Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Athletics budget update #70

The Washington Post with a lengthy article about college athletics facility spending.  Clemson is looking to re-set the arms race bar with miniature golf, bowling lanes and laser tag for student athletes.  Some very noteworthy comments, including:
  • Graham Neff, Deputy AD at Clemson - "For the incremental cost of pouring concrete [for mini golf holes], we feel there is going to be big ROI [return on investment] for it being new and unique to Clemson." 
  • From a University of Colorado Regent on their $156 million football facility - "By the time we're done...we'll be right back behind them all again."  "It's a never ending arms race to build shiny objects that appeal to 17-year-olds, so they'll pick us instead of someone else."
  • From Joel Leider, the VP of SportsPLAN regarding why college facilities are nicer than some professional complexes - "When you pay a player, that changes the equation." and "It's hard to even recognize college athletics anymore."
Western Illinois announced it is cutting men's tennis at the conclusion of the spring season.  This is the 10th men's tennis program dropped in the past 18 months.

The Washington Post reviews the rise in severance pay for coaches who have been let go from their program.

Huffington Post with a survey of faculty regarding athletic budgets indicating that a majority of respondents are satisfied with their institution's financial commitment to college athletic programs.

Take a walk back in history and read this story about the Wichita State athletics budget in 1986. Different names and smaller amounts, but similar themes are still being discussed across the country 30 years later - television, student fees, cutting sports, how to pay the bills and winning as the primary solution.

A very Merry Christmas to you, your family and friends.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

The front porch: Home buying and coach hiring

Recent coaching changes in high profile football programs, in some cases involving coaches with major career success, resulted in significant movement that will ultimately shape each team and athletic department for years to come.  The popular cliche' regarding college athletic departments is that they are the front porch of their university, and there is no more important feature on the front porch than the football program. Football is the front door - it needs to be inviting, secure, function well and complement the house or it is going to detract from the porch and by extension, the rest of the property.

In real estate, the number one rule is location, location, location.  Having recently relocated to State College, Pennsylvania, our family went through the process of searching for and ultimately buying a home.  And there were numerous parallels between purchasing a home and hiring a head coach that emerged, including -

  • You need to learn the neighborhood quickly and understand the market.  If you've lived in an area for a while you may have a good idea of homes that could entice you to move. Likewise, if you are an AD who has been attuned to the coaching market, you likely have a short list.  But if you are an AD from outside the industry, you are going to need a crash course about the coaching marketplace. 
  • Most people use an agent.  Whether a first-time or multiple-time home buyer, the market is set up for agent involvement.  Coaching searches are similar. Few AD's and almost no coaches decide to go it alone anymore, opting instead to engage professional help through search firms and agents.  Search firms know the market - who is interested in moving, as well as the financial and contractual situations of potential candidates.  And agents know what a reasonable contract is relative to the marketplace and can serve as an adviser to the coach.  
  • You can learn a lot on the internet.  Pictures, descriptions, dimensions, and location of your future home can help in screening.  But what about the coaching search?  Consider the recent search at Rutgers, undertaken by first-week AD Pat Hobbs.  By all accounts, the hire of Chris Ash from Ohio State is logical, plausible, and wins the press conference.  He comes with a good coaching pedigree.  But this after-hire analysis by the Asbury Park Press about what was going on behind the scenes shows just how common internet research and YouTube watching are.   
  • Cosmetics matter. Fresh paint, cleaning, de-cluttering, and staging all go into the home sale. Every coach candidate emphasizes their strengths and minimizes weaknesses in their presentation.  AD's are doing the same thing in selling the job opportunity.  Everyone puts forward their best impressions.   But the key is to figure out if the house has "good bones" - is it solid, dependable, no major mechanical issues (needing a new roof or furnace) that are going to cost you big money in the near future?  Envisioning what the house (and the hire) will look like 3 years after decision has been made is the real trick.  Unfortunately there are no guarantees.  
  • Turn-key or Fixer-Upper?  Some homes are move in ready and others require months of house projects.  Some houses are owner occupied while others are acquired in order to "flip" it - that is sell to someone else, with the hope of quick profit.  The same holds true with coaching jobs.  Is the opening move-in ready or in need of some work?  Is it a dream job or a quick hitter where success is possible but unlikely to develop a strong culture from stable long-term leadership.
  • Finances matter.  You're unlikely to make a more important financial decision than purchasing a home.  The same with hiring a head coach in a marquee sport. You need to know what you can afford.  How big is the contract going to be?  And for how long?  How much money do you plan to put down?  Taxes and insurance add to the bottom line of a house, just like salary pools for assistant coaches, perks such as country club memberships and vehicles, buyout clauses and possible bonus payments.  Understanding what you are able to spend, would like to spend and are willing to spend are three different things that can help avoid wasting time pursing the wrong candidates.  
  • There are lots of inspections to perform before buying.  A whole house inspection, radon, termites, title searches and other checks are common in a home purchase.  Coaching searches involve inspections too.  On- and off-list references, educational and criminal background checks, interviews, social and traditional media information will provide a good picture of who you are hiring.  But inspections won't find everything and while everyone does their due diligence, the coach is, for the most part, as is.   
  • There will be unexpected findings after you close the deal.  Some will be pleasant, some less so.  Strangely located light switches, outdated fixtures or a faded carpet can be more obvious after you move in than they were when you walked through.  Maybe some of the furniture from your prior home doesn't fit in your new place.  Your new head coach is going to find numerous things about your program that don't align with his view of the future and will need to be changed.  Images, catch-phrases, photos and furniture all need replacement to send the message that there is new leadership and to redefine what it now means to "Play (insert the name of your school here) Football." Hopefully the demands for change from your new coach can be accommodated with limited difficulty. 
  • Don't delay.  Once you've found the right home, acting quickly and getting an agreement in place is crucial or you may lose the home to a higher or quicker bidder.  Hiring requires speed as well.  Great coaches are in limited supply.  Unlike a home, you can't just build another one. Delay and your dream coach may be stolen out from underneath you.   
The right house hits you when you see it.  There is a feel of comfort, future happiness and endless possibilities.  Finding the right coach can be the same - comfort between the President, AD and new coach, all in alignment, can create endless possibilities for future success and a great front porch with curb appeal for your institution.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Athletics budget update #69

Montana Athletics will be facing significant budget cuts amidst a University plan to eliminate 201 positions across the institution.  The number of athletics positions impacted is not yet known.

Men's soccer is being reinstated at Ashland University in Fall 2016.  The sport was dropped prior to the 2013 season and a rationale for reversing the decision was not provided, but enhancing undergraduate enrollment seems a likely possibility.

