Monthly Archives: November 2011

College Coach’s Salaries: Big East

One conference that has been caught in the crossfire of conference realignment is the Big East.  How do salaries of coaches in the Big East compare to those of other conferences?

The data used for this analysis was obtained from reports filed by each school with the U.S. Department of Education, as required by Title IX.  These reports are the only public documentation  providing numbers for every school, because private schools are not subject to public records requests, yet have to file their data with the U.S. Department of Education.  The data reported is from the reporting year of July 1, 2010 through June 30, 2011.

SCHOOL HEAD COACH AVERAGE ANNUAL INSTITUTIONAL SALARY ASST. COACH AVERAGE ANNUAL INSTITUTIONAL SALARY
Cincinnati Men’s:  $128,175.00 Men’s:  $97,954.00
Women’s:  $85,190.00 Women’s:  $39,329.00
Connecticut Men’s: $600,849.00 Men’s:  $132,491.00
Women’s:  $268,596.00 Women’s:  $73,460.00
DePaul Men’s:  $586,751.00 Men’s:  $80,112.00
Women’s:  $173,189.00 Women’s:  $45,144.00
Georgetown Men’s:  $294,161.00 Men’s:  $45,630.00
Women’s:  $71,880.00 Women’s:  $34,405.00
Louisville Men’s:  $778,113.00 Mens:  $142,658.00
Women’s:  $154,254.00 Women’s:  $51,858.00
Marquette Men’s:  $416,556.00 Men’s:  $100,287.00
Women’s:  $153,938.00 Women’s:  $53,301.00
 Notre Dame Men’s:  $237,561.00 Men’s:  $140,938.00
Women’s:  $172,895.00 Women’s:  $59,175.00
Pittsburgh Men’s:  $853,324.00 Men’s:  $123,769.00
Women’s:  $137,581.00 Women’s:  $43,333.00
Providence Men’s:  $280,812.00 Men’s:  $79,862.00
Women’s:  $86,108.00 Women’s:  $35,188.00
Rutgers Men’s:  $451,926.00 Men’s:  $98,739.00
Women’s:  $155,942.00 Women’s:  $41,620.00
St. John’s Men’s:  $364,643.00 Men’s:  $88,901.00
Women’s:  $102,699.00 Women’s:  $42,779.00
Seton Hall Men’s:  $209,133.00 Men’s:  $58,694.00
Women’s:  $96,510.00 Women’s:  $43,111.00
South Florida Men’s:  $422,761.00 Men’s:  $105,997.00
Women’s:  $78,275.00 Women’s:  $39,153.00
Syracuse Men’s:  $261,016.00 Men’s:  $123,507.00
Women’s:  $155,890.00 Women’s:  $58,234.00
Villanova Men’s:  $334,610.00 Men’s:  $40,564.00
Women’s:  $55,622.00 Women’s:  $21,126.00
West Virginia Men’s:  $514,406.00 Men’s:  $150,939.00
Women’s:  $123,092.00 Women’s:  $43,687.00

The highest average men’s sports head coaching salary is paid by Pittsburgh, while the highest average women’s sports head coaching salary is paid by Connecticut.  In 2010, Pitt men’s basketball head coach Jamie Dixon signed a new contract which made him the highest paid coach in Pennsylvania–yes, he was given a contract that paid him more than Joe Paterno.  In 2010, Dixon signed a contract extension with Pitt through the 2017-18 season.  Prior to the contract extension, he was earning around $1.6 million annually from his Pitt salary.  Geno Auriemma, the head coach of the successful Connecticut women’s basketball team, reportedly earned $1.6 million in salary last year.  Connecticut also has the highest average women’s sports assistant coaching salary.

The lowest average men’s sports head coaching salary was paid by Cincinnati.

Villanova, a private institution, is home to the lowest average women’s sports head coaching salary, as well as the lowest average men’s and women’s sports assistant coaching salaries.

Like in the Pac-12 and SEC, there is a disparity between the amount of compensation coaches of men’s sports receive and the amount of compensation coaches of women’s sports receive.  On average, men’s sports head coaches earn 3.2 times as much as their women’s sports counterparts.  Men’s sports assistant coaches earn 2.2 times as much as their women’s sports counterparts.

These numbers are lower than the disparity in the SEC.  The disparity for head coaches in the Big East is the same as that in the Pac-12, while the disparity for assistant coaches is less than that of the Pac-12.

