Author Archives: Kristi Dosh
Guest author: Benjamin Haynes, Esq.
University of Miami’s football player Dyron Dye was disciplined back in 2011 by the NCAA when the NCAA concluded that Dye had accepted impermissible benefits from a Miami Hurricane booster. Dye was required to sit out four games and was ordered to repay $738 in impermissible benefits. Now, as a senior, Dye is once again being investigated by the NCAA for potential rule violations stemming out of the same incident. On Tuesday May 28, NCAA investigators met with Dye for the third time. The reason for this third meeting was that the NCAA claimed that there are discrepancies between what Dye told the NCAA in 2011 about former Hurricanes assistant coach Aubrey Hill and what Dye wrote in a recently signed affidavit. Dye’s attorney, Darren Heitner, stated that “my client stands behind the statements he made in his affidavit, which we understand is supported by affidavits signed by other former players.” While Dye has already been penalized for receiving impressible benefits, this new allegation by the NCAA could result in further sanctions against Dye under NCAA Bylaw 10.1.
NCAA Bylaw 10.1 deals with unethical conduct. The rule specifically states that “unethical conduct by a prospective or enrolled student-athlete or a current or former institutional staff member (e.g., coach, professor, tutor, teaching assistant, student manager, student trainer) may include, but is not limited to, the following.” The rule then goes on to list nine separate categories which may constitute unethical conduct. For purposes of this article, the category which the NCAA may potentially try and claim Dye violated is “(d) knowingly furnishing the NCAA or the individual’s institution false or misleading information concerning the individual’s involvement in or knowledge of matters relevant to a possible violation of an NCAA regulation.” Dyron Dye’s discrepancies between his recent affidavit and 2011 statements could potentially constitute a violation of knowingly furnishing the NCAA with false and misleading information. However, these may be some valid defenses to these alleged discrepancies.
Dyron Dye wrote in his statement that he felt that the NCAA had twisted his testimony. In fact, many of the current and former Miami Hurricane football players that were interviewed by former investigator Rich Johanningmeier stated that the NCAA used means of intimidation and threats while interviewing the players. Those alleged threats, according to Dye’s affidavit, were threats of penalizing the players by making them ineligible and pulling their scholarships. If such allegations are found to be true, then the NCAA could potentially be sued for extortion.
Under Florida law, specifically Florida Statute 836.05, whoever maliciously threatens to accuse another of any crime or offense, or by such communication maliciously threatens an injury to the person, property or reputation of another, or maliciously threatens to expose another to disgrace, or to expose any secret affecting another, with intent thereby to extort money or with intent to compel the person so threatened to do any act or refrain from doing any act against his or her will, they shall be guilty of a felony of the second degree.
Therefore, under this Florida statute, Dye may be able to argue that the NCAA maliciously threatened, against Dye’s will, to injure his property or reputation if Dye did not testify in a manner consistent with what the NCAA was directing. In fact, Dye stated that he “felt compelled to testify in a manner that would be consistent with the manner in which Mr. Johanningmeier was directing me in order to keep my eligibility.” One would think that the NCAA’s primary goal in conducting such an interview would be to get the absolute truth of the situation, and not stoop to the means of threatening teenagers and young men in order to have facts twisted in the NCAA’s favor.
It is expected that more former Hurricane players involved in this incident will come forth and state that the NCAA threatened scholarships and eligibility to them as well. The more players that come out and corroborate Dye’s testimony, the stronger case Dye will be able to build when defending himself amidst a 10.1 ethical violation allegation, and potentially seeking an extortion cause of action against the NCAA.
Benjamin Haynes, Esq. wrote this article. Haynes is a former Division 1 Basketball Player at Oral Roberts University and currently practices law in the State of Florida. Follow him at @BHaynes32.
My book, Saturday Millionaires: How Winning Football Builds Winning Colleges is now available for pre-order! You can find out all about the book and pre-order on the Saturday Millionaires website.
Since this book was essentially born from this website, I wanted to share with you the original Preface I wrote, which has since been cut from the book. It explains how this book came to be…
Proposals for improving college football are like assholes: everyone has one. That’s how we describe an excess of anything in the South. That’s not what this book is about.
