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How Much Did the BCS Top 25 Spend on Recruiting?

As I continue to write about the financial aspect of college athletics, I find myself wondering about things like how much money plays a role in winning. Is there one place where you can spend more money and increase your odds of competing for a championship? Or is the Athletic Director more of a conductor choosing which instruments to highlight and when in order to produce the best sounding symphony?

I thought it would be interesting to see how much spending on recruiting plays a role in football success. The numbers reflect recruiting expenses for the 2009-2010 school year.

One thing to note is that recruiting dollars are not broken down by sport, so the numbers you see below reflect the total amount spent on recruiting for all male athletes. Since football has the largest recruiting class and we can safely presume most schools spend the majority of their recruiting dollars on football, I think the numbers still paint an interesting picture.

Below you will see recruiting dollars spent during the 2009-2010 school year for each school in the 2010 BCS final standings, when presumably the athletes recruited with 2009-2010 dollars were then members of the team:

  School Recruiting Expenses % of Total Expenses
1 Auburn $1,129,984.00 1.24%
2 Oregon $844,235.00 1.29%
3 TCU $438,422.00 0.84%
4 Stanford $754,689.00 0.92%
5 Wisconsin $473,897.00 0.53%
6 Ohio State $676,966.00 0.65%
7 Oklahoma $1,010,570.00 1.14%
8 Arkansas $1,187,216.00 1.65%
9 Michigan State $677,958.00 1.10%
10 Boise State $158,355.00 0.63%
11 LSU $741,762.00 0.73%
12 Missouri $596,738.00 1.12%
13 Virginia Tech $625,207.00 1.24%
14 Oklahoma State $414,655.00 0.69%
15 Nevada $216,920.00 1.00%
16 Alabama $1,257,128.00 1.47%
17 Texas A&M $532,641.00 0.77%
18 Nebraksa $685,361.00 1.00%
19 Utah $466,532.00 1.46%
20 South Carolina $565,967.00 0.72%
21 Mississippi State $416,333.00 1.15%
22 West Virginia  $669,844.00 1.18%
23 Florida State $581,923.00 0.77%
24 Hawaii $272,078.00 0.93%
25 UCF $354,264.00 0.99%
       
  Averages $629,985.80 1.01%

Boise State is spending the paltry sum of $158,355, which is just 25% of the average. Only 26 of the 115 on the Broncos 2010 roster hailed from Idaho, with a huge percentage coming from as far away as California and Texas. Impressive that Boise State recruits so well on such a limited budget.

As an interesting side note, Boise State spends nearly as much on female recruiting as male, with female recruiting costs coming in at $123,287. That’s 44% of the total recruiting expenditures. Compare that to the leader for male recruiting expenses on this chart, Alabama, who only spends 26% of their recruiting expenditures on female recruiting. To complete the data needed for comparison, Alabama has 10 women’s teams and Boise State has 9 (with all track-related sports combined into one in each total).

The other thing that stood out to me was that Utah spent above average in terms of the percent of their total expenses advanced towards recruiting. In fact, they rank fourth overall in terms of percentage of total expenses spent on male recruiting. I was also surprised to see Ohio State and Michigan State from the Big Ten spending so much less than Alabama, Arkansas and Auburn from the SEC. The latter three make up the top three spenders overall on the list. Did this help them in their quest to move from a non-AQ conference to an AQ conference?

What surprised you from this list? If your school is on this list, how do you feel about what’s being spent on recruiting?

Which SEC Alumni Have the Deepest Pockets?

I’ve shown you which SEC schools are making the most from football, but which athletic departments are making the most from donor contributions?

  School Contributions % of Total Revenue
1 University of Florida $39,350,660.00 34%
2 Louisiana State University $38,255,521.00 34%
3 University of Alabama $33,739,056.00 26%
4 Auburn University $29,731,122.00 32%
5 University of Tennessee $27,936,952.00 24%
6 University of Georgia $27,354,228.00 30%
7 University of South Carolina $23,987,283.00 30%
8 University of Kentucky $13,161,669.00 17%
9 University of Arkansas $13,124,754.00 17%
10 University of Mississippi $5,375,438.00 12%
11 Mississippi State University $0.00 0%

Note that Vanderbilt’s numbers are not available because it is a private institution and not subject to open records requests.

I’m guessing one of the first things you noticed was Mississippi State not showing any contributions for the 2009-2010 school year. I spoke with Steve Corhern, the Assistant AD for Business Operations at Mississippi State University, and asked why they had shown contributions in past years but not in 2009-2010. Turns out it’s good news: Read the rest of this entry

Who’s Making Money in SEC Football?

