All posts by bcsguestwriter

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Should Kansas Jump on the Luxury Suite Bandwagon?

By: Victoria Baldwin

In 2012, Louisville’s basketball program brought in more than $42.4 million in revenue.

Kristi Dosh, founder of BusinessofCollegeSports.com and author of a book on the business of college football, Saturday Millionaires, attributes the high revenue to luxury suites at Louisville’s KFC Yum! Center.

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Louisville is just one school taking advantage of revenue from luxury suites. Syracuse’s Carrier Dome brings in millions to the program, and Kentucky, Duke and North Carolina are making arrangements to add suites to their historic arenas.

The KFC Yum! Center is home to 72 luxury suites at $85,000 to $92,000 a piece. They generate more than $6 million in revenue. That’s just for rent. Tickets, donations, fees, food and drinks come with an additional cost.

Louisville attaches donations ranging from $250 to $2,500 to the rights of season tickets and that’s not including the price of the actual ticket.

“Adding those suites gives them the ability to tack on the annual fee that is the right to purchase fee on the suite and that is where you make the money,” Dosh said.

The basketball program isn’t the only benefactor. The revenue from luxury suites goes into the general athletic fund that benefits other Louisville sports.

“In the last 14 to 15 years under (athletics director) Tom Zurich, every single sport, with the exception of football, got a brand new facility,” Dosh said. “They’re using that money to prop up the other sports that aren’t making any.”

While Louisville is leading the pack, basketball-rich Kentucky, Duke and North Carolina are in different stages of adding suites to their historic arenas.

Kentucky released renovation plans during the summer to add suites to Rupp Arena, while Duke is raising money to add bunker suites in place of old basketball offices. Cameron Indoor doesn’t have the space newer facilities have, and they’re planning the bunker suites so they don’t lose thousands of seats in the bowl area that bring in high donations.

In February, North Carolina’s athletic director Bubba Cunningham said he would be interested in adding luxury suites but recently there have been talks of building a completely new arena.

Suites are not suitable

The University of Kansas’ Allen Fieldhouse has been home to five national championship teams and dozens of conference titles.

Although Kansas basketball has a 200-game sellout streak dating back to the 2001-02 season, the Jayhawks’ revenues are ranked No. 13 in the country at $16.4 million. Allen Fieldhouse holds 16,300 fans with little room for luxury suites.

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“For a school that has a history of sellouts like that, I think they are leaving money on the table,” Dosh said. “Based on what I’ve seen at schools who do have suites and who do have that sort of demand, there are definitely millions of dollars.”

Greg Gurley, director of development for KU’s Williams Fund, a fundraising arm of the athletics department, said Kansas has the high demand to fill the suites but the renovations could ruin the history of Allen Fieldhouse.

“If we had basketball suites, there would be a line out the door to get them,” Gurley said. “The question is how do we do it? More importantly, do you want to change the integrity of the building by adding suites? That’s the question to ask.”

Kansas is in a struggle between reaping the rewards of the luxury suite boom and losing valuable, reasonably-priced tickets for the average fan. Gurley said at this time there haven’t been any serious discussions to add luxury suites to Allen Fieldhouse.

Martin Haynes, an architect at 360 Architecture in Kansas City, was the designer who proposed the bunker suite plan for Duke based on a study he did years ago.

Haynes said Kansas could only add suites to the upper bowl area on the North side of Allen Fieldhouse between the parking garage and the arena.

“At the very top of the bowl, you could blow out the wall and create suites at that level,” Haynes said. “It’s something you could do. Anywhere else it really would just destroy the integrity of Allen Fieldhouse.”

Allen Fieldhouse is home to one of the best home court advantages in the country because of how close students are to the court. Gurley, who also played at Kansas from 1992-95, said adding suites would ruin this atmosphere.

“That’s why all of the media people that come to Lawrence, it would be hard pressed to find anybody, even if they were a fan of another school, to not feel like Allen Fieldhouse is the coolest or one of the coolest places in the country to watch a basketball game,” Gurley said.

While the rest of the basketball “Blue Bloods” renovate their stadiums to bring in millions of dollars, Kansas fans will have historic Allen Fieldhouse to enjoy for quite a bit longer.

“I hope Allen Fieldhouse is there for 100 more years, but that’s just me,” Gurley said.

 

Victoria is a senior at the University of Kansas majoring in journalism with a focus on broadcasting. To see more of her recent work, visit her website: www.victoriabaldwin.wordpress.com.

The Social Gridiron: How the Nation’s Top College Football Coaches Leverage Twitter

By: Myles J. Robinson

With the recent release of the new AP Top 25 Poll the 2013-14 college football season is officially upon us. Numerous athletic programs have been in the national news lately spending big bucks off the field.

