The PAC-12 announced an enormous media deal this week that’s worth a reported $22 million per school per year. The Big 10 and SEC have monster TV deals in place that virtually ensure profitability for their member athletic departments for the near future. That’s life on the top of the FBS division, and there’s no doubt that football is the key driver of both revenue and expenses.
This diary is about the other half. The financial straights of the lower tier of FBS, specifically the MAC, Sun Belt, and post Boise State WAC are also largely driven by football. Unfortunately for them, the train has fallen off of a cliff instead of chugging towards the land of monocles and gold toilets. These schools are reduced to selling home games to artificially increase attendance numbers and playing body bag games to pad revenue.
Specifically, this is about Eastern Michigan football and EMU athletics. What, if any, benefits does the school derive and what are the costs associated with those benefits? Why do they field teams at all on the D-1 level?
College sports have a purpose. The NCAA says that its purpose and the larger point of intercollegiate athletics is to promote things like sportsmanship, integrity, the pursuit of athletic and academic excellence, respect and leadership. These are all good things to promote and I believe athletics can help cultivate those qualities. However, a good club program or the intramural programs that most universities run with student fees can accomplish the same goals and provide much greater access than D-1 athletics. Thus, in my mind, schools must derive some other benefit from D-1 athletics than simply promoting certain values in its athletes—of which Eastern has about 465.
Every FBS school should probably ask itself what benefits it derives from big-time football. It’s a shockingly expensive undertaking, can give the school tons of press (both good and bad), can generate enormous revenue, and can be a significant drain on student funds. It’s easy for the University of Michigan to make a cost-benefit analysis for its football team and athletic department in general. It generates many millions of dollars for the athletic department and is a self-sustaining enterprise. Sure, it’s attached to the school, but it costs the school nothing. The Board of Regents never needs to worry about eliminating a student program to fund football.
Eastern Michigan has a tougher time. Last year, EMU’s athletic expenses were $24.64 million, a whopping 9.2% of the school's General Fund. For a little perspective, there are about 23000 students enrolled at EMU, of which about 2% are intercollegiate athletes. They use their share of the 90.8% of the budget spent on items other than athletics, but 9.2% of the budget is used exclusively to support athletics. Sure, some of that $24 million comes out of TV deals, sponsorship, and ticket sales, but the database shows that to be only about $1.7 million. Everything else comes from the General Fund in some way. By the way, tuition went up 3.8% in 2009-10 at EMU.
However, EMU could still justify athletics if the non-monetary benefits made athletics worthwhile for the school. I think sports teams at U of M make valuable contributions to the student body. Aside from pride, I firmly believe that the Michigan diaspora—I see shirts everywhere—stays engaged with the school in large part due to the visibility of the sports teams. This has benefits for job seeking grads, networking alums, and helps donations to the school. Maybe this is the case at EMU too, but it doesn’t help too much. They only received about $3 million in gifts last year. Even if all of those were directly the result of athletics, there are still almost $20 million that the school gives each year to athletics. People don’t go to games and EMU athletics aren’t on TV unless they’re getting drilling by a Big 10 team in September.
The world has changed. Regardless of why (and let’s not get into it), Michigan doesn’t have money to waste. Why is a public university spending almost 10% of their General Fund on entities that only directly benefit 2% of the student body and don’t produce discernable benefits for the student body, alumni base, or school? Michigan and Michigan State are different. Their athletic departments aren’t a choice of resource allocation for the school. If the department closes, the money disappears. If EMU closes its athletic department, there are over $20 million, by my count, that can be reallocated to improving education, facilities, or even lowering tuition.
Why can’t EMU de-emphasize athletics and expand its club offerings? They could bus to CMU, WMU, Northern Michigan, Toledo, etc and play at a rented high school field on Saturdays. The players could work out at a student gym instead of a team gym. The same could be done with other sports. Just as many students could play, but for millions less. If I was a Regent, I’d ask why.
In this busy season of recruiting, I thought at least a handful of people might be interested to see how Ron English is doing at EMU:
What I found remarkable there is the lack of players from Michigan. I realize that stocking a roster with only Michiganders is unrealistic when the in-state competition is considered, but I'm surprised that the numbers are so low. 2010 and 2009 are similar.
