SBD/December 12, 2012/Colleges

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  • Power Conferences Reportedly Will Receive 75% Of Payout From New FBS Playoff Format

    The SEC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12 and ACC under the contract for college football's new playoff format “will earn an average of at least $91 million annually” beginning in '14 through the '25 season, according to sources cited by Brett McMurphy of ESPN.com. By comparison, the average for the “group of five” smaller leagues -- including the Big East, Mountain West, Mid-American, Conference USA and Sun Belt -- during that 12-year period "will be about $17.25 million annually." The BCS recently signed a 12-year contract with ESPN, and sources said that the deal “averages $470 million annually.” Of that amount, about $125M is "expected to go toward expenses.” That “leaves an average of $345 million annually, which the commissioners have decided to split in two ways: 75 percent ($258.75 million) divided equally among the SEC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12 and ACC, and the remaining 25 percent ($86.25 million) divided among the Big East, MWC, MAC, C-USA and Sun Belt.” Sources said that Notre Dame in the new playoff format is “expected to receive an average of about $4 million during the 12-year contract.” If Notre Dame plays in the national semifinals or one of the six major bowls, the school "would receive a great deal more than the $4 million" (ESPN.com, 12/11). USA TODAY’s George Schroeder cites a source as saying that the $470M per year from the deal “doesn’t account for revenue -- mostly from tickets and merchandising -- from the championship game, which will be owned and operated by the as-yet-unnamed successor to the Bowl Championship Series” (USA TODAY, 12/12).

    YEAR-ROUND JOB: USA TODAY’s Brent Schrotenboer writes serving as a bowl exec is “a payday market that’s gotten especially hot in the last 10 years.” Tax data shows that a “bowl boss’ average compensation last year was $438,000, more than double since 2002 and 32% more than 2006.” No bowl game “pays more money to one person than the Outback Bowl," as tax data shows that the bowl paid President & CEO Jim McVay $753,946 in fiscal year '10, $693,212 in '09 and $808,032 in '08. Critics have "continued to raise concerns about such pay being excessive for a number of reasons, including where the bowls get their revenue and how their salaries are determined.” Most bowls games are “tax-exempt charitable organizations that in most cases stage one game a year.” The “big question many critics have is, ‘What do these bowl bosses do the other 11 months of the year?’” San Diego Bowl Game Exec Dir Bruce Binkowski, whose group operates the Poinsettia and Bridgepoint Education Holiday bowls, said, “We have an event almost every month associated with our two bowl games, and you spend the entire year selling sponsorships. Sometimes I’m busier from January through May than from September through December with all the different things we do” (USA TODAY, 12/12).

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  • Attendance Woes Have UMass Questioning Move To FBS, Gillette Stadium

    UMass football's average attendance fell by more than 2,000 from '11 to '12

    The Univ. of Massachusetts-Amherst football program’s declining attendance at Gillette Stadium has "driven up the cost of the school’s effort to enter the ranks of big-time college football and intensified concerns about the upgrade’s prospects for success," according to a front-page piece by Bob Hohler of the BOSTON GLOBE. Hohler writes under the header, "Enthusiasm Gap For UMass Amherst." UMass football in '12 saw average attendance "decrease to 10,902 from 13,008 the previous year." Students and taxpayers will fund about $5M of the $7.1M budget "through institutional support, including student fees and direct public subsidies." School officials had "projected average crowds at Gillette of about 20,000." Subpar ticket sales have "contributed to a $715,000 cost overrun, increasing the budget for the football program's inaugural season in the Mid-American Athletic Conference to more than" $7.1M -- up from $5.4M in '11. With students and taxpayers "picking up the tab for at least some of the cost overruns, the lower-than-expected attendance has prompted some to wonder whether UMass should reconsider its plan to transform the Minutemen into a national football program." UMass Ad Hoc Committee on FBS Football co-Chair Max Page said, "I think we certainly need to get out of the FBS experiment." UMass AD John McCutcheon said, "One thing we have learned is that it’s going to take us a while longer than we had perhaps anticipated to build a regular fan base. It’s not going to happen overnight." UMass Chancellor Kumble Subbaswamy, who inherited the football plan when he took office last summer, said that he was "generally satisfied with the inaugural season and will evaluate the initiative annually." Hohler writes the "long-term question remains: will persistent meager ticket sales at Gillette increase pressure on university leaders to fully return the program to Amherst in 2017?" (BOSTON GLOBE, 12/12).

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