Category Archives: It’s Just Bidness

Be careful what you wish for, coaches.

My theory about how coaches feel about the issues roiling the NCAA and schools right now – primarily amateurism and unionization – is that the coaches don’t oppose the players’ interests out of a lack of sympathy (Dabo Swinney’s “they’re lucky to be here” attitude notwithstanding), so much as they don’t relish the potential threat to their control resolution of these issues might pose.

So that, plus what’s probably a lack of general understanding or attention to the issues, is probably why you don’t hear coaches dismiss the need for an antitrust exemption for college sports.  Judging from a comment from Wisconsin chancellor Rebecca Blank, maybe they should brush up on the issue.

Blank, chancellor since 2013, has given the issue of coaches’ salaries a good deal of thought — and she offers a radical fix.

“Coaches are being paid, especially in a couple of big sports, increasingly like professional leagues,” she says. “It immediately raises the question of, ‘Why aren’t your athletes being paid similarly?’ If I could redo this, I would try to get some sort of antitrust exemption here and say, ‘We run a college sports program — and college sports programs are different. And we do have the right to cap salaries, given the salary levels that exist elsewhere around the university.’

“And the expectation is that these students are students, as well as athletes, meaning it is not a for-profit program. People who want to make those kinds of salaries need to be in professional sports. I’m a losing voice on that right now. … I don’t think anyone believes it’s going to happen.”

Although she expresses an attitude that’s been expressed before by college administrators, Cheek isn’t exactly a tyro when it comes to economic issues.  She was acting secretary of commerce in the Obama administration and holds a doctorate in economics from Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Coaches aren’t the only people who like control, you know.


Filed under It's Just Bidness, Political Wankery

The real case for keeping Richt

In a world in which six head coaches making more than $3 million a year sport losing records, do you really want to be the guy who fires a nine- or ten-win Mark Richt?  Or, more accurately, spend the kind of money it would take to get a replacement for Richt who would unify the fan base?


Filed under Georgia Football, It's Just Bidness

“People like to drink at football games.”

The math of selling beer at college football games is pretty simple.

In an era of seven-figure coaching salaries and demands for more resources for athletes, universities are always looking for ways to increase revenue. But college football is also eager to keep up attendance, which averaged 44,190 last season, the lowest figure since at least 2003, according to the N.C.A.A. In the era of high-definition home televisions, fan experience is the focus of many athletic directors’ offices.

In that environment, alcohol sales are a moneymaker. West Virginia’s athletic director, Shane Lyons, said last month that “approximately $500,000 a year just in beer comes back to us.”

Not only is that nothing to sneer at, it’s enough to overcome certain squeamish qualms.

“I feel like we’ve been a pilot program — people have seen it work,” West Virginia’s Lyons said, noting that Maryland and Texas had contacted West Virginia for advice before deciding to begin beer sales this fall.

Not everyone is comfortable. West Virginia’s president, E. Gordon Gee, who as a Mormon does not drink, said he was reluctant to maintain the policy when he returned to the university last year but was persuaded to do so by the Board of Governors.

“I’m sometimes conflicted about it,” he said, “because I do believe one of the main issues confronting universities is alcohol abuse — binge drinking.”

And the decision to sell beer in the stadium will have such an impact on that.  Like another policy in fact does.

At West Virginia, the introduction of general-admission alcohol sales was paired with the elimination of so-called passouts. Though the term is not a deliberate pun, passouts — which allowed fans to leave and re-enter the stadium during Mountaineers games — contributed to binge drinking in the parking lots at halftime.

“I used to park my motor home outside the stadium,” Jay Gerber, 65, said as he stood at his seat near the 50-yard line. “Was nice to come and go.”

His bathroom was probably easier to access, too.

There is a certain hypocrisy to allowing alcohol to be consumed in the well-heeled section of the stadium – one of the perks, ‘ya know – and denying it to the rest of the season ticket holders.  But buried in the article is the most hilarious defense of the practice you’ll ever see.

“Whether it’s alcohol or any other improvements,” she said, “it’s important to keep some of what people love about college and not make it a mini-N.F.L.”

Heavens to Betsy, not that!  Get thee away, demon alcohol!


Filed under College Football, It's Just Bidness

It’s a fantasy, alright.

It looks like college sports has found its next crusade.

How to legislate the participation of collegiate athletes and staff in fantasy leagues turned into a hot-button topic Tuesday as NCAA Division I athletic directors met in Dallas.

With the legality of daily fantasy sports being examined by lawmakers at the state and federal levels, Oliver Luck, the NCAA’s vice president of regulatory affairs, told athletic directors that the NCAA feels fantasy leagues fall under its gambling rules. NCAA Bylaw 10.3 stipulates that an athlete who is found to have participated in any gambling activity, in any sport, college or pro, will lose one year of eligibility.

Of course, the devil’s in the details, since the feds don’t define daily fantasy as illegal gambling.

Plus, money.

Scott also said the Pac-12 Network would not accept ads from DraftKings or FanDuel, but Pac-12 spokesman Erik Hardenbergh later clarified to that it was, in fact, still running daily fantasy advertising within its game broadcasts, including this weekend.

