Everything College Sports

For those interested in all things college sports

The Race for the NCAA to Monitor Technology Advances

Let me first say, I am a huge NCAA fan from a business and sport competition perspective – but this seems to be a no win situation. Some of you may have seen a semi-humorous article in Bloomberg the other day. Well, it may not be funny if you work at the NCAA in Enforcement or if you are a coach that is not an early adopter of new technologies. Anyway, the Bloomberg Article, IPhone Athletes Race Past NCAA Cops,  is about the realities of trying to keep NCAA rules one step ahead of the athletes and coaches. Continue reading

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April 6, 2009 Posted by | Legislation, NCAA Compliance Issues, Recruiting, Rules Violations | | Leave a comment

National Signing Day – good or bad?

JHouston Nutt at a Press Conference from SI.com. Is oversigning players o.k.?

Houston Nutt at a Press Conference from SI.com. Is oversigning players o.k.?

Earlier this year, many fans experienced what is considered to be one of the biggest events in the college football calendar year. Unfortunately, I’m not referring to the BCS national championship game. I’m also not referring to “The Grandaddy Of Them All.”

Arguably, National Signing Day has become as revered by college football fans as any other event during the season. Occurring on the first Wednesday in February each year, National Signing Day provides fans with a glimpse into the future of their favorite college football team.

Recruiting has turned college football into a year round sport. Accordingly, coverage of high school recruiting has become a lucrative business for website networks, mainly Scout.com and Rivals.com. Per NCAA bylaws Coaches and institutions cannot comment on or release information regarding committed recruits until a Letter of Intent is faxed in on signing day; however, team websites on these networks provide extensive information on recruits and their intentions. This information is provided to fans at a cost, approximately $100 a year for a premium subscription. Continue reading

March 3, 2009 Posted by | College Sports Business, Football, Recruiting | , | Leave a comment

“Managers” for High School Football Players?

We all know that there are some key “players” in the basketball recruiting world. Many people question the ethics around relationships that develop between these young players and those that “help” them get recruited.

It seems that in at least in Kansas, football might be headed down that same path.  In a New York Times Article from Feb 3rd, Brian Butler identified himself as the trainer and manager of top high school football recruit Bryce Brown. In fact, the article stated that, “To get to Bryce Brown, coaches must go through Butler. He handles Brown’s workouts, recruiting and news media requests.” WHAT? This is a high school player, right? Not someone gearing up for the NFL Draft. Oh, and Butler also sells information on Brown and other players over the internet for $9.99/month or $59/year if you are interested.

For those not aware, Bryce Brown did not sign on national signing day and has yet to sign an NLI. The scholarship and NLI papers issued by Miami  (where he verbally committed in Feb 2008) on Feb 4th for signing day expired on Feb 18th and an anonymous representative from Miami was quoted as saying they would not issue new papers.  Amazingly, Butler was unaware scholarship papers expired at all and that Brown would sign on March 16th. Between his verbal commitment and his brother playing at Miami there was significant speculation he would end up there. However, Brian Butler also has indicated that Brown could skip college and enter the CFL for “$5 million a year for 3 years”. One problem with that math is that the CFL salary cap is $4.2 million and  the highest paid player is making $500,000 in the league right now with the league minimum about  $40,000. Continue reading

February 22, 2009 Posted by | NCAA Compliance Issues, Recruiting, Rules Violations, Uncategorized | , | Leave a comment

Zero Waste Pays Dividends

While serving as event manager for UC Davis Athletics, I was fortunate enough to be on staff the same time a new football stadium was opened…fresh for the 2007 football season. The new facility, compared to larger FBS football stadiums, lacked luxury items such as suites, giant video screens, creative variety in concession offerings, and even lights for night play. However, what it lacked in luxuries, Aggie Stadium made up for in one admirable policy…zero waste.

Zero waste practices, while in place at some college dining commons around the nation, are still nearly impossible to find in athletic facilities. Not to be confused with a standard recycling programs that handle plastic bottles and sometimes paper, zero waste, in this context, simply means that all products of the facility (from the concession stands to the restrooms) are either recyclable or compostable. In theory, if no outside “items” are allowed into the stadium, the standard trash dumpsters after a home football game will be empty. Food wrappers, cups, paper products sold or distributed are all recyclable and uneaten food and other specialty items (such as eating utensils made of potato or corn byproducts*) are compostable.

Zero waste programs were designed with one goal in mind: to have a smaller impact of the environment due to the disposal of garbage from an athletic event. However, as noted in the November 10th issue of the Sports Business Journal, like programs can also save facilities money on waste disposal. Although not a college facility, the Seattle Mariners have apparently saved over $40,000 in trash fees by implementing a more aggressive recycling program at Safeco Field.** With the incredible benefit to the environment and to the facility/universities involved, it is surprising that more schools are not catching on.

Continue reading

January 6, 2009 Posted by | Facilities and Events, Football | | 2 Comments

Bowl Gifts.. excessive?

For those of you who have not seen the list of bowl gifts being handed out this year- I think it is CRAZY.  Of course as a student-athlete it wouldn’t be so bad to receive one of these cool items or the shopping spree’s.

