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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.
It appears that DePaul men’s basketball team will have a new arena to play in. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emmanuel is set to announce a $300 million dollar arena at McCormick Place. The arena is expected to seat 10,000-12,000 and will part of an entertainment district supported by the mayor. DePaul turned down an offer to play rent free in the United Center for ten years.
The school’s contract with Allstate Arena is set to expire in 2015. Due to dwindling attendance, the university is committed to moving Blue Demon back into the city, even including it in its five-year plan. Allstate Arena, located in Rosemont, is around 16 miles from DePaul’s campus in Chicago. The team moved there from the on-campus Alumni Hall in 1980. In 2000, Alumni Hall was replaced by the Sullivan Athletic Center which includes the 3,000 seat McGrath-Phillips Arena, the current home to DePaul’s women’s basketball and volleyball teams.
With the official announcement still pending, details about the new arena vary by source. The local CBS station is reporting that the City of Chicago and the Metropolitan Pier and Expansion Authority would put up $100 million dollars each while DePaul would contribute $75 million. Crain’s Chicago Business is reporting that its sources claim reports of the $100 million dollars contribution from the city as “inaccurate.”
There are numerous story lines with this story. First, there is DePaul’s desire to move the team back into the city, but also some reluctance to build an on-campus arena. The university has not made any indication, such as contacting a design firm or surveying sites, that it has considered building an arena suitable for men’s basketball. It is perfectly understandable that the university would consider other options instead of choosing to build a costly arena.
The controversial part of this announcement comes when the school’s rejection of the United Center’s offer is considered. As a private school, DePaul certainly has the right to say no the offer of free rent and instead opt to pay its $75 million share for the new arena. But judging from the comments on the previously linked articles, the taxpayers of Chicago will be opposed to this deal. Their objections are easily understood. If the city was attempting to lure the Blue Demons back into Chicago this may be a different situation. But the university already had an offer to play in an arena with NBA quality amenities located in the city. Chicago’s debt has been well documented, with the city’s bond rating being significantly downgraded earlier this year. City officials will have to explain to taxpayers why spending $100 million dollars of its money on a new arena.
If the details being reported about the deal are correct, DePaul is getting a dream deal. Any major university in the country would be willing to pay $75 million dollars for rent and the first right of scheduling in an arena worth nearly triple that sum in value. With the potential backlash from citizens, DePaul may never get that chance. Businessofcollegesports.com will keep you updated as this story progresses.
The Athletics Construction Roundup is a monthly series on construction of athletics facilities. Each month I’ll provide you with a list of athletic construction projects in progress (and recently completed) across the country, including details on budget and scope of the project.
University of Houston:
Work continues on Houston’s new stadium which will open in 2014. The official site of the project includes two live webcams of the construction.
Ground was broken late last month on new softball facilities, including offices and a hitting facility. It will be the first athletics project that is a part of the university’s $85 million ASPIRE campaign.
Oakland has announced a $65 million campus construction plan that includes $7.8 million for athletics projects. Plans include a tennis complex, a track and field complex, and recreational space.
University of Tampa:
Division II Tampa dedicated a lacrosse stadium with room for 2,000 spectators.
University of Texas-Arlington:
UTA has announced additional softball construction projects. In February the Mavs opened an indoor hitting facility.
University of Southern Mississippi:
Southern Miss is replacing the turf at its football stadium a year earlier than expected due to debris from a tornado earlier this year.
University of Maine:
$15 million renovations have begun on Maine’s Field House. Following a $2 million gift, the facility will be renamed The New Balance Field House.
University of Arkansas:
The Razorbacks’ 80,000 square foot football facility will be named for donor Fred W. Smith.
Purdue will construct a $13 million softball stadium, set to open in 2015. It is the final piece of the Mackey Complex master plan.
University of California:
Cal has announced a $15 million aquatic center. Unlike the current pool, the new facility will be exclusively for athletics.
Florida International University:
As mentioned in last month’s roundup, FIU has gone through with its unique basketball court design.