Another interesting feature of the Big East, is that it has both football competing members and non-football competing members.  Furthermore, although Notre Dame competes in football, Notre Dame is an independent member in football.  Calculating the average salaries of football competing members and non-football competing members (not taking into consideration Notre Dame in either calculation), head coaches of men’s sports of football competing schools earn 1.4 times as much as their non-football competing school counterparts.

On Thursday, BusinessofCollegeSports.com will delve into data for the ACC.

College Coach’s Salaries: SEC

How do SEC coaches stack up against coaches in other conferences in terms of their salaries?  Which SEC school’s coaches are the highest paid?

The data used for this analysis was obtained from reports filed by each school with the U.S. Department of Education, as required by Title IX.  These reports are the only public documentation  providing numbers for every school, because private schools are not subject to public records requests, yet have to file their data with the U.S. Department of Education.  The data reported is from the reporting year of July 1, 2010 through June 30, 2011.

SCHOOL HEAD COACH AVERAGE ANNUAL INSTITUTIONAL SALARY ASST. COACH AVERAGE ANNUAL INSTITUTIONAL SALARY
Alabama Men’s:  $1,054,830.00 Men’s:  $216,450.00
Women’s:  $149,984.00 Women’s:  $64,246.00
Arkansas Men’s: $977,831.00 Men’s:  $204,142.00
Women’s:  $158,592.00 Women’s:  $66,541.00
Auburn Men’s:  $1,118,303.00 Men’s:  $312,993.00
Women’s:  $202,342.00 Women’s:  $72,264.00
Florida Men’s:  $1,546,853.00 Men’s:  $181,851.00
Women’s:  $209,501.00 Women’s:  $71,580.00
Georgia Men’s:  $841,657.00 Men’s:  $152,310.00
Women’s:  $200,134.00 Women’s:  $66,269.00
Kentucky Men’s:  $861,419.00 Men’s:  $138,922.00
Women’s:  $154,915.00 Women’s:  $49,080.00
LSU Men’s:  $776,300.00 Men’s:  $258,108.00
Women’s:  $211,659.00 Women’s:  $85,851.00
Ole Miss Men’s:  $841,650.00 Men’s:  $153,797.00
Women’s:  $119,738.00 Women’s:  $46,864.00
Mississippi State Men’s:  $809,698.00 Men’s:  $199,894.00
Women’s:  $117,846.00 Women’s:  $56,820.00
South Carolina Men’s:  $213,322.00 Men’s:  $111,379.00
Women’s:  $115,254.00 Women’s:  $49,393.00
Tennessee Men’s:  $675,582.00 Men’s:  $193,061.00
Women’s:  $328,258.00 Women’s:  $83,863.00
Vanderbilt Men’s:  $959,572.00 Men’s:  $232,095.00
Women’s:  $227,872.00 Women’s:  $84,573.00

Florida boasts the highest average salary for head coaches of men’s sports at $1,546,843.00.  South Carolina on the other hand, has both the lowest average men’s and women’s head coaching salaries.  The highest average women’s head coaching salary is found at Tennessee, which paid its women’s sports head coaches $328,258.00 on average in 2010-11.

Remember, that the data reported is from the period of July 1, 2010 through June 30, 2011.  Arguably, the salaries driving the high averages for men’s sports coaches at Florida and women’s sports coaches at Tennessee are those of each respective school’s most-recognized program.  Florida head football coach Will Muschamp is set to receive $13,752,000.00 over the course of his five-year contract with the University of Florida.  Tennessee women’s basketball head coach, Pat Summit, is arguably one of the most-respected coaches in all of women’s sports.  In 2006, Summit became the first women’s basketball coach to receive a $1 million salary.  Her salary is expected to reach $1.5 million this season.

As with the Pac-12, there is disparity between the salaries of coaches of men’s sports and women’s sports.  On average, head coaches of men’s sports in the SEC make 4.86 times as much as head coaches of women’s sports.  This disparity is larger than that of the Pac-12, where head coaches of men’s sports make 3.2 times as much as head coaches of women’s sports.  Assistant coaches of men’s sports make 2.95 times as much as assistant coaches of women’s sports, on average.

Head coaches of men’s sports make 4.53 times as much as their assistants, on average, while head coaches of women’s sports make 2.75 times as much as their assistants, on average.  The disparity between men’s head and assistant coaches is also higher in the SEC than the Pac-12.  Men’s head coaches in the Pac-12 make 3.33 more than their assistants.  The disparity between women’s head and assistant coaches is equal in the SEC and Pac-12, as women’s sports head coaches earn 2.75 times as much than their assistants on average in both conferences.