Sports Business Journal published a list of the bowl gift on Dec 8, 2008 and here are the highlights. These items are in addition to the traditional watches, sunglasses, hats, sweats, and other gear provided to the players. Plus, of course there will be championship rings for many of the winning teams provided by their school and per diem meal money as well as up to $20/day incidental expense money throughout their time at the bowl site up to 10 days AND an allowance for travel to and from the game for some schools that play close to Christmas ($800 cash at Oregon).

Pioneer Las Vegas Bowl- Wii System Bundle Package

Capital One Bowl- Party at Best Buy with a $400 shopping spree

Insight Bowl- 26″ LCD HD TV

San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl – 8 gig iPod Touch

Rose Bowl presented by Citi- Sony DVD Camcorder

Independence Bowl- Trek Mountain Bike

FedEX BCS National Championship Game- $300 in Sony electronics

Here is the kicker, the limit on value for participant gifts varies between NCAA National Championships and Bowl Games (NCAA Award Chart search for Figure 16-1). Basically, a Conference Championship participant gift is limited to $325 (provided by the institution), a NCAA National Championship/Tournament is limited to $325 (from institution plus an NCAA unlimited value gift), and an All-Star game and Postseason Bowl is limited to $825 ($325 from institution and $500 from Bowl Mgt).

This is certainly not a new phenomenon and I do think that sponsor gifts are a legitimate reward for student-athletes at both Conference and National Championships. But, there seems to be some inequity here which seperates football from all other student-atheltes.

January 3, 2009 Posted by | BCS, Football, Legislation, Sponsorships and Sales, Uncategorized | , , | Leave a comment

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.

December 30, 2008 Posted by | BCS, College Sports Business, Finance, Football, Uncategorized | , , | Leave a comment

Football Scholarships

I know I said that my next post would be about recruiting, but I need to switch gears a bit because I have yet to hear a good answer to one simple college football question.

Why does Division I FBS have 85 football scholarships?

Someone PLEASE explain it to me.

Just for the record, the Division IFCS scholarship limit is 63 and the Division II scholarship limit is 36. Teams are limited to 105 on the roster in FBS and 90 in FCS (NCAA Bylaw 17.11.2.1 2 and 17.11.2.1.3).

Here are the NFL rules as I understand them. Rosters are limited to 53. Of the 53, 47 are dressed for any given game, which means six don’t play. Expansion teams are sometimes given exceptions as they get their team going.

I am a huge college football fan, but I have never ever been able to understand why there is a need for 85 scholarships. I can argue that teams need depth to allow for injuries, but players in the NFL get hurt at a greater rate than college players right?  What about opportunities to compete? Well, with 105 players, many do not get to play. What about revenue generation? Would schools make less money (even though most are running in the red currently) with a few less scholarships?

This question is important to me in a time where many college sport programs (men’s track and field, men’s swimming, wrestling) are facing elimination due to the huge cost to run athletic programs (especially football costs). So, I’m hoping someone can clue me in as to why 85 scholarships?

Here is a chart on the average scholarship awarded by sport compiled by the New York Times, but be careful when interpreting it because it combines DI and DII and does not take into account average cost of the schools offering the sport.


December 28, 2008 Posted by | BCS, Football | , | 10 Comments

Bowl Math for Dummies (& College Presidents)

I like to think of myself as a fairly agreeable, friendly person.  However, there are a few things that I hate to my core.  They include sanctimony, intolerance and the college Bowl system.

I’m only a sports guy to the extent that I’m a fan. So all you MSAs can show off your big brains and poke holes in my logic.  But as a fan, I HAAAAAAATE the college Bowl system.  It’s fascist and unAmerican on every level.  Since only one game counts for anything, I only really watch one game. I might stumble upon the Fiesta Bowl for 30 minutes to watch Texas beat the snot out of OSU, but I’m certainly not going to plan my day around it. And every 38th year when OU gets a bid, I’ll watch a 2nd bowl game. (Yay 2044!) But I have a hard time even getting very excited about that. Our season’s over whether we win or lose.

By contrast, I try to watch every second of every game that I can during March Madness. It doesn’t matter who’s playing.  Yesterday (12.18.08), I asked that a meeting not be scheduled for 03.19.09 because I know that the tournament starts at noon that day.  Now, I’m willing to acknowledge that I may be at the end of the bell curve re: my devotion to the tournament and this might be a good time to note that my office is located in the former state mental asylum on The Ridges, but I am absolutely convinced that there are millions of people like me who’d watch a heck of a lot more college football in December and January if it was part of a tournament.  More viewers = more money.

Others can argue the entrenched interests of the BCS and the distribution of proceeds to the power conferences as reasons there will never be a tournament.  I’m not going to challenge that.  That’s a money coming out the bottom of the funnel argument.  I’m arguing the money going in the top of the funnel.  The total economic activity around post-season college football would be much greater in a tournament than it is in the current arrangement.

I’m also not going to argue for the complete dissolution of the bowls.  You love the San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl?  Fine!  Keep it.  Make it an early round game in the tournament.

Continue reading

December 20, 2008 Posted by | BCS, Football | , , | 12 Comments