This is the untold story of college football.
Once upon a time I was just a simple college football fan sporting my orange and blue in The Swamp every Saturday, trying to look cute while glistening (Southern women do not sweat) in the Central Florida heat. When the Gators only road to the National Championship in 2006 rested upon what I considered an improbable loss by USC to UCLA in the final week, I agreed with my friends that college football needed a playoff.
Back then, the only aspects about college football that made sense to me were why Ben Hill Griffin Stadium was called The Swamp (the air is thick and full of Gators!) and that something special would happen every time Tim Tebow stepped on the field.
As I reflect upon how I transitioned from there to playing devil’s advocate on topics including pay-for-play and whether the BCS could have survived an antitrust suit, I realize it’s the access I’ve had to athletic departments via my former positions with SportsMoney on Forbes.com, Comcast Sports Southeast, my founding of BusinessofCollegeSports.com and my current position as a sports business reporter at ESPN that have made all the difference.
I remember naively wondering why no AQ conference (that’s Automatic Qualifying, as in the big 6 conferences: SEC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12, ACC and Big East) had snapped up Boise State after it began posting winning season after winning season. By the time the Pac-12 and Big East announced adding Utah and TCU, respectively, in the fall of 2010, I knew why they had ascended to the highest tier of college football: they brought top television markets. Winning teams come and go, but a top market you can count on long-term.
There was the time I thought athletic departments, particularly those in AQ conferences, were printing money. I’ll never forget the dose of reality I was served along with each school’s line item budget I received. If we’re talking about only football, yes, dozens of schools show net revenue, and some are healthier than others.
That football profit doesn’t simply sit in a vault marked “Property of State University Football”. It typically supports most of the other sports in the athletic department, nearly all of whom operate at a loss. At University of Florida, one of the healthiest athletic departments in the country, the average sport outside football and men’s basketball loses $1.4 million per season. Fortunately for the Gators, the profit from football covers all that and then some.
At schools where it doesn’t? That’s when you see those student fee and direct institutional support line items soar. Which brings me to another lesson learned: not all direct institutional support or government support reported on a school’s NCAA disclosure is what it seems. It could be state lottery funds designated for Title IX usage or waivers for out-of-state student-athletes so the athletic department only has to be in-state tuition for those students.
We’ll also take a look at how television changed the course of college football in a 1984 Supreme Court decision and the periods of conference realignment that followed. Lest you think television runs college football, we’ll also delve into conference television networks and the latest long-term television deals. You’ll see it’s the conferences who are the real power brokers in college football today.
Saturday Millionaires will take you inside the athletic departments at a variety of schools from one of the top departments in the country at Ohio State University to smaller departments like Western Kentucky University. I’ll show you their line item budgets, highlight where they excel and explain their struggles. You’ll see how an Athletic Director can change the course of an entire department, like Tom Jurich has at Louisville.
I will also show you how NCAA regulations and federal laws impact decisions made in and around college football. You’ll begin to understand why Title IX complicates pay-for-play plans whether the money comes in the form of an increased scholarship to cover cost-of-attendance or from the pocket of a donor. I’ll show you what would happen if athletic departments lost their tax-exempt status. I’ll even explain why the threat of an antitrust suit has perhaps done more for college football than an actual suit would have accomplished.
Lastly, we’ll talk about the intersection of athletics and academics. There are those who say athletics has destroyed academics at universities. What about the 200 percent increase TCU saw in applications from high school students in Oregon following its BCS bowl appearances? Or how TCU now receives more applications from California than nearby Houston?
Studies have shown athletics impact everything from application rates, to selectivity, academic ranking, donations, state appropriations, licensing and branding. In recent years, those correlations have only grown. The potential influence dwarfs the cost. For example, at University of Florida athletics accounts for just 2.7 percent of total university operating expenses. Meanwhile, Shands Hospital accounts for 33 percent.
The point being that universities are more than single-product academic institutions today. They’re mutli-product entities offering a wide range of products from traditional classroom education to study abroad to world-class medical centers and big-time collegiate athletics. It’s the job of each individual university to choose the right products to make up the entity to form a cohesive unit. Some schools are better at this than others, but that’s a free market economy for you.
