Category Archives: It’s Just Bidness

A dollar here, a dollar there… and pretty soon you’re talking about real money.

Marc Weiszer reports that Georgia’s football budget for the next fiscal year will increase by more than one-third.

Georgia’s budget for football will increase 35.66 percent from $17,275,044 to $23,434,888, according to figures presented to the UGA Athletic Association board of directors last week.

Compensation and monthly payroll totals increased from $7,810,479 to $10,732,324.

This is my favorite part of the news:

Richt said additional support staff helps “to manage all the issues that our young men have. I don’t know exactly where every single dollar is going but the great majority of it is to help make it better for our players.”  [Emphasis added.]

For once, I guess that means he really has lost control of something.

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Filed under Georgia Football, It's Just Bidness

You got to grab money to spend money.

If you don’t look at anything else today, make sure you check out the latest chart USA Today has assembled, showing the rankings of 230 public colleges and universities on the basis of their revenues for the 2013-14 fiscal year.

For context, you can read some stuff here, such as the information detailing Oregon’s big jump.  But the truly staggering numbers are easy to see on the chart itself:  scroll down to No. 52, Cincinnati, and look at how much revenue some of these schools are generating from non-athletic sources, such as student fees, direct and indirect institutional support and state money.

It’s not that I have a problem with subsidies per se.  It’s that I strongly doubt all the parties ponying up know exactly what’s going on.

By the way, notice what kind of deficit Auburn ran?  Maybe we ought to let them run wild with that COA stuff after all until they wind up filing for bankruptcy.

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Filed under College Football, It's Just Bidness

Boys, y’all made the COA bed. Now you have to lie in it.

Man, the logic chopping on display in Destin yesterday over the emerging disparity in COA stipends is hilarious.  Start with the Sabanator:

“They have a salary cap in the NFL, probably one in every pro sport, to create parity and competitive balance,” Saban said. “There should be a cap on the cost of attendance. It’s important we all have the same criteria and we all have transparency in how it is calculated.

“Some people are promoting it (a school’s COA) in recruiting. We have not done that. It’s in the university’s interest to keep the cost of attendance low. That should be the first priority from an institutional standpoint, not really what’s better from an athletic standpoint.”

Skip past the nonsense of the head coach of Alabama being piously concerned about promoting parity in college athletics.  And even give Saban credit for noting what the priority ought to be for a school setting its COA figure.  He’s still saying that college football should emulate professional sports in determining how student-athletes are compensated for their services.  If I’m Jeffrey Kessler, his name’s going on my next witness list.

Ultimately, the problem here is that the schools have seized upon the COA stipend as a fig leaf to side step the NCAA’s amateurism rules.  The straightforward approach would simply have been to use autonomy as the lever to allow the P5 conferences to pay student-athletes, period. That would have allowed each conference to set a single number as a cap for its members. But, of course, that wasn’t thinkable; the schools and conferences simply aren’t ready to concede that.  So instead you’ve got Mike Slive giving mealy-mouthed explanations about what’s been shaped.

“For all these years, the NCAA passed legislation with the premise being a level playing field, which in effect means it’s for the institutions,” Slive said. “But when we put the vision together for the 21st century, we made student-athletes the primary focus.

“We moved from level playing field to student athletes. By definition when you do that, there are issues that aren’t as comfortable if you’re grounded into the level playing field.

“It does create recruiting issues if you have different levels of cost of attendance. It needs to be worked through. We’re going to end up with differentials we’re all going to have to live with.”

Hey, it’s the vision thing!  I’m inspired.

Here’s the point Slive is either missing, or glossing over.  True, accurately calculated COA is a playing field leveler.  Every school paying the correct amount means that a student-athlete’s finances from year-to-year will net the same in the end, regardless of where he/she chooses to attend.

What’s got everyone agitated isn’t that prospect.  It’s the suspicion that certain schools are bending the numbers to pay players enough to gain an advantage over schools that aren’t.  The irony of the free market at work in this environment shouldn’t escape anyone’s notice.

So Mark Richt’s got a point when he says,

“If everybody would disclose how they go about their business, I think it might be helpful to get things on a more equal playing field,” Richt said.

“There’s a lot of numbers out there that no one knows how they got to those numbers. It’d be nice to know how everybody gets to that number. If everybody’s using the same grid, then maybe it’d be a little bit closer.”

But as long as you’re using COA, as it’s currently defined, transparency is only going to get you so far – and that’s assuming you can even get everyone in the conference on the same page about disclosing their formulas.  The numbers are always going to be different because things don’t cost the same amount everywhere you go.  And somehow, I don’t think that will ever satisfy the Nick Sabans of the world.

In the end, it’s the OBC with the only sensible grasp of things as they stand.

