Category Archives: It’s Just Bidness

“I wish none of us played in this tournament.”

John Calipari, as is his wont when conference tourneys are the subject of discussion, speaks truth to power.

Calipari always has placed the importance of NCAA tournament preparation and seeding ahead of any value in a league tournament trophy. His Wildcats (26-5) are seeded first in this year’s 14-team SEC field, having won the regular season with a 16-2 league record.

Kentucky, which has been seeded first or second in every SEC tournament under Calipari, will open play Friday afternoon against the winner of Thursday’s matchup between eighth-seeded Georgia and ninth-seeded Tennessee.

“This tournament to me is all about preparation,” Calipari said Saturday afternoon in a news conference after a 71-63 win at Texas A&M. “That’s why I don’t like it ending on a Sunday. When they throw you a Thursday game (in the NCAA tournament) like they did last year, that’s five games in eight days if you get to the second (NCAA) game.

“It’s five games in eight days for these young kids, and it’s not fair. When you play Sunday and they put you in the Thursday bracket, you better hope the team that you face on Saturday (in the NCAA tournament) is as tired as you and that they played on Sunday.”

With a 64-team national playoff, conference basketball tournaments, at least from the standpoint of upper tier teams like Kentucky, are as useless as tits on a boar hog.

College football doesn’t face that problem as of yet, but between years like this past one, when winning a conference title game (or even playing in one, for that matter) wasn’t a necessity for reaching the national semifinals, and the future enlargement of the postseason pool, it’s a scenario that has legs.

When that day comes, either there will be enough money in the pot that the conferences won’t mind sacrificing their own championships for the national good, or, more likely, they’ll keep the games anyway for the extra revenue.  At which point you can cue the bitching from someone like Nick Saban the first time he loses a key player to an injury in a meaningless conference championship game.  Not that it’ll matter.

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Filed under BCS/Playoffs, It's Just Bidness

77 million drops of rain

Ladies and gentlemen, your dollars at work… sort of.

Through it all, Georgia has remained committed to not touching its substantial reserve fund, which DawgNation has discovered includes an additional $32 million that is invested through the school’s foundation.

All the while, however, Georgia is pledging not to dip much into its reserve fund. That fund includes more than $32 million that is invested with the school’s foundation, and not highly publicized.

The money is not secret, necessarily. It is included in a footnote in the audited financial statement, a copy of which was obtained by DawgNation. But that $32 million – set aside for “general support” of athletics – is not included in the figures presented in the treasurer’s report, handed out last month at the UGA athletic board meeting.

So in total, UGA has more than $77 million available, that is not specifically allocated for other projects or expenditures. But the athletic department wants to save those reserves, especially the $32 million, in case of emergencies.

“It’s like anything else in life,” athletics director Greg McGarity said Thursday. “There could be a curveball in your personal life, and my life, that we did not anticipate. So (that’s) the one thing that we don’t have to worry about. It’s just solid business practice. It’s probably the best way to say it. It’s the unexpected.”

But Georgia football and the SEC continue to bring in massive revenues. The SEC last year paid out $39 million to Georgia.

So what is Georgia worried about needing the money for?

“It’s a good practice to have at least six months of operating expenses in case the unforeseen happens, that we don’t know about,” McGarity said. “That’s the financial strength that our athletic board mandated, long before I arrived. So it’s a philosophy that’s been in place for decades. Thank the lord.”

The Georgia Way.  So is this:

That includes the $32 million that is invested with the University of Georgia Foundation, the school’s fundraising organization. According to the footnote in the UGA athletic association’s financial statement, the $32 million (approximately) “has been established for general support of athletic programs and awards.” McGarity and Stephanie Ransom, an associate athletics director, confirmed that it is separate money from the $67 million in reserve money listed in a booklet provided at the board meeting. (There is $21.6 million of that already allocated for other facility projects this year.)

Asked when that $32 million would be dipped into, McGarity answered “never.”

“That all gets into the rainy day (fund),” he said.

That’s one mother of an umbrella you’ve got there, my man.

McGarity tries to make himself sound like someone who can’t sleep at night wondering how he’ll ever be able to pay his bills.

McGarity pointed to unforeseen expenses that have already occurred: Paying off previous head coach Mark Richt and his staff. That amounted to about $7 million. As for the future, there are still NCAA lawsuits in the system, McGarity pointed out, related to student-athlete pay and concussions. He also pointed to the NCAA in the last couple years allowing schools to pay athletes for cost-of-attendance and for increased meals.

