts willing to put pride for their own team aside can find hope in the existence of the network, as a the creation of a network devoted entirely to the college team of their preference is largely contingent upon the success of The Longhorn Network. Thus, the launch of The Longhorn Network and its continued success is seemingly something every college sports fan can rally around for the time being.
However, today’s launch of The Longhorn Network signals another roadblock placed in the NCAA’s path of enforcing its bylaws.
On August 16, 2011, college sports fans were arguably shaken to their core when a story broke detailing a felon’s allegations that he provided improper benefits to 72 University of Miami student-athletes.
In response to the allegations made by Nevin Shapiro that he provided over $1 million in improper benefits to Miami student-athletes over the course of eight years, many pundits have called for the NCAA to inflict the “death penalty” on the University of Miami.
The death penalty is the “most serious” penalty that can be inflicted by the NCAA. Most recently, it was inflicted against the Southern Methodist University football team and resulted in that team being unable to participate in its own football seasons.
However, the NCAA’s most recent infliction of the death penalty came long before the birth of the lucrative network and NCAA/university/collegiate sports team/conference television agreement marriage.
Although the $300 million, twenty year contract between ESPN and the University of Texas, which spurred the creation of first-ever television network devoted entirely to one university’s teams, the Texas Longhorn Network contract by no means is the only television contract clouding the NCAA’s ability to enforce its bylaws.
The NCAA itself is a party to numerous hefty television contracts, the most notable being its current $10.8 billion, 14-year agreement with CBS Sports and Turner Broadcasting “. . . to present the Division I Men’s Basketball Championship. . .”
NCAA member conferences are likewise partners to lucrative television contracts. The Big 10 Network debuted in 2010. The Pac-12 Conference will launch seven television channels in 2012. The deal between the Pac-12, along with ESPN and Fox leading to the creation of the Pac-12 Network reportedly calls for the Pac-12 to be paid $3 billion over twelve years. The ACC, the conference to which the University of Miami is a member, signed a twelve year, $1.86 billion television contract with ESPN in 2010.
The existence of these contracts is not news to anyone. There is large money to be made in college athletics. In the twenty-first century, the bulk of that money comes from media agreements.
However, the problem presented in imposing the death penalty in the twenty-first century is caused by this widespread entanglement between television networks and college sporting programs and their governing bodies.
Arguably, the cancellation of any one team’s season by way of imposition of the death penalty in this age of the massive media contract would result in a fury of lawsuits. Networks would likely argue that the absence of a team from any sports season’s schedule would prevent them from receiving the benefit of the bargain they negotiated for. Thus, the imposition of the death penalty against a team in the twenty-first century not only kills their season, but kills television contracts.
This notion is not lost on NCAA President Mark Emmert.
Recently, when discussing the fact that he “. . . isn’t opposed to [the NCAA Committee on Infractions] using [the Death Peantly],” Emmert quipped, “. . . you have to recognize that, today, inflicting that penalty on any one school has a lot of collateral damage to other members of the conference, around media contract rights and a variety of things. So you wouldn’t enter into it casually.”
In an age when the majority of its Division I programs or their governing bodies are parties to some sort of media contract, and on the day when the first network devoted entirely to one university’s athletics program launches, is it time for the NCAA to review the effects that media contracts have on its ability to enforce its own bylaws? Given that over the course of the last week, news of the largest scandal to allegedly rock a school’s athletic program broke and the NCAA’s own president noted that television contracts may prevent the NCAA from issuing its strongest sanction against said program, should the NCAA adopt new enforcement bylaws which better mirror the face of NCAA media contracts in the twenty-first century?
The NCAA exists to promote its “core purpose” “. . . to govern competition in a fair, safe, equitable and sportsmanlike manner, and to integrate intercollegiate athletics into higher education so that the educational experience of the student-athlete is paramount.” Given the broad expanse of television contracts in the twenty-first century NCAA model, how does the NCAA limit these contracts’ effect on its ability to enforce its rules and promote its core purpose?
Enact legislation limiting the monetary amount that member institutions can accept for television contracts.
Many of you likely gasped upon reading this proposition.
In a meager economy where most athletics departments struggle just to make ends meet, the idea of the NCAA telling schools, conferences and even itself how much money they can make from television deals seems nearly blasphemous.
However, this proposition is not unfounded. The NCAA is not a corporation. Thus, it does not exist to fulfill a duty of obtaining the greatest amount of profit for the benefit of its shareholders. Rather, it exists to promote its core purpose. Do the existence of billion dollar media contracts which seemingly prevent the NCAA from enforcing its bylaws in certain situations allow the NCAA to promote its core purpose?
Additionally, this proposition may be presentable, because the NCAA is built largely upon the amateur status of its student-athletes. If the NCAA can mandate that its student-athletes do not receive payment for their participation in NCAA sports (other than scholarships), can it also mandate that its member institutions and their governing bodies do not enter into large media contracts which hampers the ability of the NCAA to enforce its bylaws?