Did his Family Values comments (http://mgoblog.com/mgoboard/freep-ron-english-sells-single-moms-short) hurt that much? Or, has he just kept his focus where there are more players?
CCLA Conference Tournament
Michigan will participate in its conference tournament this weekend, trying to take home their fourth consecutive championship. The field is as follows:
Michigan and Buffalo are the top two seeds, by virtue of winning the North and South Divisions, respectively. Michigan State and
Eastern Central Michigan also make the field from the North Division, and Miami (That Hockey Miami) joins Pitt from the South Division. Eastern Michigan earned the third North Division slot, but was disqualified because they be cheatin', yo. Central Michigan takes the spot instead.
In the first round, Michigan State and Miami are the favorites to advance. In the semi-finals, the Spartans should probably take down Buffalo, but that was the case last year as well, and it didn't turn out that way. Michigan should win the whole thing, regardless of which teams they face.
The CCLA auto-bid is up for grabs, but there are also MCLA At-Large implications. Michigan State has the chance to add two wins, and wash the taste of a three-game losing streak out of their mouths. That would help their bid to the national field. No other team (outside of Michigan, who is in regardless of outcome) will crack the MCLA field without winning the conference.
After Friday's first-round games, I'll keep updated review/previews going in the Diary section. For now, I'll briefly preview Miami, Michigan's likely semifinal opponent (see a brief preview of Central and a Recap of their game against Michigan for more on the Chippewas.
The RedHawks have gone 8-3 on the year, 3-1 in the CCLA South. Their losses have come to Missouri (7-9), Indiana (5-8), and Buffalo (5-7). They played a non-divisional game against Eastern Michigan earlier this spring, beating their Round 1 opponent by a comfortable 15-9 Margin.
Their All-Conference performers include Joe McLaughlin (2nd Team Midfield), Alex Manners (2nd Team Faceoff Specialist), Tyler Wallace (3rd Team Midfield), Brooke Slowinski (3rd Team Defense), Josh Ebel (Honorable Mention Short Stick Defensive Midfield), and Daniel Culp (Honorable Mention Goalie). McLaughlin, only a freshman, has done the majority of the team's scoring, with 22 goals and 10 assists.
Michigan's first game, against Miami or Eastern, will take place Saturday at 4PM at Saline High School's main (East) field. Full preview of Michigan's opponent after it is determined.
All-Conference Teams, MCLA Bracketology, and more after the jump!
The CCLA released their all-conference lists on Monday, and they're full of Wolverines:
- Attack Trevor Yealy
- Attack Kevin Zorovich
- Midfield Anthony Hrusovsky
- Defense Harry Freid
- Faceoff Specialist David Reinhard
- Long-Stick Midfield Matt Asperheim
- Short Stick Defensive Midfield Jordan Kirshner
- Attack Thomas Paras
- Midfield David Rogers
- Midfield Svet Tintchev
- Defense Austin Swaney
- Goalie Mark Stone
- Defense Justin Burgin
- Attack Josh Ein
- Attack Clark McIntyre
- Midfield Jamison Goldberg
- Short Stick Defensive Midfield Michael Bartomioli
Michigan composes seven of the thirteen first-team honorees (Michigan State has four, and Buffalo has two. Those are the only teams represented), and 17 of the 59 total players honored. Making this more impressive is the fact that a number of Michigan players were injured for significant portions of the year (David Rogers, Clark McIntyre, and Michael Bartomioli all missed multiple games), and several more were suspended for one game.
The players who made the first team are likely to gain consideration for All-American honors. Among them, Trevor Yealy is a lock for the First Team, and is in the running for Player of the Year honors.
A couple conference tournaments took place last weekend, which helped settle the MCLA Tournament field a bit. We now know the Automatic Qualifiers from the SELC (Florida, previously a bubble team) and LSA (Texas State, the only team from their conference who will make it).
Last 2 In: Florida State, Michigan State
First 2 Out: UC-Santa Barbara, Loyola Marymount
Out From Last Time: Texas, UC Santa Barbara, Virginia Tech.
I'm waffling on whether Florida State or Virginia Tech (or both, or neither) should be in the field. They were similarly-ranked heading into the SELC Tournament, and Florida State lost in the first round, whereas the Hokies made it to the final. I still like Florida State's overall schedule a bit more.