Eastern has unveiled its indoor golf facility. The space includes lockers and digital simulators.
University of Tennessee- Martin:
UT Martin has announced a football stadium plan that includes rebuilding the west grandstand. The changes, which must be approved by the Board of Trustees, should allow UTM to host football playoff games.
University of Richmond:
Work has started on the $17 million first phase of renovations for the Richards Center.
DIII Lawrence has announced a five million dollar renovation of the Banta Bowl, a multi-use outdoor facility.
University of Oklahoma:
OU has broken ground on a six and half million dollar training facility for rowing.
DIII Amherst will spend $12.5 million to renovate Pratt Field, considered the oldest college athletic field in the country.
University of Arizona:
Athletic Director Greg Byrne took media members of a tour of the Lowell-Stevens Football Facility. The soon to be completed facility and stadium expansion comes at a cost of $72 million.
University of Hawaii:
Athletic Director Ben Jay is taking facility repairs upon himself. He is tweeting out his actions in an attempt to catch the attention of university leadership.
After playing many games on the road and practicing at high schools, Samford has opened its new softball stadium.
Texas Christian University:
Following a $10 million donation, plans were approved for a $45 million renovation of Daniel-Meyer Coliseum. The project will not begin until all funds are raised.
University of Kansas:
Ground has been broken on Rock Chalk Park. The multi-use sports park will include stadiums for track, softball, and soccer. The project comes with a $39 million price tag.
Louisiana State University:
LSU will name the field at Alex Box Stadium after former coach and athletic director Skip Bertman. Only the field will be renamed, the baseball facility’s name will remain Alex Box Stadium.
LSU is also completing its Sport Event Security Aware certification through the University of Southern Mississippi. It will be the 10th school and fourth in the SEC to do so.
Ball State University:
Ball State has unveiled a $20 million fundraising campaign which will result in numerous athletic construction projects. Over $12 million has been raised to date.
The historic oaks at Toomer’s Corner have been removed. The symbolic final roll after the spring game resulted in this incredible scene.
Troy has released artist renderings for a $25 million north end zone expansion of Veterans Memorial Stadium. The project will include several suites and team areas.
University of Iowa:
The Board of Regents has approved a nine million dollar plan that includes a new scoreboard and sound system at Kinnick Stadium.
In case you missed it- Construction projects previously mentioned on this site:
University of Connecticut:
UConn is adding 2,000 seats for its home football against Michigan.
University of Kentucky:
Kentucky has announced a renovation of Commonwealth Stadium. The $110 million project includes several suites.
University of California:
Cal hosted its first night baseball game.
University of Indiana:
Indiana unveiled its new baseball stadium which features a field without dirt.
Florida Atlantic University:
The naming right gift for FAU’s football stadium was withdrawn.
Here at BusinessofCollegeSports.com we keep enormous databases of information to assist in our reporting and analysis. We try to share as much with you as possible, but our web capabilities aren’t always what we wish they were. That being said, we recently came across a great WordPress plugin called TablePress that will allow us to post more of our databases. So, today we give you our 2010-2011 databases on football revenue and expenses (broken down by category) for public FBS schools subject to public disclosure laws.
You can find all of our databases under the Data tab above.
By: Alexandria Jenkins
An entire nation was left shocked and speechless when news of the Jerry Sandusky sex-abuse scandal surfaced in November 2011. The Penn State community fell victim to the horrifying betrayal of its former defensive coordinator and was forced to sit by idly as the effects of the crime rippled through “Happy Valley.” For university officials, students, fans and alumni alike, nothing could have proven more sickening than the life-long damage inflicted on Sandusky’s victims.
Then, as if to rub salt in the wound, the NCAA imposed an unprecedented $60 million, five-year fine and four-year postseason ban on the Nittany Lions. Additionally, numerous sponsors cut ties with the university, with along with other costs associated with the scandal brought the school’s total estimated losses attributed to the scandal to $46 million and counting over the past 17 months, according to an article posted by Advertising Age.