The most-used words in discussions on college football are “fair” and its antithesis, “unfair”. It’s unfair players aren’t paid when athletic departments are making millions off them. It’s not fair that schools in AQ conferences make more than schools in non-AQ conferences.
I hate the word “fair” and it’s ugly cousin “unfair”. I may begin a campaign to ban them from the English language. Who’s with me?
Maybe you will be after you read Saturday Millionaires.
I won’t tell you that college football, and college athletics in general, is without fault. Like any industry, there are business units and management within those units who bend the rules, sometimes until they break. This book isn’t about defending rule-breakers, it’s about giving you the information necessary to form your own opinions about the business of college football the next time you see a flashy headline.
I’ll give you all of the information I’ve had privy to as a journalist covering college athletics. Maybe by the end you’ll leave the young girl in orange and blue behind like I did and begin to look at college football in a new light. Of course, if you’re a man reading this, feel free to instead leave behind the over-enthusiastic fan with the “O” painted on his chest.
Read more about Saturday Millionaires and pre-order here.
BusinessofCollegeSports.com is looking for a few new writers.
We’re looking for self-motivated individuals who can both generate ideas and write on a regular basis. Previous writing experience preferred.
Our site is followed by athletic department and university employees and executives across the county, and our research has been used by everyone from schools considering conference realignment to university presidents seeking to better understand the financial impact of collegiate athletics. We’ve also been linked to and referenced by every major national sports network and newspapers and other publications across the country. If you search “business of college sports” on Google, we are the first result. Bottom line: if you want exposure, you’ve come to the right place.
We only focus on the business side of college sports, and we strive to be the leader in data and analysis related to this growing industry. To fulfill that goal, we need dedicated writers with a passion for this area.
If you’re interested, please send your cover letter, resume and clips of any previous writing by email. In your cover letter, please address the types of topics you’d be interested in writing about. We will accept applications through Friday, April 5th.
Conference realignment is nothing new. In 2004 and 2005, 16 schools moved from one FBS conference to another. Earlier this week, I wrote a piece for ESPN detailing how those schools have fared financially (and even academically) since their respective moves. Those who know me know I love Excel spreadsheets, and I had quite a few that we didn’t include in the ESPN.com piece. Below you’ll find a chart for each public school who moved in 2004 and 2005 detailing the growth each school saw in major revenue categories from the year before they moved conferences to the year after. Check out my ESPN.com piece for details on expense growth and overall financial picture for each school.
|Comp and Benefits by Third Party||$55,000||$185,000||236%|
|Direct Institutional Support||$408,962||$353,531||-14%|
|Broadcast, TV, Radio, Internet||$1,907,452||$3,954,669||107%|
|Comp and Benefits by Third Party||$0||$0|
|Direct Institutional Support||$5,642,852||$14,708,672||161%|
|Broadcast, TV, Radio, Internet||$0||$0|
|Comp and Benefits by Third Party||$0||$0|
|Direct Institutional Support||$1,500,000||$2,152,967||44%|
|Broadcast, TV, Radio, Internet||$1,643,061||$1,180,000||-28%|
|Comp and Benefits by Third Party||$0||$95,550|
|Direct Institutional Support||$1,093,589||$1,329,909||22%|
|Broadcast, TV, Radio, Internet||$400,000||$507,577||27%|
|Comp and Benefits by Third Party||$0||$0|
|Direct Institutional Support||$1,474,967||$2,424,099||64%|
|Broadcast, TV, Radio, Internet||$65,000||$0||-100%|
|Comp and Benefits by Third Party||$0||$0|
|Direct Institutional Support||$2,430,614||$5,439,689||124%|
|Broadcast, TV, Radio, Internet||$652,990||$1,231,121||89%|
|Comp and Benefits by Third Party||$0||$109,307|
|Direct Institutional Support||$4,994,481||$6,424,788||29%|
|Broadcast, TV, Radio, Internet||$7,828||$337,744||4215%|
|Comp and Benefits by Third Party||$179,000||$381,000||113%|
|Direct Institutional Support||$2,153,302||$2,778,311||29%|
|Broadcast, TV, Radio, Internet||$128,042||$50,000||-61%|
|Comp and Benefits by Third Party||$0||$140,000|
|Direct Institutional Support||$2,270,523||$9,109,963||301%|
|Broadcast, TV, Radio, Internet||$74,000||$0||-100%|
New Mexico State
|Comp and Benefits by Third Party||$0||$0|
|Direct Institutional Support||$3,347,148||$9,078,575||171%|
|Broadcast, TV, Radio, Internet||$0||$0|
Keep in mind there are many reasons for fluctuations in revenue, including new stadiums, expansion of stadiums, and sometimes even changes in reporting methods. It’s important to talk to each school before drawing any conclusions about why a specific revenue category has increased or decreased.
