Monthly Archives: February 2019

Today, in state secrets

The Georgia Way is so Georgia Way, it takes an open records request to find out that the school successfully managed a buyout.

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Filed under Georgia Football, It's Just Bidness

The cost of a scholarship

Sorry to get a little Econ 101 on you, but this is a point worth making when we discuss player compensation.

If you pull up a school’s report on the USA Today or Department of Education databases, “scholarships” are generally listed as either the second or third largest expense, behind salaries and facilities. Tuition is expensive, and if you add up the sticker price for tuition, room, board, books, and more, you could be looking at more than $50,000 an athlete. So it’s easy to see how a school could list scholarship spending at over $10 million a season (in FBS, the median is around $6 million, per the NCAA).

That’s what it says on paper, but the school isn’t actually cutting checks like that.

As economist Andy Schwarz has explained several times, here for Vice, the athletic department is “paying” the school, using something called transfer-price accounting. But that isn’t an accurate depiction of the real costs.

This is true whether the department is called “Communications” or “Athletics.” If central school accounting says each full scholarship costs $50,000, then to the department head or Athletics Director (AD), it likely feels like a real cost. But to the school as a whole, unless forgoing that scholarship really increases total cash by $50,000, that’s not what it actually costs.

Currently, when athletic departments give a scholarship, they commonly get charged the full retail price (sometimes of an out-of-state student) regardless of the actual cost to the school of providing one more space at the school. The food and books provided probably costs half of what they charge. The real cost of tuition and dorm space is probably de minimis, unless by giving that space to an athlete, a paying customer is forced out. Except for very selective schools with tight space constraints, most of the expenses listed as part of an athletic scholarship are overstated and sometimes purely fictional transfer prices.

Scholarship spending does cost something, but unless giving a football player a scholarship means a full-tuition student can’t attend, the school’s not actually losing that entire 50 grand. Very few colleges are so full that they literally have to give up a chemistry major’s lecture seat every time they give a scholarship to an athlete.  [Emphasis added.]

If a school is trying to grow enrollment, which is the case for many FBS institutions, the actual scholarship cost, according to Schwarz, might be “pennies (or at least dimes) on the dollar of listed cost.”

And before you sensitive romantics go there, nobody is saying there isn’t some value there.  But if you swallow the schools’ version of the math, it’s because you want to.

60 Comments

Filed under It's Just Bidness, The NCAA

TFW college football can’t get here soon enough

I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Florida Gators for looking to move their season opener a week earlier, to August 18 24.  It’s truly thoughtful on Dan Mullen’s part to give me a chance to sneer at all things chompy sooner rather than later.

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UPDATE:  Either I was asleep at the switch this morning when I posted this, or distracted by work, because I missed this obvious observation.

Of course Mickey’s driving this bus.  Can’t believe I overlooked that. (By the way, has anyone asked the players how they feel about having their season extended another week?)

34 Comments

Filed under Gators, Gators...

I’ve got your field day right here.

First of all, let me say that I have honest sympathy for any reporter stuck on the Georgia Tech football beat.  Life has to be better covering the program, post-genius, but as the cliché goes, there’s only so much lipstick one can slather on that particular pig.

Such is the case with this story in The Athletic ($$) about the pros and cons of Tech moving five home games to Mercedes Benz Stadium.  Here’s one of the pros:

Recruiting perks: You’d better believe Collins is about to have an absolute field day when it comes to selling this game to recruits. And who could blame him?

There are very few programs that even have the opportunity — let alone a deal in place — to make something like this happen. So, yeah, count on Collins and his staff to make sure recruits know everything about these games. Because, after all, it’s a pretty simple equation: Recruits want to be seen by as many people as possible, and having the games at Mercedes-Benz Stadium and on national TV provides that chance for exposure. Not every program can make the promise that recruits — if they so choose to commit — will be able to play in one of the football world’s nicest and newest stadiums several times during their careers.

Unfortunately for Collins, Kirby Smart happens to be selling one of those programs that can make that promise.  I’m no über-recruiter, but even I can work up something along the lines of “and when we play in MBS, it’s for championships” without breaking much of a sweat.

Although Kirby will have to pitch that without having an awesome Waffle House cup of coffee in hand, I suppose.

27 Comments

Filed under Georgia Tech Football, Recruiting

Spring is about to spring.

Spring practice in Athens gets underway on March 20.  Not that we’re gonna hear much about it…

The practices are closed to the general public and media, with the exception of very limited viewing windows for credentialed reporters unless otherwise noted.

Ah, well.  Here’s to rank speculation and G-Day QBR.  Dawgnation’s gotta Dawgnation.

24 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football

Your 2.27.19 Playpen

Eh, let’s skip politics today.  Tell us about the most memorable meal you’ve ever had, and why.

146 Comments

Filed under GTP Stuff

The tradition that just means more

Seth Emerson’s opinion piece today ($$) about the SEC’s football scheduling dilemma — his suggestion is for the conference to ditch divisions in favor of a 4-4 pod system — is the perfect jumping off point for a reminder why we’re in this mess in the first place.

This is college football, so you only get one guess.

The problem has its origin in Roy Kramer’s decision to expand the conference to twelve teams and create a conference championship game.  It worked brilliantly on more than one level.  There was more money for the schools and there were more conference games for the fans.  An eight-game conference schedule meshed neatly with a 12-team SEC.  Life was good, for a while at least.

Then came Mike Slive’s crappy TV deal.  The presidents became unhappy with being outdone by other conferences with better contracts and pushed Slive to look for a way to renegotiate a long-term arrangement that didn’t sparkle like it used to.  Slive found his lever:  expansion to a 14-school SEC.

That got them the new money they craved, but at a cost.  Cracks began appearing immediately, as it proved far more difficult to shoehorn fourteen schools into an eight-game conference schedule than what the schedulers faced by in 1992.  For example,

Texas A&M is entering its eighth season as a member of the SEC, or at least that’s the rumor, because as someone who covers Georgia I have never seen the Aggies play in person. The two schools have yet to play in football. And while they finally will this November, it won’t be until 2023 that Georgia goes to College Station.

The SEC’s real problem now isn’t the schedule.  That’s the symptom, not the root cause.  The real problem is that the conference doesn’t have a financial incentive to work up a fix.  There’s no interest (other than from us fans, of course) in adding a ninth conference game in part because there’s no profit in it, and, in fact, to the extent it might harm some programs’ postseason choices, there could be a financial downside.

You can say the same thing about Seth’s suggestion.  You can say the same thing about eliminating the permanent cross-division game.  You can say the same thing about the status quo, with all the fumbling around that requires on a recurring basis.  There’s no financial upside, so there’s no groundswell for one specific change.

So when should we expect such a groundswell?  Just ask Greg McGarity.

Meanwhile, it does not appear that the Bulldogs will get to host Auburn at Sanford Stadium in back-to-back years. Georgia had to play at the Tigers’ Jordan-Hare Stadium in consecutive years in 2012-13 to accommodate conference expansion to 14 teams in 2012.

“I doubt that’ll ever happen,” said McGarity, speaking after the meeting in which his contract was extended by a year. “That was a one-time deal, unless the conference expands again. That may be another discussion. But this was the same situation as seven other schools that had to make changes to the rotation of their games. That was done strictly for conference realignment.”  [Emphasis added.]

Don’t worry, they’ll get back to us on it.

45 Comments

Filed under SEC Football