Category Archives: It’s Just Bidness

Super duper

One of the more pointless exercises I’ll see college football pundits and fans go through is pondering how great it would be for the sport to adopt one of English soccer’s great traditions:  relegation.  Never mind that it’s an apples and oranges comparison, if there ever was one — for one thing, you’re matching professional leagues with paid players and college leagues with student-athletes, and, for another, your comparing standalone soccer programs with football programs that are part of a larger athletic department — it’s speculation that some people find hard to resist.

Which is one reason I find the news that the biggest European teams in the sport are planning on putting together their own show, the Super League, with a new wrinkle:  no relegation, just twelve to fifteen permanent members and a few fillers to add in from season to season.  Why are they doing this?  You only get one guess.

Yes. According to their own estimates, each founding member stands to gain around $400 million merely to establish “a secure financial foundation,” four times more than Bayern Munich earned for winning the Champions League last season.

But that is just the start, really: The clubs believe that selling the broadcast rights for the Super League, as well as the commercial income, will be worth billions. And it will all go to them, rather than being redistributed to smaller clubs and lesser leagues through European soccer’s governing body, UEFA. At the same time, the value of domestic leagues and their clubs will diminish drastically as they are effectively rendered also-rans every year.

You’d think the lesson would be obvious here, but, quite the contrary, it’s just juicing a whole ‘nother type of speculation.

LOL.  So much for the excitement of relegation.

You want a CFB Super League?  Sure.  All you need to do is take the top 20 or so teams on this list and add Notre Dame and Southern Cal (they’re both private schools) to them, and voilà!  College football, supersized.

Some people didn’t get enough shiny toys when they were little.


Filed under College Football, It's Just Bidness

His work here is done.

Depending on your point of view, Matt Borman was Greg McGarity’s most substantial hire.  He’s leaving for a similar job at LSU, and leaves quite the legacy behind in Athens.

Since arriving at UGA in February of 2017 to oversee athletic fundraising, Borman and his staff have seen the Magill Society for high-end Bulldog donors grow from 475 members to nearly 1,400 and signed pledges from $36 million to more than $160 million.

Borman’s “proud of the culture we’ve created in the Bulldog Club” and while I can’t say I share the sentiment, there’s little question that he’s had a significant impact in that regard.  With he and McGarity leaving, it will be interesting to see who is tasked with the important role of vacuuming the fan base’s collective wallet efficiently as possible.  Like it or not, those will be some big shoes to fill.


Filed under Georgia Football, It's Just Bidness

“I mean, you only have four years as a college athlete.”

Amateurism romantics, college athletics as you know them ended and you weren’t even aware it happened!

Meet Chloe Mitchell.

Instead of seeing boosters with million dollar paychecks everywhere, you really should be pondering social media a whole lot more, because that’s where the bulk of the NIL money will be coming from.  (I know, that’s gonna be tough for y’all.  But try.)


Filed under It's Just Bidness, The NCAA

I don’t think competitive balance means what they think it means.

So, in response to a survey the Associated Press took of 357 Division I athletic directors came this cry of despair:

“NIL will be a game changer for all,” one respondent said. “Many will get out of college athletics as this is not what they signed up for. Schools should resist NIL and go Ivy [League] non-scholarship model. I do not see why NIL is good for all.”

It’s when you get a little further into the piece you find the giveaway:

Nearly 69% of respondents came from the 22 conferences that do not play FBS football. Only 10% of respondents came from the Power 5.

I give Chicken Little credit for cutting to the chase.  No mention is made of what’s in it for college athletes, because that’s not really a concern for an AD.  And if I were an AD at Podunk Southeast U, I’d love for the SEC to go Ivy League.

But it ain’t gonna happen.  None of it.  Just ask Tulane’s AD.

Tulane athletic director Troy Dannen was among the 15% of ADs who said they believe NIL payments will have no impact on competitive balance.

“The kids that are going to Alabama are still going to go to Alabama. The kids that are going to Southern Cal are still going to go to Southern Cal. The kids that are going to Tulane are still going to go to Tulane,” said Dannen, whose school competes at the top tier of Division I football (FBS) in the American Athletic Conference.

Looking back five years from now, which athletic director do you think will be proven right?


Filed under It's Just Bidness, The NCAA

Once again, amateurism for thee, but not for me

Sally Jenkins is full of righteous indignation, and I am here for all of it.

Never again let someone from the NCAA call women’s basketball or any other sport a “cost.” Connecticut’s Paige Bueckers is not a cost. She is the entire damn point. The real cost, the real burden in this iniquitous, contemptible system is the legion of skimmers and coasters led by the devious do-nothing NCAA president Mark Emmert and his board of governors cronies. There is the dead weight.