Because of the stronghold that media contracts have on every inch of the NCAA, it is unlikely that this is a popular remedy for the NCAA tot pursue. Add into the mix the likelihood that antitrust, tortuous interference and other legal action would likely arise in response to such a measure by the NCAA, and this proposition seems nearly dead on arrival.
Because Option 1 requires a perfect marriage of economics and lawyers, it is unlikely to become a reality anytime soon.
Therefore, the NCAA must evaluate its own enforcement mechanisms and present enforcement measures which address the reality of the deep roots that media contracts have dug into the twenty-first century world of the NCAA.
If media contracts prevent the NCAA from inflicting the death penalty against the most egregious violators of its bylaws, the NCAA must act swiftly to adopt enforcement measures which match the intensity of the death penalty, but do not lead to the breach of such contracts. However, the adoption of new enforcement measures must be instituted in a way which promotes the NCAA’s “core purpose” and ensure that the education of the student-athlete remains “paramount.”
Which solution the NCAA adopts to address the lingering issue of the effects of television contracts on its enforcement mechanisms is to be seen. However, two things are certain:
1. With the changing and widening landscape of television contracts involving NCAA programs, the NCAA must act promptly to adopt a solution which addresses the threat that such contracts pose to its ability to enforce its bylaws.
2. For the time being, in adopting a resolution, the NCAA must hear the refrain likely to be sung by many:
Don’t mess with Texas.
You can follow Guest Contributor Alicia Jessop on Twitter (@RulingSports) and visit her site at RulingSports.com.
 Interestingly, however, the slogan “Don’t mess with Texas” is a trademark of the Texas Department of Transportation which was created with the intention to reduce littering in the state. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Don’t_Mess_with_Texas)
Earlier this week, I explained the history of the death penalty in collegiate athletics and why Miami is unlikely to receive it. Today, I want to show you the financial implications of the death penalty if Miami were to receive it. I also want to suggest an alternative solution that inflicts severe punishment without devastating the program long-term in the way the death penalty decimated the SMU football program.
University of Miami is a private school and thus not subject to open records requests. To look at the financial impact of the death penalty on the football program, I’ve chosen to use fellow conference member Georgia Tech’s football program as an example. Here’s how the two schools compare financially in football when you look at the data each provided to the US Department of Education for the 2009-2010 school year:
Georgia Tech Football
Overall athletic department revenue and expenses are similar at the two schools as well, with Miami bringing in a total of $56 million and spending $51 million and Georgia Tech at $47 million on both accounts. Miami has 417 athletes and Georgia Tech 387. The cost of grants-in-aid is much higher at Miami because it is a private institution, but that doesn’t play into today’s comparison. Also, Miami leases Sun Life Stadium, whereas Georgia Tech owns a stadium on campus. Although Georgia Tech’s financial situation is not identical to Miami, it is close enough to give an idea of how the death penalty would impact the program.
Here’s a brief list of revenues that would be lost (at Georgia Tech) if the death penalty was instituted for one year, based on the Georgia Tech Athletic Department’s audited financial statement for fiscal year 2010: Read the rest of this entry
Since the Yahoo! report detailing improper benefits allegedly given to a number of University of Miami football and one basketball player, I’ve received a lot of questions about whether the NCAA would levy the death penalty against the football program. This week, NCAA President Mark Emmert made it clear that he’s willing to use the death penalty if the circumstances warrant the harsh penalty.
The death penalty is when the NCAA bans a school from participating in a sport for one or more years. The death penalty is mainly reserved for repeat violators who have a second major violation within five years of being on probation in the same or another sport. However, the NCAA has the power to levy the death penalty in instances where there is no repeat violation if the violation at issue is serious enough in nature, such as when the NCAA determines a program is a “willful violator.” The penalty can bar competition in the sport for one or two seasons.
The NCAA’s silver bullet has only been used five times, only three of which were in Division I: Kentucky (basketball; 1952-53 season), Southwestern Louisiana, now University of Louisiana at Lafayette (basketball; 1973-74 and 1974-75 seasons), SMU (football; 1987 and 1988 seasons), Morehouse (men’s soccer; 2004 and 2005 seasons), and MacMurray (men’s tennis; 2005-06 and 2006-07 seasons).
Kentucky’s death penalty arose from the arrest of three former Kentucky basketball players who were arrested for shaving points during the 1948-49 season. Another player, who was still enrolled and playing at Kentucky, was accused and investigated and eventually suspended from the University. In the end, the NCAA placed all sports at Kentucky on probation and banned each sport from post-season competition for the 1952-53 season. The NCAA then pressured all other schools into not scheduling Kentucky, effectively cancelling the season for every sport.