Next week, BusinessofCollegeSports.com will explore coach’s salaries in the Big East and ACC.

College Coach’s Salaries: Pac-12

Which Pac-12 school’s coaches are the most highly paid?

Over the next week, BusinessofCollegeSports.com will break down the average salaries of coaches at schools in BCS AQ conferences.  The results of which school’s coaches make the most money may surprise you!

The data used for this analysis was obtained from reports filed by each school with the U.S. Department of Education, as required by Title IX.  These reports are the only public location providing numbers for every school, because private schools are not subject to public records requests, but do have to file their data with the U.S. Department of Education.  The data reported is from the reporting year of July 1, 2010 through June 30, 2011.

SCHOOL HEAD COACH AVERAGE ANNUAL INSTITUTIONAL SALARY ASST. COACH AVERAGE ANNUAL INSTITUTIONAL SALARY
Arizona Men’s:  $667,189.00 Men’s:  $153,711.00
Women’s:  $132,772.00 Women’s:  $60,250.00
Arizona State Men’s: $542,954.00 Men’s:  $126,313.00
Women’s:  $214,546.00 Women’s:  $61,624.00
California Men’s:  $380,134.00 Men’s:  $102,315.00
Women’s:  $160,273.00 Women’s:  $51,080.00
Colorado Men’s:  $356,768.00 Men’s:  $159,031.00
Women’s:  $119,451.00 Women’s:  $42,773.00
Oregon Men’s:  $940,559.00 Men’s:  $210,526.00
Women’s:  $181,446.00 Women’s:  $64,352.00
Oregon State Men’s:  $434,043.00 Men’s:  $129,816.00
Women’s:  $110,568.00 Women’s:  $49,812.00
Stanford Men’s:  $305,896.00 Men’s:  $145,205.00
Women’s:  $172,641.00 Women’s:  $73,221.00
UCLA Men’s:  $530,985.00 Men’s:  $108,871.00
Women’s:  $134,447.00 Women’s:  $55,088.00
USC Men’s:  $461,579.00 Men’s:  $168,731.00
Women’s:  $137,091.00 Women’s:  $42,450.00
Utah Men’s:  $382,758.00 Men’s:  $128,063.00
Women’s:  $84,832.00 Women’s:  $59,789.00
Washington Men’s:  $682,013.00 Men’s:  $176,907.00
Women’s:  $211,104.00 Women’s:  $70,635.00
Washington State Men’s:  $379,403.00 Men’s:  $105,665.00
Women’s:  $116,856.00 Women’s:  $51,104.00

The University of Oregon boasts both the highest average men’s head coach salary and the highest average men’s assistant coach salary.  The universities are not required to itemize their coaching salaries, but rather just report the average annual institutional salary per coach.  Arguably, Oregon’s high average head coach salary, which is $643,663.00 higher than the lowest average head coach salary in the Pac-12, is the result of Chip Kelly’s large salary.  Although Kelly’s 2010 contract extension made him the second-highest Pac-12 head coach (behind USC’s Lane Kiffin), it contained incentive bonuses.  Given that Oregon made it to the National Championship Game, it’s likely that these incentive bonuses boosted Oregon’s average head coach salary.

The highest average women’s head coaching salary is paid by Arizona State University, while the highest average women’s assistant coaching salary is paid by Stanford.

Interestingly, while Stanford pays its women’s sports assistant coaches higher on average than any other Pac-12 institution, its men’s sports head coaches are paid the lowest on average in the Pac-12.

Assistant coaches for men’s sports are paid the least on average at Cal, while assistant coaches for women’s sports are paid the least on average at USC.

That the highest average men’s head and assistant coach salaries are paid by a public institution, while the highest average women’s head and assistant coach salaries are paid by private and public institutions, respectively, demonstrates that there arguably isn’t a disparity in private schools being able to provide their coaches with higher salaries.

Another interesting fact to take away from the data, is the disparity in salary between coaches of men’s and women’s sports.  On average, head coaches of men’s sports in the Pac-12 earned 3.2 times as much income as head coaches of women’s sports.  On average, assistant coaches of men’s sports in the Pac-12 earned 2.5 times as much income as assistant coaches of women’s sports.  Head coaches of men’s sports earned 3.3 times as much as men’s sports assistant coaches, while head coaches of women’s sports earned 2.6 times as much as women’s sports assistant coaches.

Check back tomorrow when BusinessofCollegeSports.com breaks down the average salaries of SEC coaches.

