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Conference Realignment Timeline

When I was writing my business of college football book, Saturday Millionaires, it was practically a full-time job keeping up with conference realignment from 2010-2013. Lucky for me, all got quiet about the same time I published the book, so you’ll find Chapter 4 is still a completely accurate tale of not only this round of realignment but previous rounds as well.

Feeling nostalgic for the good ole days when you never knew what conferences might look like in a week or a month or a year? Here’s a detailed timeline of how it all played out….

A big thank you to my intern extraordinaire, Lauren Nevidomsky, who helped me put this together!

Cal Stadium

Barbour Becomes Second Female FBS AD to Step Down this Summer

Cal Stadium
Photo credit: Flickr user John Morgan

Cal will reportedly be announcing today that AD Sandy Barbour, who’s led Cal’s athletic department since 2004, will step down and move to the academic side. She’s the second female athletic director to step down from an FBS athletic department this summer. Georgia State announced in May that AD Cheryl Levick would move into a new role as special assistant to the university president.

That leaves six women at the helm in FBS athletic departments:

Julie Hermann, Rutgers

Debbie Yow, North Carolina State

Lynn Hickey, UT-San Antonio

Kathy Beauregard, Western Michigan

Tina Kunzer-Murphy, UNLV

Heather Lyke, Eastern Michigan

When UNC-Charlotte moves up to FBS next year, Judy Rose will become the seventh female athletic director at the FBS level. You could also perhaps count Chris Plonsky, Director of Women’s Athletics at University of Texas, since Texas has divided the AD role between men’s and women’s sports.

Women might be in the minority at the FBS level, but three of the current female ADs have been hired in the past two years: Hermann at Rutgers, Kunzer-Murphy at UNLV and Lyke at Eastern Michigan.  In 2012, there were only five female athletic directors at the FBS level.

Why do you think there are so few women ADs at the FBS level (and even at the Division I level overall)? Is it discrimination? Do women not want the job? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

Thank you to my Twitter followers who helped me track down exactly how many female ADs are currently in FBS!

CWS 2011 Opening Ceremony

How much money does Vanderbilt make for winning College World Series?

CWS 2011 Opening Ceremony
Photo credit: White & Blue Review via Flickr

Zero.

Outside of men’s basketball, participation in postseason NCAA competition is not rewarded with monetary compensation. Not even for the College World Series, where hundreds of thousands of fans pack the stands over the course of the series and the games air on national television.

This year, the College World Series drew an average of 21,734 fans per game, just edging out the 20,533 per session for the Division I Men’s Basketball Championship. Total attendance for the College World Series this year was 347,740. However, the television contract pales in comparison: the CWS is part of a $500 million television contract signed with ESPN in 2011 for 24 sports championships through 2023-2024, while the men’s basketball tournament averages $771 million annually.

According to a presentation I attended by NCAA CFO Kathleen McNeely at the CABMA convention in 2013, the NCAA banked approximately $9 million from the baseball tournament the previous year, which amounted to 12 percent of all NCAA championship revenue.

Before you think the NCAA is unfairly depriving baseball teams of the revenue generated by postseason tournaments, keep this in mind: McNeely also shared that only seven sports bring in revenue for the NCAA from championships. By my count, the NCAA hosts championships for 92 sports across Division I, II and III. McNeely’s presentation pegged the annual cost of championships at $74 million for programming costs, which does not include the cost to staff those championships.

Brighthouse Networks Stadium at UCF (photo credit: Breezy Baldwin via Flickr)

How much are college athletic facility naming rights worth?

Brighthouse Networks Stadium at UCF (photo credit: Breezy Baldwin via Flickr)
Brighthouse Networks Stadium at UCF (photo credit: Breezy Baldwin via Flickr)

UPDATE: Boise State’s new naming rights deal with Albertsons was unintentionally omitted. It has been added, which has changed the average annual values in the original post.

What’s the market value for naming rights deals on college athletic facilities? It’s much more difficult to estimate than if we were talking about professional athletics. Universities often complete these deals at less than market rate in order to acknowledge past gifts by major donors.

For example, naming right for Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium at University of Louisville is officially on the books as a $5 million donation for 52 years. In total, however, Papa John’s had donated approximately $22 million for the football stadium through 2011.  Would University of Louisville have agreed to a naming rights deal with a company it had never done business with previously for 52 years for $5 million? Not likely.

It’s not uncommon in these deals for past donations to be taken into account, causing the naming rights deal itself to be below market rate. That’s somewhat unique to college athletics thanks to its nonprofit status and history of relying upon donations.

We’ve recently updated our database for naming rights deals on college athletic facilities. Quite a few of the deals are for the life of the stadium or arena, and details of the deals aren’t always disclosed, especially when it involves a private university.

However, just for the sake of trying to pinpoint something approximating an average annual value, here are some average annual values based on what we do know: Continue reading

Men's wrestling at Rutgers has seen scholarships increase since sports were cut

Data: Cutting sports fuels more than football

Men's wrestling at Rutgers has seen scholarships increase since sports were cut
William Smith (Rutgers) and Nick Gwiazdowski (NC State) at the 2013 Cliff Keen Invitational (photo credit: Chris Hunkeler via Flikr)

From a public relations perspective, cutting sports is a nightmare for universities. There’s no avoiding the photographs of student athletes with tears streaming down their faces as they learn they’ll have to transfer if they want to continue competing in their sport. The raw, human element of it makes it tough to look at the situation from a business perspective, in the same way it’s tough to learn about a company laying off employees.

