Category Archives: It's Not Easy Being A Mid-Major

Manhood and conference expansion

If you think that a lot of what drives the decision making behind college athletics boils down to a bunch of assholes who are into johnson-measuring contests, then I think you’ll agree that Houston would make an excellent candidate for Big 12 expansion.

“That’s kind of disappointing that Texas with their big budget fears the University of Houston,” Fertitta said. “For other schools in the Big 12 to keep them out because they’re scared of them, men need to be men.”

I’ve heard worse reasons.

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Put a cap on it.

The state

The Regents set limits on the amount of money from student fees and tuition that can go toward athletic programs at the state’s public colleges and universities. The cap will be between 65 percent and 85 percent of the athletic budget at most schools, depending on each school’s athletic association.

The new rules come as a national review of the high cost of athletics at some schools has led to debate about rising college costs and whether students get a good return on their investment when they foot the bill for sports. The goal is for Georgia colleges to seek money for sports through fundraising and other revenue sources beyond what students pay.

All well and good at UGA.  But elsewhere, not so much.

Georgia State University would have to cut the amount of student fees and tuition that fund its athletic programs by about $700,000, according to a new policy adopted by the state’s Board of Regents on Tuesday.

Part two is more of the same in terms where the crunch will fall.

The new rules also cap growth in athletics expenses at 5 percent a year.

The policy update will have little impact on athletic powerhouses Georgia Tech and the University of Georgia, which already fund most of their sports programs through broadcasting rights, contributions, ticket sales and other revenue sources. UGA relied on just 2.8 percent of student funding for sports last year; Georgia Tech, 7.2 percent. Both were well under the 10 percent cap placed on them.

Georgia State is one of six schools — along with Armstrong State, Middle Georgia State, East Georgia State, Gordon State and Atlanta Metropolitan State colleges — that is over the subsidy cap, and must cut its reliance on student funding. Almost 68 percent of Georgia State’s athletics budget was subsidized last year, almost 3 percentage points higher than the 65 percent cap now set.

Personally speaking, this is a long time coming and the BOR is to be commended for adopting these policies.  But there’s little doubt it’s more of the rich getting richer.  I doubt Georgia Tech will mind much if Georgia State has a harder time raising money to be competitive.

Meanwhile, McGarity gets to keep students contributing to the reserve fund and can tell Kirby there’s only so much new spending a year he can do.  Win-win, baby!

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“You don’t want to be the first school to do this.”

Idaho’s decided to live in its own private Idaho.

Idaho will become what is believed to be the first program in history to decide to move down from FBS to the lower-division FCS beginning in 2018, CBS Sports was told Wednesday afternoon by a source close to the situation.

The move comes after the Sun Belt Conference exercised an option on March 1 to drop Idaho and New Mexico State from the league and go with a 10-team conference beginning in 2018.

Idaho then had to make a choice where it wanted to continue playing football. The only FBS option was to compete as an independent where it had previously spent a season in 2013. Without a conference tie, that option is not financially viable for the school.

A source told CBS Sports on Wednesday that the deal is done: Idaho will begin playing football in the Big Sky Conference in 2018.

If you want a clear sign that this move was overdue, try this out:

While the move enjoys some support in the community, Idaho will lose its FBS branding — playing at the highest level of college football. Idaho students fund football to the tune of $127 per semester in their tuition payments.

While that’s not as costly as some student subsidies in other conferences, it’s enough at Idaho. The athletic department will save money having to fund fewer scholarships (63 as opposed to 85), but a source told CBS Sports that the program will lose money overall[Emphasis added.]

So even moving down a division doesn’t stop the money bleed.  And worse for the program, moving down to the FCS level means lower payments for offering itself up as a sacrificial cupcake to P5 schools.  Still, and considering the ego that has to be swallowed in deciding to retreat like this, you have to figure the economics were extremely compelling.  In this day and age, that’s hardly surprising.