Effects of the NBA Lockout on NCAA Players and the NBA Draft

On July 1, 2011, NBA owners locked out NBA players.  The lockout was the result of the parties’ inability to reach a new collective bargaining agreement prior to the expiration of the collective bargaining agreement most recently reached between them.  The parties continued negotiating until November 7, 2011.  On that date, the players’ collective bargaining entity, the NBPA, disclaimed its interest as a union.  This move meant that if players want to see the basketball court again, they will have to pursue remedies in the court of law.

Given that the lockout began less than ten days after the 2011 NBA Draft, did the lockout effect college players’ decision to enter the draft?

The NBA allows those interested in being drafted by a team to declare for the draft.  Players without any college eligibility remaining are automatically eligible for the draft.  Those with college eligibility remaining, may declare early for the draft.  However, a college player’s declaration for the draft in and of itself does not jeopardize his future eligibility should he decide to return to college and continue competing at the NCAA level.  The NCAA sets a deadline which players can withdraw their declaration for the draft and still maintain their NCAA eligibility.  However, in order to maintain this eligibility, the player could not have hired an agent to assist him with the draft process.  The hiring of an agent immediately forfeits the player’s NCAA eligibility.

A brief review of the players drafted in the top-10 of the 2011 NBA Draft, along with some historical data related to early withdrawals demonstrates interesting trends related to the draft process and college players’ draft decisions.

In 2011, players had until May 8, 2011 to withdraw from the draft.  This was nearly six-weeks before the date of the 2011 NBA Draft.  News of the NBA and NBPA’s inability to reach a new collective bargaining agreement had been circulating for some time.  The NBA ultimately locked out its players less than two-months after the date upon which college players could withdraw from the draft.

The 2011 NBA Draft was unusual in the sense of the number of players drafted in the top-10 who did not play NCAA Division-I basketball, but rather, came to the NBA by way of playing for teams overseas.  Four of the players drafted in the top-10 in 2011 came from overseas teams.  In contrast, in 2010, no players from foreign teams were drafted in the first ten spots.  In fact, the first foreign-based player was not drafted in 2010 until the Chicago Bulls drafted Kevin Seraphin in the number 17 spot.

As noted above, college players can withdraw their declaration for the draft yet maintain their eligibility.  Arguably, this allows players to test the draft waters to determine whether making the leap to the NBA would be more beneficial than remaining in college.  However, in years when a labor dispute is imminent, it also allows for them to declare early, see if the labor dispute will be settled before the draft, and if not, withdraw their declaration six weeks before the draft then subsequently return to college.

Tracking draft withdrawal data for the five years leading to the 2011 Draft and the 1998 Draft (the year of the last NBA lockout) demonstrates that the possibility of a labor dispute between the NBA and NBPA arguably does not sway a college player’s decision to go pro.

Year Total # of NCAA Early Declarants # of NCAA Player Withdrawals Percentage of Withdrawals
1998 30 4 13.30%
2007 58 26 44.83%
2008 70 31 44.29%
2009 94 55 58.51%
2010 80 29 36.25%
2011 69 25 36.23%

It appears that the trend of declaring early and then withdrawing hit a peak after the 1998 NBA lockout.  Interestingly, the highest percentage of withdrawals came in the 2009 NBA Draft.  The NBA and NBPA assert that they have been attempting to negotiate a new collective bargaining agreement for some two years.  Thus, it is possible that word of this may have affected some college players’ decisions in 2009.  However, that seems fairly unlikely given the length of time between the 2009 NBA Draft and the current lockout.

However, the fact that the NBA and NBPA have been negotiating a new collective bargaining agreement for two years arguably explains the consistent percentage of withdrawals in 2010 and 2011, with approximately 36 percent of college players who declared early deciding to return to college.

If the NBA lockout is resolved in time for the 2012 NBA Draft, it will be interesting to see if the percentage of withdrawals increases or decreases from 2010 and 2011.

The Walk-On

The pay-for-play debate has been raging amongst NCAA fans for some time.  In the wake of stories of recruits and players accepting improper benefits, like cars, tattoos and housing for their family, many question whether NCAA student-athletes should receive more for their athletic services to their respective university than a scholarship.

Recently, the NCAA voted to allow schools the option to provide their student-athletes with a $2,000.00 “cost of attendance” stipend.  The rationale behind this move, is that the extra $2,000.00 allotted to student-athletes will assist them in paying for the items that a scholarship doesn’t cover–like laundry, taking a date to the movies and maybe even a dinner outside of the cafeteria.