Other than that, nothing was too tough. Michigan State probably needs to paste Pitt and Buffalo to feel really safe in the tournament. There's still quite a bit of variability with all the auto-bids (except two) still up in the air. If I can get around to it before the official bracket comes out, I'll hopefully have another Bracketology post early next week.
Inside Lacrosse gives their take on a bubble watch.
A home game is now in the books as Michigan downed the IPFW Mastodons for a three game series sweep. Michigan brought the offense, collecting 47 hits for 30 runs. IPFW was the bad team that was expected, and our players didn't disappoint, at least on offense. Pitching had some less than stellar moments, but in the end, the guys that got into trouble kept the losses to a minimum.
Game by game review, series thoughts, and a look at Tuesday's Eastern Michigan game follow:
I'll get to the actual game recaps in a moment, but there are a couple other things I wanted to talk about before getting to the "actual events."
First, a mailbag question from Josh:
I was wondering if on the next Michigan lacrosse diary update if you could cover Michigan being a member of the CCLA. I mean they dominate everyone in the conference by almost 10 goals every game and have won 9 of the last 11 CCLA titles. Their last loss, to a CCLA member, came against Michigan State in April of 2006. I just do not see any advantage for Michigan to be a part of a conference that provides little competition to the team.
Is there a rule for the MCLA that states members need to be a part of a conference, or can members be Independent. I would imagine if members could be Independent then Michigan could actually make a schedule that includes many of the CCLA teams but they could also include a tougher caliber of opponent rather than playing Eastern Michigan and Central Michigan. Maybe make an East Coast road trip and play more PCLL teams, much like the West Coast trip every year. This trip could include teams such as Boston College, Northeastern, and New Hampshire. Another possibility could be to play a combination of road and home games with teams from the GRLC, such as Indiana, Illinois, and Iowa (through some Big Ten rivals in there). Any insight on this topic would be greatly appreciated.
I'm not sure whether the MCLA has a rule requiring teams to be in a conference. There are no independent teams competing now, and to the best of my knowledge there never has been. I believe the MCLA is more of a parent organization to the conferences, so it doesn't seem feasible. As for your question as it specifically relates to Michigan, the issue is not "can they?" but rather one of "would they want to?" I think the answer in this situation has to be "no."
What would Michigan's motivations be for leaving the conference? Though the CCLA isn't the toughest conference in the league (prior to Michigan's National Championship in 2008, every MCLA Champion had hailed from the Rocky Mountain Lacrosse Conference or the West Coast Lacrosse League), it hasn't prevented Michigan from paying some tough schedules in the past few years. They had the #11 Strength of Schedule in 2008, the 3rd toughest schedule last year, and are on pace for the #2 SOS mark this year, all per LaxPower. In fact, one of the biggest aspect holding them back has been that they can't schedule themselves. Though they play in a conference that has a reputation of being "soft," that hasn't exactly held the Wolverines back come tournament time in the past couple years.
The other huge factor in this equation is the money. Playing fewer CCLA teams would mean that Michigan has to schedule more long road trips each season, and entice more big-name opponents to travel to Ann Arbor. As a club program (supported by player dues), the finances simply don't make sense, especially for the limited benefit they would get out of it. I think the program is much more concerned with making a push to earn Varsity status at Michigan than worrying about a slight bump in schedule difficulty.
As far as scheduling more Big Ten conference teams, that's something I would like to see, but the Wolverines play Michigan State every year, and have managed to play a Big Ten squad from the GRLC in recent years (Illinois for the past two season, Purdue coming up in April). A Big Ten Lacrosse Conference could be cool, but I doubt the Big Ten would sponsor a club league, so it would have to be far, far down the road for an eventual varsity program.
Speaking of a potential varsity program... Michigan Lacrosse is trying to make a push for varsity status (news at 11!), but it seems as though things have progressed more this time around than they had in past years. My personal speculation on this is that Bill Martin, in his drive to keep the Athletic Department financially viable, was one of the key opponents to adding more varsity sports. Michigan men's soccer coach Steve Burns was one of the few coaches who managed to successfully push for varsity status under Martin's watch. Coach Paul and other lacrosse supporters have undoubtedly talked to Burns about his experience.