Southwestern Louisiana’s basketball program was found to have a number of different violations following the 1972-73 season, which ranged from academic fraud to improper benefits to recruiting violations. Among the most serious violations were instances of academic fraud, including five players who were allowed to compete despite having GPAs below the NCAA’s requirement. In one case, an assistant coach forged the principal’s signature on a recruit’s high school transcript. The NCAA banned the basketball program from play for two seasons in 1973-74 and 1974-75.
The most famous death penalty case was when SMU lost two football seasons in the late 80s. Read the rest of this entry
Last time I checked, the SEC doesn’t require schools to physically move when they join the conference. There are no plans for Texas A&M to relocate to Mississippi, Alabama or Georgia in order to join the SEC. You won’t be driving down the highway and see half a building on a semi trailer. Nope, Texas A&M will be staying in College Station.
Why then the cries of poverty in Texas should Texas A&M leave the Big 12? According to a report by the Perryman Group, even if the Big 12 stays intact, the economic impact of Texas A&M joining the SEC is a reduction of $217.2 million in gross product and 3,050 jobs on the Texas economy. Huh?
Unfortunately, Mr. Perryman dosen’t give us any indication as to how he arrived at his numbers. That makes it difficult for me to comment other than to say that I don’t see it.
Texas A&M will still be located in College Station, Texas. It will still play seven to eight home games in College Station. If anything, I think you will see an increase in economic impact in College Station as SEC fans, who are known to travel, descend upon the town. There are no SEC schools within reasonable same-day driving distance (which can’t be said for Baylor, Texas and maybe even Texas Tech), so that means more fans staying in local hotels, eating in local restaurants, and purchasing from local stores.
Most would agree a move to the SEC will benefit Texas A&M. In addition to what I’ve already mentioned, it will see a rise in conference distributions. In 2010, the Big 12 distributed $139 million between member institutions. As most of you are aware, the Big 12 does not distribute television money equally. According to Texas A&M financial documents, their portion of the conference distribution was $9.3 million, not including bowl game reimbursements. Read the rest of this entry
Watch this space for an in-depth look at the economic impact of Texas A&M’s potential move to the SEC.
I generally post every weekday, but because of the magnitude of this study (and because I still have a full-time job completely unrelated to my sports works) I’ve had to focus on the research this week. I want to deliver to you the best and most complete numbers I can obtain. I think you’ll appreciate the result.
I hope to have the post up later today or tomorrow, but I’m still waiting on some data.
The Texas A&M to SEC rumors have heated up the past few weeks, but on Friday it reached a deafening roar. News leaked that the Board of Regents would be voting today on a move to the SEC. However, various reports have it that the SEC is unlikely to vote to allow Texas A&M into the conference. The New York Times ran a story Saturday where an SEC insider said there was only a 30-40 percent chance of the SEC voting to allow the expansion. Reports today indicate the SEC did not vote to expand yesterday when school presidents within the conference met.
Don’t despair, however, Aggies. I still believe Texas A&M will be in the SEC by the 2013 football season.
Fellow lawyer, Clay Travis, did a nice job of explaining how television contracts complicate the situation. Essentially, ESPN has contracts with both the SEC and Big 12. If Texas A&M makes the move, ESPN and the SEC could be subject to lawsuits from the Big 12. Why? ESPN’s current contract with the Big 12 states that if the conferences drops below ten members the contract is cancelled. Meanwhile, the SEC would be able to renegotiate its television contract with ESPN with the addition of a new member. If the Big 12 were to lose its television contract, it could come after both ESPN and the SEC. Accordingly, I expect ESPN to either agree to honor the contract without Texas A&M or for the Big 12 to add a new member quickly.
So, why hasn’t the SEC hasn’t issued a formal invite to Texas A&M? Legally speaking, the best way to effectuate this move is for Texas A&M to decide to leave the Big 12 before the SEC invites them to join the conference. That’s why I think you’ll hear the SEC denying any expansion until after Texas A&M has completed everything on its end. In fact, Arkansas Chancellor Dave Gearhart has confirmed Texas A&M approached the SEC, not the other way around. This makes it more difficult for the Big 12 to claim any kind of tortious interference by the SEC. The SEC will throw up their hands and simply say, “They came to us.”
It looks like a gamble by Texas A&M – what if they announce they’re leaving the Big 12 and then the SEC doesn’t offer? It’s certainly not the way conference realignment generally works. However, conversations have obviously been had between Texas A&M and the SEC. Despite what it may look like to the public, Texas A&M wouldn’t vote on leaving the conference if they weren’t already positive they have a new home.
I’m sure ESPN has also been involved in the conversations at some level. The SEC isn’t going to add Texas A&M without knowing the television contract will increase by enough to make adding a new member a smart decision. And remember how ESPN was involved with making this year’s Chick-Fil-A Kickoff Game between UGA and Boise State become a reality. They could be an important piece in making the situation work for all parties involved.
Bottom line: I think the SEC will be welcoming Texas A&M by the end of the week.