Sunday, June 28, 2009

Athletic budget update #36 - Oklahoma athletics providing signifcant support to academic budget

Oklahoma's athletic department announced that it is going to increase its annual payment to the academic side of the house to $7 million for the coming year. This is a 75% increase over the previous year.

Central Florida has increased their athletic fee by $0.58 per credit hour. While this may not seem like much, the total revenue increase for the department will be more than $500,000, moving from $15.7 million to $16.2 million in fees. UCF has also signed new media rights contract with ISP that will bring in an additional $360,000.

Florida International has eliminated their cheer leading team as part of a 6% budget reduction and in an effort to find more than a $1 million in savings. More cuts, including layoffs, will be announced in the coming weeks. This follows an earlier decision to eliminate the marching band.

Cal Riverside, initially facing a $200,000 budget reduction, is now anticipating an even greater reduction following the state of California's decision to reduce UCR's funding by an additional $21 million to $40 million. UCR's athletic budget is currently $8.7 million.

The Houston Chronicle has a detailed article about cuts that are happening at Rice, Texas, Texas A&M, and Houston. A&M is reducing energy costs by adjusting air conditioning in some buildings and also eliminated free soft drinks for staff (as has Texas). Texas is also reducing their use of printers to save on ink and has asked employees to park in less expensive parking at the airport. Meanwhile, Rice has reduced team budgets by 10% across the board and eliminated media guides and Houston has reduced their budget for next year by approximately $1 million.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Athletic budget update #35 - Plus and Minus

Central Florida announced significant budget cuts due to a 20% reduction in fundraising and a 4% reduction in football related revenues. The cuts include the elimination of six staff positions, elimination of professional development travel, reduction of employee benefits, expanded travel boundaries from three to four hours before permitting air travel, reduced travel squads in football and men's and women's soccer, and possible media guide reductions.

The WAC announced significant conference wide cuts to improve their budget situation. The cuts include reducing the size of their post season tournament fields in all sports including men's and women's basketball; freezing all officiating fees; the conference operating budget will be reduced by more than five percent by moving several printed media guides and other materials online, eliminating basketball media day, changing the location of several conference meetings and using more teleconferences, eliminating a intern position and providing no salary or benefit increases for conference office staff.

Florida International is eliminating their marching band and will be looking to high school bands to fill the void.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

AVCA responds to sand volleyball petition

Last week, wrote about the Big XII Conference's campaign to seek an override vote at the NCAA convention regarding the establishment of sand volleyball as an emerging sport for women. The NCAA has now received enough petitions for such a vote.

After the initial post and the successful petition, Kathy DeBoer, Executive Director of the America Volleyball Coaches Association contacted asking for an opportunity to present a case in favor of the sport. I have agreed to let her use this forum to present the Association's view.

From Kathy DeBoer, American Volleyball Coaches Association:

Sand Volleyball as an Emerging Sport

An Answer to the Override Request

There are several ways in which Sand Volleyball is unlike any other sport that has been put on the Emerging Sports List for Women. The first is simply the popularity of the sport. No other emerging sport has had the amount of television exposure, professional opportunities or marketplace presence. The second is the either real or perceived impact that popularity will have on Indoor Volleyball, a sport currently sponsored by 96% of NCAA Division I institutions.

The override request that is being circulated by the Big 12 makes several references to the popularity of Sand Volleyball among both current and prospective student-athletes. That document cites that popularity as the reason to support overriding the decision to add the sport to the Emerging Sports List. We respectfully argue that this popularity is the very reason to find legislative solutions to enable those institutions desiring to add Sand Volleyball to be able to do so, without giving them a competitive advantage in the recruitment of indoor volleyball players.

Clearly, institutions that are at proportionality do not want to be “pressured” into adding more women’s sports than they “need for equity purposes.” These schools will have little reason to add Sand Volleyball or any other emerging sport for that matter. For this reason caveats were put into the legislative recommendations that will prevent their peers from stockpiling indoor talent under the guise of sponsoring a sand team. If that protection does not go far enough, then let’s strengthen it rather than block participation opportunities at other schools.

For many institutions, Sand Volleyball provides an affordable new sport. The Financial Aid Cabinets’ recommendation of six equivalency scholarships and the caveat that aid recipients in Sand Volleyball become counters if they play on the indoor team, allow for the addition of up to fourteen aided roster spots.