Southern Illinois continues to take various approaches including a 10 point fund raising plan in response to a 10% budget reduction.  And numerous institutions in the Illinois State System have seen their credit ratings downgraded to "negative" status.  Views that one of the institutions may ultimately close are expressed in the article.

Four Division I tennis teams are being dropped.  Hartford is dropping both programs and adding women's lacrosse.  UMBC is also dropping both teams.   The loss of these teams increases the number of tennis programs dropped in the past 18 months to nine.   In addition, the loss of these two men's programs puts the Missouri Valley Conference's automatic qualifying bid to the NCAA tournament in jeopardy once again.  The MVC and America East joined forces for the 2014-15 to maintain the NCAA required minimum six teams to receive an automatic bid to the NCAA Championship.  The MVC will be left with five members (4 in all sports and 1 affiliate) after this season and the viability of the remaining MVC men's tennis programs will be further challenged.

Nicholls State plans to close its athletic training program amidst a difficult budget environment in Louisiana.

Wisconsin Oshkosh men's soccer, which will be eliminated after this season, reached the NCAA Division III tournament as an at-large selection.

And one non-budgetary item - Check out The Tao of Sports' recent podcast with Dynamic Sports Marketing President and Former Stony Brook AD Jim Fiore. Very insightful and interesting.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Tao of Sports Podcast

The latest Tao of Sports podcast is with UltimateSportsInsider.com .  The podcast covers a wide range of topics - new business development, branding, daily fantasy sports, my transition to a new position at Penn State and where the NCAA is heading in the future.  You can listen to the podcast via the web or download it for free and listen on Itunes.

If you aren't familiar with the Tao of Sports website, I encourage you to check it out.  It contains hundreds of information filled podcasts from across the sports spectrum.  This is a truly an amazing gem in the podcast landscape and is a very worthwhile investment of your time.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Daily Fantasy Sports and Intercollegiate Athletics - Part 4 - What does the future hold?

The explosion of Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS), fueled by industry leaders DraftKings and FanDuel, has become a hot topic within intercollegiate athletic circles prompting significant questions and areas of debate.  The first three parts of this series examined whether or not DFS is gambling, whether daily fantasy sports erodes the integrity of college sports, and whether DFS is a solution to athletic budget concerns and a way to enhance student interest in college athletics.  The three prior articles lead to my predictions about the future relationship between Daily Fantasy Sports and intercollegiate athletics.

Like many decisions that Directors of Athletics have to make, this one is loaded with positives, negatives, ethical and financial dilemmas, and unintended consequences.  In the ideal situation, I believe the preference of nearly all athletic administrators would would be to keep Daily Fantasy Sports at arms length from college sports, and to maintain a moral high ground.  But the fulcrum balancing the benefits and concerns of DFS will be set in a manner that best addresses the greatest pressure on each college campus.  Budget, fan attendance, legality, NCAA rules, morality, presidential influence, donor demands, media scrutiny and slippery slope concerns are all pressure points.  My predictions for the future of this enterprise include:

Insider trading activities will have the media and congress and the FBI pursuing DFS like a junk yard dog. 

- Daily Fantasy Sports will become heavily scrutinized in the short term and regulated in the long term, and the activity will cease to be "self-regulated."

- DFS will continue to be legal because too many powerful and moneyed interests (NFL, NHL, NBA ESPN, etc.) will lobby to keep the enterprise legal.

- The economic incentive to retain the jobs created by DFS and potential tax revenue will outweigh concerns over appearances of legalized gambling.

- The number of Daily Fantasy Sports participants will grow, despite substantial evidence that the vast majority of participants lose and have the deck stacked against them by very sophisticated computer based algorithms.

- The NCAA will retain its prohibition against participating in the activity for money, regardless of how regulated or legally permissible the activity is.

- Student athletes will forfeit eligibility for participating in DFS.

- Student and adult sport fans will increasingly gravitate towards participatory activities - the rise of video gaming and ability to sell out video gaming championships is a prime example. 

Ultimately, I anticipate that Daily Fantasy Sports will remain a significant presence in the consciousness of sports fans, and as a result college athletics will perform a balancing act that allows grudging acceptance of Daily Fantasy Sports at a level below what is seen in professional sports.  

There is ample precedent in college athletics and higher education where opportunities that are morally or legally dubious have been adopted to respond to pressures facing those in leadership positions. 

The most obvious example involves alcohol.  Despite well known concerns about binge drinking and underage alcohol consumption, alcohol is nearly ubiquitous around sports in two primary ways - television and radio advertising (which gives arms length separation from campuses) and through direct sponsorship accepted under the guise of responsible alcohol use and supporting drinking age laws.  In addition, the acceptability of alcohol at college sporting events is growing.  More and more schools are selling alcohol in venue.  This shift is brought about by revenue needs, the desire for enhanced game attendance and by thoughtful recognition that in venue alcohol availability may discourage binge drinking prior to games. 

Similarly, as societal attitudes regarding drug use have changed - particularly the legalization of marijuana - college athletics has adapted.  NCAA penalties regarding a positive test for the use marijuana have been cut in half and the NCAA Competitive Safeguards and Medical Aspects of Sport Committee is considering further adjustments to completely remove both marijuana and heroin from the NCAA "banned" drug list

On the gambling front, the Mountain West Conference has proposed legislation to eliminate the ban on hosting NCAA championships in states where sports wagering is legal. 

A college athletic department is typically a microcosm of its supporting University.  If you want to find a well run athletic program, its hard to do so in a poorly run university.  If a campus is suffering with inadequate budgets, the athletic program likely is too.  If a campus has lax standards regarding plagiarism, the athletic department will as well. 

As a microcosm of their sponsoring university, how an athletic program will handle DFS will rest on three issues - attitudes towards gambling, the brand of the institution and budgetary pressures.

Already on many campuses, simulated or low level gambling is accepted with much of the country living in close proximity to a casino.  Google the words "casino night university" and note the lengthy list of schools that utilize real or simulated gambling opportunities as fund raising, student affairs and orientation activities.  One could argue that DFS is among the least troublesome and lowest level forms of legal gambling and the addition of regulation could make the acceptance of this activity more palatable. 

For some institutions, their brand (such as religious affiliation) will make accepting this revenue directly highly unlikely, but these institutions are in the minority.  But what trumps these other two factors is that nearly every institution has revenue needs, so the motivation to accept DFS exists. Based on this analysis, I believe acceptance of Daily Fantasy Sports will slowly grow.  

