Silly Goose

May 17th, 2012 at 2:42 PM ^

I think the only interesting part of that "article" is that the writer actually got paid to write that. Posting 200 words about another organizations findings is not journalism.

Blue Durham

May 17th, 2012 at 2:50 PM ^

this becomes news every few years.  The linked article doesn't contain much information, but it seems like it is the same issues brought up by Murray Sperber (from Indiana University) in College Sports, Inc.  the Athletic Department vs the University.  I read this book a couple of years after it was published, which was 1990!

The introduction of this dated book is very interesting in that it lists a number of myths, and then dispells each one.  These myths include:

  • The alumni support-in fact, demand-that their alma maters have large and successful college sports programs.
  • College sports are incredibly profitable, earning huge sums of money for American colleges and universities.
  • The NCAA Division I men's basketball tournament makes millions of dollars for American colleges and universities
  • Schools receive millions of dollars when their teams play in football bowl games.
  • The money earned from college sports helps other parts of the university.

The above are only the first 5 of 19 myths described and debunked in the introduction.  They sound familiar, don't they?

Sidenote:  For good or bad, the author was supposedly part of the reason that basketball coach Bobby Knight had to leave IU.

EDIT:  A lot of good information (from fall 2011) on Sperber, IU, Knight and college sports finances can be found here


May 17th, 2012 at 2:52 PM ^

What I think after all these articles is how lucky we are as UM fans.

1- We have a large undergrad population= many alums and guaranteed tickets to big sports

2- We are next to a big metro area= lots of local fans

3- We have huge tradition= less fairweather fans that can wreak havoc during dry years (by dwindling attendance) and tons of fans who will pay insane amounts and give money

4- Huge/nice arenas= 110,000 tickets for football, close to 13,000 for basketball

5- Big Conference= lots of TV money, and high level of competition

6- Ann Arbor/fan support= not just football and basketball but both mens and womens teams

It can be very tough for teams that miss on just some of these areas and we have great support from all!


May 17th, 2012 at 3:36 PM ^

...1 - 4, I again point out the brilliance of Fielding H. Yost who pushed construction of a stadium large enough to seat every student who wanted a ticket, alumni, and the general (Michigan) public and with the ability to be expanded when required.

In the 20s, the clamor and fights among these groups for access to games at Ferry Field were epic and were waged on the pages of newspapers and scores of angry letters sent to Yost and the Michigan Ticket Office.

I was taken aback when my kids went off to college and were presented with:

  • UVA: Students get in free to all football games. Show up and you can sit in a seat or on the grass in the south end zone. Good for students but shows the lack of demand from alumni and the general public. Student section rarely full. Stadium rarely full.
  • Virginia Tech: Freshman enter a lottery for individual game tickets. Sophomores and above can buy season tickets. Stadium always sold out and full, but the university doesn't provide sufficient seating for the entire student body.


May 17th, 2012 at 3:56 PM ^

A lot of time you hear tradition and feel like it just always was that way- you pointed out very well how specific individuals (Yost in particular) and well thought out plans lead to tradition.  Building a big stadium, choosing distinct uniforms, scheduling top teams, and all of the decisions made during the early years of Michigan football created the tradition that has made the athletics program what it is.

It is sad about UVa.  VT shows that you can create tradition and bring in fans quickly and turn it into high demand for your team.  UVa has had good teams in the past but despite being in a good conference in a state with many recruits and great academcis just never materialized into a good program.  It's sad that you can't fill a student section with free tickets...


May 17th, 2012 at 4:06 PM ^

My wife attended UVA back in the early 80's.

As she tells it, at that time the student body took a certain pride in its collective feigned apathy towards the football team.  Attending the game was an excuse to dress up and be social. 

The band at that time was a "scramble band" -- no formal structure.  They took pride in that fact, and later when the band was formalized there was some protest. 

In many ways, UVA is a pretty snooty school.  It has a very good academic tradition, but its football history is not stellar.  They have turned that into a point of pride ... they are above such things as caring about football outcomes.

To what degree the current student body is like it was back then I don't know.


