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Archive for the ‘Athletics’ Category

USA Today continues its great reporting on the business of college sports. A couple of days ago, its website offered readers a really eyeopening database showing a detailed look at the athletic revenues of some 200 Division I colleges and universities. The most eye-catching finding: only 14 of these schools brought in as much money (from ticket sales, donations, radio/TV, and marketing/merchandising payments)  as they spent on sports.

Coach K, the $4 million man

The biggest expense used to be scholarships, but now it’s coaches’ salaries. Nine men’s basketball coaches–including Mike Krzyzewksi, whose Duke team is playing for the national championship tonight–make more than $4 million.

The schools make up the deficit through direct institutional support and, increasingly, student fees. To take a couple of examples close to (my) home, at Rutgers, in 2008-09 (the most recent year available) student fees paid $7.8 million and institutional support $17.9 million—a combined 44 percent—of the $58.5 million athletic budget. At my employer, the University of Delaware, no student fees went to athletics (thankfully), but direct or indirect institutional support paid for a whopping 78 percent of the $30.30 million budget.

By my calculations, that amounts to well over $1,000 for every UD student, going to pay the sports team’s bills. That just seems wrong.

A VP at the University of Houston, Carl Carlucci, was nice enough to talk to USA Today for a related article. At Houston, over the last five years, the university and student fees have, respectively, covered $43 million and $21 million in athletic expenses.  Carlucci defended the spending, including the men’s basketball coach, Kevin Sumlin, getting a 60 percent raise, to $1.2 million. “We’re paying for talent,” he said. “We’re in a competition for fans. When Sumlin wins, we can count on more ticket sales.

“It’s like any other entertainment business.”

He said it, not me.

—Ben

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The child of a friend of mine, who has applied to the University of Delaware, got this e-mail on 2/26 from the UD coach of the varsity sport he/she participates in. (It is not a major sport and the child isn’t a highly recruited athlete, though he/she is probably good enough to play at UD). Here is the e-mail, which doesn’t mention the person’s name or say anything personal (that is, it’s a form e-mail):

“Congratulations! You have been admitted to the University of Delaware for the fall of 2010!  I’m letting you in on this great news a few weeks before any other students have been notified so that you can make your decision to attend Delaware now.  Official acceptance letters will start being mailed March 15th, so be patient it’s on its way! If you plan on attending Delaware please let me know by March 25th, if not before.”

This strikes me as sleazy. I guess there’s no problem with informing the applicant early, but I have a problem with the pressure to reply by 3/25, when most top colleges don’t reveal their decisions until 4/1. There’s an implication that the student might give up their spot if they don’t reply by 3/25, which is not true but which a naive high school student might fall for. And in general the pressure is out of line.

—Ben

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In your face, NCAA

Education Secretary Arne Duncan, a hoopster himself (he played for the Harvard five, professionally in Australia, and is a regular in the Obama game), has been ripping big-time collegiate sports lately, endearing him to BloggEd’s collectiive heart. Yesterday he took on the poor graduation rates of D-I basketball programs, modestly proposing that the NCAA link postseason play to the number of student-athletes walking down the aisle with diplomas.

The Assocated Press quotes him as saying:

They should make a rule that if you’re below a certain point, you don’t qualify for the tournament. And I guarantee that would fix the problem in a hurry. I promise you that. We’d fix this thing overnight.”

He said 25 percent of men’s basketball teams in last year’s NCAA tournament graduated less than two out of five players and that four teams (which he declined to  name) “didn’t graduate any African-American players. Zero.”

And why did we allow them to play in this tournament, make all this money, be on national TV, and they’re not graduating any kids?

Tell it, Arne.

—Ben

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Sorry, Urban: at $4 mil, you're no. 4 on the highest-paid coaches list

The first two paragraphs in the USA Today article pretty much say it all:

Amid pay freezes for many employees and proposed tuition increases, the University of Texas on Monday made Mack Brown by far the highest paid coach in college football history.

Beginning next season, Brown will be paid at least $5.1 million a year under a contract revision approved by the UT System Board of Regents. He’ll become the first college football coach to reach the $5 million threshold and he’ll zoom past Southern California’s Pete Carroll, whose $4.4 million in total compensation for USC’s 2007-08 fiscal year topped USA TODAY’s 2009 survey of football coaches’ pay.

One more fun fact: Coach Brown’s salary is now twelve times more than that of the president of the university.