How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard. ~Carol Sobieski and Thomas Meehan, Annie
When I created this site, I told no one about my idea. I kept it to myself, because I thought it might be a ridiculous idea. Just because I enjoyed writing about the finances of college athletics and had received decent hits on my pieces over on Forbes didn’t mean an entire website could be built around the business of college athletics.
Or could it? As it turns out, not only is there infinite material to cover regarding the business of college athletics, but there’s an audience. An audience of passionate fans that fuel my enthusiasm for the subject. Without all of you – well, there is no BusinessofCollegeSports.com.
And certainly, without you I wouldn’t have news to share. This will be my last post on BusinessofCollegeSports.com. No, you haven’t caused me to pack up my keyboard and shut the site down with your accusatory emails and tweets. You’ve given me the desire and motivation to make the business of sports my career.
This is my last post, because I am beginning a new job, and essentially a new career path. I am now ESPN’s sports business reporter!
According to my mother, I’ve wanted to be an attorney since I could speak. I’ve always loved sports, but my attempts to make sports part of my practice never panned out. Until I started writing about legal issues in sports. Then with each passing day, I began to devote more and more of myself to studying and analyzing the business of college sports. For the last eighteen months, I’ve awoken every morning with a burning desire to run to the computer and research or write about an issue in sports business. And that’s why it’s time for me to make a change.
Joining ESPN will allow me to devote myself to researching and reporting on sports business full time. It will also give me an unparalleled platform online, in ESPN The Magazine, on television and radio. There are so many possibilities for topics that I’ve had to start a notebook filled with ideas. I’ve never been so ready to get started!
The move is bittersweet only in that I must leave this website behind. Luckily, you all can follow me over to my new blog on ESPN.com, and even continue to frequent this site, which I’ve entrusted to the very capable Alicia Jessop, along with some superb guest writers.
I can’t begin to thank you enough – for visiting this site, for bookmarking it, adding it to Google Reader and subscribing to receive posts by email. Thank you for following me on Twitter and for emailing me both with praise, criticism, challenges and ideas. Every single time I sit down to write, I think of you – my audience. What do you want to know about your team? What don’t you know about the business side of college sports? I hope I’ve delivered some of that for you.
Please don’t be strangers. My email and Twitter remain the same. You can always find links to all my work at KristiDosh.com, and you can check out my new blog over at ESPN!
I’ll admit it. I didn’t expect much out of my visit to University of Tulsa. I was thinking urban campus with facilities befitting my image of a non-AQ conference. The image in my head couldn’t have been further from what I experienced on the University of Tulsa campus.
Out of all the campuses I’ve visited, Tulsa is the only one where I could see myself as a student. Perhaps this is because it’s small (just over 3,000 undergraduates and just over 1,100 graduate students) and that along with the architectural theme carried throughout campus reminds me of my undergraduate alma mater, Oglethorpe University. Whatever the reason, I was enchanted by University of Tulsa. Yes, enchanted. I’m making a push to bring “enchanted” back into everyday vocabulary.
I doubt many of you have visited University of Tulsa, or ever will. So, I hope this pictures do it justice. This tour, along with a subsequent tour I took of Western Kentucky University, proved to me that the divide between AQ and non-AQ schools in terms of facilities isn’t nearly as wide as I imagined. In fact, there’s no divide at all between some schools.
