SBJ/December 3-9, 2012/In Depth

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  • Fear the deficit

    Editor's note: This story is revised from the print edition.

    Just a decade removed from winning the NCAA championship in basketball and competing in the Orange Bowl in football, the University of Maryland athletic department is broke.

    That’s the main reason university officials used to explain why it decided to divorce itself from the ACC, an athletic conference that it helped found nearly 60 years ago. Maryland officials say the school will have more financial flexibility and resources as a member of the Big Ten Conference.

    But Maryland’s financial reasons for making the move lead to larger questions about how the school got into such a financially precarious position, and what it means for college athletics overall.

    How can a large state university, with a solid history of athletic success, find itself so deep in the red that it had to cut seven Olympic sports? And why, after it cut those sports to balance the budget, was the move to the Big Ten still necessary to firm up the department’s finances?

    Maryland President Wallace Loh (left) announced the shift to the Big Ten at a news conference where he was joined by Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany, Maryland Chancellor Brit Kirwan, University System of Maryland Chairman James Shea and Maryland Athletic Director Kevin Anderson.
    Photo by: GETTY IMAGES
    The answers are woven through a recent history of costly and unpopular off-field moves combined with poor on-field performances and fan apathy that culminated in a disastrous 2010-11 budget year, when the stands in College Park were half-filled and the athletic department’s expenses outpaced revenue by $7.8 million (see charts).

    “It’s emblematic of the world now. There’s never enough,” said Todd Turner, a college consultant and former athletic director at North Carolina State, Washington and Vanderbilt. “You have way too many people influencing decisions who are not ultimately responsible for them and are not connected to higher education. [Athletic departments] have gone from being grounded in higher education to being commercial entities.”

    The fact that Maryland’s athletics are under water is not unique in college athletics, particularly in the ACC, where only Virginia Tech made more money than it spent in fiscal 2009-10 without help from university subsidies. In fact, none of the ACC’s eight public schools turned a profit in their athletic department in 2010-11.

    Compare that to the cash-rich Big Ten, where athletic departments at eight of the 11 public schools made more than they spent in 2010 before subsidies; seven of them turned a profit in 2011. The SEC led the way with nine schools turning a profit before subsidies.

    Coaching carousel

    Of the 120 schools in the NCAA’s Division I Football Bowl Subdivision, only 23 turned a profit before subsidies in fiscal 2011, meaning that the Terps were one of 97 that didn’t.

    Maryland’s athletic department, however, was paying its own bills until the 2010-11 athletic year. Even though expenses had outpaced revenue by $2 million to $3 million each year from 2006 through 2010, the department was able to cover the shortfall with reserves it had built from the more fruitful years.

    But in the 2010-11 athletic year, the athletic department depleted those reserves and borrowed from the university to cover a $7.8 million shortfall. That was when Maryland made two costly coaching changes in its two biggest revenue-producing sports.

    Maryland fired its popular football coach, alum Ralph Friedgen, after a season in which the ACC honored him as the
       
    Maryland’s financial problems accelerated after the school fired football coach Ralph Friedgen (left) and hoops coach Gary Williams retired.
    Photo by: GETTY IMAGES (2)
    football coach of the year. Then longtime basketball coach Gary Williams, another popular Maryland alum, retired following the 2010-11 season.

    Both changes rocked the athletic department’s finances. Maryland spent nearly $3 million paying off Friedgen and his staff for the additional year that was left on the coach’s contract. The school also created a high-paying administrative job for Williams that guaranteed him more than $800,000 over the following two years.

    That was only the start. New football coach Randy Edsall was guaranteed $2 million a year — the going rate for top coaches. Maryland also had to pay Edsall’s former school, Connecticut, $400,000 to cover his buyout.

    The Terps later hired a basketball coach that year, Mark Turgeon from Texas A&M, and agreed to pay him a guaranteed $1.9 million a year. Maryland forked over $250,000 to buy out Turgeon’s Texas A&M contract, as well.

    “What you’re seeing is presidents and boards and ADs funding things at incredibly high levels and doing some completely illogical things that take on enormous debt and pays salaries that don’t fit in the academy at all,” Turner said. “You’ve got people outside the program dictating decisions that are not financially sustainable. They might be donors, rights holders, media, people not accountable to higher education, telling you who to play, when to play, who to hire. There’s enormous pressure to feed the beast.”

    Administrators typically count on a financial boost from the excitement generated by new hires, typically in the form of increased ticket sales and contributions. But the hiring of Edsall and Turgeon, who replaced two popular alums, did nothing to spur new revenue.

    Edsall, in particular, has had a difficult time generating excitement around the football team, which won only two games in 2011 and four games this season. In Turgeon’s first season, the basketball team failed to make a postseason tournament.

    Those poor on-field and on-court performances have a direct effect on Maryland’s bottom line — attendance and donations are both down significantly (see chart).