The override proposal states that only schools with large budgets or west coast locations will be able to afford this sport. Clearly this was not the consensus in April. Of the twenty-three (23) conferences that voted to support Sand Volleyball’s addition to the list, twenty (20) are mid-majors and only three (3) are located on the west coast. Rather than making the rich richer, Sand Volleyball is more likely to give opportunities for national competitiveness to institutions that would never attain notoriety in the indoor game.

Certainly there are unknowns as to the impact of Sand Volleyball, an emerging sport, on Indoor Volleyball, an established sport. Recognizing this, the Committee on Women’s Athletics wisely set an implementation date of August of 2010 so institutions could deliberate as to the best way to contend with and mitigate these impacts. Further, when CWA made their recommendation in the summer of 2008, few in intercollegiate athletics anticipated the severity of the economic downturn and the subsequent effect on departmental finances. If more time is needed, then let us seek that time rather than impulsively attempt to eliminate an opportunity for women which has both merit and marketability.

Following are some of the reasons, in numbers, that Sand Volleyball was put on the Emerging Sports List for Women in July of 2008:

1. According to a Sporting Good Manufacturers Association report published in 2007, 218,184 females under the age of 18 play sand volleyball. 63% do not play indoor volleyball. Of that Sand-only group, 32,654 identify themselves as frequent participants. This is higher that the high school playing population of Equestrian (1,341), Crew (2,685), Ice Hockey (7,350), Badminton (10,888), Water Polo (17,791), and Bowling (20,931). All of these sports except Badminton are either currently on the Emerging Sports List or have since graduated to full fledged NCAA-sponsored championships.

2. If just 10% of institutions that currently sponsor an indoor team add a sand volleyball team, and each adds only 5 new participants, Sand Volleyball will eclipse 8 women’s sports currently tracked by the NCAA. If 30% add 5 new sand volleyball student-athletes, the sport will move into the top 50% in participation opportunities among all NCAA sports for women. These numbers do not include the addition of sand programs at schools that currently do not sponsor an indoor team or the double counting of cross-over student-athletes.

3. There have been professional opportunities for women in beach volleyball in the United States for over twenty years, more than any other women’s sports except golf and tennis. In a February 2009 Turnkey Sports poll reported in Sports Business Journal, women’s professional volleyball was listed as having “the biggest growth potential in the next five years” of any women’s sport including golf and tennis.

4. Beach Volleyball has been an Olympic Sport since 1996. Since introduction in Atlanta, the sport has increased in popularity with each Olympic cycle. In the 2008 Beijing Games, beach volleyball was the fourth most popular spectator sport and garnered the second highest television rating of any Olympic sport worldwide.

Thank you for supporting the addition of Sand Volleyball to the Emerging Sports List for women. Please work with us to find the right legislative mix that will allow this sport to flourish while protecting the competitive equity of the indoor game.

Proposals for the management of Sand Volleyball are currently coming out of the various cabinets. Institutions and conferences have until July 15 to add amendments and/or variations for consideration in the 2009 legislative cycle. Bailing out on a popular women’s sport is not the answer. Please contact the American Volleyball Coaches Association with your suggestions, concerns and feedback.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Athletic budget cut update #34

A number of west coast institutions have adopted a variety of methods to close their budget shortfalls.
  • Boise State is using some creative methods close a $750,000 budget gap. In addition to laying off three staff members, the football program has also eliminated two interns, land line phones have been eliminated for the gymnastics program, and printed media guides have been eliminated with some exceptions for football and basketball, saving $25,000.

  • Idaho has reduced their support staff by leaving open vacant positions. Also, all one way travel less than 400 miles will be via bus.

  • Idaho State is eliminating media guides, reduced a basketball coaching position to graduate assistant status and is eliminating printed media guides.

  • Nevada may face the loss of $1 million on its $18.7 million budget.

San Jose State has moved a scheduled contest with Stanford to 2014 and will replace them on the schedule with a road game at Alabama that will pay $1 million, nearly five times more than the guarantee Stanford was paying.

Iowa State is facing a $500,000 budget cut. Some savings have already been identified by eliminating a trip for the men's basketball team to Germany ($150,000), eliminating a chartered flight to Missouri for football ($50,000) and eliminating the football media guide ($100,000).