As the pay-for-play debate rages on, one voice that is not often heard, is that of the walk-on.

Each year, athletically talented young men and women walk-on to some of this country’s most prestigious college sports teams.

They attend every training session with the team.  They participate in every practice.  They watch every minute of film.  They are present on the bench for every home game.  And some even travel to every away game.

They take, at a minimum, the number of credits required by the NCAA to maintain eligibility.  They obtain, at a minimum, the grade point average required by the NCAA to maintain eligibility.

And they don’t get paid a dime for any of it.

In an age where sides are clearly divided over whether student-athletes should receive more monetary support for their athletic performance, the story of the walk-on is overshadowed.

Yet, it is the story of the walk-on that in a sense, provides the innocence and true amateur spirit of NCAA athletics, that many hope to see restored to the collegiate athletics landscape.

The walk-on is a man or woman, whose passion and love for a sport is so great, that he or she will sacrifice all free time to pursue other collegiate follies for the chance to participate in the sport for four more years.

David Bagga walked on to the University of Arizona Men’s Basketball team in 2005.  He played for the Wildcats from 2005-2009.

Former University of Arizona walk-on David Bagga

Bagga’s story of becoming a member of the University of Arizona Men’s Basketball team is one of determination and a love of the game.

In 2005, the Wildcats were coming off of an impressive NCAA Tournament run, which ended in a loss against Illinois during the Elite Eight.

During that same time, Bagga was working hard to further his dream of playing basketball at a Division I institution.

“I basically called over 200 Division I schools to see if I could walk-on.  Ironically, Arizona was one of the only ones I heard back from.  Jack Murphy, who is now an assistant at Memphis with Josh Pastner, said, ‘We have three walk-on’s leaving.  We need a practice player,’” said Bagga.

Bagga realized the underlying opportunity residing in Murphy’s statement that Arizona was losing three walk-on’s.  “I said, ‘I’m like 6’5”, 6’6″, I can play different positions.”

At the time, Bagga was a high school senior at Mater Dei High School in California, a well-respected private high school that is also recognized for developing the athletic talent of its students.

“Murphy said, ‘Coach [Lute] Olson [former head coach of the University of Arizona Men's Basketball team] is going to come out to your practice.’  So he came out to Mater Dei High School and was recruiting a kid who went to Duke and later Villanova named Taylor King.  He was looking at Taylor and then he found me.  That day, Coach Olson called his coaches and said, ‘This kid can walk-on.’  During practice, my high school coach wouldn’t let me meet him.  He let fourteen players meet him.  I was the only one who didn’t get to meet him.  And I was the one trying to walk-on,” said Bagga.

Although Bagga did not get to meet Coach Olson during that practice, the coaching legend clearly saw something special in Bagga’s playing ability and made the decision to grant the young man’s wish of playing Division I basketball.

“I got the phone call that night saying that I could walk-on and that they just needed my transcripts.  I heard back after our [high school] season ended and they said, ‘Congratulations, you’ve been accepted into the ‘U,’ and you can walk-on,’” explained Bagga.

There were high expectations coming into the 2005-2006 season for the Wildcats, given their impressive NCAA Tournament run earlier that year, along with the fact that the team largely returned, save for starters Channing Frye and Salim Stoudamire.  “Everyone was calling and texting me from home saying, ‘You’re going to win a National Championship your first year,’” noted Bagga.

Yet, excitement aside, the young player recognized the importance that key relationships would play to his success as a player.

“I started building relationships with Coach Olson and with my teammates.  Two highlights from that year, were the first time I scored in front of 15,000 people at McKale [the McKale Center, where the University of Arizona plays its basketball games] and then the first meeting I ever had with Coach Olson,” said Bagga.

Arguably, it was that first meeting with Olson which set Bagga on proper footing to begin his role as a walk-on on with an NCAA Division I powerhouse basketball team.  Bagga explains,

“It was supposed to be a five-minute meeting.  It lasted 35 or 40 minutes.  He said, ‘I get where you’re coming from [with being a walk-on], but this experience can do two things for you.  It’s either going to play with your head and make you believe all these things aren’t true.  Or, if you embrace the experience, you are going to have a lot of fun here, and the experience will embrace you back.’  And that’s what it did.  So, from that day forward, in early September, I had a different outlook on everything and life.  I learned to be positive about things.  I learned to never think, ‘Me, me, me.’  It was always, ‘Team, team, team.’  That’s why a lot of students rallied behind me.  A lot of regular students would support me even though I didn’t play, because, that’s really what a walk-on is:  a regular student that puts on a jersey that gets to play for one minute a game.  It was fun.  I wouldn’t change anything, how it happened.”