    Football attendance is down more than 31 percent, from a high of 52,426 in 2005 to this season’s average of 36,022. Season-ticket sales declined for six straight years, and one-third of the 63 suites in the $51 million Tyser Tower at Byrd Stadium are unsold.

    Donations also dropped considerably. Maryland records show that Terrapin Club donations in 2010-11 were $9.1 million, continuing a downward three-year trend before 2012 donations saw a slight increase to $10.3 million. The booster club reached a high of $15.3 million in donations in 2008.

    Maryland Athletic Director Kevin Anderson said that nearly 3,000 members of the Terrapin Club had dropped out of the program since that high point.

    Draining the reserves

    By the close of fiscal 2011, Maryland’s expenses outpaced revenue by $7.8 million, which forced athletics to drain the last $6.6 million in the reserve fund and required the athletic department to borrow $1.2 million from the university to cover the difference.

    Maryland receives about $15 million in subsidies (student fees and state funds) from the university, according to USA Today’s database of athletic department finances. When the athletic department cannot balance its budget, it must borrow the balance from the university and pay it back with interest.

    Declining attendance further accelerated a drop in revenues for Maryland's athletic department.
    Photo by: GETTY IMAGES
    Add in the consequences from the recession, and Maryland administrators saw no solution for getting athletics out of its hole. Anderson, hired to replace Debbie Yow in 2010, first explained the need to cut seven sports this past July as a means to balance the budget by 2014-15. Then in November, he and Maryland President Wallace Loh orchestrated the move to leave the ACC for the more lucrative Big Ten.

    When the athletic department cut those seven sports this year, its projections showed total deficits climbing as high as $17 million in 2017 if the department didn’t act. What was missing from those projections, however, was the new revenue that would come from the ACC’s 15-year, $3.6 billion TV deal with ESPN, which was renegotiated after Syracuse and Pittsburgh were added. Nor did the department have the information on new revenue that would come from the college football playoff.

    Loh, who was hired in August 2010, and Anderson, Loh’s choice to succeed Yow when she left for North Carolina State, agreed that cutting the sports was the remedy to their financial woes. They acted on it in July after the president appointed a committee to review athletic spending.

    “We will emerge this fall better able to meet our goals of having fiscal responsibility,” Anderson said.

    The cuts projected to save $3.5 million to $5 million annually in future years. Budget projections showed Maryland athletics getting back in the black by 2014-15.

    Big Ten seen as quick fix

    Brian Ullmann, the school’s assistant vice president for marketing and communications, tried to offer some insight into what happened between July when those sports were cut — thereby saving the budget ­— and the November announcement that the Terps were leaving the ACC.

    “The elimination of sports was needed to close a persistent operating deficit — it basically got [athletics] back to even,” Ullmann said. “The department would still continue to be reliant on ticket revenues from football and men’s basketball each year. That’s not a reliable revenue stream. The move to the Big Ten provides increased and guaranteed television revenues. That provides a level of true fiscal sustainability for the department.”

    Throughout his announcement on Nov. 19, Loh referenced the athletic department’s financial hardship, despite the previous cuts, and framed his comments around the survival of Terrapin athletics.

    “Presidents will not have to sit around wondering whether Maryland athletics, as we know it, can survive,” Loh said of the Big Ten move.

    While deciding whether to leave the ACC for the Big Ten, Maryland faced a difficult choice: Stay in the ACC and rebuild its football and basketball organically — by getting more competitive, selling more tickets and suites, and growing the donor base — or take the money the Big Ten offered and never worry again about the empty seats in the football stadium or basketball arena.

    Ultimately, the Terrapins took the security of the Big Ten, a move that surprised many boosters.

    “I’m somewhat stunned by the speed and secrecy behind this move,” said John R. Tydings, a Maryland alum who formerly was on the University of Maryland College Park Foundation’s board of trustees. “The process was too expeditious.”

    From the 2014-15 season when Maryland officially begins play in the Big Ten through 2020, the Terps are expected to make $95 million more than if they stayed in the ACC. That’s because the Big Ten makes significantly more money from television than the ACC. In 2012, the Big Ten paid each of its schools $24 million, compared with the ACC’s payout of $13 million.

    The ACC’s revenue will increase substantially with its new ESPN deal beginning this year, a deal that was enhanced considerably with the addition of Syracuse and Pittsburgh as conference members. That annual overall average of $240 million is expected to grow even more now that the ACC has added Notre Dame as a member for all sports except football, but it won’t keep pace with the Big Ten, which will have a new richer network deal in 2017 to go with revenue
    from its own channel.

    “This guarantees the financial sustainability of Maryland athletics for a long, long, long time,” Loh said of the Big Ten move. “Somebody has to pay the bills.”