Florida State athletic director Randy Spetman is "pleading" with fans to support the football team with season ticket sales down nearly 12% and the team only hosting 6 home games in 2009. The current pace of sales would mean $1.5 million in lost revenue.

Southern University has agreed to move their home football game against Jackson State to Jackson, Mississippi because of the ability to sell up to an additional 32,000 tickets. "You can't measure (home field advantage)...But you can measure cheeks in seats" said athletic director Greg LaFleur about the decision to move the game out of his own facility.

Arkansas State is eliminating most printed media guides, saving $35,000.

Kentucky's Athletic Association is giving $500,000 to the University's general fund for scholarship support.

In Division I hockey, has heard that both Hockey East and the WCHA are eliminating printed media guides.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

NCAA Sand Volleyball - Don't break out the sunscreen yet

Last month, the NCAA designated sand volleyball an emerging sport for women, making it permissible for institutions to use the sport for Division I team sponsorship and financial aid minimum requirements. However, what was initially viewed as a new participation opportunity for women that could assist institutions with Title IX compliance is now being questioned and potentially subject to an override vote at the NCAA convention.

Iowa State Senior Associate Athletic Director Calli Sanders is circulating a very well developed position paper, encouraging institutions to pursue an override vote at the upcoming NCAA Convention in January. Her rationale for the override vote is primarily motivated by both budgetary and competitive equity concerns.

While intended to increase competitive opportunities for female athletes, at many institutions, adding the sport may not provide meaningful additional participation because the participants will likely be individuals who are already members of the indoor volleyball team and will now be recruited for both sports.

From a competitive equity standpoint, institutions with large budgets and/or warm weather locations will have a greater interest in adding the sport. This in turn may turn a nationally competitive indoor sport into a regionally strong sport (similar to baseball or ice hockey) because the most talented athletes will prefer schools that sponsor sand volleyball with nearly year-round competitive opportunities from sponsoring both sports. Further, the sand season may not conclude until July.

Financially, institutions may be pressured to show increased commitment to their indoor programs and add sand volleyball in order to maintain indoor competitiveness - adding expense without meaningful additional competitive opportunities. However, some institutions that are adding the sport to help meet NCAA minimum sport sponsorship and financial aid requirements may potentially view sand volleyball favorably because some expenses for the sand team (e.g. coaching staffs) can be shared with the indoor team, which would be less expensive than sponsoring a dissimilar sport (e.g. field hockey, soccer, etc.).

Institutions should examine the issue closely to determine what is best for their own particular situation and contact their conference office to submit an override request or express support for the sport before the June 29 deadline.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Omaha on my mind

The College World Series - one of the great events in all of sports - starts today. Part county fair and part Final Four, it is a unique environment. Big-time but approachable (the teams enter through the same gate as the fans - imagine that occurring at a Final Four). Intense but ponderous. Unpredictable, but like the 1993 movie "Groundhog Day" starring Bill Murray, much is the same year after year in the friendly confines of Johnny Rosenblatt Stadium, named after the former Omaha Mayor who served from 1954-61.

But the familiarity so many have grown accustomed to is going to disappear. The 2011 College World Series will be held in a new $130 million stadium in downtown Omaha, Nebraska. If this were the 1960's they might name it Fahey Field (after current Omaha Mayor Mike Fahey who pushed the construction of the new stadium) or even more appropriately Poppe Park after Dennis Poppe, a more than 30 year veteran of the NCAA, who has helped build the College World Series into an amazing event. Instead the games will be played at TD Ameritrade Park.

Progress can be a strange thing. This is the first time in five years I won't be in Omaha as my tenure on the NCAA Baseball committee has ended. But I continue to tell anyone and everyone who will listen that if they like college baseball or want to see one of the great sporting events in their lifetime, they must go to the College World Series. It is an event beyond compare. Remarkably consistent homespun excellence is its hallmark, in part because of the amazingly friendly, supportive and hospitable people of Omaha, in particular Jack Diesing Jr. (perhaps the park should have been Diesing Diamond), Kathryn Morrissey, Herb Hames and a host of others.

The College World Series is evolving and changing quickly. Just two years ago there was all kinds of controversy about blogging during College World Series games. Today such a discussion would seem almost silly. Even NCAA Baseball Committee Member and Louisiana-Monroe Athletic Director Bobby Staub is getting in on the blogging by Twittering from the games.