This picture below on the left is of dorms. Yes, those are dorms. I’ve lived in apartments not as nice. The only reason I’m including these in the athletic facilities tour is that these particular ones are adjacent to the football stadium and actually house the bathrooms and concession stands for the stadium on the bottom floor. You can’t tell from the picture, but they’re just over to the right of this shot. (Sorry, I never claimed to be a professional photographer.) The picture on the right is the outside facade of the football stadium.
Next up are some shots of the 30,000 capacity football stadium from the inside:
Below are shots of the club seating area and accompanying suite within H.A. Chapman Stadium:
Tulsa has 400 club seats and 20 luxury suites. Club seats cost $300/seat for each season and are purchased for 10-years at a time. Likewise, luxury suites are sold for ten years each at a cost of $30,000. Both club seats and luxury suites currently have a waiting list.
Inside the Case Athletic Complex, located at the northern end zone and pictured above on the left, are locker rooms and an impressive display of Tulsa alumni playing in the NFL. Read the rest of this entry
What role does a Division I football team’s AP ranking play in the amount of tickets sold for its games and the price of those tickets?
The following depicts the least expensive tickets found for this week’s and next week’s games for teams on the AP Top 25 as of October 2, 2011.
The prices were found using StubHub as of 12 p.m. PST on October 8, 2011. For this data the number in parenthesis indicates the number of tickets remaining for sale on StubHub. Prices with a “*” indicate that StubHub data was unavailable and thus, Craigslist was used to obtain data. The + symbol indicates that the game was played at a neutral location.
10/8 TICKET PRICE
(# OF TICKETS REMAINING)
10/15 TICKET PRICE
(# OF TICKETS REMAINING)
|1. LSU||versus Florida- $150.00 (30)||at Tennessee- $74.00 (1,799)|
|2. Alabama||versus Vanderbilt – $48.00 (52)||at Ole Miss – $50.00 (1,687)|
|3. Oklahoma||versus Texas- $150.00*+||at Kansas- $50.00 (314)|
|4. Wisconsin||No game||versus Indiana- $60.00 (681)|
|5. Boise State||Played Fresno on 10/7||at Colorado State- $102 (154)|
|6. Oklahoma State||versus Kansas- $20.00*||at Texas- $80.00 (1,369)|
|7. Stanford||versus Colorado- $13.00 (296)||at Washington State- $40.00 (67)|
|8. Clemson||versus Boston College- $75.00*||at Maryland- $18.00 (470)|
|9. Oregon||Played Cal on 10/6||versus Arizona State- $52.00 (640)|
|10. Arkansas||versus Auburn- $50.00*||No game|
|11. Texas||versus Oklahoma- $150.00*+||versus Oklahoma State- $80.00 (1.369)|
|12. Michigan||at Northwestern – $95.00 (142)||at Michigan State- $168.00 (792)|
|13. Georgia Tech||No game||at Virginia- $39.00 (291)|
|14. Nebraska||versus Ohio State- $50.00 (130)||No game|
|15. Auburn||at Arkansas- $50.00*||versus Florida- $94.00 (1,146)|
|16. West Virginia||versus Connecticut- $17.00*||No game|
|17. Florida||at LSU – $150.00 (30)||at Auburn- $94.00 (1,146)|
|18. South Carolina||versus Kentucky- $45.00*||at Mississippi State- $32.00 (363)|
|19. Illinois||at Indiana- $25.00*||versus Ohio State- $31.00 (556)|
|20. Kansas State||versus Missouri- $20.00 (15)||at Texas Tech – $16.00 (811)|
|21. Virginia Tech||versus Miami- $15.00 (256)||at Wake Forest- $25.00 (621)|
|22. Arizona State||at Utah- $15.00*||at Oregon- $52.00 (640)|
|23. Florida State||at Wake Forest- $15*||at Duke – $20.00 (155)|
|24. Texas A&M||at Texas Tech – $20.00 (376)||versus Baylor – $98.00 (908)|
|25. Baylor||versus Iowa State- $10.00*||at Texas A&M – $98.00 (908)|
The 25th-ranked Baylor had the least expensive ticket price on the list for this week’s games, at $10.00. The top-ranked LSU had the most expensive ticket price at $150.00 for its game against Florida, which tied pricing for the always popular Red River Rivalry game between Texas and Oklahoma.