Is your team turning a profit in its athletic department? Is it spending in line with its revenue? Could this have any effect on performance on the field? Thanks to a federal statute requiring all colleges and universities that receive Title IV funding (federal student aid) to report the financials for their athletic department, I have the answers for you. (See the Note at the end for more information on this data.)

First, let’s take a look at how the schools rank in terms of revenue for just the football program. For added comparison, I have put each school’s stadium capacity next to their name, since that would have a direct effect on their ability to bring in revenue:

    Stadium Capacity Football Revenue
1 Univ. of Alabama 101,821 $71,884,525.00
2 Univ. of Georgia 92,746 $70,838,539.00
3 Louisiana State Univ. 92,400 $68,819,806.00
4 Univ. of Florida 88,548 $68,715,750.00
5 Auburn Univ. 87,451 $66,162,720.00
6 Univ. of South Carolina 80,250 $58,266,159.00
7 Univ. of Tennessee 102,037 $56,593,946.00
8 Univ. of Arkansas 76,000 $48,524,244.00
9 Univ. of Kentucky 67,606 $31,890,572.00
10 Univ. of Mississippi 60,580 $28,409,774.00
11 Mississippi State Univ. 55,082 $14,551,275.00
12 Vanderbilt Univ. 41,448 $14,152,061.00

I’m sure it comes as no surprise to see perennial contenders like LSU, Florida and Alabama at the top. 

Now let’s take a look at who the big spenders are: Read the rest of this entry

Why is Cam Newton Not Guilty of SEC Bylaws Violation?

After hearing multiple talk radio personalities declare that Cam Newton clearly violated an SEC bylaw, I thought I’d put my lawyer hat on and try to make some sense of this situation.  First, let’s take a look at the bylaw everyone is pointing to in this situation:

If at any time before or after matriculation in a member institution a student-athlete or any member of his/her family receives or agrees to receive, directly or indirectly, any aid or assistance beyond or in addition to that permitted by the Bylaws of this Conference (except such aid or assistance as such student-athlete may receive from those persons on whom the student is naturally or legally dependent for support), such student- athlete shall be ineligible for competition in any intercollegiate sport within the Conference for the remainder of his/her college career.

Those highlighted words – “receives or agrees to receive” – are the key here, and I see why it’s confusing to some.  This is one of those times that my three years and mountain of law school debt actually pays off.

When I first heard that the SEC had declared there was no violation, but first thought was that they must be interpreting this provision in terms of contract law.  It’s logical to read “agrees to receive” and think, “Hey, Cam’s father told Mississippi State he would take x amount of money for Cam to go to school there; that’s agreeing to receive.”  Not in the world of contract law, however.

In contract law, Cecil Newton’s statements were merely an offer, or perhaps a solicitation for bids.  An offer is a manifestation of willingness to enter into a bargain.  Basically, you’re saying to the other person, ”If you’re willing to do x, then y will happen.”

In order to have a completed contract, one party has to make an offer, the other has to accept (on the same terms proposed by the offer) and there must be consideration (the money actually changing hands would have been consideration).

Cecil Newton made an offer, which Mississippi State was free to accept (and create a contract), but did not.  Alternatively, you could say Cecil Newton was merely soliciting bids, which doesn’t even constitute an offer.  In that case, Mississippi State would have had to make the offer and then Cecil could have accepted.

I found this quote from SEC spokesman, Charles Bloom, in The Clarion-Ledger that confirms my suspicions about why there was no violation here:

SEC Bylaw 14.01.3.2 does not apply in this situation. It only applies when there is an actual payment of an improper benefit, or an agreement (such as a handshake agreement) to pay and receive an improper benefit. The facts in this case, as we understand them, are that the student-athlete’s father, without the knowledge of the student-athlete, solicited improper payments (which were rejected) from an institution the young man did not attend, and that the institution where the young man is enrolled was not involved.

Notice I highlighted “agreement” – they’re looking for a completed contract.  Could they have worded the bylaw better and made it a violation for a student-athlete or his parent to solicit an offer?  Of course, and I would imagine that’s what they’re planning to do now that they’re saying they’re going to revisit the provision. This is absolutely a loophole they need to close.

Could they have interpreted this bylaw differently and declared Cam Newton in violation because of his father’s actions?  Sure, but they would have opened themselves to a lawsuit by Cam and possibly Auburn.  The decision may defy logic for some, but it was absolutely the decision the SEC  had to make in order to protect itself.