The NCAA prohibition of gambling is essentially the only barrier to widespread acceptance of DFS in intercollegiate sports.  And as demonstrated above regarding alcohol and drugs, standards around these types of issues are not fixed in perpetuity but rather open to NCAA legislative action and interpretation that can adjust to reflect societal changes.  Barring a change in the law, legalized gambling has arrived and is here to stay - a daily fantasy come true for many people.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Daily Fantasy Sports and Intercollegiate Athletics - Part 3 - A solution to budget and student attendance concerns?

The explosion of Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS), fueled by industry leaders Draft Kings and Fan Duel, has become a hot topic within intercollegiate athletic circles prompting significant questions and areas of debate.  Part one of this series addressed the question, is DFS gambling? And part two answered the question - Does DFS erode the integrity of college sports?  In this article UltimateSportsInsider.com addresses the question "Could Daily Fantasy Sports be a solution to athletic budget concerns and student attendance at games?" 

Higher education and intercollegiate athletics are under tremendous budgetary pressures. State budgets are soft.  College attendance by traditional age students is in decline and demographic trends suggest that this erosion will continue for years.  Further, college is increasingly viewed as a commodity where price can be negotiated and tuition price sensitivity is increasing with greater access to information.  

The search for athletic revenue is intense and two competing Daily Fantasy Sports titans, as well as numerous other companies who want a piece of the action, will spend hundreds of millions of dollars this year to attract new players to the activity or shift the spending by current participants from a competitor company to their own.  In the first week of the 2015 NFL season alone, $27 million was spent on fantasy sports television advertising. Other estimates are that Daily Fantasy Sports spent over $150 million on advertising in the three months leading into the 2015 NFL season.  

By comparison, the rights fee that CBS pays to the NCAA to broadcast the men's basketball championship is $10.8 billion over 14 years, an average of more than $750 million annually.  Annual advertising by Daily Fantasy Sports websites could eclipse this amount, in effect, acting as a second NCAA basketball championship. But the dollar amount alone doesn't make this spending meaningful. What makes it meaningful is the distribution mechanism for those who choose to accept these advertising dollars. 

Rights fees for the NCAA men's basketball tournament are huge, but by the time they make their way to the member campuses, they typically represent a very small fraction of an athletic department's budget.  The reduced impact of these funds happens for a variety of reasons:

  • the funds are paid over six years; 
  • the funds are paid to the conferences where the revenue is then divided across the conference office, tournament participants and then the member schools; 
  • the funds support NCAA operations; 
  • the funds support more than 80 championships and various programs to enhance student athlete welfare.
Although the NCAA isn't accepting Daily Fantasy advertising, conferences and campuses will access these funds directly by permitting the advertising on their own websites and in their multi-media rights agreements and more importantly, conference television rights, providing more direct access to this revenue.  And conferences have started to stake out their positions regarding the appropriateness of accepting DFS advertising.  The SEC has indicated they will not accept DFS revenue.  The Big Ten Network is accepting advertising and the Pac 12 network is currently doing the same as long as it doesn't promote college fantasy sports.  

In the short term, DFS can be a significant revenue generator for any entity that is willing to provide advertising inventory.  

DFS may also address concerns about declining student attendance and interest as well.  The Wall Street Journal noted the negative attendance trend more than two years ago and the concerns continue to exist with institutions continuing to look for creative ways to encourage students to come early and stay to the conclusion of contests.  These creative enhancements include expanded wifi connections, improved high end amenities and an experience that tries to compare to the experience you can have in your own living room.  

But regardless of these improvements, students (and in fact all fans) have numerous instantaneous entertainment options in the palm of their hand via their smartphone.  Students seek social opportunities with friends at every turn.  And they want to actively participate, not spectate.  Athletic administrators need to adapt to these demographic trends and have been searching for ways to do so. One possibility has dropped into our lap. 
"Experiential learning" is a popular concept in higher education.  Daily Fantasy Sports, for right or wrong, is experiential, immediate, impacts the individual directly, is emotional and is very social.  

In a recent Wall Street Journal interview of Oakland Athletics General Manager Billy Beane and Boston Red Sox senior advisor Bill James made the following observation about how sabermetrics have made baseball a better game to watch.

James: We produce information, and information ties the fans to the game. People in a culture with no information about baseball have no interest in baseball. If you give people a little bit of information about baseball, they have a little bit of interest, and if you give them a lot of information about baseball, there’s the potential that they have a lot of interest. 
Beane: It’s a different generation of fan that now has exposure and an interest in why things happen. Give them some rational reason for outcomes. We’re an information-hungry society, and one that is constantly trying to understand. I think there are a group of kids who love it for the numbers and love it for the information.
Fantasy sports is an extension of many people's desire to utilize information, learn and understand, to compete, and immerse themselves further into athletics.  This is a positive development for our fan bases and their future stability.  

Whether college athletic administrators will embrace Daily Fantasy Sports in some manner remains to be seen.  But the discovery of insider trading activities makes accepting DFS even more complicated for those who are open to the concept.  In the next installment in this series, I will analyze the entanglement between DFS and intercollegiate athletics and make some predictions about the future relationship between the two entities.   

What do you think?  Can Daily Fantasy Sports help enhance intercollegiate athletic budgets or improve student attendance?  Share your views in the comments section. 

Next: The future relationship between Daily Fantasy Sports and intercollegiate athletics.  

Monday, October 5, 2015

Daily Fantasy Sports and Intercollegiate Athletics - Part 2 - Does DFS erode the integrity of college sports?

The recent explosion of Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS), fueled by industry leaders DraftKings and FanDuel, has become a hot topic within intercollegiate athletic circles prompting significant questions and areas of debate.  In part one of this series, UltimateSportsInsider examined the question "Is DFS gambling?"  Other topics to be addressed in the series include the effect of DFS on student attendance at events, DFS as a possible solution to athletic department budget concerns and what the future holds regarding DFS and intercollegiate athletics.   

In this installment, UltimateSportsInsider.com addresses the question "Does Daily Fantasy Sports erode the integrity of intercollegiate sports?" 

Student athletes and gambling has been a topic of personal interest since the late 1990's when long-time friend and University of Michigan compliance director Ann Vollano and I teamed up to author a ground-breaking study of student-athlete gambling behaviors.  The concerns that our research revealed in 1999 about the potential for gambling to undermine the integrity of college sports continue to persist 15 years later.   

Since the 1950's, numerous intercollegiate athletes have performed at less than their best or colluded with others to manipulate the outcomes of contests. These situations involve "match fixing" where the participants purposely lose a contest or "point shaving" where one or more participants play to win, but by an amount less than the point spread of a particular contest. There are numerous examples of this manipulation, primarily in the sport of basketball, throughout the past seven decades, including: 

Unfortunately, it seems likely that point shaving and match fixing have occurred in other undiscovered cases over this span of time.  