Recently, James Maddox wrote an interesting post about the top college programs on Twitter in various sports. I decided to take James’ article a step further focusing on the Twitter presence of the head coaches running the nation’s Top 25 Football programs. Below are some interesting notes from these coaches:

  • 10 coaches in the AP Top 25 Poll have verified accounts:
  1. Stanford’s David Shaw (@CoachDavidShaw)
  2. Texas A&M’s Kevin Sumlin (@CoachSumlin)
  3. Louisville’s Charlie Strong (@CharlieStrongUL)
  4. Notre Dame’s Brian Kelly (@CoachBrianKelly)
  5. LSU’s Les Miles (@LSUCoachMiles)
  6. Texas’ Mack Brown (@UT_MackBrown)
  7. Nebraska’s Bo Pelini (@BoPelini)
  8. UCLA’s Jim Mora (@UCLACoachMora)
  9. Northwestern’s Pat Fitzgerald (@CoachFitz51)
  10.  USC’s Lane Kiffin (@Lane_Kiffin)
  • Of those that University of Georgia’s Mark Richt follows, 85% are high school football recruits
  • Louisville’s Charlie Strong follows Johnny Manziel, the 2012 Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback from Texas A&M
  • Nebraska’s Bo Pelini shows his personality and off-the-field hobbies by following Larry the Cable Guy, TaylorMade Golf and the Cleveland Indians

With the dawn of the new season, it comes as no surprise that the two-time defending national champion Alabama Crimson Tide is sitting atop the AP Poll. Ohio State, ranked second, is an early preseason favorite to join the Tide in the BCS National Title game later this year. While many coaches are leveraging social media as an extra recruiting tool, the nation’s top two coaches, Alabama’s Nick Saban and Ohio State’s Urban Meyer, have chosen to refrain from using Twitter.

On the other hand, some coaches like LSU’s Les Miles have taken to Twitter and built an online, national brand. Coach Miles tops my list (see below) of college football head coaching personalities, boasting over 100,000 Twitter followers. With over 95,000 followers, Brian Kelly currently has the number two spot following Notre Dame’s near perfect season last year.

Twitter’s Top 10 Most Followed College Football Head Coaches  (as of 8/19/2013) 

Head Coach School Twitter Handle Number of Followers
1.Les Miles
LSU @LSUCoachMiles 114,567
2. Brian Kelly Notre Dame @CoachBrianKelly 95,422
3. Mark Richt Georgia @MarkRicht 72,516
4. Bo Pelini Nebraska @BoPelini 50,250
5. Will Muschamp Florida @CoachWMuschamp 44,493
6. Kevin Sumlin Texas A&M @CoachSumlin 39,263
7. Mack Brown Texas @UT_MackBrown 35,156
8. Mike Gundy Oklahoma State @CoachGundy 31,666
9. Charlie Strong Louisville @CharlieStrongUL 31,177
10. Lane Kiffin Southern California @Lane_Kiffin 30,732

To echo the words of former NFL coach Herm Edwards “You play to win the game!” In social media the game of engagement is won with contagious content. Klout is a popular social media tool that rates online influence on a scale of 1-100, with a high number signaling great engagement on various social media networks. Below, I took a look at the Top 25 head coaches for this coming year to discover who has the most influence off the field.

 Twitter’s Most Influential College Football Head Coaches (as of 8/19/2013)

Head Coach School Twitter Handle Klout Score
1. Les Miles LSU @LSUCoachMiles 81
2. Lane Kiffin Southern California @Lane_Kiffin 80
3. Kevin Sumlin Texas A&M @CoachSumlin 69
4. Mack Brown Texas @UT_MackBrown 66
    Mike Gundy Oklahoma State @CoachGundy 66
    Brian Kelly Notre Dame @CoachBrianKelly 66
    Mark Richt Georgia @MarkRicht 66
5. Will Muschamp Florida @CoachWMuschamp 65
6. Pat Fitzgerald Northwestern @CoachFitz51 63
7. Bo Pelini Nebraska @BoPelini 62

Recently during the College World Series, Miles congradulated the LSU Baseball Team on a successful season, signaling to many Tigers fans his genuine love for the University. His post was retweteed over 300 times as a result. Les Miles recently discussed his take on Twitter at SEC Media Day: “Here is what’s happening. Somebody gave me the magic. They said there’s 500 million on Instagram…there’s 3 billion on Facebook. These are phenomena that are not just youthful…it’s an amazing thing. What we really are trying to do is educate and give [our football players] their brand and the responsibility that they have to understand that this is a media outlet.”

Coach Les Miles is one of few coaches in the country who effectively capitalizes on his brand equity. One of Miles’ most engaging posts came on March 18 when he posted a YouTube link of the LSU Football team doing the Harlem Shake, a viral dance that swept the nation prompting brands, celebrities and athletic teams alike to join in the video frenzy. Miles’s single tweet that evening has since been shared over 1,300 times and “favorited” another 376 times.

In a world where 140 characters has proved detrimental to many college athletes, it is great to watch those on the field who leverage social channels in a positive manner. Considering Les’ own pull in the Twitterverse, I think we all can take a brand lesson from Coach Miles’ playbook.

Myles J. Robinson is a junior at UNC Chapel Hill studying public relations and social entrepreneurship. Follow him on Twitter @mylesjrobinson for more #sportsbiz talk.