The closer things get to a potential tipping point, the more fan support can help the effort reach a new level. Showing the Athletic Department that you're interested in seeing a varsity lacrosse team at Michigan can be as simple as commenting on these posts (or crafting your own!). Once lacrosse gains AD support for varsity status, things have the potential to move very quickly, as there are already plans in the works for a state-of-the-art lacrosse facility that would be among the best in the nation - at any level - and is merely waiting for support from donors who are confident in a D-1 team's coming into existence at Michigan. Video tour:
As I've made no secret in the past, I'm a strong supporter of a varsity lacrosse program at Michigan, and I'm confident it's something we'll see in the not-too-distant future.
The money (as always) will be a key factor here, but it will be tough for the Athletic Department to continue denying a consistently-excellent program the opportunity to play at the highest level. Remaining Title IX-compliant could be an issue, but the women's club lacrosse team and the women's synchronized skating and synchronized swimming teams also have club-varsity status, and if the dollars work out properly, a smooth transition is not only possible but likely. I talked a little about scholarship numbers in the comments of my last lacrosse post, so check that out if you're interested.
The Wolverines took on a pair of opponents this weekend, with Friday bringing the home opener against Simon Fraser University, and Saturday the conference opener at Eastern Michigan. Let's start with the home opener, in which the Wolverines wore all-new greay uniforms, with maize and blue accents.
Though the Clansmen(!) were ranked #13 coming into the game, Michigan made easy work of SFU, scoring the first seven goals of the contest on the way to a 22-10 rout. Though they allowed a couple scoring runs here and there, the early lead and the confidence it brought (on top of, like, being the better team) were too much for the opponent to overcome. BONUS video to the right of Michigan's 3rd goal, scored by Kevin Zorovich. Apologies for the lack of zoom, but that's life shooting video on a cell phone.
Trevor Yealy led the team with five goals, while Clark McIntyre and Jordan Kirshner each netted a hat trick. As per always, Michigan's ride was impressive, holding Simon Fraser to 16 successful clears on 33 attempts, and David Reinhard owned the faceoff X, winning 22 of 29 (75.86%) draws, and also notching his first goal of the year.
Mark Stone and Andrew Fowler split time in the cage, with Stone getting the start and the win.
Unfortunately, I was unable to attend Sunday's game, since the time was moved up by three hours and I was traveling in from out of town. Howeva, based on last year's game against the Eagles, I can definitively say one thing: they aren't a very good team, and the 19-2 final score yesterday speaks to that.
We'll start with the goalies, who often don't get a big enough share of the publicity. Well, in this game, they probably don't need it, as Mark Stone and Andrew Fowler each played a quarter - and neither faced a single shot(!!). Freshman Conor McGee played the second half, allowing two goals and making a save. I assume since he didn't get into this game that McGee's classmate Cy Adbelnour will redshirt the 2010 campaign.
In the scoring department, Clark McIntyre paced the team with five goals, and Trevor Yealy put in four of his own. After David Reinhard and Edward Ernst dominated faceoffs to start the game, freshman Harrison Silver got to try his hand at the X, winning 5 of 9 faceoffs.
One thing I've noticed thus far this year is that the offense has been much less Yealy-centric than last year's effort. That's likely a combination of the blowouts (at east over the last two games) that Michigan has been inflicting on teams, along with opponents gameplanning to not let the prolific junior beat them by himself. Either way, more balanced scoring throughout the team will certainly help make the offense more potent when they need it most.
Michigan has just one game next weekend, as they'll travel to Dallas, Texas to take on 8th-ranked Oregon in the Patriot Cup. The game will take place at 7PM Saturday in Ford Stadium on the campus of SMU.
The Duks are 6-0 on the year, with victories over #20 Cal, Stanford, Montana, #27 Santa Clara, Washington, and #34 Portland State. They are paced in scoring by Senior Attack Justin Blackmore and Redshirt Sophomore Attack Max Schlesinger, who have posted identical 12-goal, 5-assist statlines in the first six contests. The Ducks also get production from Junior Middie Kevin Clark and Sophomore Attack Sean Silverstein, who are both over two points per game as well. For comparison's sake, Michigan has one player over four points/game, another three notching greater than three points/game, and six total over two points/game.
