“Everything needs to be on the table.’’

I’ve posted a fair amount of commentary from coaches, athletic directors and school presidents about their hopes for the timing of a 2020 football season, not out of a sense of mockery so much as an illustration of what frustrates all of us.  Hell, who doesn’t want college football, at least as long it’s not being staged insanely?  There is a difference, after all, between hope and crazed indifference to people’s health, and the people running college sports are a long way from the latter.

But you know what does deserve mockery?  The idea that post-coronavirus lockdown, athletic directors are going to change, baby, change ($$).

For years, people almost have become inured to the spending, writing off football expenses as the cost of doing business. “The roads of the last 15, 20 years are paved with all kinds of ideas that maybe it’s time to have a conversation about,” Penn State athletic director Sandy Barbour says. Barbour sits on the NCAA Football Oversight Committee, and amid the pandemic, the group has had conversations about ways to reduce spending, discussing everything from hotel stays on the nights before home games to staff sizes, which have grown exponentially over the years. Clemson paid its football support staff $6.2 million in 2018-19, a figure that doesn’t include the $8 million paid to 10 assistant coaches but does count the four staffers who make up the Clemson aviation department — a director, pilot, captain and captain/hangar manager. No other program in the entire department paid its support staffs or assistant coaches $1 million. According to the Knight Commission, Michigan’s coaching salaries rose 101 percent from 2013 to ’18. Not to be outdone, Florida State’s increased 137 percent in the same time period.

Few would argue that the staff sizes — and payments — have gotten out of control. No one wants to be the first to do anything about it for fear of falling behind. “If you’ve got 10 analysts and they are preparing two weeks ahead, that’s a huge advantage over someone not doing that,” Barbour says. “Are there things we can do to compensate? Absolutely, but only so long as everyone is on the same plane. As long as everyone does the same thing.”

Riiiight.  Unless something is very different, the money will still be rolling in, the schools still won’t be paying the labor and Jimmy Sexton’s kids will still need a new pair of shoes.

And ADs will still be good at talking.


Filed under College Football, It's Just Bidness

14 responses to ““Everything needs to be on the table.’’

  1. Sweet D

    And of course, collusion has its own pitfalls.


  2. Go Dawgs!

    This is the sort of thing that will never change unless/until there’s a college football commissioner. There are some programs that may eventually be forced by economic realities to scale back, but for the programs like Alabama, Georgia, Clemson, etc. which can still afford it after this crisis, there’s no way they’re going to disarm without being forced to.


    • To have a college football commissioner would mean the P5 conference commissioners would have to agree to subordinate their power and authority. Does that seem likely to happen to you?

      Not only that, but it would be a gift to every antitrust plaintiff’s attorney in America.


      • Go Dawgs!

        Oh, I definitely didn’t mean to say that I think it’s ever likely to happen. I simply meant to state that the only way staffing is ever scaled back is either if programs go broke or if the sport ever goes to a commissioner model. I don’t see it happening, in other words.


    • Napoleon BonerFart

      Even if a college football czar were to come into being, he certainly wouldn’t spend his time fretting about G5 schools anymore than Greg Sankey accommodates Vanderbilt over Alabama. Which is to say, not at all.


  3. Harold Miller

    Interesting they brought up the coaching staffs for Michigan and Florida State. I would say those 2 programs are getting their money’s worth.


  4. junkyardawg41

    The sad thing is that athletic budgets get a lot of the headlines but look at what the academic cost of attendance has become for schools across the country. in 2000, in state tuition at UGA was $3,034. 2018-2019 – $11,830. The same $3,034 in 2000 with inflation would be $4,426 in today dollars. The delta of 4,426 to 11,830 is a 167% increase.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Russ

      Yep, I think this will force schools to change how (and how much) they charge since I think it will go on longer than they want to admit (a couple of years before it goes away completely). State budgets are going to be even more stretched so the schools will get less, but I also think attendance will decline as parents won’t pay full tuition for online learning or the risk of exposure for junior.

      Not sure if the TV money will still be there as the economy tries to get over this. If the TV money is still there, the ADs will continue to spend like drunken sailors, though.


    • Faulkner

      Great post junkyard. It’s fair to discuss if there are to many analysts working for a team. However we never seem to discuss if there are to many administrators working for a school.


    • Not to argue with your figures because they are correct and are representative of higher education as a whole. I would ask a couple of things to go along with it:

      Take away the Hope benefit from the $12,000 ($7,600 for 15 hours @ UGA or $9,800 for the Miller Scholarship). That’s one quasi-government agency (the Georgia Lottery Corp. and Georgia Student Finance Commission) transferring funds from one government agency to another.

      What’s left over is $4,400 for Hope or $2,200 for Zell, which is in line with the inflation-adjusted numbers. If an in-state student loses his/her Hope, they are left paying the tab.

      Also, look at what the General Assembly has apportioned for higher ed. I would assume that those amounts have gone down on an inflation-adjusted basis and those costs have shifted from general tax revenue to either a lottery-subsidized amount or directly to the student/payer.

      Just a guess on my part, but yes, higher ed has gotten more expensive for many reasons.


      • junkyardawg41

        ee, I totally agree with your point that the cost to the student in 2018 is in alignment with the ~$4,400 inflation adjusted dollars. Remember, in 2000, a student would get around $1600 in HOPE against a tuition cost of $3034 or a delta of $1400 to the student.
        My bottom line/point is the acceleration of revenue — whether education or athletic related, represents an institutional issue on a national scale. I got my MBA at UA Huntsville and we had to constantly write business ethics papers in lots of our classes. I always wrote mine on irony. The folks who are telling us to be ethical business people are the same people who are ok with the institution they work for accelerating revenues.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Rift-Raff

      The more money the government sets aside for Pell grants and student loans, the more colleges and universities ramp up tuition and fees to hoard every bit of that money that they possibly can.


  5. Paul

    Just as most of the country hasn’t yet come to the realization that we’re in a pretty serious recession, athletic departments will keep spending like drunken sailors until the bank starts bouncing their checks.


  6. Bulldog Joe

    “Absolutely, but only so long as everyone is on the same plane.”

    A poor choice of words, given Clemson’s extravagance.