Report Recommends Cutting 5 Sports at UNC-Wilmington

By: Hunter Mundy

The University of North Carolina Wilmington (UNCW) is in the process of determining whether or not to continue sponsoring teams in men’s indoor track, men’s cross country, men’s and women’s swimming and diving, and softball. The Intercollegiate Athletics Review Committee made the recommendation to eliminate these teams on May 15, 2013 in an 18-page report.  The committee was appointed in February by Chancellor Gary Miller to develop the future portfolio of UNCW Seahawk athletics. Chancellor Miller originally asked the committee to identify a portfolio “that would ensure all programs have the opportunities to achieve national prominence. “

UNCW Athletic Director Jimmy Bass projects that UNCW’s athletic budget would need to be approximately $16,000,000 to support the current portfolio of athletics (non-football) to be nationally competitive and prominent.  Over the last four years, the Department of Athletics’ expenses have exceeded revenue.  With a reserve fund that has decreased by 82% in order to balance expenses, there is no longer a viable funding source.  In the current fiscal year, the university anticipates the need to cover a projected $600,000 shortfall.   The committee’s recommendations would include re-investing $800,000 annually into the remaining programs and starting the entire process immediately in the 2013-14 academic year.

As a part of its research, the committee met with a number of groups.  This included the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, made of two individuals from each of the 19 athletic teams currently on campus.  The women’s basketball team was unable to participate because the meeting took place during the conference tournament.  The men’s basketball team was also absent.  At a non-football playing institution where athletic department revenue is drastically dependent on the revenue of basketball, particularly men’s basketball, these scheduling issues and omissions are alarming to say the least.

As the report states, the student athletes in attendance did provide a number of consistent and cohesive themes.   These included issues with athletic facilities that are outdated, lack appeal in presentation and are often poorly maintained.  Some were described as unacceptable, and athletes’ complained they impacted performance and preparation.  The state of UNCW’s current facilities were also cited as a reason that quality teams from other schools will not accept an offer to compete at UNCW.  Other issues included the insufficiency of the current weight room and its staff and the lack of adequate athletic training staff, which limits the ability to get timely and immediate attention.  The level of travel accommodations compared to other schools in the conference was also was described as an impediment to performance and competiveness.

UNCW is a member of the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA), which was founded in 1979 as the ECAC South basketball league and renamed in 1985.  It is important to look at the changing make-up of the CAA over the past 20 years and how this plays an important role in the Seahawks’ current financial situation.  In 1993, the entire conference was located within a six-hour drive of Wilmington, NC, and included in-state rival East Carolina University. In 2013, with the exit of Old Dominion and Georgia State and the addition of the College of Charleston, only three of the CAA’s nine other teams will be within this distance.  This includes trips for the Seahawk teams of over 13 hours to Northeastern (Massachusetts) and 10 hours to Hofstra (New York).

For UNCW’s softball program, the closest drive current CAA trip is to 6 hours to James Madison University. There are other conference opportunities available that would potentially negate the travel impacts of the current CAA situation.   Conferences such as the Big South and the Southern Conference are much more local.  The Big South has four schools from the state of North Carolina, and the entire 12-member conference is located within a four-hour drive of Wilmington, NC.  Changing conferences could help change the face of UNCW, cut down on travel costs and provide the university with local competition.

The softball program at UNCW consists of athletes mainly from North Carolina.  While the popularity of the sport has skyrocketed in recent years in the Tarheel State, any future program must have the ability to recruit at least on the regional, if not national, level.  In this year’s NCAA National Championship Softball Tournament, approximately 17% of the players hail from the footprint of the CAA while 13% call the footprint of the Big South home.  Additionally as evidence of the increase in popularity of the sport, last year was the first year a school in the South won the national title (Alabama).  UNCW softball’s program needs additional resources, such as fully-funded scholarships, to be successful so it can recruit regionally and nationally.  The committee’s report stated that UNCW currently funds just over six scholarships for softball split among 20 athletes.  The NCAA allows a school to provide 12 athletic scholarships for its Division I softball programs.

Regional competitors such as James Madison, Elon, Coastal Carolina and UNC-Greensboro are in the process or have just completed substantial multi-million dollar softball facility upgrades that have substantially boosted the sport on their campuses.  These schools also have fully funded coaching staffs for softball that allow increased recruiting, instruction/coaching and program oversight.  As previously mentioned, the programs at UNCW have suffered for a long period of time with sub-par facilities and support.

After reviewing the UNCW situation and all of its components one cannot help but be reminded of a similar situation from 2001 at the University of Virginia.  Facing a projected $47 million dollar athletic department deficit by 2010, UVA created a task force to study the future of Virginia athletics.  The study’s task force recommended creating formal tiers for the 24 varsity sports to “bolster the strongest programs” and reduce support or eliminate some lower-profile sports.  This included the de-emphasis of programs that traditionally struggled including baseball, wrestling, men’s and women’s golf, men’s and women’s track and field, cross country and men’s and women’s tennis.

Upon its presentation to the Virginia Board of Visitors and President, the document was met with immediate criticism and anger.  The study’s recommendations were immediately voted down and instead a highly motivated and intense fundraising campaign began.  Fast-forward 12 years and the UVA baseball team is now one of the premier teams in the ACC, and in the country, having attended two College World Series in the period.  The men’s and women’s golf teams have won numerous events and placed several alumni onto the professional tours.  The men’s tennis team has been the NCAA runner-up for the last two seasons while winning an indoor tennis national championship.

Here’s hoping the situation at UNCW turns out to be nothing more than a “call to arms” like Virginia from a few years back.  With UNCW’s reputation as a stellar academic institution and a campus located just a few minutes from the Atlantic Ocean’s beautiful beaches, the sky is the limit for Seahawk athletics.  Given all of the support to compete on a level playing field, Seahawk athletics can and will win all of the championships they can while answering the fiscal questions of the administration.