In the net, Oregon has played three different goalies, with junior Nick Johnston getting the most time, playing in five games while posting a .685 save percentage and 3.4 goals against per game. He hasn't faced an offense like Michigan's, however, and it will be interesting to see how he holds up against the increased pressure.
The official Michigan Lacrosse Twitter page (@UmichLacrosse) will be providing scoring updates for those who want to follow live, and fans in the DFW area can head out to SMU for a full day of lacrosse.
No MCLA program in the country had as a difficult start to their 2010 season as the Michigan Wolverines. With true road games against the #22, #5, and #6 teams in the country, there were never going to be any claims of Michigan padding the schedule with soft opponents. Despite playing without a number of starters in one of the contests (more on that later), the Wolverines emerged unscathed, and are ready to take on yet another top opponent this weekend.
In each game (against Arizona, Arizona State, and BYU), Michigan got off to a slow start, but managed to come back for the win. This isn't exactly a sign that they will be as dominant in the 2010 season as they were in 2009, but if they can work out the early-season jitters, an undefeated run isn't out of the question, especially with the toughest stretch of the schedule out of the way. Part of those mental mistakes - namely numerous offsides violations - can be attributed to the offseason loss of Goalie Coach Brad Gigliotti, who had been running the substitution box for the Wolverines the past several seasons.
The Wolverines welcome Simon Fraser University into the friendly confines of Oosterbaan Fieldhouse on Friday at 7:00 PM for the home opener. The Clan was ranked #3 in the nation last week, but dropped non-competitive games to Colorado State and Colorado (17-7) - both upcoming Wolverine opponents. Against the Rams, Fraser led 5-4 at the half, before allowing five consecutive goals in the third quarter on their way to a 12-6 loss. Since 3rd-quarter runs have been a strength for Michigan through three games, that bodes well.
On Saturday, the Wolverines "travel" to Ypsilanti to take on Eastern Michigan in a cross-county CCLA Conference Matchup. The Eagles went 3-4 against MCLA Division 1 opposition last year (6-5 overall), including a 33-8 pounding at the hands of their conference brethren very slightly to the west. This season, they have started with a 1-3 record, defeating only CCLA D-2 squad Calvin College.
Michigan held just a 5-3 advantage at halftime, but exploded in the second half for a 15-5 victory in Tucson. Junior Goalie Andrew Fowler got the start in net, and went the distance for the Wolverines. Reigning CCLA scoring champ Trevor Yealy put in 6 goals, and faceoff specialist David Reinhard won 62.5% of his 24 draws. Every healthy field player saw action for the Wolverines in the blowout.
The Wolverines took a 1-goal advantage after a period in Tempe, and matched the Sun Devils goal-for-goal for the remaining three quarters to come away with the 11-10 victory over ASU. The goalies each played a half, with Andrew Fowler getting the start, and Mark Stone making a last-second save in the fourth quarter to seal the victory. Trevor Yealy had a relatively quiet game for the maize-and-blue, scoring only two goals (tied with David Rogers and Freshman Thomas Paras for most on the team). Reinhard was again exceptional, winning 84% (!!!) of his 25 faceoff attempts.
Against rival BYU, the Wolverines were shorthanded, with six players suspended for violating team rules. Captain Svet Tintchev, along with fellow seniors Kevin Zorovich, Clark Mcintyre, and Josh Ein joined juniors Steve Levitt and Matt Asperheim on the bench. All except Levitt are starters, and their absence was a huge blow to the Michigan effort, also forcing midfielder Jamie Goldeberg to play out of position at attack. Now that the scene is set, take a look at the freakin' awesome setting for BYU's field:
Trevor Yealy was back to form, leading MIchigan with four goals, tied again with Paras for most on the team. As just a freshman, it's clear Paras has a great future ahead of him for this team. Mark Stone went the distance in net for Michigan, and Reinhard again dominated faceoffs, winning 70.1% of his 24 opportunities. Michigan again had some mental mistakes, committing 33 turnovers along with 2 offsides penalties. However, it's the final score that counts, and Michigan's 13-9 victory kept them undefeated on the season.