“There are a lot of assumptions that people are making, that this revenue stream is going to be there forever,” McGarity said. “If we end up having to pay student-athletes down the road, where is that money going to come from? … There are a lot of unknowns, and what this allows us to do, and the right way, is to have a buffer there that allows us to cover the unexpected.”

First, let’s laugh right past the “unforeseen” expense of paying off Mark Richt, shall we?  Second, the school has already bitten that particular bullet, as well as the COA and food bills without having to draw down the reserve money.  So why fret about that now?  As far as the paying student-athletes down the road, if that day ever comes, I’m sure adjustments can be made — foregoing a $63 million capital project to give recruits a nice place to hang out quickly comes to mind as an example.

What I’m hearing from this is that the money parked with the Foundation is top priority for the athletics department.  In McGarity’s defense, I doubt that’s a directive originating with him.  Still, it explains so much.  Take this, for one thing.

Who are the richest and poorest SEC basketball programs?

The Southeastern Conference will always be known more for its football than basketball, but a few SEC schools make big money off their basketball programs. Here is where each school ranks on revenue based on its U.S. Department of Education athletics filings. The filings are for the time period through June 2015…

No. 9 Georgia: $9.02 million

Georgia is in the bottom half of the league in revenue, but actually had one of the better profits off basketball at $3.09 million.

Yay, team.  Men’s basketball may struggle to make the NCAA tournament, but it’s doing its part for the reserve fund.  Which part of that equation do you think matters the most to the decision makers?

It’s not the money that bugs me.  It’s the mindset.  It’s why we can’t have nice things from Georgia athletics.

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Filed under Georgia Football, It's Just Bidness

You mean so much to me, baby.

Give Bill King some credit.  He followed up last week’s piece exploring the fallout from the fans about the west end expansion project with another.

Still, last week’s Blawg about UGA fans feeling taken for granted as the athletic administration asks them for more money to fund improvements for players and recruits certainly prompted a lot of discussion over long-simmering frustrations about the game day experience.

Butts-Mehre provides the comic relief with its response.

Anxious to point out that the planned renovations to the west end of Sanford aren’t strictly about the comfort of players and recruits, the athletic department sent me more details about the fan-friendly aspects, with special emphasis on a significant increase in the number of toilets for women that will be available in that end of the stadium come the 2018 season, going from 34 in the existing restrooms to 88 after the work is done. (For men, the number of toilets will increase from 47 to 50, and there will be two considered “unisex”).

It also pointed out that there will be more “points of sale” for concessions (both fixed and portable). And, of course, the new scoreboard will be 33 percent larger and there’ll be that new upper plaza for mingling, or whatever fans do in plazas.

33 percent larger!  And you think Greg McGarity doesn’t care.

What he should care about is the steady drumbeat of responses King got from his first column that sounded like these.

Quite a few fans also expressed frustration with UGA’s athletic administration viewing them mainly as potential donors. Said Charles Hill: “UGA has a large fan base but they don’t treat them as an asset.”

Jay Unger, who gave up his season tickets in 2014 after 32 years of contributing, said he did so because he felt that “the fans had become low priority in the game day experience equation and my decision has been validated by a continuation of this disregard in the years since. I’m as big a fan as ever but I do it on my terms now. StubHub for a couple games and the rest from my easy chair.”

And I heard from another devoted super fan who didn’t donate to the Hartman Fund this year because of “growing frustration and dismay with the athletic department and how they don’t even care about our opinions or experiences. … I definitely still care about UGA and the athletics programs, but I’m just not emotionally invested like I used to be … and that comes from UGA not caring.”

It’s not what you want to hear as an AD, but, again, I remain skeptical there’s any real impact to this sort of apathy unless the bottom line starts to take a real hit.

That being said, for better or worse, the AJ-C isn’t a backwater, like a certain Georgia fan blog I could mention by name.  It’s got a significantly sized readership, one large enough that the athletic department felt compelled to respond to King’s article.  I don’t think McGarity can be shamed into making any improvements to the game day experience that he’s not inclined to pursue on his own in the first place, but I’d love to be proven wrong.

Unfortunately, I think Bill’s conclusion is an accurate summation of where most of the fan base lies.

What a wonderful part of my life the University of Georgia and its sports teams have been!

As my brother Jon, a former Redcoat, likes to say, “Once a Dawg, always a Dawg … how sweet it is!”

But, that doesn’t change the fact that I’d like to feel that we fans mean as much to the folks who run UGA’s athletic programs as pulling for the Dawgs means to us.

Sadly, I remain unconvinced on that point.

But not so unconvinced that the Hartman Fund contribution checks won’t continue to be stroked.  And therein lies the key to Butts-Mehre’s success.