Although he didn’t receive extensive playing  or a scholarship to begin with, Bagga received everything else that came along with being a Division-I athlete.

“Because I was a walk-on, I basically got shafted on everything [schedule-wise].  Weight lifting times, conditioning times, I had the earliest times for everything.  Conditioning and weight lifting was at 5:00 a.m.  The starters got to go at 2:00 p.m.  My first class was at 7:30 a.m.  The starters had their first class at 11:30 a.m.  When I didn’t have class, even though I didn’t have much game film of my own to watch, I would still have to go in and watch game film and take notes about what could be done better.  I would get quizzed on it by one of the coaches.  If I would get it wrong, they would quiz me in front of the whole team at practice.  If I missed it then, the team would have to run.  So, you had to know everything.  You had to be on-point,” said Bagga.

Along with training, weight lifting, watching film, attending classes and completing homework assignments, during the pre-season, players would host recruits, engage in evening workouts and play pick-up basketball.  Sometime during the day, they’d also sleep.

In October, practices began and the season truly ramped up in early November.

“During the season, there’s three-hour practices for the first month of practice.  It’s a lot of work.  It’s more a mental thing than anything else.  You tell yourself, ‘I’m going to go into class and bust my butt for 50 minutes, get the assignment and get the homework done.’  Then bam!  You’re onto the next thing.  There’s no time to mess around.  I used turn my phone off, because I had so much to do.  I was always in the front row in class, paying attention.  In four years, excluding basketball reasons, I missed one day of class,” explained Bagga.

Ultimately, Bagga’s perseverance and dedication paid off.  Not only did he obtain his dream of playing Division-I basketball, but his efforts were rewarded with a scholarship his senior year.

“It was a lot of weight off of my shoulders.  I [previously] had financial aid and a grant for being all-academic in the Pac-10.  Getting that scholarship, though, proved to everyone that I earned it.  I proved to everyone at the university—the students, players, whoever—that I could compete and be a part of that team.  Not only compete on that team, but play on it.  It felt great,” Bagga reminisced.

Not only did Bagga’s experience at the University of Arizona allow him to play Division-I basketball and graduate with a degree, but it provided him with a story to tell–that of a walk-on.  Bagga developed that story into a book, appropriately titled “The Walk-On.”  You can learn more about the book and purchase a copy here.

The Butler Way: Winning With Integrity

In 1988 Robert Fulghum announced to the world that by the age of five, he learned everything he really needed to know.  Fulghum’s New York Times Best Selling book, All I Really Need to Know I Learned In Kindergarten, includes an essay which begins, “How about some good news for a change?”

In a time where it seems that every major news headline related to NCAA sports and the student-athletes who play them involves some inherent scandal, a quote from that essay brings a dose of reality back to the situation:

“You will continue to read stories of crookedness and corruption. . . Don’t be misled.  They are news because they are the exceptions.”

If there ever was a NCAA member program which demonstrated that the heavily publicized stories of the day regarding corruption amongst NCAA programs are the exception, it would be the Butler University Bulldogs.

Butler painted itself onto the national sports landscape in 2010, when its men’s basketball team’s successful season and run through the NCAA tournament granted the Bulldogs the opportunity to play in the National Championship game against Duke.

“People will be talking for years to come about Butler’s incredible run to the National Championship game in men’s basketball, and we will too.  It was a truly remarkable season with a school-record 33 wins, the first 18-0 conference record in Horizon League history and a school and league-record 25-game winning streak,” noted Butler Athletic Director Barry Collier.

The clock did not strike midnight on the Bulldogs’ Cinderella story after the conclusion of the 2010 National Championship game.  Another successful season for the Bulldogs in 2010-2011 culminated in the Bulldogs facing off against the Connecticut Huskies in the 2011 National Championship game.  Other Bulldogs teams have experienced similar success in their respective sports, as the school has won 26 conference championships in the past decade.

Not only have the Bulldogs experienced success on the court, but also in the classroom.  While its most recent competitor in the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship game is unsure whether it will be able to participate in the 2013 Division I Men’s Basketball tournament due to new post-season academic criteria set forth by the NCAA, Butler student-athletes have consistently yielded high academic results.