Will Texas and Texas A&M be Required by Law to Play Football?

Guest author: Christian Dennie, Esq.

Following Texas A&M University’s (“A&M”) departure to the SEC, sports fans all across Texas missed out on the annual University of Texas (“Texas”) v. A&M football game.  There is no certainty whether the game will be played again, at least in the near future.  As a result, State Rep. Ryan Guillen of Rio Grande City introduced a bill seeking to require the two universities to compete against one another. House Bill 778 does not indicate when the game would be played, but does offer penalties levied against the institution refusing to play in the annual game.  The restriction recommended is the loss of athletic scholarships.

 

This post originally appeared on bgsfirm.com.

 

Will NCAA Change Tennis to Fit TV?

BY: CAITLYN LAWRENCE

During the July meeting of the NCAA Division I Men’s and Women’s Tennis Committee, ideas were presented that would reduce the dual match length and change the format of the championships. Quickly after these ideas were released, many coaches and student-athletes were protesting the recommended changes, especially those pertaining to shortening the dual match format. After the Division 1 cabinet met earlier this month, the majority of the proposals pertaining to shortening the matches were defeated. However, the cabinet did encourage the committee to research other methods to decrease dual match length and to present these ideas during the next meeting in February.

Even though the changes originally presented to shorten match length were rejected, that does not mean that the Division I dual match format is safe. The Division I Men’s and Women’s Tennis Committee is still searching for methods to shorten the length of a dual match. However, it should be noted that tennis at the collegiate level is already abridged with doubles matches being only a pro-set to eight games. So why is the committee trying to find other ways to shorten the dual matches?

According to the Report of the NCAA Division 1 Men’s and Women’s Tennis Committee July 10-12 Meeting, a dual match can last up to 4.5 hours. No other NCAA sport requires the student-athlete to compete for this duration. Also, the report noted that match length deters fan support and it does not allow for media coverage. The committee argued that by shortening the time of a dual match so it would take between 3-3.5 hours there would be more opportunity for local and national television coverage of the sport, as well as live streaming on the internet.

The most notable change suggested that singles matches would be best two-out-of-three matches with the third set being a super tie-breaker (the first player to ten points wins). However, would removing the third set increase the appeal?

The most popular tennis matches viewed on TV are the men’s grand slam finals, which are played as a best three-out-of-five sets, a not so fan-friendly format according to the Division 1 Men’s and Women’s Tennis Committee. The 2012 Wimbledon final between Andy Murray and Roger Federer was the highest-rated and most-watched tennis match ever for ESPN, averaging a 2.5 US rating and having 3.925 million viewers. Did I mention it took 4 sets to complete the match?

That’s not the only instance of a longer match that drew in viewers. This year’s five-set US Open final drew in 16.2 million viewers, compared to the 11.8 million who tuned in to the four-set final from last year. The three-set women’s final (in grand slam women’s tennis the matches are a best two-out-of-three contest), brought in the most viewers for the US Open ladies final since 2002, with an audience of 17.7 million. It would seem longer matches are not what is deterring tennis fans.

Currently, professional tennis viewing is going through an increase in popularity. When looking at the number of viewers for the Gentlemen’s Wimbledon Final, we see that in 2010 the final received a rating of 1.6, whereas this year the final received an average rating of 2.5 and had 3.925 million viewers.

In women’s professional tennis we see the same trend. In 2010, the women’s final only earned a rating of 1.6 and increased to 2.0 this year. Therefore, tennis is increasing in popularity, regardless of match length. So what is preventing the popularity of Division I tennis?

Collegiate sports are only popular in the US, as other countries do not offer collegiate-level sports. How does this effect tennis? Tennis is a sport that is popular worldwide. Therefore, many international athletes come to the US to play collegiate tennis. Of the international student-athlete population, 23.2 percent play tennis, whereas in basketball the percentage is 9.5 percent. It is even less for football, with only 1.4 percent of the international student-athlete population playing. Furthermore, in Division I tennis 38.4 percent of the men’s players and 49.9 percent of the women’s players are international.

This does not bode well for the popularity of collegiate tennis considering it will only be viewed by North Americans. Additionally, with other powerhouse sports dominating US sports culture – such as basketball and football – tennis becomes a difficult sport to market.

Let’s compare professional tennis television ratings to those of the most popular NCAA sports: basketball and football. This year’s US Open final drew in 16.2 million viewers worldwide, which was an increase of 4.4 million viewers compared to the 2011 final. However, compare this to the 2012 March Madness championship and the BCS Championship game and we see that they pulled in 20.005 million and 24.214 million viewers respectively, the majority of these viewers being from North America.

This shows that there is a great viewing audience available in America, however tennis does not have the popularity here to pull in that grand of an audience. If professional tennis has trouble matching the number of viewers NCAA basketball and football draw, it is difficult to market the potential for NCAA tennis. There is not as much money available here.

Would changes to the format that shorten playing time increase the sports popularity in America? It seems unlikely considering the professional tennis ratings are going up, even with longer match times. Much of the excitement of tennis comes from the third-set intensity where players have to dig deep mentally and physically to become the victor. Additionally, when it is considered that the matches that draw in the most viewers are also the longest, the men’s grand slam finals, it would seem that shortening the match duration may not increase the sports view ability.

