Monday, February 16, 2015

Ultimate Sports Insider News

To my loyal followers on I wanted to share with you news about my upcoming departure from Bradley University.  

Here is the official announcement

Although not contained in the official release, I also want to share the following brief list of accomplishments during my tenure.  

  • The introduction of a mission for academic and championship success, partnered with department-wide core values: accountability, courage, diligence, integrity and respect.
  • Semester after semester of record setting student athlete grade point averages, including a 3.32 GPA during the Fall 2014 semester.  
  • Annual improvements in Bradley’s performance in the all-sports standings of the Missouri Valley Conference, including Bradley’s best ever finish in the history of the conference at the conclusion of the 2013-14 competitive year.  
  • The opening and dedication of the $55 million Renaissance Coliseum.
  • The implementation of the department’s first-ever all sports apparel agreement with adidas
  • The introduction of iconic branding and a new mascot to fill a decades-long void that has produced a nearly 50% increase in licensing royalties.
  • Record setting corporate sales in excess of $1 million following the signing of a multimedia rights agreement.  

Thank you for your readership and support in this time of transition. UltimateSportsInsider will still continue to publish with the goal of serving as a valuable resource regarding intercollegiate athletic matters.  

Friday, January 16, 2015

Athletic budget update #59

Exceptional Chronicle of Higher Education reporter Brad Wolverton with an in-depth examination about the possibility of cutbacks in college sports.  Ultimate Sports Insider was quoted along with Kansas State University President Kirk H. Schulz, American Volleyball Coaches Association Executive Director Kathleen DeBoer, Iowa State Director of Athletics Jamie Pollard, and Big South Conference Commissioner Kyle Kallander.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Athletic Budget Update #58

Texas lost $2.8 million in 2013-14 despite $161 million in revenue.

FAU is still seeking a return on its $70 million football investment amid low attendance and on-field performance that hasn't met expectations.

Minnesota Duluth is releasing its five time national champion head coach Shannon Miller because it can no longer afford to pay her.  In the University's press release  Athletic Director Josh Berlo said "She established a winning program, raised it to the highest level of competition and sustained a national championship tradition over the last 15 years.  Today's decision about Shannon's contract was an immensely difficult and financially driven decision.  Unfortunately, UMD Athletics is not in a position to sustain the current salary levels of our women's hockey coaching staff."

Hawaii's on-going financial troubles have the institution seeking additional state support.

Interesting read about how schools in South Dakota intend to address pending rule changes coming out of the 2015 NCAA Convention.

Nevada pursuing a micro-financing campaign to raise $4 million for a scoreboard, sound system and other improvements to their football stadium.

A Virginia legislator is looking to reduce the fees students pay for athletics, which could impact public colleges and universities across the state.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Athletic Budget Update #57

Questions about how to fund athletic programs in the face of NCAA legislative changes such as cost of attendance stipends and possible legal mandates continue to grow.  As a result, there are a number of notable budgetary news items on the college athletics front, including:
The elimination of teams since NCAA governance model changes brought about "autonomy" for the Power 5 conferences is a growing focus for many athletic administrators. will be maintaining a running summary of the lost opportunities for student athletes.  Those losses to date include - 
  1. UAB drops football, bowling and rifle - Dec 3, 2014 
  2. UNC Wilmington drops four track and cross country teams - December 8, 2014.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Athletic Budget Update #56

In 2009 a primary area for my writing was athletic budget cuts, driven in large part by the significant economic downturn that occurred in 2008.  As the economy improved and television money and conference realignment took hold, these issues became less prominent and seemed to disappear.

Unfortunately they may be returning and are at the forefront of the minds of many athletic administrators.  These concerns are driven largely by changes in the NCAA governance structure that have institutions anticipating millions of dollars in previously impermissible new expenses being planned by schools in the "Power 5".  Virtually unlimited meals, cost of attendance stipends, multiple year scholarships and a host of other expenses are poised to become "permissible" in early 2015. Further, a deregulated rules compliance landscape is providing institutions more latitude in their decision making than ever and in many cases light penalties are expected in areas with student athlete welfare implications.

A huge wake up call on the economic front is the decision by the University of Alabama Birmingham to drop three sports - football, bowling and rifle.  Obviously football is the most stunning sport to be dropped and is the first major college football program to be dropped since Pacific did so in 1995.  Further, UAB must spend millions to drop the program due to penalties they will owe to a number of institutions for failure to fulfill contracts for future contests.

As additional budget information emerges across the country, you an anticipate will share the news and commentary.  If you are interested in a reminder of what the landscape was like five years ago, here are my 55 previous posts.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

NCAA governance, autonomy and Star Wars

College athletics is awaiting the expiration of the 60 day override period that will formalize NCAA “autonomy” (a euphemism for nearly total control) for 65 schools (out of more than 350) under a new governance model.  

The NCAA’s governance structure is being changed to assuage media and legal perceptions of unfair treatment of athletes in two sports – football and basketball – and under threat that approximately 20% of the schools (those in the ACC, Big 10, Big 12, Pac 12 and SEC) might break away from the other 285 schools in Division I and form their own athletic enterprise.  

This course has been charted by the five conferences mentioned earlier and the NCAA to maximize revenue generation through conference realignment, expanded broadcast rights, new television networks and ever growing corporate sponsorship.  But their enhanced economic strength has created extensive perceptions of inequity and a legal mine field.  As I've indicated in previous writing, I believe these institutions should be able to spend their resources as they wish and need dexterity to navigate the legal landscape, but the splintering of college athletics is rapidly approaching and also believe autonomy will be a major contributor to the breakup.       

There is a sense of resignation among those that believe the NCAA’s restructuring is the wrong direction for college sports. Unfortunately, a sustained public relations campaign about the compelling rationale for more discussion has been elusive.  Simultaneously there is impatience from those who have driven the autonomy agenda to expedite the process.  The alignment of agendas and messaging in support of autonomy while ignoring contrarian views has been politically masterful and well orchestrated.  Indeed, it is hard not to be resigned or impatient (depending on your perspective) when the NCAA’s official documents outlining governance changes indicate that plans for the January 2015 NCAA Convention, should include “a celebratory kickoff event” hosted by the Board and Steering committees (see page 43 of the linked document). 

Indeed the entire scenario is one where life imitates art in two short video clips from the movie “Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith.”

In this 90 second video clip from the movie, the Emperor makes his case that “in order to insure security and continuing stability, the republic will be reorganized......for a safe and secure society!”  As the emperor makes his speech, all of those that stand in the way of total domination and changing governance are slain.  

And after the Emperor’s speech, one of the disenfranchised senators perfectly summarizes the power grab in one sentence.

As the party unfolds in Washington DC in January at the NCAA convention, I’m sure the applause will be thunderous.  T-shirts for the celebration are available here.  

For those who aren't yet ready to celebrate the new world order, October 6 is the last day for institutions to cast an override vote, extend the discussion and work towards a more equitable, rationale and fair governance structure than what is currently on the table.