“As good as our teams were on the field, their performance in the classroom was equally as impressive.  During this year’s men’s basketball Final Four, there was quite a buzz about the fact that members of our men’s basketball team went to class on the day of the National Championship game.  But it really shouldn’t have come as a surprise, considering the importance our coaches and athletes place on academics.  It’s a reason that the Butler men’s basketball team featured two Academic All-Americans, junior Matt Howard and sophomore Gordon Hayward.  They were two out of just 15 Academic All-Americans chosen nationwide!  We also had sophomore Grant Hunter named to the Academic All-America Team in football, junior Conner Burt picked to the Academic All-America squad in men’s soccer, and Andy Baker selected to the Academic All-America team in men’s track/cross country, and we’ve had ten Academic All-Americans in the past three years!  This is an incredible accomplishment for these student-athletes and for our university.  The other nine Horizon League members combined for eight Academic All-Americans last year,” noted  Collier.

In an age when mainstream media questions the integrity of some of the most winning NCAA men’s basketball and football programs daily, how have the Butler Bulldogs maintained integrity on the fields of competition and in the classroom?

Collier is not only Butler’s Athletic Director, but a Butler alumni and former member and coach of the Butler men’s basketball team.  If anyone understands the foundation that Butler’s model of winning is built upon, it is Collier.

“A very significant part of the pride that our community feels about Butler and Butler athletics is because of what our student-athletes demonstrate everyday.  When we think of a model collegiate athletic program, it would be one where student-athletes are accomplished in the classroom, on the fields of competition and are people of high character.  That’s what we have at Butler,” said Collier.

Collier recognizes that the community’s pride toward Butler athletics is largely based upon the well-rounded nature of Butler student-athletes, as student-athletes are equally competitive athletically and academically.  Collier credits Butler’s coaches with allowing this hybrid of success to exist at Butler.

“Our student-athletes’ graduation rates and retention rates are higher than the student body, which is quite high itself.  The key is to establish a value-based program and then stay true to that.  There’s no silver bullet.  There’s no magic potion that allows that to take place.  There’s a philosphy in place.  The coaches that lead our programs fit the model of placing integrity and academic accomplishment at the top of our values and goals,” explained Collier.

In recognizing the role that coaches play in ensuring the integrity of a program, Collier, a former basketball coach himself, pointed out that NCAA coaches who embrace integrity as a core value largely outnumber those coaches whose improprieties make up the bulk of NCAA stories covered by the media.

“There are  probably only a handful of professions that are taking more cheap shots than coaches these days.  I don’t think that’s accurate.  You have many, many, many, coaches who are down in the trenches leading and mentoring student-athletes and programs and recruiting folks that fit the culture.  I see that everyday with our 12 head coaches.  I’m sure it’s the vast majority of coaches out there.  There are always exceptions to that,” said Collier.

The Butler Athletic Department’s mission statement references something it refers to as, “The Butler Way.”

“The Butler Way demands commitment, denies selfishness, accepts reality yet seeks improvement everyday while putting the team above self.”

In an age when college sports fans are desperate to find signs that stories of corrupted NCAA teams are the exception and not the norm, The Butler Way and the Bulldogs who adhere to it serve as a beacon, guiding college sports fans to cheer on a program built upon integrity, to further success.

High Ticket Prices: LSU versus Alabama Tickets

This Saturday’s game between No. 1 LSU and No. 2 Alabama is being billed by some as this year’s National Championship game.  Each team’s success on the gridiron this season has understandably piqued the general public’s interest in the game.

Interest in the game has in turn driven the price of tickets for the game.

Reports indicate that Alabama students could have purchased a game ticket for $5.00 earlier in the season.  On October 29, 2,141 tickets for the game remained on StubHub.com.  The lowest ticket on the site could be purchased for $229.00 on that date.

On the eve of the game, 203 tickets remain on StubHub.  The least expensive pair of tickets, located in an upper level, was priced at $399.00 per seat.  This price represents a 74 percent increase in the price of tickets for the game on StubHub over a six day period.  The highest priced ticket on StubHub was for a single lower level ticket which was being sold for $865.00.

On Craigslist, fans were willing to spend $600.00 in cash for a pair of tickets.  One owner was seeking $1,000.00 for his two tickets.

Even if this weekend’s match-up between LSU and Alabama is not the National Championship, one thing is for certain: ticket sales will rake in a lot of money!

WVU v. The Big East: Why The Big East Needs New Members Now

It’s been a rocky few days for the relationship between West Virginia University and the Big East.

On October 27, 2011, WVU was invited by the Big 12 to become a member of the conference. It accepted the Big 12′s invitationthe same day.