For now, Division I collegiate tennis players and fans do not need to worry about losing the third set since the cabinet rejected the idea. However, with the Division I Men’s and Women’s Tennis Committee looking for ways to increase the sports popularity and view ability will they discover ways to change the format of matches? Will changing the length of matches also affect the dynamic of the sport? Is shortening the matches really the method to increase popularity since in the past, longer professional matches have drawn in more viewers? We will have to wait and see what changes may come to Division I tennis in the spring when the cabinet meets again.

Will Wisconsin Sever Ties with Adidas?

Author: Tyler Jamieson

A couple of weeks ago Cornell announced it was severing ties with Adidas over its labor practices.  Now it appears Wisconsin is looking to be next in line to do so, and Wisconsin is willing to put its money where its mouth is for the cause.

Wisconsin’s current deal with Adidas runs through 2016 and is worth approximately $2.5 million annually. The University also receives licensing royalties from Adidas that have provided hundreds of thousands of dollars for need-based scholarships for students outside of athletics.  However, the University is willing to sacrifice all that for its stance against sweatshop abuses in licensed-apparel manufacturing.

At issue is an Indonesian factory that was shut down by an Adidas subcontractor.  Over 2,800 factory workers were owed $3.2 million.  A small part of the factory produced Adidas apparel and some of that apparel was found to have Wisconsin logos on them.  Other companies such as Nike and the Dallas Cowboys, who presumably had items that were manufactured there, have provided financial relief for factory workers, but to date Adidas has not done so and factory workers are still owed $1.8 million.

Is Wisconsin’s cause a noble one?  Critics of the NCAA aren’t so sure.  It’s not uncommon to hear the term “slave labor” tossed around when referring to NCAA athletes.  Is it hypocritical for a big-time university like Wisconsin to take a stance on labor wages in the manufacturing of their apparel when it can be argued their returning 1st team All American and Heisman trophy finalist running back, who led the team to a Rose Bowl berth last season, is grossly under-compensated?

To its credit Wisconsin is consistent with its belief. They pride themselves on being at the forefront of aiming to stop labor abuse in licensed-apparel manufacturing and they have the history to prove it.  This isn’t the first, second, or even third time they have ended license and apparel contracts over labor practice disputes.  In 2008, the University ended its license agreement with New Era over labor practices.  In 2009, the University ended its relationship with Russell over a closure of a factory in Honduras where it was alleged the factory was shut down as a hostile response to workers who were threatening to unionize.  In 2010, Wisconsin ended its licensing agreement with Nike due to a similar circumstance as Adidas – a Nike subcontractor closed 2 factories and was alleged to have owed workers approximately $2 million in severance pay.

For now, Wisconsin is keeping tight-lipped on the dispute with Adidas due to pending litigation.  Both sides agreed to mediation back in February, and after being unable to find a resolution the Wisconsin Board of Regents put the case in the hands of a court to decide if Adidas has met the Labor Code of Conduct term of their contract.  Should be interesting to see the outcome of this case and to see if other schools will follow Wisconsin’s lead.

College Football on U.S. Hispanic Sports Television: a Bold Brand-Building Effort

Guest author: Oliver Tse

Major Division I college sports returned to U.S. Hispanic sports television for the first time in 15 years on September 1st when FOX Deportes aired the Hawaii at Southern California college football game with Spanish-language commentary.

“We are thrilled to work with the Big 12 and Pac-12, and proud to expand our event portfolio by offering the biggest sports brands that reflect and serve today’s U.S. Latino,” said Vincent Cordero, executive Vice President and General Manager, Fox Deportes.  “U.S. Latinos are the New Face of America, representing the largest minority at our nation’s colleges, with 2.1 million students enrolled. Latinos comprise 74% of the growth in totalU.S.collegiate enrollment since 2010.”

“There are 500,000 more Latinos enrolled in our nation’s 2-year and 4-year colleges compared to African-Americans,” added Cordero. “Furthermore, 3 times as many Latinos are enrolled compared to Asian-Americans.”

FOX Deportes, which has about 20 million subscribers overall, of which about 6 million are Hispanic, is embarking on a brand-building effort with bold alternative programming strategies in an effort to reach out to young male Hispanic TV viewers, particularly in the ages 18-34 and 18-49 demographics, who are looking for something else to watch besides the two traditional staples of Spanish-language sports TV in the U.S. on weekends:  Mexican soccer and boxing.

“We are constantly looking for big brands, both international and majorU.S.sports brands, that provide compelling content to our audience,” said Cordero. “College Football provides a level of competition and enthusiasm plus incredible emotional ties.”

Besides 17 major Division I College Football games (all simulcasts of games shown in English on FOX or FX,  featuring mostly PAC-12 and Big 12 regular season contests plus the Pac-12 and Big Ten Championship games and the Cotton Bowl), FOX Deportes also offers Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) and Major League Baseball (including the World Series) among its live events.  Starting February 2013, FOX Deportes will add 15 NASCAR Sprint Cup races, including live coverage of the Daytona 500, to its programming lineup.

