Schools Take a Bath on Bowl Invites

Submitted by Zone Left on December 16th, 2010 at 4:34 PM

Interesting article from Dr Saturday about bowl payouts and the difficult situation it places schools, especially the schools whose fans don’t travel well.  UConn is getting hammered, holding $2.5 million in tickets it is obligated to sell.

It’s surprising that the power conferences don’t use their leverage to force the bowl games to give them a more equitable arrangement, especially with the real money coming from TV deals.  You’d think the Big 10 and the SEC, with their large, very interested fan bases, would at least be able to eliminate the required ticket sales and hotel rooms from their better tie-ins.

I'm also surprised schools choose to raise their costs so much by taking the 300 person band.  I understand tradition and all that, but it has to cost at least a million dollars just for them (out of a $3 million payday after revenue sharing).  They aren't going to sell enough Fiesta Bowl swag to make up for it.



December 16th, 2010 at 4:37 PM ^

From a National Championship win.. who walks around wearing shirts of some stupid bowl that meant nothing in the grand scheme of things. 


December 16th, 2010 at 4:37 PM ^

I have been wondering how our sales have been. Hopefully a lot of people aupporting this great team, even during this time of turbulence.

Anyone know how to find this out?

MI Expat NY

December 16th, 2010 at 5:10 PM ^

I don't think this is true for most BCS schools.

Looks like each Big Ten team should take home over $2M after expenses have been paid.  It's the non-BCS schools that lose money on the bowl games, as well as schools like UConn who have no hope of selling their tickets to a BCS bowl.  


December 16th, 2010 at 4:40 PM ^

In some cases the school gets an expense allowance that covers their costs. I read Wisconsin is getting a $2.2 million expense allowance/reimbursement in addition to their $2.7 million share of the Rose Bowl pay-out.

Remember also that schools only have to pay expenses on the bowl they go to (obviously) but  get a 1/12th share of the aggregate bowl payout received from all Big Ten schools (all 11 teams get a share and one share goes to the conference office). With 2 Big Ten teams traditionally getting the big money BCS pay-outs and 4-6 more getting $ from other bowls, conference members do pretty well in spite of the expenses.  

Zone Left

December 16th, 2010 at 4:54 PM ^

I couldn't find the Wisconsin reference, but UConn's allowance is coming out of the Big East's budget--of which UConn presumably contributes 1/8.

The Big East Conference’s revenue-sharing system requires its bowl-eligible members to pool the bowl money and then divide it accordingly based on a tier. So the Huskies are in line to receive around $2.5 million, not including an expense allowance from the league for travel costs that takes into account the distance from Storrs to Arizona.


December 16th, 2010 at 5:18 PM ^

On second thought I'm pretty sure the $2.7 million number I cited for Wisconsin is its total net share of the bowl payout from the Big Ten. I assume all Big Ten schools will get this amount since the Big Ten does not have a tiered revenue sharing system like the one in the Big East you mentioned.

It's a strange system. The per team payout number we read about is not really accurate because of ticket guarantees, etc. For example I read that the Big Ten teams will split about $35 million from bowl appearance fees, yet the listed per team payout for Wisconsin and OSU is $17 million each. It's fuzzy math for sure.

I do know that the Big Ten is an equal share conference. Conference teams going to BCS bowls are rewarded with a much higher expense allowance ($2.2 million) than teams going to other bowls (hence the issue of bringing the band) and they get a marketing/merchandising benefit as well, but the net revenue dollars are divvied up equally.       

MI Expat NY

December 16th, 2010 at 6:06 PM ^

The Big Ten sort of has a tiered system, but only for expenses.  On top of the revenue share, the Big Ten gives each bowl participant money towards expenses, and these are tiered based on the bowl you play in, with BCS bowl participants getting the highest payout.  

As for the appearance fees, the automatic BCS entrant (Wisconsin) earns something like the $17M you cited, the second conference entrant (OSU) earns in the $4-5M range.


December 16th, 2010 at 4:44 PM ^

I actually decided to get a Gator Bowl shirt as a memento of RR's first and possibly only UM bowl. If that makes me a loser so be it.


December 17th, 2010 at 12:22 AM ^

Round of sixteen during conference championship week with CC games and the rest of the grid filled in with other BCS conference champions and at large teams.  CC games at neutral sites and play-in games at home fields of higher seeds.

Four games the week after CC week played at home fields of higher seeds.

Semis on NYD at rotating bowls.

Final one week after NYD, as it is already.

The bowls would sell the same amount of tix as always, and there would be no problem with the title game.  CC games would sell more tix becase they are playoffs.  There would still be the same amount of bowls, the same amount of championship games on Jan 8, and a real champion determined on the field.

In other words, it is too easy so it won't happen.  Instead, some convoluted POS that doesn't fully satisfy anyone will be instituted in a few years.


December 17th, 2010 at 12:39 AM ^

 CC games would sell more tix becase they are playoffs.

This is baffling.  Why on earth do you think that?  There's no good reason to believe that, you're just saying it because it makes your plan sound better.  And why do you think people will travel three times during the holiday season when vacation time and money are at a premium?  "Because it's a playoff" is the biggest BS reason ever - as noted above, that's not reason enough to sell tickets to the basketball tournament.

The conference championship games fill up because they're sensibly located - or fail to do so because they're thousands of miles away.  Atlanta sold out the SECCG because it's like three hours at most from the fanbases.  Same for Charlotte and the ACCCG.  You think there are legions of people out there thinking, "I'd go to that game, but since it's not part of a playoff I'm just gonna sit it out"?  You think the stadium in Jacksonville for the ACCCG was so empty because it wasn't a playoff?  Or do you think that might have had a little more to do with the fact that Boston is 1200 miles from Jacksonville?


December 16th, 2010 at 6:38 PM ^

Does the author of the article factor in revenue the university gains in merchandising sales?  As an example, I'm guessing Wisky is probably selling a lot of Rose Bowl shirts and hats. 


December 16th, 2010 at 8:18 PM ^

The reports that most schools losing money or barely break even at best may make some sense if the leadership (president, regents, board of governors) see the secondary benefits of national exposure and development (e.g. alumni fund raising) worth the price - it is a loss leader, like for some company which makes a product which gathers it good public relations while not ever really becoming a big earner. For universities essentially the loss in revenue is chalked up to the cost of advertising the school and cultivating donors. IIRC Boston College saw a surge in applications after Doug Flutie last moment hail mary pass thrust BC into the public conscience. So for some schools, let's say the cost of taking a full band, the whole board, presidential entourage and other friends-of-the athletic department puts the school in the hole for $250,000 or $500,000, but if it is all for a big name bowl the cost of a single TV ad for the school could be close to that or more. Wining and dining donors at the game for a capital campaign which can run into the billions (for example the UM ended its recent campaign in 2009 at finally total $3.2 billion) also seems a reasonable cost.

Of course, having a winning team matters, but that is for other parts of this board....


December 16th, 2010 at 8:59 PM ^

In regards to the band, I'm pretty sure its a part of many bowl contracts that they must attend.  Just another way the bowls suck and we should have a playoff already.


December 17th, 2010 at 10:20 AM ^

I am 100% in favor of taking the band, scout team players, volunteer managers and even the water boy.

We have to remember that the University of Michigan is going to the Gator Bowl. That includes the band regardless of the cost. Forget the tradition, its about the kids. I would pay an extra $10 per ticket to allow all the kids the opportunity to go. It is a memory of a lifetime. Isnt that what its all about?