You know, I don’t really care that his salary comes from athletics department revenue, meaning that neither the university nor the state contributes. The problem is the message, and the message is that football is king at the University of Texas. I know some consider that old news, but this is ridiculous. At this point, the institution should consider removing “university” from its name.

—Ben

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Casting a critical eye on bigtime intercollegiate sports, as BloggEd is wont to do, often seems like … well, pick your cliche. (How do fish get in those barrels anyway?)

The latest embarrassing revelation was described in a New York Times article yesterday about highly questionable recruiting practices at the University of Tennessee, currently under investigation by the NCAA. As the Times delicately put it,

A significant part of the investigation is focused on the use of recruiting hostesses who have become folk heroes on Tennessee Internet message boards for their ability to help lure top recruits.

Leon and Larry

As Leon on “Curb Your Enthusiasm” would put it, “That’s some messed-up *(&%(%, Larry.”

Accoding to the Times, some “hostesses” (love that term) traveled nearly 200 miles to attend a high school game in South Carolina in which at least three Tennessee recruits were playing. One member of the team (who will not enroll at Tennessee) said the hostesses brought signs, including one that read, “Come to Tennessee.” He described the young ladies as “real pretty, real nice and just real cool” and said he thought they had “a lot” of influence in two teammates’ decision to play for the Vols.

“You don’t want to go to a college where they ain’t pretty,” he averred.

True that. Unfortunately for the Vols, pretty girls do not win football games: the team finished with a lackluster 7-5 record this season and is headed to the Chik-fil-a Bowl.

Thanks to Wes Davis, a one-time UT Classics major, for alerting us to this story. Wes points out, “The Classics department uses similar recruiting methods.”

—Ben

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Can this man coach women's skiing? In Florida?

We here at BloggEd are fond of tweaking college sports, specifically the huge amount of financial, cognitive and emotional resources they take up, and the relatively little educational value they give back. But we have to give credit where credit is due, and we offer some major props to …

Women’s intercollegiate skiing.

The NCAA reports that among the most recent cohort studied (students entering college between 1999 and 2002), 98 percent of women skiiers graduated within six years. Actually, in ten out of the eighteen women’s sports listed, the graduation rate was 89 percent or higher.

What about the men? The highest rate was for lacrosse, at 88 percent. The three lowest were baseball, football and basketball, at 69, 67, and 64 percent respectively.

What a surprise.

—Ben

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Deductible quarterbacks

Does this man run a charitable organization?

Writing in today’s New York Times, Gilbert Gaul points out another extremely sketchy aspect of big-time college athletics: the money it generates is untaxed. He notes:

Decades ago — before the lucrative television contracts, Internet marketing, Nike sponsorships and luxury boxes — Congress essentially exempted colleges from paying taxes on their sports income. The legislators’ reasoning now appears shockingly quaint: that participation in college sports builds character and is an important component of the larger college experience.

Many booster clubs are recognized as charities under the federal tax code. At Florida and Georgia, to name just two universities, the athletic departments are set up as charities. Universities also have access to tax-exempt financing when building ever-larger stadiums and arenas. Boosters and donors benefit from generous tax deductions when they buy the best seats or endow an athletic scholarship. That’s right: colleges now endow their quarterbacks and linebackers the same way they do a distinguished chair of American literature.

So these programs aren’t just sucking up resources at their universities; they are aggravating the country’s deficit.

Maybe we could get the congresspeople from non-BCS states to band together to end this nonsense. The Montana-Massachusetts coalition: I like the way that sounds.

—Ben

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Big (BCS) bowl of wrong

rockne-lg-01

What would Knute Rockne say?

I hate to be a bore, but I can’t resist a word about today’s USA Today’s cover story about, that’s right, big-time college football coaches’ salaries. Some of the highlights:

  • Fifty-six coaches make over $1 million a year (25 pull in over $2 mil, nine over $3 mil, and three $4 mil or more).
  • The average pay for coaches in the Bowl Championship Series (BCS) division has gone up 46% over the last three years, and now is $1.31 million.
  • Maybe most startling at all, 66 assistant coaches make $300,000 or more. At the University of Tennessee, the nine assistants earn an average of more than $369,000.

For comparison’s sake, the average full professor at at research university makes about $115,000 and, as noted yesterday, the average salary for the president of a private college or university is $358,000.

As Huck Finn’s father is fond of saying, “And they call that govment!”

—Ben

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urban-meyerFlorida football coach Urban Meyer was fined $30,000 by the Southeastern Conference for criticizing officials after a game.

—Ben

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