All that being said, it is a business decision. And lest you think it’s a business decision meant to further support fledgling football programs, I took a look at the aftermath of the cuts Rutgers made seven years ago in a recent piece I wrote for SportsBusiness Journal. The piece was inspired by the more recent cuts at Temple, but I think Rutgers is a good case study for Temple if they want to see where they could be in seven years.

You can read the full piece here (SportsBusiness Journal has made it available even if you aren’t a subscriber), but just to whet your appetite, here are a few interesting facts I uncovered:

  • With approximately $124 million more in revenue than Temple, University of Texas supported just 16 more student athletes than Temple in 2012-2013.
  • Temple ranked 74th in FBS in 2012-2013 for total athletic department revenue, but 30th in total number of student athletes supported.
  • Within its own conference, Temple ranked dead last in spending per student athlete but second only to UConn in number of student athletes supported.
  • Despite cutting six sports in 2007, Rutgers funded 30.73 more scholarships in 2012 – 26.59 of those scholarships were for women’s sports. Rising tuition costs increased athletic department expenses by $3.4 million over the same time period.
  • Thirteen sports at Rutgers have seen their expenses increase by a greater percentage than football since the cuts in 2007.
  • Interesting fact not included in the final article: from 2006 to 2012, the Scarlet Knights wrestling team saw its expenses increase by 120 percent from $304,000 to $670,000, despite decreasing donations to the program and only a small increase in ticket sales. The bulk of that increase in expenditures came from raising the scholarships awarded from 5.11 in 2007 to 9.44 in 2012, just shy of the 9.9 NCAA limit.

I encourage you to read the full article to learn more about the difficult decision schools face in cutting sports. In the end, it all comes down to this quote from Maryland President Wallace D. Loh from a letter he penned in response to a report of the President’s Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics on November 21, 2011 as his school was facing the decision to cut sports:

“In a time of constrained resources, we have to choose: should we have fewer programs so that they can be better supported and, hence, more likely to be successful at the highest level? Or, should we keep the large number of programs that are undersupported compared to their conference peers?”

Want to learn more about the finances of intercollegiate athletics? Check out my book, Saturday Millionaires!

Rendering of UCLA's Football Performance Center (by ZGF Architects LLP)

June Athletics Construction Roundup

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.

Football

Notre Dame is replacing its football surface with a synthetic turf. Maintaining the natural surface at Notre Dame Stadium had been a struggle for many years.

Renderings of UCLA’s previously announced Football Performance Center have been released.

Rendering of UCLA's Football Performance Center (by ZGF Architects LLP)
Rendering of UCLA’s Football Performance Center (by ZGF Architects LLP)

Purdue wants to take down Texas A&M by building the largest videoboard in college football.

Last month, Louisiana-Monroe’s turf project began. The new surface was made possible by a previously announced $450,000 donation from JPS Aviation.

In a trend that is only going to grow, North Carolina is adding a Distributed Antennae System to improve cell service at Kenan Memorial Stadium.

Iowa’s Kinnick Stadium and Carver-Hawkeye Arena will receive a similar system.

This is a great look at the benefits to the community provided by a previously announced project at Colorado’s Folsom Field.

Renderings of Texas A&M’s previously announced renovation of the Bright Football Complex have been released.

Iowa State has also released renderings of its south endzone project at Jack Trice Stadium.

Work has begun on Arizona State’s renovation of Sun Devil Stadium. The project will result in a reduced capacity of 60,000, down from 71,700.

Arenas

NC State’s Reynolds Coliseum, the home of women’s basketball, volleyball, and wrestling, will soon receive a $35 million renovation. Also included in the project is an athletics hall of fame.

The previously announced renovation of Arizona’s McKale Arena has begun.

Both the men’s and women’s Conference USA basketball tournaments are heading to Birmingham.

Florida expects to begin work on an estimated $50 million renovation of the O’Connell Center after the 2014-2015 basketball season. The work will result in a reconfiguration that eliminates the building’s ability to host indoor track events.

Basketball

Ground has been broken on Utah’s Huntsman Basketball Center. The $36 million project should be completed in July of next year.

That project caused some to ask if BYU is falling behind in the basketball arms race.

Master Plan

WVU has unveiled a $106 million facilities plan. A majority of the work will focus on preventative maintenance.

Here is a great update on the numerous projects currently underway at Middle Tennessee.

Georgia State wants to transform the Turner Field area into a mixed used complex that would include housing, retail, and athletic spaces. Perhaps the most ambitious facet of the project involves transforming the current home of the Atlanta Braves into a 30,000 seat football stadium.

Ground has been broken on Colorado’s previously announced $143 million master plan.

Multi-Purpose

Oakland has announced a 108,000 square foot indoor facility. The $4.9 million project will include space for baseball, softball, football, and soccer.

A large videoboard project has announced by UTEP. The $3.4 million plan includes a new board for the Sun Bowl which will measure as the largest in Conference USA.

The latest news and original analysis on the business of college sports…