In order for sports to have value, the outcome has to be unknown and requires the competitor's best attempt to do everything within the rules to win a contest.  And for college sports to have value, not only do the results need to be pure, but the participants need to act within the values of higher education and represent their institution with honor.  

As a stand-alone activity, I do not believe Daily Fantasy Sports erode the integrity of intercollegiate athletics. A student-athlete in the sport of fencing spending $5 on a professional football fantasy team simply does not challenge the legitimacy of either college football or fencing.  

But DFS participants are susceptible to the always prevalent "slippery slope" and it is in this area that the integrity concerns are legitimate.  Just as there are "gateway drugs" - providing entry to other more addictive forms of drug use, there can be "gateway wagering."  Student-athletes don't stumble across point shaving and match fixing opportunities randomly.  These situations develop because the student-athlete (or an official) is seeking a quick payout or is in deep debt to someone who threatens their career over those debts and related gambling activities.

The sums of money that can be wagered and won playing DFS are significant enough to attract criminal activity.  Further, gambling is an addictive activity for some people that we know can lead to financial problems.  People chase losses with larger sums to get out of debt or to get the same rush from the activity that they got at lower amounts.  When the losses get too big, people are open to manipulation.  

While the slippery slope is hypothetical, one look at the earlier list of point shaving scandals makes concern over gambling very real. Attempting to educate about the nuances between permissible and impermissible sports related gambling is nearly impossible across hundreds of thousands of athletes, hence the NCAA's zero tolerance stance regarding sports-related gambling. While Daily Fantasy Sports doesn't in and of itself erode sports integrity, it provides entry into numerous activities that absolutely can erode the integrity of college sports, making their prohibition for student-athletes, officials and staff the proper stance.  

What do you think?  Do Daily Fantasy Sports erode the integrity of college sports?  Share your thoughts in the comments section.  

Next - Could Daily Fantasy Sports effect student attendance or provide a solution to budget concerns?  

Friday, October 2, 2015

Daily Fantasy Sports and Intercollegiate Athletics - Part 1 - Are Daily Fantasy Sports Gambling?

The explosion of Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS), fueled by industry leaders DraftKings and FanDuel, has become a hot topic within intercollegiate athletic circles prompting significant questions and areas of debate.  Is it or isn't it gambling?  Does it erode the integrity of college sports?  Could it effect student attendance at events?  Could DFS be a solution to athletic department budget concerns? What does the future look like regarding the issue? 

This is the first in a series of articles addressing each of these questions.  In this installment, UltimateSportsInsider.com addresses the question "Are Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) gambling?" 

It isn't hard to develop a coherent argument on either side of this topic.  The answer depends on who you want to view as the controlling legal authority.  DFS website Rotogrinders provides a clear and simple overview of the issue from a legal standpoint, based around the 2006 passage of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA).  

The UIEGA specifically carved out an exemption around fantasy sports, albeit at a time when the activity was far less popular and less automated via computer. It was intended to avoid turning stat obsessed "fantasy geeks," college fraternities and sports junkies into criminals.  But the law of unintended consequences is an amazing thing and some entrepreneurial people exploited a loophole to establish a multi-billion dollar industry seemingly overnight.  

The legal language that makes DFS permissible (outlined in the above referenced link) is well thought-out and DFS fits each of the criteria that make it legal in most places.  

The NCAA has quickly taken a position on the matter consistent with its previous stances regarding sports related gambling. The Association unequivocally considers Daily Fantasy Sports to be gambling and has a zero tolerance approach to the activity.  As such, student athletes and athletic department staff members are prohibited from engaging in the activity if they have to pay any type of entry fee to participate and if it involves a sport that the NCAA sponsors.  

So, are Daily Fantasy Sports gambling?  The simple answer is yes, especially when you define it using a more relevant term, "wagering" - simply defined as betting on the outcome of an external event(s) - in this case the aggregated results of a number of external individual performances.  But it is a legal form of wagering in many places due to the UIEGA.  If you are considering engaging in the activity, ask before you act, and check with your NCAA compliance coordinator and/or attorney.  Failure to get proper guidance about what is and isn't permissible is definitely a gamble that can put athletic eligibility or a career at risk. 

What do you think?  Is Daily Fantasy Sports Gambling? Share your thoughts in the comments section. 

Next: Do daily fantasy sports erode the integrity of college sports?

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Athletics budget update #68

Here are some budgetary odds and ends from around college athletics.

The Wall Street Journal reviews consideration by Michigan State about expanding their club sports model and speculates about new competitive models if their experiment is successful - "over time, if the university is able to beef up the profile of its club programs, the idea, of removing sports from the roster of NCAA programs might not be so painful for the players and prospective recruits, particularly if more schools followed suit."  The rationale for the moves and consideration is driven largely by financial concerns.  No comments from student athletes and staff who might be moved to a different model were provided to substantiate the speculation.

UNC Wilmington has achieved a budget surplus amidst on-going concerns that some sports may be at risk of being cut.

UW Oshkosh is dropping its men's soccer program and its student athletes had a unique protest.

Cal State athletic budgets have improved in the past few years, but needs still exist according to an article at dailynews.com.

Eastern Illinois University President David Glassman cut another $320,000 from athletics and changed the Univeristy organizational chart so that the athletics department can now report to him directly rather than student affairs.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Athletic budget update #67

Here is the latest budget news from around intercollegiate athletics:

Knox College (DIII) announced it is dropping its wresting program.

Yeshiva University also dropped their wrestling program.

North Carolina Central (DI) considered dropping its women's bowling team and adding women's golf, a move that was endorsed by its trustees.

Akron dropped their baseball team as part of $60 million in institution-wide cuts.  And then announced it would provide cost of attendance stipends to all athletes, with the total cost similar to the savings from the elimination of baseball.

Here is an in-depth review of the subsidies that are provided to the seven Division I schools in Louisiana.

Philly.com contrasts the celebration from Temple's football victory this past weekend with the emotions of the teams that were cut by the school in 2013.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Are fines further evidence of student athletes as employees?

The recent revelations that Virginia Tech and Cincinnati considered reducing cost of attendance stipends for violations of team or department rules has brought significant media discussion that "fines" are further evidence student athletes are essentially employees.

Ultimate Sports Insider has previously described  the amateur vs. professional debate as a distraction from a more important topic - the education of student athletes.

"Stipend" is the commonly used term  regarding the additional monies student athletes receive.  A stipend is defined as "a fixed and regular payment such as a salary for services rendered or an allowance."  Those who describe student athletes as employees will focus on "services rendered."  Those who view athletics as part of an educational experience will likely consider these payments similar to an "allowance."