In recent months, the Big East has seen two of its member schools, Syracuse and Pittsburgh, defect for the ACC. Additionally, TCU, which was slated to join the conference beginning in 2012, opted out of that opportunity and instead chose to join the Big 12 next year.

The Big East has steadfastly maintained that it will hold Syracuse and Pittsburgh to its bylaws, which require that teams give 27-months’ notice of their intent to leave and pay a $5 million exit fee. Since TCU never joined the conference as a participating member, it was not held to the notice provision but was only required to pay the $5 million exit fee. A copy of the Big East’s bylaws is not publicly available.

Things only got more difficult for the Big East on October 31, 2011, when WVU filed a lawsuit against the conference in an attempt to free itself from the 27-month notice provision and join the Big 12 next season.

WVU’s lawsuit seeks a declaration of its rights and obligations under the Big East’s bylaws, asserts that the bylaws were breached and asks that the court prevent the Big East from holding WVU to the 27-month notice provision so that it can leave the conference next year.

Two factual scenarios make up the factual bulk of WVU’s claims against the Big East:

1. Since 2003, the Big East has consisted of 16 member schools, with 8 participating in football and 8 being considered “non-football” schools. In 2008, the Big East’s bylaws were amended. In the bylaws, “Football Action” is defined as “Any matter which relates specifically to any participation in NCAA Division I-A football by Division I-A schools.” Non-football schools are given an equal vote to the football schools on issues related to football. WVU alleged that, “The non-football schools repeatedly exerted their newfound level of increased governance at the expense and to the detriment of the football schools.”

2. The real crux of WVU’s lawsuit is that the exodus of schools from the conference has left the Big East unstable. As noted, WVU cites Pitt and Syracuse’s departures for the ACC, as well as TCU’s failure to show up for its first day at the conference, choosing instead to join the Big 12. The lawsuit also discusses the fact that UConn has publicly stated that it is pursuing opportunities with other conferences.

WVU uses the factual scenarios related to the departure of Big East member schools to allege that the Big East failed to proactively maintain a level of competition, the remaining six football schools and eight non-football schools creates an imbalance and disparity of power and the current state of the Big East means that it is expected to lose its BCS AQ status.

WVU’s concerns set out in its lawsuit are realistic.  Additionally, WVU was in a position to make these claims in an attempt to free itself of the 27-month notice provision because of the fact that the departure of Pitt, Syracuse and TCU arguably adversely impacted the state of the conference.  Because Pitt and Syracuse started the defection movement, such arguments are likely unreasonable for them to make.  Nonetheless, the merits of the lawsuit will be hashed out between lawyers and ultimately a judge in a courtroom.

In the meantime, though, what is the Big East to do?

The best thing the Big East can do, is to secure as new members football-participating members with proven records on the gridiron and located in strong media markets.  And now, more than ever, the Big East must do this fast.

By securing schools which will participate in football who have proven records of recent success on the football field as new members, the Big East will chip away at WVU’s claims and likely secure its participation in the conference for the next 27-months. This is because new football members will restore the balance of power between football and non-football schools, while securing well-performing football schools in strong media markets will likely help the Big East maintain its BCS AQ status.

The Big East will be a BCS conference through 2013.  After that, AQ status for all conferences will be redetermined for 2014-2017 and it is unclear the precise criteria that will be used.  However, team’s performances between 2010 through 2013 will be used. Likely, the BCS’s television contracts and the bowls themselves will drive the exact criteria used in selecting AQ conferences.

Thus, it’s in the Big East’s best interest to secure schools who have performed well in recent years and also attract media viewership.

Reportedly, the Big East is set to invite six schools to join the conference at a meeting which will be held today. Each of these schools would be a football participating member of the conference. The schools are: UCF, SMU, Houston, Air Force, Boise and Navy.

With respect to the performance data the BCS will rely upon to select 2014-2017′s AQ conferences, only 2010′s data is currently available. The following are rankings from the final 2010 BCS poll.

Team: Ranking

TCU: 3

Boise State:  10

West Virginia:  22

UCF:  25

Thus, in terms of maintaining AQ status for 2014-2017, TCU’s decision to join the Big 12 over the Big East was more detrimental than Syracuse and Pitt’s departures.  WVU can argue that the loss of the number-three ranked team unduly damaged the Big East’s chances of becoming an AQ conference in 2014-2017.  However, by securing two schools ranked in the top-25 during 2010, the Big East can mitigate that argument.

Therefore, long story short, the Big East needs schools with successful football teams to join its conference and it needs them to join fast.  Otherwise, WVU may be packing its bags as soon as next season.