Since Dec. 31, 2012, Penn State says it has spent more than $41 million on NCAA fines, legal and consulting fees. Advertising Age added that the university has lost more than $1 million in sponsorship/advertising after companies like General Motors, Cars.com and Sherwin Williams pulled their support for the football team, while forfeiting another $700,000 in licensing royalties from merchandise sales. Furthermore, This month, Penn State will shell out $3.25 million to the Big Ten Conference to be donated to children’s charities as part of the first installment of a four-year, $13 million penalty, according to Scott Chipman, the Conference’s Assistant Commissioner.
Now, six months removed from Sandusky’s trial, Penn State is finally starting its uphill battle towards financial recovery. After pulling its ads in late 2011 “out of respect for those involved,” Cars.com returned to football telecasts last season and has announced plans of staying on for 2013-2014. There is also hope of potential sponsorships with Chevy and State Farm, although no deals have been finalized.
The shamed Penn State brand is also showing signs of recovery. According to Marketing Arm, Penn State ranked in the top five most-trusted NCAA properties in June 2011. By January 2012, the university had fallen to last place among 104 nationally measured schools. It bounced back to the mid-60s in 2012, now ranking among well-respected schools like Stanford, Michigan and Harvard.
Despite all of this, Cynthia Hall, Penn State’s acting Chief Marketing and Communications Officer, said that the university did not increase its overall marketing budget since the scandal occurred.
If you’re an educator who teaches a course that could benefit from BusinessofCollegeSports.com founder Kristi Dosh’s upcoming book on the business of college football, SATURDAY MILLIONAIRES, please visit this page and register for more information.
After a series of protests, many of which notably included students, FAU and the GEO Group have parted ways. According to this university press release, GEO Group, a company that runs prisons, withdrew its naming rights gift of $6 million dollars over 12 years. While no official reason was given in the release, the decision to withdraw the gift was obviously the result of the protests.
When first announced in February the deal was called “unconventional” by many. Vocal observers, include some i members and the aforementioned students, were appalled by the thought of a for-profit prison group’s name being on a stadium. Many of the concerns were based on claims of human rights violations in GEO Group run prisons. As a result, the admittedly witty nickname of “Owlkatraz” surfaced. Some objectors raised concerns about sports marketing in America. This New York Times article seems to imply that those who own stadiums will slap any name on them for the right amount of money.
There was always a deeper sports marketing issue with this partnership. Naming rights deals are similar in purpose to most other types of advertising: create increased exposure and keep the company’s name in front of consumers. But the GEO group does not have traditional consumers. Its revenue comes from public municipalities that own prisons. While the company more than likely could actually benefit from the increase in exposure, it is unlikely that it would have received widespread, national exposure from a 30,000 seat stadium that is home to a Sun Belt football program. (To be fair, FAU is moving to Conference-USA next year.)
It seems that this naming rights deal truly was a gift. The CEO of GEO Group, George Zoley, received two degrees from the university. It appears that this was an ill-conceived gift that started with good intentions. Unfortunately for both the company and university, what started out as an alumnus attempting to help out his alma mater’s athletic department spiraled into a national news story.
Stewart Mandel has a piece out today on SI.com describing the range of urgency athletics administrators are feeling regarding the O’Bannon v. NCAA case currently making its way through the courts. For those of you who haven’t kept up with the case, I wrote about it in more detail here. Essentially, former UCLA men’s basketball star Ed O’Bannon and his co-plaintiffs are suing the NCAA, and other defendants, for not sharing the revenue generated in part by student-athletes both while they are in school (e.g. TV) and afterwards (e.g. video games, archive footage). If the O’Bannon plaintiffs were to win, or even settle the case in their favor, the current structure of college athletics will be forever altered.
