San Diego State Football Issues
A recent article caught my attention because of how grounded in reality it was while discussing the pros and cons of college football at a non-BCS school. The gist of the argument made by the author (Mark Zeigler) is that trying to play big-time college football when the institution is not a member of a BCS conference is a very bad idea.
At San Diego State, the athletics deficit has increased substantially in recent years from $750,000 (late 90’s) to $3.3 million (2007-08). Yet, during the same year when a $3.3 million deficit was realized the school reported $2.45 million in football revenue. How is this possible? The same way many schools claim that football is profitable. By using the generally accepted and allowed special accounting of athletic expenses. Although the article is about one school, the same arguments could be made for many of the non-BCS school.
When reporting expenses to the NCAA and even to the U.S. Department of Education Office of Postsecondary Education for EADA data, institutions have some interesting reporting categories such as “unallocated by gender” and “non-program specific.” Both of these categories are handy when trying to minimize the visual impact of the expense of football. So, when a ticket manager salary shows up under “non-program specific” it basically shows that the cost is a departmental cost. However, if you were to really look at the time/effort allocation of that person I am guessing that it would be 95% football/basketball and 5% the other 15-20 sports.
The other interesting financial hiding place for programs is booster clubs. Many institutions couldn’t exist without the private support they receive from boosters. However, institutions are not required to disclose financial info from booster clubs with respect to sport/gender allocation. So, if a football stadium renovation and a football coach performance bonus are paid out of a booster club, it generally will not show up as a football expense item. Some States do require this type of disclosure, but neither the NCAA nor the EADA does.
In an e-mail to me, my attorney friend, Kristen pointed out the following “If colleges allocated facilities construction, maintenance, training, med, insurance, tutors, & other costs to the teams that actually create them, even BCS teams would show a loss. I really would like to see a genuine accounting audit of a big time football program to see what the real numbers are.”
I have to agree that it would be really really interesting to have the finances of all schools reported and published in a consistent manner so it could be compared apples to apples.
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