Consider the analogy of a parent who provides an allowance to their children. There are many reasons to provide an allowance (stipend): to learn the value of money, to make personal spending decisions, to learn about saving, and/or as payment for work around the house (e.g. mowing the lawn) are some obvious examples.  All of these reasons have educational value and teach different lessons.

Withholding allowance is a common form of discipline (among many options such as grounding, no television, taking away a cell phone, etc.).  If you use allowance as payment for services, failure to do your work means you don't receive your payment, yet no one would suggest that the child is an employee if a parent made such a decision.  Other families might never withhold allowance, or only consider doing so if they believed it was the most appropriate or effective way to improve behavior.

As parents of two boys, my wife's and my personal philosophy is that withholding an allowance is not a form of discipline we have chosen because we have more effective means for discipline and because allowances for our children are not tied to work.  Our boys regularly and freely contribute to the family because all of our gifts are required for our family to be cohesive and successful.  They have a responsibility to help our collective good.

As an athletic administrator, I don't view withholding a stipend as a valuable form of discipline for the same reasons - the stipend isn't tied to work and I believe there are more effective means.  But to completely eliminate the possibility that a student athlete could ever receive a smaller stipend - especially a nominal amount that would have hardly any impact on their financial situation but would help make them have better personal discipline or advance towards graduation and a degree - is no more thoughtful than posting a series of "one-size fits-all" fines on the wall and reducing stipends without any creative thought.

Ask any coach and they will tell you that each student athlete has different personalities and motivations.  Some people are intrinsically motivated and respond to positive reinforcement and some people respond better to disciplinary approaches.  Both types of reinforcement have value when used appropriately.  To ignore this reality is doing student athletes, coaches and administrators a disservice.  Coaches frequently increase financial aid for student athletes who perform well athletically, do the right thing academically and are good teammates.  Take a minute and watch the video of Stanford, walk-on linebacker Craig Jones being awarded a scholarship in front of his entire team.  When is the last time your "employees" reacted to anything the way his teammates did?

Interestingly, no one ever suggested that awarding the previously voluntary efforts of a student athlete was now evidence that he suddenly became an employee - perhaps because it didn't fit a simplistic or predetermined narrative about college athletics.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Ultimate Sports Insider on the move

Ultimate Sports Insider is moving its home base to State College, Pennsylvania.

I've accepted a position at Penn State as Assistant AD for New Business Development effective August 24.

My family and I are very excited about the opportunity to move to such a dynamic community and become part of One Team at Penn State under the leadership of Director of Athletics Sandy Barbour and Deputy Athletic Director Phil Esten.   Here is the complete press release about the move.

Ultimate Sports Insider will continue to publish as topics and opportunities present themselves. In addition, my career guidance and executive coaching practice which accepted a number of new clients in the past few months will be continuing as well.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Survival and the concentrated mind

"When a man knows he is to be hanged in a fortnight, it concentrates his mind wonderfully."

Samuel Johnson's quote (he's got a number of them) seems particularly appropriate in light of some of the significant budgetary challenges facing college athletics and higher education.  UAB football, Sweet Briar College and Cleveland State wrestling all faced down their mortality in the past few months, avoiding being cut or closed.  Each has emerged and will hopefully flourish in the future, serving as great examples of focusing the mind and in the process, staying alive.   

Akron Baseball is now facing the same fate and no doubt other programs will soon have similar challenges to their survival placed in front of them.

The future strength of Sweet Briar, UAB football and Cleveland State wrestling remains to be seen - perhaps they emerge stronger (indeed, "that which doesn't kill us, makes us stronger" - Friedrich Nietzsche, not Kelly Clarkson) - or perhaps these are temporary revivals where the damage from near death cannot produce sustainable rebirth.

The challenge we all face is figuring out how to have the focused mind - and perhaps more importantly, the focused supporters who are willing to contribute their time, talents and treasure to our programs - so that the threats of closing and panicked last minute appeals become unnecessary.  

There are many powerful and motivating emotions in the situations referenced above - love, hate, anger, and regret among them. But indifference provided the initial death sentence, until the perceived loss was so real that emotion emerged again to save the program.

If you were to have an in-depth conversation with your key supporters and ask them, "What would happen if our program didn't exist anymore?", what would they say?  And if you had the same conversation with potential or lapsed supporters who have been sitting on the sideline waiting for the right time to engage, what would they say?

Concentration that produces engagement, motivation and passion without the threat of hanging is a worthwhile challenge that may not seem very urgent.......until it is.  

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Lessons from the Shark Tank

One of the more popular shows on television is Shark Tank.  It is built around the premise of entrepreneurs pitching their product or service to five billionaires who have the opportunity to fund the business in exchange for an equity stake in the company.

In college athletics, we are similarly seeking all kinds of investors to take an equity stake in our teams. There are numerous lessons to take from this show that apply to your team, department and institution.  Five that come to mind include:
  1. You are always on the carpet - Each entrepreneur stands on an ornate rug and pitches their concept to the five investors.  You are doing this every single day at macro and micro levels with season ticket holders, media contacts, donors, recruits and a host of other potential supporters. 
  2. You have to know your product - Each episode, there inevitably seems to be someone who isn't well educated about their own product or doesn't have a clear understanding of the business.  If YOU don't know your own product or aren't passionate about it, how can you expect others to believe in what you are selling?
  3. Simple but creative often works - Some of the best selling items on Shark Tank are remarkably simple, including the #1 seller, a smiling sponge called the Scrub Daddy.  
  4. It's important to move towards closing - As Dan Tudor points out in his recent post about recruiting and Shark Tank, knowing the right time to close the deal, and the right tone to close the sale is very important.
  5. Repeat business is crucial - Two of the common questions on Shark Tank are "What is your cost of acquiring a customer?" and "What percentage of your sales are repeat customers?" Keeping your current customers is crucial, yet we often spend more time and effort on acquisition over maintaining the supporters we currently have and letting them tell our story for us through word of mouth and social media where they tout their satisfaction to the market. 
Are you a fan of the show?  I invite you to take a moment and share your additional observations in the comments section.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Trust over Price

UltimateSportsInsider.com was a recent guest author on the intercollegiate athletics recruiting website DanTudor.com.  I'd encourage you to head over to his site to read my thoughts about the importance of valuing trust over price.  Do you have a great example in your world where you value trust over price?  Feel free to share it in the comments section.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Athletics budget update #66

Approximately half of Wichita State's Athletics staff was facing the possibility of furlough due to the inability of the Kansas state legislature to pass a budget.

Western Illinois is examining men's and women's basketball scheduling to enhance revenue for the athletic program through guarantee games.