To kick off FOX Deportes’ re-entry into majorU.S.college sports (since Pac-10 men’s basketball aired in January-March 1997), FOX Deportes has already aired 3 half-hour programs to introduce Spanish-speaking viewers to the history, the rules, and the culture of college football.

The College Football on FOX Deportes episodes, which aired on Saturdays at 9pm ET in August, were fast-paced with slick production values viewers would expect from FOX Sports Media Group.  Both the Big 12 and the Pac-12 were featured prominently.

“The Big 12 is proud of its long-standing partnership with FOX Sports Media Group, and we welcome the opportunity this increased exposure will have in expanding and energizing the fan base of Big 12 football,” said Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby. “Our member institutions will benefit from the exposure FOX Deportes will provide their football programs and universities to this tremendously significant demographic nationwide.”

“We are pleased that FOX Deportes will be showcasing our exciting brand of Pac-12 football this season,” said Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott. “FOX Deportes is a leader in Spanish-language sports media and offers us a valuable national cable platform that reaches new fans in new places around the country.”

Veteran sportscaster Pablo Alsina (who broadcast in both English and Spanish at bilingual TV networks GOLTV and mun2 before joining FOX Deportes & FOX Soccer inLos Angeles) hosted the half-hour programs, which featured numerous interviews of players and coaches including 3 Spanish-speaking players:  UCLA Offensive Lineman Alberto Cio, Oregon Linebacker Christian “Kiko” Alonso, and Oregon Placekicker Alejandro Maldonado.

Alsina is scheduled to call all 17 college football games on FOX Deportes, with Los Angeles-based bilingual sportscaster Francisco Rivera, who had previously voiced Spanish-language content for the NFL Network, as the analyst.  According to Cordero, Alsina and Rivera will call the 14 regular season games from the studio of FOX Deportes in the Westwood neighborhood of Los Angeles, and they are scheduled to call the PAC-12 and Big Ten Championship games as well as the Cotton Bowl from the stadiums.

“Our primary objective and mission is to turn our regular FOX Deportes viewers into college football viewers,” said Cordero. “Our nightly news program Central FOX has been airing segments during the past 3 weeks to prepare our viewers for college football.  We are also cross-promoting college football during our other live events including English Premier League, UEFA Champions League, and Copa Sudamericana.”

“This is not an exercise to shift viewers from English to Spanish,” added Cordero.

Knowing that College Football on FOX Deportes will face stiff competition from Mexican soccer and boxing on most Saturday nights, and many 2nd and 3rd-generation Hispanics in the U.S. prefer to consume television in English instead of Spanish as they blend into mainstream culture, we won’t know how successful college football telecasts on FOX Deportes will be until Nielsen ratings become available.  Regardless of the result, many of us will be watching this bold effort from FOX Sports Media Group with keen interest.

 

Note: ESPN Deportes announced in May that college football with Spanish-language commentary will be one of several sports that will be streamed at ESPN3.com under the “ESPN Deportes+ por ESPN3” brand this fall.  An ESPN Deportes spokesperson declined to provide additional details for this article.

About the author:  Oliver Tse founded and operated soccerTV.com in 1995-2007 to provide direct marketing services to clients including ESPN, FOX Sports, and GOLTV.  He also founded and operated Oliver Tse Management Group in 2006-2009 to secure poker product endorsement for players appearing at televised World Series of Poker (WSOP), World Poker Tour (WPT), and National Heads-Up Poker Championship events.   Oliver lives in San Francisco and can be reached via LinkedIn at http://www.linkedin.com/in/olivertse888

California Proposes Scholarship Extensions for Student-Athletes

Guest author: Mit Winter

A groundbreaking bill known as the Student Athlete Bill of Rights is close to becoming law in California.  The California Senate and Assembly both recently passed the bill and it currently awaits Governor Jerry Brown’s signature.  Brown has not publicly given any indication as to whether he intends to sign it into law.

If Brown does sign the bill, beginning with the 2013-14 school year student athletes at California universities that receive at least $10 million annually from the sale of athletics-based media rights will be entitled to a number of benefits.  The most prominent are as follows:

1) If a student athlete’s athletic scholarship is not renewed due to an incapacitating injury or illness resulting from participation in an intercollegiate sport, the university must provide the student athlete with an equivalent scholarship that, when combined with the athletic scholarship, provides for up to five academic years or until the student athlete graduates, whichever comes first.

2) Scholarship student athletes who are members of teams with a graduation success rate of less than 60%, and have exhausted their athletic eligibility before graduating, must be provided with an equivalent scholarship for up to one year or until the student athlete graduates, whichever is shorter.

One thing to note up front before diving into an analysis of these two provisions (which I call the injury scholarship continuation and graduation scholarship continuation rules):  because the law will only apply to California universities receiving at least $10 million annually from the sale of athletics-based media rights, it will initially only affect USC, UCLA, Stanford, and Cal.  San Diego State may become a member of the $10 million club soon, but that will depend on how well Mike Aresco can sell the new version of Big East football.  No other California universities are currently likely to be affected by the law, but, as we have seen with the realignment frenzy over the past few years, anything can happen.

Now that we know which schools will be affected by the injury scholarship continuation and graduation scholarship continuation rules let’s take a closer look at them.  At first glance, each of the rules makes sense.  Student-athletes at USC, UCLA, Stanford, and Cal play a big part in those schools receiving large media rights checks.  So, it seems fair that student-athletes should continue to receive scholarships after they are injured participating in a sport or if they have not yet graduated when their athletic eligibility is exhausted.