Spurrier changed his tune with cost-of-attendance, saying that equality doesn’t happen in many aspects of recruiting, and it probably shouldn’t with finances.

“If one school can give $5,000 a year and another $4,000, hell, that’s just the way it is,” Spurrier said.

“Who knows the reason a young man picks a school, but we would hope four or five hundred dollars wouldn’t be a reason a kid picks a school.”

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Filed under It's Just Bidness, SEC Football

Today’s random burning question

Vasha Hunt/vhunt@al.com (VASHA HUNT)

How much do you think Coke pays the University of Alabama to get that bottle positioned just so for every Saban presser?

Just wonderin’.

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You can’t put a price tag on facilitating happiness.

Chip Towers has quite the tale to tell about that shiny, new, more-expensive-than-you-thought IPF (now dubbed IAF, since it will be used by other Georgia programs):

I talked to one board member who guesses that the cost will be closer to $40 million than the widely referenced $30 million when it’s all said and done. We’ll see.

What happened to the old plan, you may ask? I’m hearing that politics got involved.

UGA had taken its idea of razing the Hoke Smith Annex and building next to Stegeman Coliseum to the Board of Regents to get its nod of approval and negotiate any real estate hurdles. But that’s not where the plan got tripped up.

Apparently what started out amicably enough with the current tenants of the Hoke Smith Annex – primarily the College of Agriculture and Environmental Science’s Extension Service — eventually got into one of those what-else-can-you-do-for-me deals and Athletics simply didn’t want to play. Besides, Richt had long been a proponent of having the facility only if it could be built within the current footprint of the Butts-Mehre complex. Right-hand man Jeremy Pruitt echoed that sentiment last fall.

The bottom line is Richt apparently finally is going to get a Taj Mahal of an indoor facility right in the precise location where it was proposed to be built 17 years ago when Jim Donnan was head coach.

Did I mention it’s going to cost more than you thought it would?  Sounds like a few others wanted to get their hands in the honey pot.

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Filed under Georgia Football, It's Just Bidness

COA as a bullshit detector

As we watch the ongoing race to pay, Andy Schwarz makes a wonderful point.

To critics of amateurism such as economist Andy Schwarz, the ease with which schools added stipends undercuts the argument made by some schools in 2011 that such stipends could lead schools to eliminate unprofitable sports.

“The rhetoric that you hear a business say before a fixed price changes is just that: rhetoric. The actions that you’re seeing now are more telling,” said Schwarz, who uses clinical economic terms when discussing college sports that would make some school officials cringe.

“This is a great natural experiment. We’re getting to see change in an economic environment and see how firms react,” Schwarz said of the new stipends. “We’re learning a ton about the real preferences of schools with where they decide to put their money.”

Not that it’ll stop anyone from making up stuff about the next bridge too far.

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They can afford it.

You may have noticed that the Athletic Department is on something of a spending spree lately.

An athletic association budget of $117,419,039 was approved for fiscal year 2016 at Thursday’s spring meeting of the Board of Directors at the King and Prince Golf and Beach Resort.

That’s an increase of nearly $17.6 million from FY15…

The athletic association pledged an additional $1 million to the university, separate from the $4 million gift already planned, to help aid the university’s new, “experiential learning initiative,” according to University of Georgia President Jere Morehead.

A raise and extension was approved for basketball coach Mark Fox, now in line for $2 million annually for the next five years.

The contract keeps Fox, who is 106-89 with two NCAA Tournament appearances in six seasons at Georgia, signed through the 2019-20 season.

Athletic director Greg McGarity also received a raise, up to $575,000 beginning in July with yearly increases planned through summer of 2019.

And the timetable for the indoor athletic facility, a hot-button topic within the community and fan base for years, is taking shape.

Judging from this job posting, the growth in the support staff for football isn’t slowing down, either. (h/t sectionzalum)

It’s different from what we’ve been accustomed to, but it’s not as if the reserve fund is going to be drained this year.  That’s because, first, as the article notes, the big bucks from the fledgling SEC Network are starting to roll in.  Boy, are they.

The SEC revenue distribution grows each year. It was $309.6 million in 2014, but this is the first year that will account for the SEC Network. Georgia reported at its athletic board meeting that its payment from the SEC is expected to jump from $22.97 million in fiscal year 2015 to $34.51 million in fiscal year 2016.

Throw in a 25% increase in ticket prices being phased in over the next three seasons and a $10 bump in the price of admission to the Cocktail Party and it’s pretty clear that nobody in Butts-Mehre is worried about missing any meals in the next few years.  Not to say Greg McGarity ain’t grateful:

“Our fans have been loyal to us through seasons where we were 12-2 and when we were 6-7, and we’re extremely appreciative of that support.”

“You’re welcome,” said our wallets.

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Filed under Georgia Football, It's Just Bidness