South Carolina State continues to undergo massive athletic cuts, yet Director of Athletics Paul Bryant remains optimistic about the future of the program.

Clemson and South Carolina student fees are part of an in depth article analyzing the fee structures at various public institutions across the state.

In depth article about Louisiana Monroe and the financial challenges it faces as the school with the lowest revenues and expenditures in FBS football.

Very interesting article about $9+ million in state appropriations to IMG Academy in Florida and the businesses that are being attracted to the area due to the Academy's engagement with high profile athletes.

UltimateSportsInsider.com recently spoke at the University at Buffalo during an alumni leadership event.  This short 2 minute video gives some of the flavor of this very engaging and robust 90 minute panel discussion.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Industrial vs. Artisan Intercollegiate Athletics

If you haven't attended Dan Tudor's (@dantudor) National Collegiate Recruiting Conference (#NCRC2015) I would strongly encourage you or your coaching staff to do so.  People across all levels of college athletics came together over the weekend to exchange ideas and concepts on how to enhance their recruiting.  Three things stood out about the event:
  1. Because the majority of people in the room were coaches from all different sports, the conversations were more collaborative and genuine.  Sharing a good idea was less likely to come back and be used against you in a recruiting situation. 
  2. People stayed and participated in the event from start to finish.  Many conferences hit a point where the energy wanes and people prefer to check out the local sights and nice weather instead of sitting in the conference ballroom - that wasn't the case at this event.  The diversity of presenters, the format and pace kept attendees engaged throughout the event. 
  3. It became apparent that recruiting is a constant tension between industrial and artisan approaches. 
Industrial techniques (mass emails, data bases, pressure sales, technology evolution) allow coaches to be more efficient.  However, much of this comes from using the same techniques that we hate in our own lives - email in-boxes crammed with offers, never ending breathless calls to act now and a host of other spam-like methods that help us try to be in the consciousness of prospective student athletes.  And those things help you feel like you are being productive and provide you a mental security blanket that you are doing everything you can to get the right prospects to come to your institution.  

But the artisan techniques - the handmade, personal and genuine touches that take a little longer and require a little more creativity - define your program as distinctive and can be just as effective and crucially important.  

Ultimately, you probably need to do some of both.  But overcoming the tendency to feel safer by mass producing material and instead using targeted, personal and genuine messages will yield the recruiting dividends.  

The artisan approach doesn't just apply to recruiting - it is also just as relevant in fund raising, ticket sales, staff management and a host of other areas of college athletics that are becoming increasingly industrial and lacking unique craftsmanship.

What is your favorite example of great artisan work?

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Athletic Budget Update #65

Here is the latest college athletics budget news:

USA Today with an in-depth analysis of the financial state of college athletics reports that at best (depending on accounting method), 53 of 350 Division I institutions are revenue neutral or generate revenue for their institution.

South Carolina State is facing massive budget cuts that could result in a loss of $2.5 million in financial aid for student athletes among other reductions.

St. Bonaventure, like many private institutions, is trying to figure out how to fund its institutional and athletic costs as the number of tuition paying students on its campus continues to decline.  The athletic budget as a percentage of the University budget approaches 15%.  This is a multiple part series (part 2 and part three.)

The Springfield News-Leader with an in-depth review of Missouri State's budget and cost of attendance plans.

Louisiana Lafayette may reduce its athletic budget 5-8% in order to cover the $1.2 million expense related to cost of attendance stipends.

California University of Pennsylvania is eliminating six assistant coaching positions.

UAB announced the reinstatement of its football, bowling and rifle teams.  

Friday, May 29, 2015

Legal precedent exists regarding cost of attendance and a level playing field

Cost of attendance stipends are a serious source of concern among coaches and athletic administrators. Those who cannot afford the stipend, or believe they are disadvantaged in recruiting because their stipend is less than their competitor's stipend, are trying to figure out ways to "level the playing field."  Those who can afford them and are able to offer stipends greater than their peers are resting easy.

Coaches and administrators at Georgia are concerned about the impact their lower cost of attendance stipend for student athletes will have on recruiting.  Men's basketball coach Mark Fox is seeking a way to "protect a level playing field" and calls the differential a "massive issue."  And Georgia Head Football Coach Mark Richt has shared his concerns, indicating he's discussed the matter with attorneys to figure out a way to "level the playing field."

Alabama Head Football Coach Nick Saban is no less vocal about the issue, calling the disparities a "nightmare."

USA Today Columnist Dan Wolken calls out the SEC's complaints in a lengthy article, saying "the SEC should be above whining and complaining about level playing fields."  And the NCAA is very clear that it no longer is concerned about equality.  Consider these quotes from NCAA President Mark Emmert prior to high-resource schools achieving governance autonomy.  Those with sufficient resources and the ability to pay the stipend can do so, and won't be restricted by those who cannot do the same.  The NCAA changed its governance to reflect this philosophical shift.

The legality of "leveling the playing field" with schools agreeing on (a lawyer would call it colluding) the amount they will collectively offer is dubious at best.  The grant-in-aid and cost of attendance stipend is institutional financial aid.  And there is very relevant and applicable case law that involved the Ivy League and other institutions who were accused of anti-trust practices regarding financial aid in the 1990's.

The Ivy League ultimately agreed not to conspire when determining financial aid awards for individual students but the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) continued to defend their practice.  MIT eventually settled and was forced to change its policies as well.  The following white paper from the American Bar Association provides additional insight and numerous other articles about the legal precedents exist.

The courts ruled colluding over financial aid awards were "plainly anti-competitive."  In light of the current legal challenges facing college athletics, any decision by the NCAA or specific conferences to restrict cost of attendance stipends would be swiftly met with a lengthy and expensive legal challenge that would be hard to justify over variations in stipends of a few hundred dollars per month.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Memorial Day is a special one in college athletics

If you are a fan of college athletics, Memorial Day is a special one.  Lacrosse enjoys its annual crowning game and this year's event featured a dominant performance by Bill Tierney's Denver Pioneers.  Tierney won his seventh national championship, after winning six during his tenure at Princeton (I was fortunate to be on the sideline for his sixth title).  The title blazes new ground for the sport with the Hall of Fame Coach winning a title well outside the Eastern seaboard, and gives hope to the ideal of nationalizing a sport that is growing at tremendous rates across the country.

Interestingly, lacrosse's growth comes at a time when people are questioning the popularity of the national past-time - baseball.   But the drama of baseball was on display just before the lacrosse national championship game during its NCAA selection show.