As for next week, the highest-priced game as of October 8, 2011 was the match-up between in-state rivals Michigan and Michigan State, for which the least expensive tickets were being sold on StubHub for $168.00.
Washington State fans hoping to catch a glimpse of Stanford quarterback phenom Andrew Luck better act fast and buy tickets, as only 67 remained on StubHub as of yesterday afternoon.
The following tidbit should be of interest to Boise State fans: Tickets for the Broncos’ away game versus Colorado State were next week’s highest priced game for any Top 25 team, priced at $102.00. It appears that many of the Broncos’ game tickets sell for over $100.00, which is interesting when compared to the ticket prices for teams in larger conferences (say, Texas Tech, Stanford and South Carolina).
Throughout the rest of the football season, visit BusinessofCollegeSports.com every Sunday to track how ticket prices fluctuate as teams’ rankings rise and fall and to find out which conference boasts the highest ticket prices.
(Today’s post was written by BusinessofCollegeSports.com’s new main contributing writer. To learn the identity of the site’s new writer, be sure to visit BusinessofCollegeSports.com tomorrow!)
When I visited Texas A&M last month I had the pleasure of going on an athletics facilities tour with Kevin Hurley, Associate Athletic Director for Construction and Facilities. Considered collectively, A&M’s facilities are top-notch. The only major improvements needed are to Kyle Field and the football training facilities, and there appear to be plans for that in the near future.
I took plenty of pictures and notes so I could take you on a tour of the facilities as well.
First up was the basketball arena and attached practice facilities.
Here you can see the floor being put down for volleyball. Reed Arena seats 12,500 and has no suites. However, Hurley tells me they could fit 10 if there was a demand for suites. I’ve written previously about how suites can make all the difference in which schools are profiting from basketball and which are not.
Hurley says men’s basketball averages 6,700-7,700 per home game, and women’s basketball averages 3,000-3,200. The numbers drop greatly when games are held while school is out of session. Student attendance keeps the place nearly full when games are played while students are on campus.
Although Reed Arena is not large enough to hold the men’s basketball finals, A&M is hosting the 2012 NCAA Women’s Basketball Championship in March.
This portion of Reed Arena, where competition is held for basketball and volleyball, is owned by a separate entity outside of the school and leased by the athletic department. However, the next stop on our tour, the practice facilities, are owned by the school and are on par with the best I’ve seen in the country.
When you walk into the building that houses the men’s and women’s basketball practice facilities you enter an atrium. To one side you enter the men’s facilities and to the other you enter the women’s facilities. They are mirror images of one another. Each includes a practice court, weight room, training room, locker room, and a lounge.
Above is the weight room on the men’s side. Below is the lounge for the player’s and a meeting room.
Now comes the most impressive locker I’ve seen at any Division I school. Each men’s and women’s basketball player has a locker like the one pictured below – complete with computer, desk and chair.
Below are pictures of the empty locker room and the training room on the men’s side.
Next up was the women’s soccer field…
Although I haven’t visited all of the softball stadiums in the SEC, I’m told A&M’s (seen below) will fall near the bottom of the pile, while baseball (not pictured because it’s undergoing massive renovations) will be one of the top two or three.
Swim and dive facilities are a part of the student recreation center and are rented by the athletic department for practicies and meets.
There are only a handful of indoor tracks on college campuses around the nation, and I’m told by many from within and outside the school that Texas A&M’s indoor track facility is the very best.
The facility that is probably next in line for a facelift is Texas A&M’s weight room for football, located just behind the south end zone. Should the rumored plans to add seating in the south end zone come to fruition, I don’t see how this building could remain intact in its current location. I’m guessing that means a new one will be constructed. There’s nothing wrong with the current facility, it just hasn’t been updated as recently as the other athletic facilities.
There’s also a nice lounge for the football players…
The football locker room is as nice as any I’ve seen, but I still think the basketball players have the best lockers.