But, when the reach of each rule is considered, much of the revenue generation argument disappears.  Why?  Because the law does not apply only to student-athletes participating in revenue generating sports:  generally football and men’s basketball, with some limited exceptions.

The scholarship continuation rule applies to any student-athlete who received an athletic scholarship.  Using Stanford as an example, this means that scholarship athletes such as men’s and women’s fencers, men’s and women’s gymnasts, men’s wrestlers, and women’s rowers will maintain their athletic scholarships if they are injured while participating in their sport and can no longer compete.[1]  Not that there is anything wrong with this.  But, if the argument is that scholarship student-athletes should continue to receive scholarships after an incapacitating injury because of all the money they generated for their school while competing, the law shouldn’t reach this far.  Fencers, gymnasts, wrestlers, and rowers are not producing revenue for Stanford.

If all of Stanford’s scholarship student athletes are entitled to a scholarship continuation after an injury, why shouldn’t a scholarship football or basketball player at Fresno State be entitled to that benefit as well?  Those student athletes are generating some revenue for Fresno State.  Again, there is nothing wrong with providing all scholarship student athletes with scholarship continuations after injuries.  But those who are generating revenue, regardless of school, should have the same rights to a scholarship continuation after an injury.

While Stanford will be affected by the injury continuation rule, it won’t have to worry about the graduation continuation rule.  This part of the law only applies to teams that have a graduation success rate below 60%.  The most recent available Graduation Success Rate (GSR) data (2010-11 academic year) shows that all of Stanford’s teams had GSRs well above 60%.

The same cannot be said for Cal, UCLA, and USC. Cal’s men’s basketball team had a GSR of 33% while its football team had a GSR of 54%.  USC’s men’s basketball team had a GSR of 38%.  UCLA’s football team had a GSR of 59%.  So, if they have not already graduated, scholarship members of these teams will be entitled to a continuation of their scholarships for up to one year after their athletic eligibility has expired.  Again, the rule makes sense.  Especially when the student athletes receiving the scholarships are members of revenue generating teams.

What doesn’t make sense is the limitation of the rule to members of teams that have a GSR below 60%.  The intent of the limit appears to be to increase graduation levels for football and men’s basketball, as those two sports generally have lower graduation rates than other sports at most schools.  This is a worthy goal.  But, why should a member of the USC football team not be entitled to a continuation of his scholarship after his athletic eligibility expires when a basketball player is?

The football player likely brings more value to USC than a basketball player.  But, despite the football player’s role in generating a substantial amount of revenue for USC, the football player is not entitled to a scholarship continuation because the program has done a better job of graduating players than the basketball program.  This doesn’t seem fair.  If the goal is to reward members of these teams for their part in generating revenue, then the continuation rule should cover those teams generating a certain amount of revenue, regardless of GSR rates.

To link the injury scholarship and graduation scholarship continuation rules more closely to revenue generation, they could be changed to be team specific as opposed to school specific.  One potential fix would apply the two rules to any team at a California school that generates revenue of at least $2 million.  The actual number isn’t important for this entry.  And there would have to be some discussion about how to calculate how much revenue a specific team generates.  But, amending the bill in this way would reward all of the California student athletes who are generating revenue for their schools.



[1] Question: What types of injuries do fencers get?  Triceps strains from all of the thrusting?  Groin pulls from the quick lunges at your opponent?

The Debate over Stipends for Student Athletes

Guest author: Mit Winter

Division I student-athletes are currently only allowed to receive financial aid based on athletics ability up to the value of their tuition and fees, room and board, and required course-related books.  In October of 2011, the NCAA Board of Directors approved a proposal to allow Division I members to give student-athletes a stipend of up to $2000 on top of the items listed above.  The idea is that the money will help cover the difference between the value of a full athletic scholarship and the actual cost of attending college.  As anyone who has attended college knows, students have everyday expenses that go beyond their tuition and fees, room and board, and books.  Things like laundry, transportation, toothpaste, and clothes (and cheap beer – my preference in college was Natty Light). An athletics scholarship is not allowed to cover these expenses.

But, the stipend proposal was tabled in January after more than 160 schools requested an override. These schools argued that the proposal was too expensive for them, that it would give the wealthier schools another advantage in recruiting, and that it equals “pay for play.”  Despite this opposition, the Board of Directors recently reiterated its support for the stipend proposal.

The activity summarized above brings up two areas of discussion.  1) The proposal itself, and 2) the opposition to the proposal.

First, let’s address the proposal.  While it moves things in the right direction, it doesn’t go far enough.  Here’s why:  non-student-athletes can receive merit based scholarships that cover their full cost of attendance.  As one example, the Charles Scholarship at Davidson College includes the recipients’ room and board, tuition and fees, books, a travel allowance that covers three round trip flights to Chicago (it’s a scholarship specifically for students from Chicago), a personal expense allowance, and special study opportunity funds.  Why shouldn’t student-athletes be able to receive scholarships that cover all of these expenses?