The Bradley Braves, which hadn't been to the NCAA championships since 1968, had a strong RPI yet were considered a bubble team.  Bradley waited throughout the entire bracket announcement at a local restaurant with the public and media in attendance to learn their fate.  And in true baseball form, the game wasn't over until the last out.  With 63 teams already in the field, Bradley was announced as the 64th and final team in the field, heading to the Lousiville Regional to face Michigan - the Big Ten tournament champions.  This short video shows the incredible angst of the student athletes as the final bracket is unveiled and the unbridled joy that comes from having ones dreams achieved when victory is snatched from the jaws of defeat.

On a day where we all gave thanks to those who served and sacrificed so that we could enjoy the freedoms that come with living in this great country, seeing the benefits of hard work and dedication provide rewards to good people made it a Memorial Day that will be remembered by the young men of these teams, and many other student athletes for a long, long time.  College athletics gets it right sometimes - more times than it gets credit for. And every year, Memorial Day is one of those days.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

The distraction of amatuerism in intercollegiate athletics

Cost of attendance stipends are at the forefront of athletic administrators' minds these days.  The questions of affordability, equity, recruiting advantages and a host of other factors make this one of the more anticipated changes in the history of student-athlete welfare reform.

At NCAA Division I colleges and universities, the ability to offer these payments varies widely due to disparate financial resources on each campus.  Significant analysis is occurring at cash-strapped colleges and universities to identify ways to cover these additional expenses.
Advocates for these changes come from a number of powerful constituent groups including:
  1. The media - The media (traditional and social) has effectively controlled the narrative that student-athletes in football and basketball are exploited and that they should be further compensated for their skills, fame and institutional revenue generation.
  2. The courts - Lawyers of all types, recognizing that there are deep pockets in some areas of college athletics have adopted the "Robin Hood" stance looking to take from the rich and give to the poor.
  3. Athletic administrators - The economic leaders in college athletics, primarily in the Power Five conferences, continue to enhance student-athlete benefits to respond to media criticism, legal challenges and unfavorable optics regarding a variety of student-athlete welfare issues.    
Which leads us to the group with the most to gain or lose: student-athletes themselves, who hold an increasingly powerful voice in NCAA governance matters.

Recent research indicates some student athletes spend more than 50 hours per week on their sport and are too exhausted to study.  The demands also extend to out-of-season student athletes who report the time commitment to be similar to their in-season expectations.  Considering how little time student athletes have to shape their educational experience, an experience that by their own accounts mirrors or exceeds the time demands of a full-time staff member, it is little wonder that compensation is being sought and lawsuits filed in lieu of a more well-rounded collegiate experience.

Most athletics administrators and college and university leaders will argue that the amateur model is the correct one and a requirement for intercollegiate athletics to continue to exist on college campuses.  But there will be little difference between amateur and professional athletics by August 2015 when cost of attendance stipends become permissible and are paid to thousands of student athletes across the country.

Consider the definition of amateur - a person who engages in a study, sport or other activity for pleasure rather than financial benefit.

Contrast it to the definition of a professional - a person engaged in a specified activity as one's main occupation rather than as a pastime.

Are student athletes amateur or professional?  Consider the following list of benefits:
  • Tuition and fees
  • Room and board
  • Books
  • Medical insurance and care
  • Clothing and apparel
  • Travel for family to post season competition
  • Cost of attendance stipends
  • Dedicated medical staff
  • Psychologists and counseling services
  • Strength training and fitness
  • State of the art facilities
  • Nutritionist supervised and chef prepared meals that are virtually unlimited
  • Travel throughout the United States and the opportunity to travel internationally once every four years
  • Academic support, tutoring and advising
  • Laptop computers and iPads
  • Four year guaranteed grants-in-aid
  • Insurance against career ending injuries
In addition a series of legal challenges against the NCAA and its member schools may soon necessitate additional benefits for student athletes including:
  • Royalty payments of no less than $5000 per year following the conclusion of a student athlete's career as compensation for the use of a their name, image and likeness
  • Minimum wage payments for participation
  • Unionization
  • The possibility of open bidding and a free market economy for the services of individual student athletes
The list of benefits and payments a student-athlete receives in exchange for 50+ hours of athletic engagement clearly makes their participation more than a pastime.

I recently conducted a very informal survey of seven Division I athletic departments (four public universities and three private universities) to compare what a full grant-in-aid student-athlete with a cost of attendance stipend will receive contrasted with the salaries of full-time staff members in their athletics department.  Most of these staff members have degrees and in some cases graduate degrees, are "exempt" (salaried) employees and work significantly more than a 40 hours per week.

At the private institutions I surveyed, between 45% and 67% of the professional staff in the department received a salary that was less than the value a full grant-in-aid student athlete receives. At the public institutions between 20% and 50% of the professional staff received salaries less than the value of an out-of-state, full grant-in-aid student athlete.  Student-athletes - while indeed students - are making an athletic commitment in exchange for benefits that are on par with the salaries of the staff employed in their own athletics department.

There is no question that professionalized collegiate athletics is contrary to the historical model of amateurism - but most Directors of Athletics including Craig Littlepage (Virginia), Jack Swarbrick (Notre Dame) and Bernard Muir (Stanford) recognize that the tides of professionalism are creeping up around the sides of the amateurism boat.

Amateurism has value because it can help emphasize education as the primary and central part of a student-athlete's compensation for participation.  But the on-going debate about the increasingly minor distinction between amateurism and professionalism is in fact a distraction from the most important but more difficult to address core value of college athletics - the educational and academic emphasis that should be at the heart of the student-athlete experience.  As Northwestern AD Jim Phillips appropriately points out, the focus needs to return to education.  And once that focus is restored, college athletics' relationship to higher education will be enhanced and student-athletes will be viewed as students not professionals regardless of what they receive for athletics participation.  

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Athletic Budget Update #64

Coaches and administrators at Georgia are concerned about the impact their low cost of attendance stipend for student athletes will have on recruiting.  Men's basketball coach Mark Fox is seeking a way to "protect a level playing field" and calls the differential a "massive issue."

The Chronicle is reporting that NC State has discussed using its student athlete assistance fund as a means to enhance their cost of attendance stipend in order to make it on par or better than other institutions' stipends.

Cleveland State reinstated their wrestling program after students supported a referendum that will see them pay $1 more per credit hour to retain the team.

George Washington is cutting their budget by 5% as mandated by the University.  The department will close some of the gap through a 70% increase in external revenue and by not filling some positions.

Western Kentucky is increasing its athletic fee to counteract enrollment declines and help reduce an athletic deficit.

Shippensburg University student senate increased funding for athletics and also granted the athletic department greater control over how it spends the funds.

Criticism continues over Rutgers Athletics budget deficit, this time from Joe Nocera of the New York Times.  

