“At the heart of the problem is an addiction to lavish spending.”

Matt Hayes (yeah, I know) cites a report that claims 86 percent of college athletes live below the poverty line.  Now before you go running off from that, note that Hayes manages the correct take in response:

However, a majority of students in college—those who play sports and those who don’t—fall well below the federal poverty line. Moreover, many current student athletes wouldn’t qualify academically under current freshman guidelines.

The NCAA sees this as a tradeoff: Athletes receive a free education, are trained by coaches and athletic trainers at the top of their profession, and receive free academic tutoring (among other things) to play and make millions for their schools. Athletes—and the NCPA—of course see it differently, and have a solid argument.

Still, by adding the “poverty” argument, the NCPA—a group that has been a strong advocate for student athletes—is confusing the narrative and looks desperate. Instead of talking poverty, the NCPA should continue to drive home these numbers:

— Texas football players were valued at $513,922.

— Duke basketball players were valued at $1,025,656.

That’s not all the NCPA should drive home, though.  There’s plenty more to shout about, beginning with P5 athletic departments spending money like drunken sailors on shore leave.

Big-time college sports departments are making more money than ever before, thanks to skyrocketing television contracts, endorsement and licensing deals, and big-spending donors. But many departments also are losing more money than ever, as athletic directors choose to outspend rising income to compete in an arms race that is costing many of the nation’s largest publicly funded universities and students millions of dollars. Rich departments such as Auburn have built lavish facilities, invented dozens of new administrative positions and bought new jets, while poorer departments such as Rutgers have taken millions in mandatory fees from students and siphoned money away from academic budgets to try to keep up.

Auburn?  Why, whatever would make you look at Auburn?

Jacobs’s pay has steadily risen since he started in 2005, from $407,300 to $648,700, and he’s been able to hire some help. In January 2014, Jacobs created a chief operating officer position, a No. 2 to take over the department’s day-to-day operations.

For that job, Jacobs chose Benedict, whom he lured away from Minnesota athletics with a salary of $310,000.

Benedict strongly disagreed with characterizing any Auburn spending as bloated.

“I don’t think it’s any different than any other competitive industry,” Benedict said. “As college athletics has generated more money, we’re going to invest more.”

It’s not accurate, Benedict said, to analyze college athletics in terms of profits or losses.

“There’s no for-profit company that would operate the way college athletics do,” he said. “We don’t make decisions based on the bottom line. If we did, things would operate very differently.”

Er, um… nevermind.

These guys aren’t strapped for cash.  They just operate in a world with different rules.  Which is why you have to laugh at this:

There are athletic departments that profit without a perennially great football team, and without taking millions away from students. Indiana University routinely does it, despite being in the middle of the pack of the Power Five in earnings, with $84.7 million in 2014.

How do they do it?

“Hoosier tightwadness,” Indiana Athletics Director Fred Glass said. “We don’t spend more than we take in.”

Glass expressed puzzlement when asked why so many departments struggle to turn a profit.

“If I knew the answer to that, maybe I’d be head of the NCAA or something,” he said.

Dude, with an approach like that, they wouldn’t let you near running the NCAA.

The money is there at major programs to treat student-athletes properly.  The schools just aren’t going to spend it that way until they have to.

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19 Comments

Filed under It's Just Bidness, The NCAA

19 responses to ““At the heart of the problem is an addiction to lavish spending.”

  1. Russ

    “The Indiana Way” – is McGarity going to sue for infringement?

    BTW, how did they talk about Auburn and not mention that stupidly large scoreboard?

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  2. Irwin R. Fletcher

    IMO, the big kicker here is the student fees. You already have the feds looking into for profit schools that are funding their operations with federal loans that they know the students will default on after they graduate (bc they don’t place these young adults in jobs).

    At some point, someone is going to say student athletic fees that can be paid with federal/state backed loans are capped or, even better, can’t be paid with loan money/wrapped into tuition.

    http://www.ajc.com/news/news/local-education/georgia-college-students-paying-millions-in-athlet/npTMg/

    Despite the cost, college officials say students expect their schools to field competitive sports programs, and many times students vote to increase their fees to pay for them.

    That because they are financing them with low interest, federally-back student loans AND they turn over every 4 years. There is no economic pain in raising your student fee by $100 or whatever…and in four years, you have kids who come in expecting to pay $1,500 so the increase to $2,000 by the time they leave doesn’t feel like much.

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  3. Macallanlover

    Good Lord, more of the “we should pity the poor scholarship athletes” nonsense? Poverty line,my ass. These guys should live in real poverty areas before comparing it to the housing/food/amenities provided full scholarship athletes at American universities, Beyond dumb…..

    And including the amount made by the athletic departments per player, maybe we should initiate profit sharing and wealth redistribution. What a crock of BS.

    This is not to say athletic departments shouldn’t be smarter in regards to wasteful spending, but that is a management oversight and leadership shortfall, not a cry to throw money away differently.

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    • Yes, paying the help = throwing money away. And they say the Gilded Age mentality is dying.

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      • Macallanlover

        Not what I said, and you know it. I have been in favor of a stipend for decades, long before the discussion exploded. But I did have the caveat of only providing it if schools can afford it, and only for sports that operate in the black. I am not in favor of throwing money away, and I don’t regard scholarship athletes as “the help”, but if characterizing it that way makes you wallow in their “misery” comfortably, have at it. I am not afraid of tearing the temple down and getting closer to amateurism and a student athlete. Fire up the developmental leagues for those who do not value a college scholarship.

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        • … not a cry to throw money away differently.

          Sorry, but that seems pretty clear to me.

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          • Macallanlover

            No, it was intended to say the money managed better could be spent more wisely across budgetary lines or, God forbid,banking it for major project needs on facilities.

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            • Dog in Fla

              Because facilities are people too

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              • Macallanlover

                The “across budgetary lines” was meant to give to other areas of the school’s needs, which could be actual people. Of course, I would certainly expect your people to be lounging around with tin cups extended waiting for a handout. 🙂 Happens frequently in academic environments, lots of leeches hang there, like cats near a dumpster.

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  4. Walt

    Comments like this: “Dude, with an approach like that, they wouldn’t let you near running the NCAA.”, are why I read this blog. Made me laugh out loud. Keep up the good work!

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  5. Bulldog Joe

    “I don’t think it’s any different than any other competitive industry,” Benedict said. “As college athletics has generated more money, we’re going to invest more.”

    It’s not accurate, Benedict said, to analyze college athletics in terms of profits or losses.

    “There’s no for-profit company that would operate the way college athletics do,” he said. “We don’t make decisions based on the bottom line. If we did, things would operate like Georgia.”

    Fixed it for him.

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