Category Archives: It’s Just Bidness

“… he took us from the 18th-best bowl in America to the seventh-best bowl.”

Man, whaddaya think – they’re running a charity at the Alamo Bowl?

There are many different ways to frame Derrick Fox’s compensation of nearly $600,000.

Valero Alamo Bowl board members like to say the target for Fox’s compensation is the 75th percentile of all bowls, reflecting the game’s standing as one of the best in the nation.

Another way to frame it is to say that for putting on an annual football game, Fox, the bowl’s chief executive and president, earns more than San Antonio City Manager Sheryl Sculley, San Antonio Water System President and CEO Robert Puente, UTSA Athletic Director Lynn Hickey and San Antonio Food Bank President and CEO Eric Cooper.

But here’s perhaps the most poignant way to frame Fox’s compensation: He has made considerably more than the bowl has given away in scholarships.

That was true in 2004-05 when the Alamo Bowl gave away $52,000 and Fox hauled in $279,230, per tax records. It was true in 2009-10, when the bowl gave away $110,000 and Fox’s compensation jumped to $419,045, again per tax records. It was true in 2014-15, the most recent tax records, when the bowl gave away $432,500 and Fox earned $578,216.

Fox won’t discuss his compensation, but he’s got no problem pumping his good works.

He got himself into hot water speaking before Congress in 2009, when he said, “Almost all of the postseason bowl games are put on by charitable groups” and that “local charities receive tens of millions of dollars every year.”

Not only were a good number of the bowls privately owned, but reporters found the 23 existing nonprofit bowls gave $3.2 million to local charities on $186.3 million in revenue.

But Fox said something more granular. Asked by U.S. Rep. Joe Barton, R-Ennis, about how much “money” from the Alamo Bowl goes to “classic charities,” Fox said, “There are several hundred thousand dollars that will go out to local organizations.”

“Whether it’s Boys & Girls Clubs, whether it’s Kids Sports Network, you name it. There are a number of different organizations who benefit from the bowl as well.”

Tax records show the scholarships but not the other philanthropy. When I asked Fox for clarification or supporting documents for the statement, a bowl representative sent me a list that included more than $400,000 in donations from 2008. This is in addition to scholarships and payouts to participating football teams.

The list did include donations to Kids Sports Network, Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, the food bank and others. It also includes more than $330,000 in “tickets.” Got it? Tickets, not actual money that helps keep these nonprofits going. There’s a difference.

Nice gig, if you can get it.  But let’s talk some more about greedy student-athletes, okay?



Filed under It's Just Bidness

Money talks.


I’m sure Laremy Tunsil won’t talk about it anymore.  Hugh Freeze would prefer not to talk about it.  The people in the Ole Miss athletic office will reluctantly talk to the NCAA about it.

Lindsay Miller, on the other hand, can’t shut up about it.

Miller claims Tunsil’s academic records were altered. He said [Tunsil’s mother Deseree] Polingo used to receive Western Union deliveries of money from Barney Farrar, Ole Miss assistant athletic director for high school and junior college relations. An apparent reference to Farrar was made in the year-old text messages on draft night; when Tunsil asked the Ole Miss administrator for money, he responds, “See Barney next week.”

I know it’s easy to hide things on the receiving end of a Western Union transfer, but I was under the impression that there is a paper trail on the front end.  Assuming what Miller says is true, wouldn’t cash have been a safer means of taking care of her?  Of course, the NCAA can’t subpoena Western Union, but it can sure look around Farrar’s records.

How many times do you figure Miller has spoken with NCAA investigators by now?


Filed under It's Just Bidness, The NCAA

Just a taste

Lon Kruger wants to figure out a way to pay the student-athletes who are superstars.

Oklahoma basketball coach Lon Kruger did some homework before he spoke Tuesday on a Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics panel about allowing college players to be paid. Kruger said he interviewed five business owners in Oklahoma and asked them two questions.

First, if the NCAA allowed players to get endorsement money, would the businesses invest $1,000 in athletes for an hour of their time? The owners told Kruger they absolutely would regardless of the impact on their business.

Second, if the NCAA allowed it, how many athletes would the businesses invest in? The owners told Kruger the high end was 10 and the low end was six. Kruger said he was surprised by that answer.

“The goal is to be fair,” Kruger said. “Maybe we start at 2 percent or 5 percent of the student-athletes and how do we help them find their value given that the majority of student-athletes have a pretty fair deal?”

Hey, it’s a start.  And at least he’s willing to concede to reality.

Kruger, who made $2.85 million this year, said he can understand the arguments made that athletes are exploited or undervalued.

“Certainly there are cases where that is true,” he said. “Universities are making millions of dollars off of sales and tickets, merchandise sales, sponsorship rights. No question there’s a lot of money to be made. It’s a big business. … We’re all after some middle ground where we’re fair to the student-athlete and protecting their opportunity to participate.”