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Athletic Budget Update #63

Pat Forde looks at concerns that the number of schools sponsoring Men's Olympic Sports could continue to dwindle as more and more resources are absorbed by men's basketball and football.

UT Arlington added women's golf.

The Horizon League committed to full cost-of-attendance stipends for men's basketball and an equal number of female athletes.

Cardinal Stritch (NAIA) announced they are dropping five athletic teams including baseball, men's and women's bowling, dance and cheer.

The Vermont Cynic (a student run paper) is calling for the reinstatement of baseball and softball, which were dropped in 2009.  They reference support from the student government and Vermont legislature as well as the presence of club programs as part of the rationale to reinstate the program, although there doesn't appear to be any funding associated with desire to reestablish the programs.

The Ohio State University - Newark is dropping their entire athletic program.

Three-time university president Peter T. Mitchell presents a plan to save Sweet Briar College, that he believes should be applied to many other liberal arts colleges to save themselves from a similar fate. The proposal includes the elimination of intercollegiate athletic programs, suggesting it would save $1 million dollars annually.  Omitted from the article is an acknowledgement that the student athletes - who make up 10% of the student body - would likely leave and take with them their academic interests, diversity and intellectual contributions as well as their tuition revenue (approximately $2.5 million annually using his estimate of a $25,000 fixed tuition price) when they depart the Division III non-scholarship institution.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

The One-Day Contract by Rick Pitino - A Book Review

Jim Fiore, president of Dynamic Sports Marketing, recently sent me a copy of Rick Pitino's book "The One-Day Contract: How to add value to every minute of your life."  The 260 page book reads easily and takes about as much time to consume as a book half its length.  It presents a good opportunity to pause (in a busy industry that never seems to have pauses) and gain some some meaningful insights that can indeed make a difference in your productivity and performance.

I've not personally met Coach Pitino but he is obviously a driven, motivated and intense person.  His book covers ten areas that can make a difference in both your short term and long term success. The themes that emerge, by chapter, include:
  1. It begins with humility - Underscores the importance of being humble in a profession filled with egos.
  2. The force of focus - Reiterates how crucial it is to focus on your objectives and eliminate what doesn't contribute to that focus.
  3. The trap of technology - Expands on the concept in the previous chapter and points out how truly distracting technology can be if it isn't harnessed and utilized to achieve your goals.  
  4. When adversity strikes - Looks at his personal situations when he and others close to him faced adversity and what he learned from those situations.
  5. The one-day contract - I found this to be the best chapter of the book.  Act as if you are on a one-day contract.  If you don't produce that day and meet the desired expectations, you won't be back the next day.  A powerful concept that can help you get more from your day.
  6. The power of the positive mind-set - Makes the point that positive thinking is more than new-age navel gazing and telling yourself you're good enough.  You embody a proper mindset because you are prepared.  It's far easier to be positive when you are prepared and know that things have a better chance of going your way because you've done the work.
  7. Heeding the signs - Be observant and listen to those who are invested in your success.  Be coachable and surround yourself with people who won't simply tell you what you want to hear. 
  8. Meaningful distraction - Find places in your life that are outlets that are not work related where you can rest and recover.  Balance and meaningful healthy escapes are important and help your creativity. 
  9. Prospering from pressure - Use pressure as an avenue to concentrate and execute, and become aware of the effort necessary for success.  
  10. Building your bridge - Success is all about making personal connections and helping the people around you achieve their goals and dreams.
These ten simple concepts, especially those in Chapters Five, Six, and Ten, can make a big difference in your ability to focus and achieve at the highest levels.  They can help you overcome inertia and get started, or move you closer to fulfilling your short and long term goals.  While I'm not sure the book can add value to every minute of your life (only you can do that), it can certainly make your hours and days more productive with some easily implemented ideas and give you the feeling that you're valuing your time and elevating your decision-making to a higher level.  

Friday, April 10, 2015

Athletic Budget Update #62

Wisconsin legislators and University leadership have discussed the possibility of selling the University's golf course to help address a $300 million budget cut to public higher education in the state.

Also in response to the Wisconsin state budget, Wisconsin-Oshkosh is dropping men's soccer and tennis and eliminating two cross country and track coaches in order to help the campus close a $7.5 million budget gap.  

Additional budget news from Southern Illinois as they consider the possibility of dropping 1/3rd of their graduate assistants and having the football team move from charter aircraft to bus travel to reduce expenses.  

Glendale Community College dropped their wrestling program.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Athletic Budget Update #61

In Athletic Budget Update #57  UltimateSportsInsider.com began to track intercollegiate teams that are being dropped. There are new additions to the list including:

  1. Cleveland State announced that they will "defund" wrestling unless the program can raise $800,000 in the next year and then establish a $5 million endowment. They are also starting a men's lacrosse program - March 31, 2015 
  2. IPFW announced they will be dropping men's and women's tennis after this year, resulting in savings of $450,000 and reducing their sport offerings to the NCAA Division I minimum - March 29, 2015 
Other recent budgetary news includes:

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Athletic Budget Update #60

Lots of movement on the college athletics financial front in the last few weeks.  Here's an update on the recent news and information.

Oregon's faculty senate has passed a resolution to have the athletic department pay a 3% dividend to the academic operations of the University.

LSU has decided to delay the construction of the Tiger Athletic Nutrition Center due to anticipated state budget cuts and a climate of "austerity."

UNC Pembroke announced that it is dropping men's golf and tennis.  The Braves are also adding indoor track and field for men and women as well as women's swimming.  Expected savings from dropping the two sports is $75,000.

A consultant hired by Kent State has indicated that the department has facilities that are "tired and outdated" and that they need to increase private financial support.

Florida State is going to fund $2 million of increased athletic aid costs for cost of attendance stipends by reducing budget expenditures by 2% in other areas of the department.

SIU Carbondale is facing a $32 million state budget cut that could impact its athletic program and possibly result in the loss of teams.

Interesting graphic outlines the cost of attendance challenges for Ball State.

South Carolina State plans to cut eleven academic and athletic staff positions to save more than $380,000 and another $466,000 in athletic operations and summer financial aid to address a difficult budget climate.  There is also a proposed plan that would involve dropping a number of sports including men's basketball.

Montana State Billings dropped their men's and women's tennis teams.

Diverse Issues in Higher Education describes the future of non-revenue sports as "limbo" with an increasing number of expenses facing higher education and college athletics.

Pac-12 Deputy Commissioner Zaninovich with some thought provoking ideas about how to improve college basketball.

Also, in a final unrelated topic, a copy of my final interview with the PJ Star can be found here.