Idaho may be the first to relegate itself, but I doubt it’ll be the last.

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Today, in amateurism

Shorter Actual Marshall University athletic director Mike Hamrick: “College athletics are the most unfair competition in the sports world,” he said. “Look around. In the NBA, there’s a salary cap. In Major League baseball, there’s a salary cap. But there’s no cap in college athletics.”

It’s almost like these guys don’t realize anyone hears what they’re saying.

(h/t)

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The NCAA, helping the rich get richer since 1906

The reviews are in on yesterday’s decision to ban satellite camps.  It’s a boffo box office smash!

Bruce Feldman:  “In the end this will be seen by many as the NCAA putting Harbaugh and other cold weather coaches in their places but in reality it’s just closing the window on more recruits getting exposure to more coaches — and taking away more opportunity. And that’s nothing to celebrate.”

South Florida coach Willie Taggart:  “If you really think about it, [camps are] the right thing to do. Kids are going to camps all over the country, spending all this money to try and get the most amount of exposure, when it’s the schools that have all the money. The schools should be moving around so the players can get a larger variety of teams.”

Mike Leach: “It appears that the selfish interests of a few schools and conferences prevailed over the best interests of future potential student-athletes,” WSU coach Mike Leach said in a text message to the Seattle Times. “The mission of universities and athletic programs should be to provide future student-athletes with exposure to opportunities, not to limit them. It appears to me that some universities and conferences are willing to sacrifice the interests of potential student-athletes for no better reasons than to selfishly monopolize their recruiting bases.”

Kevin Scarbinsky:  “But seriously, and sadly, the biggest losers here are the members of what should be the most important constituency in college football. They’re the young men playing the game that enriches so many others, and as often happens when men in suits make this kind of decision, it reinforces the notion that college football isn’t all that interested in putting its players first.”

Houston Strake Jesuit coach James Clancy: “Helping kids is supposed to be why we do what we do, and this doesn’t help them in any way,” Clancy, who had three recruits sign with FBS programs in 2016, said. “It’s very disappointing. Every year, we would have kids that didn’t need to leave the Houston area to get exposure to out-of-city or out-of-state schools. Not every kid can afford the major expense to travel to a camp. People who make the decisions need to remember that it is all about the kids who are chasing dreams.”

Paul Myerberg“The new legislation hurts the Group of Five, but the real losers are clear: under-recruited prospects who used these camps to gain access to potential scholarship offers. If a move designed to even the playing field on a conference-wide level, the NCAA has instead robbed prospective student-athletes from casting their own wide recruiting net.

For every five-star recruit there are hundreds — if not thousands — of prospects angling for an opportunity. Technological advancements, such as the Hudl program used on nearly every level of football, have made it easier to sell oneself to an FBS or FCS program. Yet for school or player alike, there was no replacing the in-person audition.

There’s also a dollars-and-cents issue. Official visits are paid for by the host university, but can only be held during the regular season. At any other point, recruits must pay their own way to visit a university — demanding not only time but money, particularly if the trip includes family members.

Satellite camps brought recruiting to a local level, allowing recruits in a certain region — as with California prospects and Boise State last summer — similar access to coaches and instruction at a fraction of the cost. Based on what they saw at their camps, Boise State coaches estimated that six or seven recruits would be extended scholarship offers.

There’s the paradox of the satellite-camp ban: While it aids the SEC, keeping interlopers out of its recruiting backyard, the new legislation comes at a substantial cost to a wide swath of the FBS — and to the majority of potential student-athletes, many of whom leaned on the access provided by these camps to raise their own recruiting profile.

Seem fair? It’s not. Aimed a closing a loophole, the NCAA ban has instead slammed the door on the individuals it is designed to represent.”

I’m detecting a common theme here.  Then there’s this, too.

This was Alleva last spring to 104.5 FM ESPN in Baton Rouge: “Mainly what I’m concerned about is other schools coming into our state and stealing our kids.”

