Former acting commissioner of the Big 12 Chuck Neinas says, “it’s like going to the University of Heaven.”
Apparently Neinas’ version of heaven is a giant cash box in the sky. Neinas says the most important part of an athletic director’s job revolves around money, which is why the Texas job should attract the nation’s very best.
When I was researching for my book, Saturday Millionaires: How Winning Football Builds Winning Colleges, I spoke to search firms across the country about what makes a good athletic director. The two responses I received most frequently were someone who is a good fund raiser and someone who has the ability to hire the next football coach.
Texas’ next athletic director won’t have to worry about money. Texas annually has the highest revenue in intercollegiate athletics. For fiscal year 2012 (which encompasses the 2011-2012 school year), Texas reported revenue of $163 million on it’s NCAA disclosure, 15 percent higher than the second-highest earning athletic department, Ohio State University. And no, it’s not just the cash from Longhorn Network that sets the Longhorns apart. It’s the fans, and more particularly the donors.
Total revenue from ticket sales and contributions to Longhorn athletics totaled $100.0 million in fiscal year 2012. The average amongst all public FBS programs was just $26 million. For further comparison, the rest of the top five were Texas A&M ($88.4 million), Michigan ($80.9 million), Florida ($69.7 million), and Oklahoma ($68.9 million).
If there’s anywhere money isn’t an issue, it’s Texas.
What remains to be seen is whether the new athletic director will have replacing Mack Brown at the top of his to-do list. Will Brown outlast outgoing athletic director DeLoss Dodds who’s set to step down in late 2014?
After a 1-2 start, including losses to BYU and Ole Miss, the Longhorns have rebounded to 3-2 with a win at home against Kansas State and a win squeaked out in Ames last weekend. This weekend, however, marks perhaps the most important game of the season: the Red River Rivalry. Oklahoma has taken the last three games, but Dodds isn’t willing to commit to this year’s matchup being a make-or-break game for Brown.
“It’s an important game. It’s always an important game. … How that impacts the rest of our lives or the rest of the world, I don’t know the answer to that,” Dodds told the Dallas Morning News.
Even if Brown survives Dodds’ remaining tenure, the next athletic director could one day be called upon to replace him (Brown’s current contract runs through 2020). Given the current climate in Austin, expect the athletic director search to focus on someone who has made successful coaching hires elsewhere.
The only question left is who will hire that athletic director. There’s currently a power struggle between Bill Powers, president of University of Texas, and the Board of Regents, several of whom would love to add Powers to the list of folks to be replaced in Austin. For the time being, he’ll conduct the search for a new athletic director, but don’t be surprised if the Board of Regents finds a way into the conversation.
Kristi A. Dosh is an attorney and founder of BusinessofCollegeSports.com. Her latest book on the business of college football, Saturday Millionaires, is available now. Visit SaturdayMillionaires.com for retailers and a sneak peak at the first chapter! Follow her on Twitter: @SportsBizMiss.