May 17th, 2012 at 8:05 PM ^

All right all's time for some misconception correction!

One, the student attitude toward football has definitely and decidedly changed since DonAZ's wife went, as she attended at the tail end of a two-and-a-half decades period where we had no football team at all worth having.  We probably lost three times as much as we won, if not more, in those 25+ years.  We didn't go to a bowl game until 1984.

Two, when I was there from 2000-2004, you really did have to show up early or else be stuck shoving people aside on the grass hill.  Empty sections didn't exist after about 15 minutes prior to kickoff.

Three, it's not really fair to compare student sections between Michigan and UVA because we're less than half the size, but in order to fill the whole "student seating" area we'd have to bring about 8,000 people.  About 5,000 fit in the student section and 3,000 on the grass.  A proportionally sized student section at Michigan should fit about 19,000 or so.  Anyway, I submit to you that there really isn't any difference between U-M and UVA when it comes to student attendance.  The students fill the section pretty well for games with a good start time and come dressed as empty bleachers for noon games.

Four, we had every reason to protest the replacement of the Pep Band with a marching band because the admin acted like dicks to the Pep Band.  You'd've raised a fuss too if you had a fun-to-watch band that nobody else had and the school forcibly swept it aside on the shambles of a pretense that making fun of West Virginia was unacceptable.


May 17th, 2012 at 3:38 PM ^

Yes, that we have all of this going for us is extremely rare.  There are a bunch of "glamor" programs out there like FSU that fall off a cliff if they stop winning for a few seasons.

We are finally starting to turn this to our advantage by spending the money to hire top coaches, especially assistant coaches.  

This was the biggest difference maker for Alabama. They were the same place when they were having losing seasons not that long ago.  The big difference has been coaching.  We are lucky to be able to do the same kind of thing.


May 17th, 2012 at 4:43 PM ^

I referenced the USA Today database that was posted the other day because the problems mentioned at these schools were intriguing. 

Maryland takes its biggest hit in the "Building / Grounds" category - nearly double the spending in five years, as well as coaching salaries - up about 25% over five years. Meanwhile, for Maryland, most streams of revenue were fairly stable, so they spent more while making about the same each year.

Florida State took a huge hit in the "Other Revenue" category, as the database called it, which was the catch-all that included TV income, camp income,  bowl revenue, endowments, food, parking, etc...As for expenses, FSU pulled a Maryland - spending on coaches was up 32% in five years, "Building / Grounds" nearly doubled and "Other Expenses" were up 23%.

It seems to me that you do indeed have cases of schools trying to be bigger fish in a pond that fails to change in size appropriately. 


May 18th, 2012 at 12:23 AM ^

A lot of these "losses" are on paper only.  The AD is being billed the full retail price of a scholarship, when the actual cost of the extra students is negligible.  

So, just to run ballpark figures that may or may not apply to any particular school: 300 athletes times let's say, 20K a year equals 6 million dollars.  Do those 300 students really cost the school an extra $6 million on the educational end?  Do they have to pay that much for "extra" profs, classrooms, and dorm rooms that are there anyway?  

Even if the athletes were on a number that was a "tipping point" which required five or six new profs, it certainly wouldn't cost $6 million to pay them.  How much extra power can 300 extra light bulbs, 300 extra TV's, 300 extra computers, and 300 extra video games cost?  



May 18th, 2012 at 6:38 AM ^

From an accounting standpoint, it's $6 million they did not get in tuition.  Look at it from the standpoint of adding the lacrosse teams like we did: the capacity for students remains the same and the budgeting for tuition dollars also remains the same, but now they're not getting 12.6 * 2 * 25000 = $650,000.  That money's gotta come from somewhere.

(Making the assumptions that the average tuition would be $25K and the womens' team has the same number of schollies as the men.)


May 18th, 2012 at 4:09 PM ^

I'm very surprised to hear about FSU possibly cutting back on its football recruiting budget.  I remember when they were the USC of the '90s.  Remember Travis Johnson "going to bed a Wolverine and waking up a Seminole"?