Applying a business model to the gridiron

At some point, everyone is going to wake up to the reality that college sports is big business, which is starting to bring a whole new meaning to college prep.

IMG is at the forefront. It is trying to enhance its academy brand with football, perhaps the most visible sport. And it is applying a business model to the gridiron that has long been profitable for tennis and has expanded to golf, soccer, baseball, basketball, lacrosse, and track and field. The academy has nearly 1,000 students from more than 80 countries enrolled in prekindergarten through 12th grade and postgraduation. About half the students are international.

The school, 45 miles south of Tampa, recruits football players from around the country, offering high-performance training, college preparatory courses, coaches with N.F.L. playing experience, facilities that resemble a small college more than a high school, and a chance to play a national schedule and on national television on ESPN against some of the country’s highest-rated teams.

Though IMG Academy has fielded a varsity football team for only three seasons and, as an independent school, is ineligible to play for a Florida state championship, it is stocked with six of the nation’s top 100 senior recruits. The roster has players from 21 states and six countries. This month, IMG flew to Texas for a game. On Saturday, it will travel to New Jersey to face another power, Bergen Catholic High School.

The full cost of tuition and boarding for a year of football at IMG Academy is $70,800, although need-based financial assistance is available. School officials would not provide specific figures, but they said that payments by families could range from tens of thousands of dollars to a competition fee (between $3,750 and $4,500) to nothing.

Team helmets are adorned not with a lion or a tiger but with IMG’s corporate logo.

Nice.  So is this.

IMG officials are upfront about their profit motive. And they have been backed financially by powerful state lawmakers who justify the assistance by citing the academy’s economic impact to the region in training more than 12,000 athletes yearly from the youth level to the pros and in hosting numerous amateur and professional sports competitions.

Although it is private, IMG Academy has received more than $7 million from the Florida state budget over the past two years, according to news accounts. An additional $2 million was pledged by lawmakers in June but was then vetoed by Gov. Rick Scott.

Ain’t amateurism grand?

20 Comments

Filed under College Football, It's Just Bidness

20 responses to “Applying a business model to the gridiron

  1. Ain’t amateurism grand?
    ….easy on the cynicism there Senator…… the kids are amateurs the school ain’t . Even the kid’s soccer team charged a fee, Top Hat pays it’s administrators.don’t they?Actually ,this model is more transparent and too my liking. These kids are trying to maximize their potential . Nothing wrong with that . Better than some School Boards raising everyone’s millage rate so they can put in new artificial turf.

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    • Saxondawg

      This feeding at the Florida public trough is disgusting. It’s scandalous. Um, when can get such an “academy” off the ground in the ATL?

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  2. Gaskilldawg

    Ah, corporate welfare to the tune of $7,000,000.00. I will bet the public schools could use that $7 mill. I do not know about Florida laws, but Georgia schools could not use it to put artificial turf on he football fields ( Booster clubs raise money for that.) Everyone LOVES government spending on stuff they like.

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    • it was vetoed right?

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    • Silver Creek Dawg

      Cobb County has mandated all HS go to turf fields to the tune of $1 million per. I think they are funding it, not the booster clubs.

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      • Any idea why? It can’t be for safety purposes.

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        • PatinDC

          Something I know!
          Upgrading an existing grass field to synthetic turf is the equivalent of adding .6 of a new field. The synthetic turf and lights allow for maximizing the operations and allows more sports to practice on limited facilities.

          While it seems like less maintenance than grass, it is not always so. It depends on the maintenance program utilized by the organization. In hot areas, like GA, consideration should be given to including an irrigation system to cool down the fields. They get pretty darn hot.

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      • GaskillDawg

        I guess that they county board of education looked at the cost of maintain grass fields versus the cost of installing artificial and determined that it was the best use of board of education money. I can understand that reasoning, even if I do not agree with it.

        I see that kind of expense as a whole lot different that Florida spending its money to give linebackers from Texas or somewhere a more palatial l football experience than the kid will have when he wins an FCS scholarship.

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    • The Dawg abides

      Not always just from the booster clubs. The county in which I live passed an esplost a few years back specifically earmarked for extracurricular activities. This included literary – drama activities, but the lion’s share went toward athletic facilities.

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    • PatinDC

      It makes me sick to think that this much money (= to 7 rectangle fields) was dedicated to one private, exclusive facility. I hope it came from the Charter School Funding allotment.

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  3. People spend serious $$ to get their kids skill level up to college scholarship level–sometimes close to the amount it would cost to pay college tuition. I’m seeing middle school volleyball players playing all year long and leaving other players in the dust who’s parents cant afford the 4-6 grand it costs to play club. Lot of emphasis on collegiate sports in this country and the big business that surrounds it ain’t going anywhere.

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  4. WarD Eagle

    Soon we’ll build a coliseum and have them fight to the death.

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  5. RugbyDawg79

    something about this IMG school is creepy to me, you miss out on playing Ball with the kids you grew up with.

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    • Agreed. These are kids with parents who mostly only care about their financial future, not about their relationships. Balance in life is a foreign concept to most of these people.

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    • That’s the thing I don’t get with Issac Nauta. He would have probably been the consensus number one tight end anyway had he stayed at Buford, but he is spending his senior year at IMG.

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  6. Sam Johnson

    What if these parents put the same time, support, money and emphasis into academics, e.g. a STEM or language tutor? Would not do as much for the parents’ vanity – “my kid is at Bigass U on athletic scholarship” – but it’d probably be better for the kid.

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