“They have to find some way of balancing the profit motive with all the other strange objectives of a university athletics program.”

This WSJ story about how Auburn had to figure out a way last season to fill up its stadium against Georgia and Auburn without having tickets fall into enemy hands (“Our goal is not to have empty seats at the stadium,” she said. “We especially don’t want any seats to be occupied by fans of other schools, including Georgia or Alabama fans.”) is one of the more surreal stories you’ll read, starting with the assertion that Auburn and Georgia were the only two public school athletic departments in the SEC that didn’t turn a profit in 2013.

Methinks I detect a whiff of creative bookkeeping there.


Filed under Auburn's Cast of Thousands, It's Just Bidness

26 responses to ““They have to find some way of balancing the profit motive with all the other strange objectives of a university athletics program.”

  1. 81Dog

    Maybe the athletic department took a charge of about 70 million dollars for lost goodwill as a result of the accumulated dings of the Mike Adams administration.


  2. Ben

    Auburn is also still paying off Tuberville and Chizik, and players and lawyer retainers don’t come cheap. They really may not have turn a profit at all.


  3. Jack Klompus

    How does the Hartman Fund enter into this accounting?


  4. AusDawg85

    Backstory to the article…when Auburn booster were initially contacted, they refused to buy the extra tickets. Jacobs then communicated privately that the money was really needed to buy some players for next season, to which the boosters promptly wrote checks.

    …or so I was told.


    • Mr. Tu

      Interesting. I wonder how this intercedes with the story of someone in the Auburn AD/ticket office selling tickets to boosters above face value? How could he do that if they could not sell them for face? Slushfund?


  5. Dog in Fla

    “strange objectives of a university athletics program” with books showing little or no profit are sometimes achieved with a little help from wealthy friends of the program and this go-to song


  6. SC_IL

    Extra! Extra! “After bad season, team refuses to sell to wider market. Team surprised by lower sales.” I don’t get how this made the WSJ.


  7. BulldogDoug

    The story is just wrong. Read the audited financial statements yourself at the link below.



    • Bulldog Joe


      Not sure why they pulled us into the Auburn story, unless they are referring to the drop in the Athletic Association’s net cash position related to the $34M transferred and paid to the UGA Foundation in FY 2013.


  8. With expectations low, and with a slate of mostly weak opponents early on, Auburn had lots of empty seats for the first month of the 2013 season.

    I can’t imagine that those things are related…


  9. Bright Idea

    Prices of $95-$140 for a ticket may have something to do with the difficulty of selling out. Limiting sales to your own fans doesn’t help. I haven’t missed a UGA game since 2004 and there are more empty seats than ever everywhere you go. All games on TV and the economy also plays a part.


  10. Beer Money

    On a related note:


    Wonder how many Cokes, hot dogs, programs, and hats you get for $104 apiece. Overprice much Tech?


    • Bulldog Joe

      To think Auburn could’ve solved their problem if only they threw in 4 moonpies, an RC, a camo hat, and next year’s subscription to Buckmasters magazine.

      Know your customer.


  11. Charles

    “If the school had waited and sold the roughly 2,150 tickets it had to the Alabama game on the open market at peak value, online data suggests that Auburn could have taken in at least $1 million, or about five times what it earned from selling them at $95 and without requiring a donation for those seats.”

    Reread that graph closely, because it means a heck of a lot more than what’s represented here. Sure, Auburn might have been able to capture more value from fans through dynamic pricing. But, it also means that Auburn would have been able to capitalize on their football team’s improvement through the course of a season. That increased revenue would illustrate, in actual dollars, the impact of athletes’ performance on the bottom line. That’s one hell of a performance incentive.

    Looking for a reason to start compensating college football players? I’d say you’ve got it.


  12. Will Trane

    Ben Cohen, sports writer for the WSJ. Guess that is what those 2 gals at the end of the article do, too. Ben is qualfied to write sports articles for the WSJ, after he is a Duke alum…not sure if he played football or any sports or if he was a journalism major. Looking forward to seeing Ben as a guest contributor on ESPN or SEC Now. No doubt he will show up on Game Day with that talking bunch.
    He did get one thing right. Football ticket sales and contributions are the lifeblood of the athletic departmnet [guess that means all sports…boys and girls]. And if Auburn is anything like Georgia it has more womens sports programs than men. Generally accpeted accounting princiciples clearly state that mens’ programs must cover the expense of those activities.
    But curious why there was a shortfall of $866,000? After all the 3 had the financial records and representations of the AD office to fall back on and comment.
    They did not disclose the impact of the 2012 miserable football record at Auburn and how they could have impacted the financial situation in 2013. Nope. Nor did they say that the NC bowl game with FSU [tickets, TV, bowl revenue] was booked into 2013 or was it 2014…if they operate on a calendar year basis.
    What we can draw from this is another news media and writer in desperate need to generate a story and revenue for an editor and publisher. Use to subscribe to the WSJ but I dropped them because I thought they offered a lesser product than other genuine sports publications. They can write what they wish but they need to keep their bias and emotions out of it and be more forthright and factual.


  13. Tommy

    This paragraph seems like it should have been far higher in the story:

    “Jim Cleveland, a local contractor and golf-course owner who once owned a lakefront vacation home with Jacobs, the Auburn athletic director, was one of the largest buyers, school records show. On Oct. 30, Auburn had about 900 remaining Alabama tickets. Cleveland bought 62 of them the following day, as well as 118 to the Georgia game. Most of those seats were between the 30-yard lines. Cleveland, who already had season tickets in a luxury box, also had purchased 60 tickets to Auburn’s win over Oregon in the January 2011 national-championship game in Glendale, Ariz.”

    Let’s see: a business partner of the athletic director gets 60 tix at face value to the national title game. I can’t imagine demand for that ticket was particularly elastic.


  14. Bulldog Joe

    Not sure anyone at Auburn knows whether the Athletic Department is profitable since so many of their liabilities are cash-only.


  15. I got a kick at the comment in the article about Auburn needing the cash to pay players such as Cam. Seems folks from everywhere are wise about Auburn.