That pace of change will quicken for the College World Series. I'm sure the new stadium in Omaha will be beautiful - clean, shiny, and spacious. I'm looking forward to seeing it. But to really appreciate the new, you have to experience Rosenblatt Stadium - quirky tri-colored red, yellow and blue seating - hearing a vintage 1935 Hammond Organ - fans cheering the ballgirls when they catch a foul ball rolling off the screen behind home plate - amazing sunsets - Zestos milkshakes.

The baseball will remain high quality in TDA Park. And while the whole experience is ultimately about determining the NCAA Baseball champion, Rosenblatt Stadium is a shrine set on a hill. And its time is running out.

At most there are only 22 days and 34 games of college baseball left in Rosenblatt Stadium's history. Make the trip to Rosenblatt this year if you can. If you can't go this year, mark your calendar for June 19-30, 2010 and go next year. You won't regret it. Fifty years from now, will fans think of TDA Park the way many consider Rosenblatt Stadium today? That answer is TBD. But you can't force history or manufacture nostalgia. Progress can be a funny thing. Take advantage of the present while you can.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Athletic budget cut update #33

The Pac-10 is proposing NCAA legislation in a number of sports in an effort to drive cost containment. Proposed changes include - counting competition in the non-championship segment in the sports of cross country, volleyball, field hockey, women's lacrosse, softball and soccer against the maximum number of permissible contests in the championship segment; eliminating printed media guides or other recruiting brochures; eliminating conference and institutional foreign travel and eliminating the regional championships in track and field. The conference is also independently reducing the travel squad sizes for conference championships and eliminating gifts for student athletes at the championships, saving approximately $1million.

The Mid-American Conference is changing its men's and women's basketball tournament format for the next two years, creating a structure where only 8 teams will advance to the championships in Cleveland. In addition, the conference is eliminating printed media guides, eliminating men's and women's basketball lunches and eliminating gifts for student athletes at all 23 Conference championships.

Hawaii's interest in establishing a student fee to support athletics does not appear to have enough political support at this time and will delay its possible implementation.

Stony Brook (NY) is facing a $1.2 million cut to its $20 million athletic budget and the simultaneous challenge of increasing its scholarship allocation by 126 slots to offer scholarship football (63 grants) and 63 women's grants for Title IX purposes. Stony Brook is also eliminating a charter flight to VMI (saving $40,000) and considering delaying groundbreaking on a $20 million arena.

UC Riverside is considering moving from plane travel to bus and van travel for some trips, eliminating some hotel stays and reducing staff travel in order to help close the gap of a 10% budget reduction ($870,000). as well as NACDA Executive Director Mike Cleary are also quoted in the article.

ESPN's Pat Forde has an in-depth article about the decline of on-field competition between traditional football powers and the role of home games in enhancing athletic budgets for the major football powers that contributes to the decline.

Moody's Investor Services has just released a study in which it indicates that the worst is yet to come for higher education budgets. Moody's issued a negative rating for 55 institutions and downgraded the rating of another 20 schools in the report. has an article that discusses the decision by Rutgers to cut six sports three years ago while simultaneously sending their men's basketball team to Spain. Although one has to wonder about the motivation of bringing up three year old "news", it does present a cautionary tale in these difficult budgetary times about the challenge of cutting in some areas while appearing to spend extravagantly in other areas.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Athletic budget update #32 - The SEC likes to share

The Southeastern Conference is distributing $132 million dollars across the 12 member schools as part of its annual revenue sharing arrangement. The $11 million per school is derived primarily from "...$52 million from football television, $25.4 million from bowls, $14.3 million from the SEC championship game, $13.6 million from basketball television, $4.1 million from the men's basketball tournament and $23.1 million from NCAA championships." Commissioner Mike Slive indicated that next year's payment is expected to be more "robust" when the conference's 15 year agreement with ESPN ($2.25billion) and CBS Sports ($800 million) begins.

Wisconsin is trying to determine how to implement 16 furlough days over the next two years, cuts that will amount to a 3% salary reduction.

Wyoming is going to have its budget reduced by $600,000 over the next 2 years The 5% reduction caused the elimination of four staff positions and the dance team as part of the savings.

East Tennessee State is looking to an athletic fee to help fill their budget gap. The $25 per semester increase is intended to help close a $300,000 budget gap from the 2008-09 academic year.