Mr. Mandel profiled University of Southern California athletic director Pat Haden’s concern that the case is by no means a slam dunk for the NCAA, and how he and his colleagues should be preparing for the aftermath if it were to lose the case. I appreciated Mr. Haden’s comments. Up until now the little we’ve heard from administrators are the doomsday scenarios spouted off by the likes of Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delaney, who claimed his schools would rather de-emphasize sports and join Division III than go along with any type of pay for play scenario.
Mr. Haden is a lawyer. He’s been reading the articles from legal analysts and scholars. He knows the NCAA is vulnerable and the case is soft. More importantly, he knows the stakes have never been higher. It reminds me of this Family Guy/Star Wars clip, with Mr. Haden as Darth Vader and NCAA president Mark Emmert as the Empire’s henchman talking about the “invulnerable” Death Star (current NCAA structure). Mr. Haden is right to be concerned. He is right to be asking questions. He is also right to be taking proactive steps to address the possible outcomes, or perhaps look at acceptable settlement options.
The contrast to Mr. Haden is University of Texas athletic director DeLoss Dodds. He was also quoted in Mr. Mandel’s piece, but with much less concern or urgency than Mr. Haden. Mr. Dodds seemed to think he and other athletics administrators have “more immediate things to worry about,” and “have no control over (the case).” In my view, nothing could be further from the truth. The case exists only because of how the NCAA and its members (of which the University of Texas and Mr. Dodds is one) have constructed the current college athletics model. If those in power change the model, the case goes away. And while Mr. Dodds might simply be one person in a massive bureaucracy, he leads arguably the most powerful athletic department in the country, and SI.com recently named him the 8th most powerful person in college athletics (notice Ed O’Bannon ranks #4). My guess is others will listen when he speaks.
Last week much of the country’s attention was fixed on the Supreme Court’s hearing of two significant same-sex marriage cases. Reading through much of the post-argument commentary from both sides, it seemed apparent that at some point in the future, though perhaps not as a direct result of these two cases, same-sex marriage will be legal across the country. I get that same feel about the O’Bannon case and paying student-athletes. It may not be this case or right now, but at some point in the future college athletes will be paid. The only question is when the new era is ushered in, and how. Pat Haden recognizes this and wants to take action; good for him.
Follow Daniel on Twitter at @DanielHare.
So long Northeast-10, UMass-Lowell is off to the America East. As of July 1, 2013, the UMass-Lowell River Hawks will be joining the Albany Great Danes, Binghamton Bearcats, Hartford Hawks, Maine Black Bears, UMBC Retrievers, UNH Wildcats, Stony Brook Seawolves, and Vermont Catamounts as the 9th team in the American East conference, filling the void that will be left by the BU Terriers when they leave for the Patriot League. The America East board unanimously approved the new addition, and couldn’t be happier to admit the school into its conference.
Except for its hockey program, UMass-Lowell’s sports teams currently compete at the Division-II level in the Northeast-1o Conference. They have been a member of the Northeast-10 since 2000. The move from Division II will be exciting for the school as it will raise its prestige and level of competition, while paving the way for the addition of both men’s and women’s lacrosse programs. Yet, despite the upgrade to Division I in the next few months, UMass-Lowell will be ineligible for postseason play until after the four year reclassification period from DII to DI, which will end in before the 2017-18 season.
However, even though reclassifying may strengthen the school’s reputation, especially in the Northeast, upgrading divisions never comes without a cost. For example, it is almost certain that the cost of running the athletic department will increase. Coaches’ salaries will increase, and new coaches will be brought in, in particular to coach the new lacrosse programs. Recruiting budgets will rise as the school will need to spend more money finding higher caliber athletes to propel it to the levels that other America East schools are competing at. Additionally, the NCAA requires that Division I schools provide a greater number of scholarships to be awarded; as such, scholarship expense may increase dramatically in some sports.
Although these increased expenses may come as a burden in the short-run, UMass-Lowell’s addition to the America East, especially if its teams find success, may have great benefits in the long-run. Having a school with a great sports program is a pull factor for many prospective students. This may cause applications to rise, which will allow the school to increase its academic profile even more than it has over the past several years.