To me, this is an easy place for the NCAA to begin to compromise.  Rights deals don’t cost schools a dime and don’t raise any troubling Title IX complications.  Yes, there is a potential for abuse, but it’s not an impossible barrier to overcome with some thought.

Besides, the current format is so illogical.  How can Todd Gurley’s endorsement be worth nothing one day as a college junior and then worth millions on the very next day when he terminates his college eligibility?  Besides that, has anyone considered the possibility that some of these kids might find it preferable to stay in college rather than leave early for the pros if there was endorsement money rolling in for them?


Filed under It's Just Bidness, The NCAA

When Big 12 membership absolutely positively has to be there overnight…

You can sit there, gussy yourself up a little bit and convince yourself that you’re a terrific fit for the Big 12.

Or you can try outright bribery.

On Feb. 24, Memphis president David Rudd penned a letter to Gee and copied Oklahoma president David Boren and Baylor president Ken Starr, the other two members of the composition committee, as well as former Big 12 board chairman and Kansas State president Kirk Schulz. In the letter, Rudd pledged that Memphis will make a $500 million investment in academic and athletic infrastructure over the next five years. Rudd also enclosed a letter from FedEx chairman Fred Smith, who stated that the delivery services giant headquartered in Memphis will be behind the school’s Big 12 campaign.

“We strongly support the university’s efforts to become a member of an expanded Big 12 athletic conference,” Smith wrote to Rudd in a letter dated Feb. 23. “In support of [Memphis’] Big 12 aspirations, we have researched college conference sponsorships and are prepared to become a major Big 12 sponsor of football and basketball.”

Smith also wrote that FedEx would be prepared to sponsor a Big 12 championship game.

“We believe the University of Memphis and the Big 12 are a great fit and hope our support will contribute to the University of Memphis becoming a member of this storied athletic conference in the near future,” Smith wrote.

Sounds like a match made in heaven.



Filed under Big 12 Football, It's Just Bidness

Help me to help you help me.

Andy Staples points out a little money-making quirk in the satellite camp business.

… Now, a college program can pay a high school any amount of money to host a camp the college coaches would then work. If that high school features recruits the college wants, that dynamic would provide an unfair advantage under the current NCAA framework*. Schools can pay high school coaches to work their on-campus camps, but the NCAA examines the payouts and can punish schools that pay one coach at a higher rate than another. There is no such way to control satellite camp payments. For instance, Big State could insist that renting the field at High School High costs $50,000, and no one could dispute it…

At this point, is there anybody left in the college athletics business… oh, excuse me, the noble pursuit of helping young amateur athletes achieve their goal of obtaining a college education… who’s not getting a piece of the action?  (Besides the student-athletes themselves, that is.)


Filed under It's Just Bidness, Recruiting

There’s money in those hashtags.

This is pretty damned cheeky, don’t you think?

Texas coach Charlie Strong has turned the phrase #Letsride into his social media clarion call. When the Longhorns land a new recruit, Strong tweets out the catchy phrase as something of a de facto press release.

Texas officials were surprised Monday after learning that a reporter who covers Longhorns recruiting had trademarked Strong’s phrase in March 2015 and recently started selling #Letsride T-shirts.

Jason Higdon, the lead recruiting analyst for Horns Digest, filed two federal trademark applications with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office last year to use the phrase on various sports apparel and wristbands.

Higdon, who actively talks to UT recruits and reports on whether they are leaning toward the Horns, recently began promoting a website selling Lets Ride Sports merchandise.


In a message board thread initiated Monday on Horns Digest, Higdon wrote, “I understand everyone has an opinion. I want to promote commitment back in team sports.

“Regardless the team, I am in talks with high school football programs in the southeast, little league baseball teams etc,” Higdon continued. “Doesn’t matter if its 13 year olds, 18 year olds or 25 year olds, and regardless of the team they all must have a certain level of commitment. The ‘LetsRide Initiative,’ which means commitment to yourself, to your teammates and your coaching staff is something I came up with. It just kind of evolved into what it is today.”

… Before Strong arrived in Austin prior to the 2014 season, #Letsride was not a part of the UT lexicon. According to the coach’s Twitter timeline, Strong first used the phrase on Feb. 22, 2014, after getting a commitment from Huntsville offensive lineman Buck Major.

That’s one heck of a coincidence.  I guess this was, too.

On Monday morning, the site offered “Texas Orange” shirts featuring white and black lettering with the phrase #Letsride. After the Statesman began making inquiries, the website changed its language during the afternoon and was selling “Dark Orange” shirts.

I assume the school, which hasn’t commented, is either pissed off or kicking itself for not having thought of it first.  Bet that won’t happen again.


Filed under It's Just Bidness, Recruiting, Texas Is Just Better Than You Are.

Same as it ever was.

For the hopeless romantics out there…

Ah, the good old days, when college administrators could sanctimoniously deny paying players and were believed.


Filed under It's Just Bidness, The NCAA