The Los Angeles Times has an in depth article about the impact that the Governor's proposed budget will have on athletics in the community college system. The 2 year schools, which have provided countless student athletes to four-year institutions over the years, are facing a 40% reduction in funding for physical education ($120 million). Physical education is crucial to the two year athletic programs because many coaches earn a significant portion of their compensation by teaching physical education.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Athletic budget cut update #31 - Conference USA making major cuts

Conference USA has announced significant cuts including: reducing the size of team travel parties, including football (66); modifying baseball and women's soccer schedules to reduce days of travel; potentially moving to divisional play in men's and women's basketball while combining the men's and women's basketball tournaments in 2010 in Tulsa; reducing the number of teams participating in post season championships in women's soccer (6), baseball (6), men's soccer (4), softball (8), and volleyball (8). Volleyball might also have their championship eliminated in 2010. The Conference office is also reducing the operating budget and instituting a hiring freeze.

Oregon State Athletic Director Bob DeCarolis announced a number of ominous details related to the athletic budget. Fundraising is down my $1 million from the previous year with a net loss of 600 donors and 12% of football season tickets were not renewed (1,200 seats).

Washington State has revised their anticipated budget shortfall to $350,000 for each of the next two years. Although no teams will be cut this year, athletic director Jim Sterk stopped short of saying no teams would be eliminated in 2010-11. The article also indicates that the Pac 10 is investigating conference revenue sharing.

Tulane Executive Associate Athletic Director Brandon Macneill detailed a number of cuts that will be implemented for the Green Wave including: a salary and hiring freeze on most non-coaching positions, consistent with University policy; delaying until 2011-12 the addition of sports that will allow them to have the NCAA minimum sponsorship level of 16 while considering sand volleyball as a possible sport offering; reducing the department travel budget by 25% by mandating bus travel for all games that are less than 400 miles from campus and increasing regional and local competition.

Central Florida Athletic Director Keith Tribble is meeting with all coaches to conduct line-by-line reviews of the athletic budget. Regional contest scheduling will be part of the reductions as well as establishing a 500 mile minimum before air travel is permitted for teams. UCF is also examining squad sizes, limiting the number of competitions, furloughs, and more in state football scheduling.

The Charleston Daily Mail has a detailed article that compares the athletic financial situation at Marshall to the rest of Conference USA and the challenges that Marshall's new athletic director (they are searching for one now) will face.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Athletic budget update #30 - SMU cuts ten positions

We've got a big list of budgetary details and other interesting news, so lets get right after it......

SMU eliminated 10 positions from their Athletic Department including their Associate Athletic Director for Sales and Marketing and their Senior Women's Administrator.

Learfield Sports has agreed to guarantee more than $26 million to Boise State in exchange for their media and sponsorship rights.

Big Sky Conference basketball coaches have gone public with their dissatisfaction over the decision to have teams play on back to back nights during conference play - citing diminished quality of play and safety concerns as the primary issues.

Roosevelt University in Chicago is adding an entire intercollegiate athletic program, two decades after a decision was made to close the department. They intend to start 12 teams over the next five years.

The New York Times wrote a summary article about students that have rejected fee increases to support athletics (all of which were previously covered by . They also have an article about the large number of graduates from sports management programs and the absence of jobs when they finish their degrees.

The has an interesting article about football guarantee games that are being negotiated in Louisiana that will help the financial situations of some smaller state schools while simultaneously saving LSU significant money. The article lists specific guarantee figures for about ten games. The article also looks at whether the same should occur in the state of Arkansas. is reporting the Florida President Bernard Machen is pushing to make Urban Meyer the highest paid football coach in the SEC . Florida will have cut more than $110 million over three years when the latest $42 million cut is enacted. "Especially in a dynamic business like athletics, you invest a lot of resources and time in something," Machen said, according to the [Orlando Sentinal]. "It may not pay off for three or four or five years, but if you stop, then it's just going to slow you down."

The NCAA's men's basketball issues committee is examining scouting services that charge fees and have ties to club teams for potential impropriety.

The United States Congressional Budget Office has issued a paper "Tax Preferences for College Sports".

Finally, if you're like me and wish you could find a newspaper style sports page in a quality on-line format, I encourage you to check out Its a perfect mix of scores, facts and feature articles with great photos and opinion pieces. It offers good coverage of college sports and best of all, a daily subscription delivered to your email is free (just like in case you haven't signed up yet). You won't be disappointed by either.