How many AT&T cellphone plans do the Connecticut women have to sell on ESPN to subsidize Emmert’s steakhouse dinners? How many bottles of Coca-Cola must the Stanford women peddle for free before their game is treated equitably and promoted decently by the NCAA? The biggest drag on collegiate sports, the real liability, is not women’s basketball. It’s these murkily titled, excessively salaried suits, who try to paint women’s teams as a revenue fail to cover their soft-padded seats.

At the top of NCAA headquarters sit 10 executives whose collective salaries amount to $8 million annually, topped by Emmert’s $2.7 million in compensation.

That’s the U-Conn. women’s operating budget for an entire year.

Let me repeat that. The salaries of just 10 NCAA administrators could sustain the most successful program in women’s basketball for a whole season.

Woof.  And she’s just getting started there.

Meanwhile, the NCAA overlords, with a bloated staff of more than 500, soak this system for $44.8 million a year in “administrative” costs and another $58.4 million in sundry business expenses. Then there is the whopping $23 million devoted to “governance committees” and an annual convention. That’s $126 million — for what? For double-talk and book-cooking.

Don’t stop now.

Somewhere along the line, the NCAA began to operate more like a strip-mining operation than an educational nonprofit. And the trouble with this conduct at the top is that it has leached downward. The bloat-and-spend habits have taken over virtually every major member school in the organization — and so has the mind-set that revenue is all that matters and if a women’s team isn’t driving enough dollars it’s somehow undeserving. “We’re made to feel like we’re not contributing, and I think we are,” McGraw says.

As The Post’s Will Hobson documented in a 2015-2016 investigation, over the space of a decade payrolls for administrators at Power Five conference schools jumped by 69 percent, while the number of teams essentially didn’t change. At UCLA, the athletic director tripled his salary to $920,000. At Michigan, the number of administrators making $100,000 or more rose to 34. “Everybody’s got a director of operations of operations,” one athletic director acknowledged.

And Emmert’s compensation, already in the seven figures, more than doubled. Yet women’s sports are the ones he has framed as a cost?

Hey, give the NCAA some credit here.  At least they’re equal opportunity exploiters.


Filed under It's Just Bidness, The NCAA

The Pac-12’s got a new mission.

And academics got nothin’ to do with it.

The Pac-12 presidents are open to hiring a commissioner who would transform the conference’s business structure and implement a model used by professional leagues, according to the job description published by the search firm assisting the process.

The description includes the following passage:

“While historically intercollegiate conference offices have been focused on sport operations and the business of the ‘collective,’ the Pac-12 is open to a more modern conference structure and approach which can be seen in several professional sports leagues.”

Now one thing professional sports leagues have in common is that they pay the hired help.  So that’s certainly one possible take from the corporate gobbledygook.  Of course, the other one is simply “whatever we decide, it won’t be to hire another Larry Scott, thanks.”  I’ll leave you to decide on the more likely interpretation.


Filed under It's Just Bidness, Pac-12 Football

What a week Mark Emmert’s having…

The NCAA has completely botched the women’s basketball tourney.

Amid mounting pressure from players, coaches and administrators over differences between the men’s and women’s basketball tournaments, NCAA President Mark Emmert on Tuesday wrote that he would be calling for “an independent review” of the processes that led to the disparities.

Emmert’s letter, which was obtained by The Washington Post, arrived in the wake of sharpening criticism that started late last week when players took to social media to note the differences between what men’s and women’s participants were being provided in terms of meals, fitness facilities and even coronavirus testing. NCAA officials acknowledged those differences as an “operational miss” and sought to remedy some of them, but that did little to stem a steady tide of outrage.

No doubt Emmert expects a little paper-overing should do the trick, at least in the short run.  The problem he’s got is that it hasn’t gone unnoticed in certain quarters.

Controversy over gender disparities at college basketball’s marquee tournaments reached Capitol Hill on Wednesday, as a group of 36 House Democrats demanded answers of NCAA President Mark Emmert and soccer star Megan Rapinoe called out NCAA officials in a congressional hearing.

In a letter to Emmert, the lawmakers asked for a review of the NCAA’s other championships and raised questions about the organization’s role in fueling inequity in college sports, a sign that scrutiny of the NCAA is likely to expand beyond this month’s men’s and women’s basketball tournaments.