Yeah, this is going to end well.


Filed under It's Just Bidness, The NCAA

Applying a business model to the gridiron

At some point, everyone is going to wake up to the reality that college sports is big business, which is starting to bring a whole new meaning to college prep.

IMG is at the forefront. It is trying to enhance its academy brand with football, perhaps the most visible sport. And it is applying a business model to the gridiron that has long been profitable for tennis and has expanded to golf, soccer, baseball, basketball, lacrosse, and track and field. The academy has nearly 1,000 students from more than 80 countries enrolled in prekindergarten through 12th grade and postgraduation. About half the students are international.

The school, 45 miles south of Tampa, recruits football players from around the country, offering high-performance training, college preparatory courses, coaches with N.F.L. playing experience, facilities that resemble a small college more than a high school, and a chance to play a national schedule and on national television on ESPN against some of the country’s highest-rated teams.

Though IMG Academy has fielded a varsity football team for only three seasons and, as an independent school, is ineligible to play for a Florida state championship, it is stocked with six of the nation’s top 100 senior recruits. The roster has players from 21 states and six countries. This month, IMG flew to Texas for a game. On Saturday, it will travel to New Jersey to face another power, Bergen Catholic High School.

The full cost of tuition and boarding for a year of football at IMG Academy is $70,800, although need-based financial assistance is available. School officials would not provide specific figures, but they said that payments by families could range from tens of thousands of dollars to a competition fee (between $3,750 and $4,500) to nothing.

Team helmets are adorned not with a lion or a tiger but with IMG’s corporate logo.

Nice.  So is this.

IMG officials are upfront about their profit motive. And they have been backed financially by powerful state lawmakers who justify the assistance by citing the academy’s economic impact to the region in training more than 12,000 athletes yearly from the youth level to the pros and in hosting numerous amateur and professional sports competitions.

Although it is private, IMG Academy has received more than $7 million from the Florida state budget over the past two years, according to news accounts. An additional $2 million was pledged by lawmakers in June but was then vetoed by Gov. Rick Scott.

Ain’t amateurism grand?


Filed under College Football, It's Just Bidness


ESPN has discovered the wide, wide world of sports gambling and the people running college football ain’t too happy about it.

“I don’t think those are things that ought to be a part of the presentation of college football, but maybe that’s the environment in which we find ourselves,” said Big 12 Conference commissioner Bob Bowlsby, adding that he was “quite sure that all of (the Big 12’s presidents and athletic directors) feel as I do that it’s inappropriate.”

So what are they gonna do about it?

About what you’d expect.

Arizona athletic director Greg Byrne, while noting his athletic department’s sponsorship deals with local casinos (which do not have sports books), said he’s concerned.

“Anytime there’s anything to do with sports gambling and college sports, understandably that will be something I would hope at some point will be discussed,” Byrne said.

Now there’s a guy who’s going to bring to real gravitas to the conversation.

“There is an existing concern about the inexorable march toward gambling being more and more central to sport,” Sankey told USA TODAY Sports. “It has clearly gotten more momentum based on messaging out of the NBA last year. We have to be mindful of the realities of the culture developing around us.”

Translation:  at some point in time, it’s gonna become a source of revenue the SEC can’t ignore.  And it’ll likely come from something like this:

Though it appears on the surface to be unrelated, several athletic directors connected the apparent new emphasis on sports betting with ESPN’s business relationships with companies like DraftKings and FanDuel, daily online fantasy sports businesses that promise cash prizes to winners. Last spring, according to multiple reports, ESPN’s parent company, Walt Disney Co., agreed to invest $250 million in DraftKings, but then backed out, apparently because of concerns that the enterprise too closely resembled gambling. Although the deal never came to fruition, DraftKings is spending several hundred million dollars in advertising over the next two years with ESPN, according to Sports Business Journal.

Although the bulk of the fantasy sports business — traditional or the daily version — has been centered on professional sports, college football is a growing portion of the business. The idea that fantasy sports would use college players’ names and performances to determine winners and payouts concerns athletic directors. Among other reasons, they’re concerned college athletes might be enticed to play the daily games — perhaps choosing themselves.

“We’ve been wrestling with all the issues around DraftKings and FanDuel,” Bowlsby said, “which I don’t think anybody can suggest isn’t gambling.”

But that’s exactly what ESPN and businesses like DraftKings and FanDuel suggest. Bowlsby noted that the Big 12’s TV contracts prohibit advertisements for gambling, other than for state-authorized lotteries, “but our television partners assert that it (fantasy sports games) isn’t gambling.”

After they cut that first check to your conference, you will too, Bob.  Bet on it.


Filed under College Football, ESPN Is The Devil, It's Just Bidness

“The answer to the problem is not throwing money at it.”

Oh, noes!  College football administrators are in a tizzy again about spending money on student-athletes!

Funny how spending millions on coaching salaries for coaches they no longer employ, overdone facilities and their own effing salaries don’t generate such angst.

Guys, it’s real simple.  If you don’t want to offer COA stipends, don’t.  Otherwise, shut the hell up.


Filed under It's Just Bidness, The NCAA