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Filed under Georgia Football, It's Just Bidness

The SEC’s rising tide

Al.com hit Alabama and Auburn with FOIA requests to show us the money.  You won’t be surprised to learn 2016 was a berry, berry good year.

Here’s Auburn’s story, year over year:

Auburn Athletic Finances

Year Total Revenue Total Expenses Surplus/Deficit
2016 $140,070,593 $124,864,399 $15,206,194
2015 $124,657,247 $115,498,047 $9,159,200

A $16 million increase in revenue and a $6 million bump in profit is none too shabby.

Alabama did just fine, as well.

According to documents filed with the NCAA, the school’s profit increased 13.1 percent in 2016 to $18.7 million.

…To compare to Alabama’s $18.7 million total profit, Auburn’s athletics department reported a $15.2 million surplus. Auburn’s $140 million revenue was a school record, as was Alabama’s $164 million in income.

Georgia, as you no doubt know, isn’t in any hurry to respond to open records requests, so we’ll be waiting a while to hear what a great job Greg McGarity’s done in that regard.  But if you’re of a mind to triangulate, you can find Georgia’s 2015 numbers here:  $116,151,279 in total revenue and $19,591,972 in “surplus” (nice euphemism there).  If things are fairly analogous — and you’d think they would be — Butts-Mehre is positively rolling in dough.

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Filed under Georgia Football, It's Just Bidness, SEC Football

Don’t even think about leaving.

The buyout provisions of Major Applewhite’s first contract with Houston are something to behold.

If Houston were to fire Applewhite, the school would owe him the base salary — $650,000 — for each year remaining on the deal. But if Applewhite were to leave, he would owe the full $1.5 million — that’s his base salary plus “non-salary compensation” — for every year remaining on the deal plus any buyouts owed to assistant coaches not retained by the new head coach.

Hell’s bells, no wonder Junior’s not coaching there.

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Filed under It's Just Bidness

You can go home again.

At least if you aspire to being a P5 athletic director, according to Andrea Adelson.  What’s the key attraction from the school’s perspective?  C’mon, dog.

But in these specific cases, it’s completely understandable why so many of these programs opted for somebody with long-standing ties. Especially since an athletic director’s job increasingly relies on fundraising and tapping into the community and alums for more and more support.

It has worked for Miami. James got his very first job working in ticket sales at Miami. Before he was elevated to athletic director, Miami went through two athletic directors over a four-year span. Now, the Hurricanes have much-needed stability at the top.

In the end, that’s what any athletic department wants. Someone familiar with the fabric of a university’s culture may be better suited for the job.

Shakin’ the money loose.  It’s Job One.

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Filed under It's Just Bidness

Are Sanford Stadium improvements a zero-sum game?

Bulldog Illustrated asks the musical questions,

It all depends on one’s perspective. On the one hand, there is indeed an issue with long lines at the facilities on game day at Sanford on the north side, and by half-time or the end of the game, the conditions in the restrooms are not the most pleasant. So fans do have a point here. Then on the other hand, the football team has been in need of new locker rooms for a while now and that along with having an area to host recruiting prospects on game day at the stadium will help the football program in the recruiting war. Infusing more talent into the football team’s roster and the ability to keep recruiting at a high level to keep the rosters stocked with talent is part of the recipe for a championship program.

And it’s not like fans are not happy to hear about and see the renovations, but the question is why cannot both needs be addressed? We would like to hear your thoughts and opinions. Are you happy with the proposed renovations? Would you rather the north side facilities be addressed first?

Why, indeed, can’t both needs be addressed at the same time?  It’s certainly not a matter of resources.  The athletic department is awash in money and donors have repeatedly stepped up to the plate to provide additional funds for major capital projects like the JPMIPF™.  You would also think there would be certain efficiencies to be gained by having a general contractor work on both projects together, rather than at separate times.

Is it a matter of not feeling confident about walking and chewing gum at the same time, that B-M can only focus on one stadium job at a time?  (Given that this is the same bunch who couldn’t keep track of a condom provision in a rapper’s contract, don’t be so quick to dismiss the possibility.)  Does McGarity think there’s a financial advantage in spreading the work out, that maybe donors will contribute more generously if the requests for contributions are spaced in time?  That’s certainly an issue to which he can bring laser-like focus.

Or is there really no choice at all here, and the notion of upgrading the facilities on the north side of the stadium merely a pipe dream of the fan base as opposed to an item on the B-M to-do list?  I know what Occam’s Razor suggests.

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Filed under Georgia Football, It's Just Bidness