… The House Democrats’ letter, which was provided to The Washington Post, asks Emmert to review “all other championship competitions to ensure that they adhere to the gender equity principles of Title IX,” the landmark gender equity law that bars discrimination on college campuses. It demands a breakdown of the resources the NCAA uses to investigate and identify gender disparities at its member colleges.

Not a good look when you’re trying to argue with a straight face that the status quo, economically speaking, is worth defending because of the opportunities it provides to college athletes in non-revenue producing sports.

That all being said, the cynic in me concedes that may not be career threatening.  After all, shamefaced hypocrisy is a big reason Emmert has the job he has.  This, though, is an entirely different can of worms.

All those are going to pale in comparison to what promises to be Emmert’s defining legacy of incompetence at the NCAA, a mistake that’s going to likely cost the association more than $3.5 billion in upcoming years. In 2016, the NCAA had eight years left on its NCAA tournament television contract with CBS and Turner and decided not to take it to market.

Instead, the NCAA extended the deal until 2032 at a modest increase of less than 3% annually. At the time, Emmert took a victory lap in the media, saying that uncertainties in the “evolving media landscape” led to the extension.

Well, the landscape has evolved. And those who trade in the television business have declared it a failure of vision, destined to go down as one of the worst sports television deals in modern athletic history. History will remember CBS and Turner executives wearing a ski mask in those negotiations, as the deal is already considered a bargain with more than a decade remaining. By the time it expires in 2032, Emmert will be remembered as having left billions on the table.  [Emphasis added.]

There are a lot of forgivable sins in college athletics, but fucking up broadcast revenue deals isn’t one of them.  Just ask Larry Scott.

Have fun, Mark.


Filed under It's Just Bidness, Political Wankery, The NCAA

“… colleges are essentially incompetent commercial actors…”

Andy Schwarz wrote a thought provoking opinion piece about AB609, the radical bill that would require California universities to pay royalty fees directly to athletes in exchange for the use of their name, image and likeness.   Essentially, he argues that for some, the effect of the bill would be to force schools (at least some, anyway) to disengage from their entanglement with athletics.

In contrast, AB609 is a great example of the other reformist tradition, one which thinks the problem is that college sports are overly embedded into the American economic system.

This viewpoint advocates for pulling back on the throttle. Mandating that California schools essentially opt out of the coaching and facilities markets won’t, by itself, help athletes earn more, but it will work to make sure that coaches, and likely California schools, earn less.

This is a view that colleges are essentially incompetent commercial actors and so athletes can only get justice if the schools are reined in, rather than pushing for the athletes to be let loose.

The question of whether California’s elite educational institutions should be part of the upper tier of the college sports industry is a policy question. Many smart people think the answer is no, and it seems AB609 would go a long way towards ensuring that California schools become more like the University of Chicago or the Ivy League in their approach to sports.

It seems to me that’s an argument that’s right up some of y’all’s alley.  I’d be curious to hear what you think about this.


Filed under It's Just Bidness, Political Wankery, The NCAA

On the Plains, stupid is as stupid does.

If you were wondering what kind of financial inducement Auburn would have to offer Gus Malzahn’s replacement — after all, it’s not every day a school punts a coach who’s beaten Saban a few times and gone to a national title game — to entice him to come to the Plains, well, here you go:

New Auburn football coach Bryan Harsin has signed a six-year contract with the school that will pay him an average of $5.25 million, according to documents released Monday…

If Auburn fires Harsin without cause, it will owe the coach 70% of his remaining salary through the contract term, half of which will be paid within 30 days of termination. The remaining 50% would be paid out over four years, and Harsin’s guarantee is not subject to offset or mitigation. Auburn had a similarly structured agreement with Harsin’s predecessor, Gus Malzahn, who was fired in December.

Harsin made $1.85 million in his last season at Boise State and reportedly was looking to move on to a place with greater financial resources.  He must think he died and went to heaven with this deal.  And, although I don’t believe Jimmy Sexton represents Harsin, he probably feels the same way, too.

Boy, it sure is a good thing schools have grasped some degree of financial sanity in the wake of the pandemic.


Filed under Auburn's Cast of Thousands, It's Just Bidness

Your Name Here

Speaking of squandering, it occurs to me I blew a perfect opportunity for a post topic when I linked this bad boy the other day.

Let me take this opportunity to rectify my mistake.  Whom would you suggest as the perfect presenting sponsor for UGA football?  (Reality would be a liquor wholesaler, but that’s probably not in the cards.)  And for other SEC football programs?  (Do I even need to mention the perfect marriage of McDonalds and UT football?  No, I don’t think I do.)

Have at it in the comments.


Filed under Georgia Football, It's Just Bidness