One of the usual arguments is that providing student-athletes with athletics-based money for personal expenses equals “pay for play.”  How can that argument be reconciled with the fact that schools are already providing non-athletes with merit-based money for personal and travel expenses?  It can’t be.  When a trombone player receives a full cost of attendance scholarship no one calls that pay for play.  No one complains that Davidson is paying the Charles Scholarship recipients to study.

Another argument that has been made against athletics-based cost of attendance scholarships is that schools will artificially inflate the cost of attendance figures for athletes.  But, federal regulations and NCAA bylaws already prevent this from happening.  Federal regulations only allow certain categories of expenses to be included in the cost of attendance calculation.  And NCAA bylaws mandate that the cost of attendance for student-athletes must be calculated in accordance with the cost of attendance policies and procedures for general students.

Those who argue against athletics-based cost of attendance scholarships also overlook their potential to address a big issue in college sports: third party influence.  It is well-known that agents, runners, and other third parties looking to gain influence with student-athletes often offer them money or other gifts.  Take the recent case ofKansasState’s Jamar Samuels.  Samuels was suspended the day that K-State played Syracuse in this year’s NCAA men’s basketball tournament.  His crime was accepting $200 from his former AAU coach.  Samuels allegedly needed the money for food.  The suspension forced Samuels to miss the last game of his college career.  Samuels likely would not have needed the money if he had received a full cost of attendance scholarship.

There are probably hundreds, if not thousands, of transactions like this occurring every year between third-parties and student-athletes.  Taking money from third parties is very tempting to those student-athletes whose families do not have the means to provide them with money for personal expenses.  Full cost of attendance scholarships won’t end third-party influence, but they will help.

Now, let’s go back to the stipend proposal.  The schools opposed to the proposal are generally the Division I members outside of the BCS conferences.  These schools mainly argue that they cannot afford to pay the stipends and, as a result, the schools with wealthier athletic departments will have yet another recruiting advantage.  While the argument does have some merit, the non-BCS schools are making this a bigger issue than it is.

The reason: non-BCS schools are not currently winning recruiting battles with BCS schools.  Even the worst BCS schools usually win in head to head recruiting battles with non-BCS schools.  The BCS schools already have many other recruiting advantages that are more significant than any advantage that would be gained by offering a $2,000 stipend.  Things like history and tradition, media exposure, fan support, facilities, and schedules filled with games against the traditional college basketball and football powers.

A good way to look at this is to assume that the non-BCS schools are the only schools allowed to offer the stipend.  How many student-athletes currently attending a BCS school would have gone to a non-BCS school instead?  Probably not many.  Would Matt Barkley have gone to Fresno State instead of USC?  No.  WouldOklahoma’s third string running back have gone to UTEP?  Not likely.  Would Kansas’ back-up point guard, Naadir Tharpe, have gone to Boston University(near his hometown)?  Negative.

Another thing to keep in mind in this debate is that the stipend proposal is not a novel idea.  NCAA members were allowed to give student-athletes $15 a month for personal expenses until the early 1970’s.  The stipend was eliminated in an attempt to trim the costs of running an athletic department.  But, the enormous media rights contracts that Division I conferences are signing and will sign (I’m looking at you football playoff), will bring in more athletics-based revenue to Division I schools than at any time in the past.  With this new money rolling in, schools should have the option of sharing some of that money with the student-athletes who play a large part in generating it.  The stipend proposal is a good start.  Once the Division I members give the proposal a try they will hopefully continue on to the logical end place:  the ability to award athletic-based cost of attendance scholarships.

Is Competitive Cheerleading a Sport?

Guest author: Christian Dennie, Esq.

A court has ruled it is not. At least not for Title IX purposes. Yet.

The District Court found that competitive cheerleading is not a sport and the 30 roster positions could not be counted under Title IX because the activity did not “yet” afford participation opportunity of a varsity “sport.”  Further, the District Court observed the NCAA does not recognize competitive cheerleading as a “sport” or an “emerging sport.”  The District Court carefully analyzed the record and indicated competitive cheerleading is similar to a sport in some respects and different in others.  The District Court concluded that the following are similar to other sports: 1) team’s operating budget, benefits, services, and coaching staff were structured and administered by the Quinnipiac athletic department; 2) the length of the season and minimum number of competitions; 3) governed by an athletic organization (i.e., National Competitive Stunt and Tumbling Association); and 4) the purpose of the team was to compete athletically against other intercollegiate varsity level teams.

On the other hand, the District Court found the following differences: 1) Quinnipiac did not provide locker space for competitive cheerleading team members; 2) the team members did not receive NCAA catastrophic injury insurance because it is not an NCAA recognized sport; 3) Quinnipiac did not and could not conduct off-campus recruitment for its competitive cheerleading team; 4) there were no uniform set of rules applied to competitive cheerleading competitions; 5) Quinnipiac competed against a “motley assortment of competitors” including varsity intercollegiate cheerleading teams, collegiate club teams, high school age competitors, and all-star opponents; and 6) there was no progressive playoff system leading to a championship game.

In reviewing the totality of the circumstances, the District Court concluded that Quinnipiac’s competitive cheerleading team did not compete in circumstances indicative of varsity sports.  Thus, the District Court ruled and the Second Circuit affirmed that the 30 roster positions for competitive cheerleading members could not be counted for Title IX purposes because the activity did not “yet” afford women genuine participation opportunities in a varsity sport.

You can read the full details of the case here.