At each school I’ve visited, I always ask about capital campaigns for athletics. At A&M they’ve gone to project-based capital campaigns instead of big generic athletics campaigns. They’ve found they often have donors who are interested in a particular sport. For example, right now they have a potential donor who might be interested in adding clay courts to the tennis complex. No other Division I school has clay tennis courts. While they wouldn’t be used in competition, it could be used as a recruiting tool to lure tennis players with pro aspirations.
The other thing I noticed at A&M that you don’t see at every school is separate weight rooms and training facilities for nearly every sport. There are a few sports grouped together, like basketball and volleyball, but there are many small weight rooms and training rooms instead of one big one of each that all athletes have to share. Not every school has gone to this model. Some believe it’s best not to segregate the athletes from one another. However, if you have the money, this setup sure was nice.
Overall, I was impressed with many of A&M’s facilities. The basketball practice gyms and accompanying weight rooms, training rooms and locker rooms were the best I’ve seen anywhere and are comparable to the more highly publicized facilities at Louisville (which I’ll detail in a later post).
Plenty of building and renovation has taken place during Bill Byrne’s tenure at Texas A&M, so expect to see more upgrades in the future.
Thank you to Athletic Director Bill Byrne and Associate Athletic Director Kevin Hurley for letting me take a peek inside A&M’s facilities!
Although I was wrong about plenty of things when I made my four 16-team super conference lists months ago, I was right about one thing: the Big East was indeed an innocent bystander who was injured in the cross-fire.
My prediction was that when conferences couldn’t find what they needed or wanted in the Big 12, they’d turn to the next weakest prey, the Big East. The ACC wasn’t willing to stretch its geographical reach westward to grab a Big 12 member or two, so they swiped Pitt and Syracuse from the Big East.
Meanwhile, the Big 12 has lost Texas A&M and could be on the verge of losing Missouri. Rumor has it the Big 12 might be looking to take Louisville from the Big East. But should Louisville make the move? If stability is a motivating factor, which conference is really more stable?
I think it’s the Big East, and here’s why.
The money will likely be just as good in the Big East. Currently, the Big East has two contracts with ESPN (one for men’s and women’s basketball through the 2011-2012 school year and one for football through the 2012-2013 school year) and one with CBS for men’s and women’s basketball through 2012-2013.
Earlier this year the Big East turned down a deal estimated to be worth up to $130 million a year from ESPN. It was unclear if this offer was only for first-tier rights or if it included second-tier rights similar to the deal ESPN made the ACC. CBS has been a television partner with Big East basketball since the 1981-1982 season, so it’s hard to believe they wouldn’t continue the relationship.
Determining how much of the $130 million each member would receive is difficult because not all members participate in football. Either ESPN would continue to produce two contracts, one that includes only football rights, or the Big East would vote on a way to fairly split the proceeds of a combined contract. Either way, it would be a sizeable increase in tv revenue for each member of the conference.
The Big 12 is getting $150 million a year from its combined first and second-tier rights deals with ESPN and FOX and will likely split equally between ten members.
Sure, the Big East has lost Pitt and Syracuse before having secured a new tv deal, but they’re not irreplaceable. Whether the Big East looks to Navy and Air Force or perhaps some combination of UCF, ECU or Houston, there’s still plenty of money to be made. In fact, the Big East is likely to benefit from NBC/Comcast’s emerging presence. It’s believed a bid from NBC/Comcast was the catalyst for ESPN and FOX teaming up together on the blockbuster Pac-12 deal. NBC/Comcast has been said by many to have overpaid for the Olympics and will likely be willing to overpay for the Big East to get a foothold in college football. A bidding war between NBC/Comcast and ESPN, who won’t want to lose a conference from its stable, could benefit the Big East in the end.
And the Big East has basketball. Really good basketball. The Big East was the only AQ football conference to make more money from March Madness than the BCS for the 2008-2009 and 2009-2010 school years. Expect that to drive new first and second-tier television rights contracts.
So, if there’s just as much money to be made in the Big East and it maintains its AQ status in football (and there’s no reason to believe it won’t), then why would a school like Louisville consider joining the Big 12?