“Our” kids, eh?  I didn’t realize all Louisiana high schoolers belong to LSU.  Must be a real bitch for the other in state schools.

“We had Georgia State, West Georgia, Kennesaw State, Georgia Southern, and App State all lined up to come to our camp with Ohio State,” Central (Georgia) Gwinnett coach Todd Wofford said. “They loved and wanted that chance to evaluate that many kids that they wouldn’t have had a change to otherwise. I think people forget all about them with this decision. They don’t have the budget of major universities and we will see opportunities lost because of this decision.

“This decision impacts so many players on so many different levels. The high school recruit is the big loser today.”

And the big winner?  Well, start here…

“This happened because the SEC coaches are mad at Jim Harbaugh,” said one non-Power Five head coach. “That’s all. It’s a (expletive) joke. Think about all the kids who could’ve ended up getting MAC scholarships because they got seen by someone who probably would never have saw them before. That’s who you’re really hurting. What about those kids? It’s going to force these kids to spend more money. All you’re doing is providing more exposure.”

…  add to it the three other P5 conferences that voted with the SEC to end the practice.  And don’t forget to throw a little shit Harbaugh’s way for grandstanding about a practice that had gone on quietly and usefully for a number of years.

Nice, guys.  Give yourselves a collective pat on the back.

***********************************************************************

UPDATE:

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There are days…

… when I can see why a midwest football program might like to schedule spring practice down South.

 

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Sun Belt shrinkage

The NCAA’s decision to deregulate conference championship games puts the first wheel in motion.  But that wheel isn’t the Big 12 or the ACC.  It’s the Sun Belt Conference.

Idaho and New Mexico State will no longer be a part of the Sun Belt Conference after the 2017 football season, a source told FOX Sports on Tuesday morning.

The Vandals are 6-29 the past three years and 5-18 in their two seasons in the SBC. The Aggies are 7-29 the past three seasons and 5-19 in their two seasons in the Sun Belt.

The announcement is expected to be made official later Tuesday afternoon.

“We are disappointed by the Sun Belt’s decision,” Idaho president Chuck Staben said in a statement, confirming that the Vandals were voted out of the conference. “But we are optimistic about the options before us, and we are continuing to diligently consider our future affiliation as an opportunity to find the stability and full participation we have not experienced in the Sun Belt. We will make a decision in the coming months.”

Yeah, good luck with that, Chuck.  I’m sure you’ll find all sorts of D-1 conferences falling all over themselves to have you join.

It’s an entirely sensible move on the part of the Sun Belt.  Those two schools are outside of the conference’s geographic footprint and were added for the purpose of having twelve teams in order for the Sun Belt to have the option of its own championship game.  Remove that rationale and it’s hard to justify the expense of a sprawling group of schools.

The NCAA’s deregulation of conference championship games figured into the Sun Belt’s decision according to commissioner Karl Benson. The Sun Belt can now proceed with a league championship game — if it prefers — with 10 teams. Previously, leagues needed at least 12 teams split into two six-team divisions to stage such a game.

Benson said the earliest the league could add a championship game is ’17 but more likely would come in 2018. No decision has been made on venue. The Big 12 and Sun Belt remain the only FBS leagues not to have championship games.

“This will bring it to a head,” Benson said of the championship game decision.

It’s not only logical from the expense side.  Kicking out two teams means cutting the revenue pie into fewer slices.

Benson said a 2013 financial decision by the Group of Five schools drove the move. That year, the Group of Five conferences decided each of the leagues would receive up to $12 million in College Football Playoff distribution based on a maximum of $1 million per school.

That maximum was later changed to $10 million which made it easier for the Sun Belt to shrink its membership. With Idaho and New Mexico State, the Sun Belt has been ranked last among the Group of Five conferences in recent years, Benson said.

Is this likely to be the only such move by a mid-major conference?  Given the math involved, I suspect not.

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