Everything College Sports

For those interested in all things college sports

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

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.

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