Two years in a row we’ve watched the Big 12 wrap duct tape around the conference to hold it together. They must be trying to save some dough and going with the off-brand, because it doesn’t seem to be holding well. First Colorado and Nebraska escaped, and now A&M has made a move. The glue is coming undone on Missouri’s side, and no one is sure if it will hold.
The Big 12 has its shiny new tv deal, but that’s about all it has going for it these days. That and the fact that it has Texas, which has turned out to be both a benefit and a burden. We all know Oklahoma and Oklahoma State would have left for the Pac-12 given the chance. Texas and Texas Tech weren’t far behind them. It might not have happened this year, but who’s to say one or more of them won’t find a way to make it work in another conference next year? Or the year after? Add in the perceived power of Texas and the Longhorn Network, and there are plenty of reasons to think twice before joining the Big 12.
After speaking with fans during my visit to Louisville this weekend, I believe the reason they want to leave has more to do with their relationship with UK than their desire to be proud Big 12 members. Their UK colleagues and relatives can say at least UK lost to football powerhouses like Alabama or Florida. A move to the Big 12 would mean Louisville fans could say they lost to Texas or Oklahoma rather than USF or Cincinnati.
That’s not enough reason to make the move.
While the door in the Big East may be revolving, they haven’t had to consider closing down. The strong basketball tradition and the stability of the non-football members of the conference will allow the Big East to stick around for the long haul. The same simply cannot be said for the Big 12. Oklahoma and Texas have clearly already considered leaving, and until they sign the proposed contract that would bind their first and second-tier tv rights to the Big 12 for the next six years, is anyone confident they’ll stay put long-term?
This weekend Louisville AD Tom Jurich told me his student-athletes enjoy being in the Big East. He noted how much the non-football athletes enjoy playing against conference opponent Notre Dame. He talked about some of the great cities his athletes get to travel to for competition.
If a school like Louisville can make as much money from new tv deals in the Big East, should they really join the Big 12 and give up being a part of that basketball tradition just to say they compete against bigger football powers? In my opinion, no.
What say you, Louisville fans?
A couple of weeks ago two different people whose work I admire told me they were hearing rumors of the SEC talking to UNC. They didn’t reveal their sources, so I can’t evaluate the merit of these rumors. However, like the Texas to the ACC rumor, I thought it was crazy. Today on Twitter (follow me @SportsBizMiss) someone asked me what school that was the least talked about was the most likely for the SEC. Then I started thinking about it….
Sure, go ahead and lock me up in a padded room in a straight jacket. I’ve officially lost it. I’m considering UNC to the SEC. Do I think it’s likely? No. Do I think it’s interesting to consider? Of course. This is why I love conference realignment.
If it were all about money, UNC should jump at the chance to join the SEC. The Tar Heel’s athletic department turned a paltry $140,000 profit on the backs of students who funded nearly 10% of the budget with $6.9 million in student fees. It also took $14.6 million in contributions to reach that profit.
Over in the SEC, only one school needed 10% of their budget to be funded by student fees: Mississippi State. Yet, Mississippi State managed a nice $1.9 million profit in the athletic department without pulling a single dime from the booster club for the 2009-2010 school year.
That’s the power of being a member of the SEC.
The simple truth is football makes more money than basketball. BCS payouts are bigger than March Madness payouts to the athletic department. Television contracts are driven by football, not basketball and mean bigger money for the SEC than the ACC. Most football programs turn larger profits than basketball programs.
Joining the SEC would easily mean $5-6 million more each year in conference distributions for the Tar Heels. Likely far more with a reworked television contract. Being a member of the SEC would also improve UNC’s football recruiting, and an improved football program means big money for any athletic department.
But, it’s not all about money or football for some schools. UNC is likely one of those. They have power in the ACC. The conference needs them more than they need the conference. The same would not be true in the SEC. UNC has to ask itself: does it want to be a big fish in a small pond or a small fish in a big pond with a healthier bank account? What’s more important: history, tradition and power or the ability to be a self-sufficient athletic department? Fans yearn for the former and then criticize schools for not being the latter. Unfortunately, sometimes you can’t have it both ways.
In the end, I don’t see UNC moving to the SEC. Is it the right choice? It depends on what you believe a school should value most highly.