    Breaking down Maryland’s numbers

    Maryland football attendance

    Year Home games Average
    2012 6 36,022
    2011 7 42,335
    2010 6 39,168
    2009 7 44,452
    2008 7 47,954
    2007 6 51,263
    2006 7 49,393
    2005 5 52,426

    Maryland’s athletic budget

    Year Revenue Expenses Deficit
    2012* $59.1M $61.9M $2.8M
    2011 $53.4M $61.2M $7.8M
    2010 $52.3M $55.2M $2.9M
    2009 $54.6M $58.2M $3.6M
    2008 $57.2M $59.5M $2.3M
    2007 $53.0M $56.4M $3.4M
    2006 $50.5M $52.1M $1.6M

    Maryland’s projected budgets
    (minus the seven sports that were cut earlier this year, but not counting Big Ten revenue)

    Year Revenue Expenses (deficit)/surplus
    2015* $66.9M $61.4M $5.5M
    2014* $59.4M $60.4M ($1.0M)
    2013* $58.1M $59.8M ($1.7M)

    *Based on budget projections from the University of Maryland’s presidential review of intercollegiate athletics. Years 2006-11 are actual figures.

    Terrapin Club contributions
    (includes major gifts and endowment revenue)

    Year Amount
    2012 $10.3M
    2011 $9.1M
    2010 $10.1M
    2009 $11.1M
    2008 $15.3M
    2007 $12.6M
    2006 $11.3M

    Source: University of Maryland

    Print | Tags: In-Depth
  • Master planners

    The job of athletic director can be a pressure cooker. Raising additional revenue, hiring the right staff, maintaining relations with donors and keeping facilities up to date are enough to keep anyone up at night. SportsBusiness Journal college writer Michael Smith recently spoke with six athletic directors to see where they are focusing their efforts, where they see the biggest opportunities to grow revenue, and how they’re dealing with the many demands of running their departments.

    What aspect of your job takes the most time?

    Greg McGarity, Georgia: People. Not only your staff — 250 full-time staff members and 650 student athletes — but also the large number of boosters and fans. It’s a people-related business. Whether it’s issues with head coaches, assistant coaches, problems with the student-athlete experience here, or fans disgruntled with the direction of our program, or trying to solicit donations to our baseball program, it’s a people business. That consumes almost all of your time.

    Chris Massaro, Middle Tennessee State: Revenue generation. Where we are, we’re always seeking to increase rev streams, whether that’s through tickets, boosters, corporate sponsorships, whatever.

    Bill Moos, Washington State: Just getting through correspondence anymore takes a lot of time. With everybody emailing and making sure that I get back to them, that takes quite a while, but I want to make sure either I respond or that their concern is routed to the proper place. I have an executive assistant who has been with me quite a while and sometimes she can answer, but other times it requires more of a personal touch.

    Mark Coyle, Boise State: I’m in my first year at Boise State, so I spend a lot of time on personnel. As a new AD, I’m getting my arms around the department and making sure we’ve got the right people in the right roles.

    Rick Villarreal, North Texas: Fundraising and facilities. We came into a situation 10 years ago where we had no facilities. We were playing in public parks. For the last 10 years, and more intensely the last three to four years, we’ve been very focused on facilities. We’re not as big as some schools, but people are usually shocked at how well we measure up facility-wise now.

    Kathy Beauregard, Western Michigan: It just takes an extensive amount of time to manage your staff. We’re meeting, we’re talking about our goals and objectives, we’re talking about performance measures. All of that takes time.

    Is there an off-the-radar aspect of the job that takes up a lot of time?

    Coyle: Conference realignment is something that’s impacting a lot of our programs. Before I got here, the decision was made to move football to the Big East and all of the other sports to the Big West. Obviously, it’s such a changing landscape, it’s something you have to monitor all the time.

    Moos: Because of our location, travel takes a lot of time. Our major markets are quite a ways away.
    A year ago, Washington State Athletic Director Bill Moos showed off a rendering of a remodeling project planned for the school’s football stadium.
    Photo by: AP Images


    Beauregard: It’s probably the amount of time I spend with student athletes. I used to coach myself, so I really feel like it’s important to be seen as an AD. You have to be active with the student athletes to know what’s happening and what’s on their mind. … And then there’s the revenue piece. You don’t put your head on the pillow at night without thinking about how you’re going to increase revenue.

    McGarity: The biggest is liability, in general. You’ve got summer camps, which are getting a lot of attention now. You’ve got the liability of bringing young athletes on campus. We’re dealing with background checks — just trying to learn from others’ mistakes. When you see issues happen somewhere else, you have a review process internally to make sure you don’t have those same problems. Liability in general, people in your stadium, making sure you provide a safe environment, that’s a huge responsibility.

    Villarreal says he keeps a close eye on compliance issues, telling people around the campus, "If they know something, they have a responsibility to tell me."
    Photo by: North Texas University
    Villarreal:
    It’s really the changing face of compliance. With the rules changing and being revised, you have to do a lot of reading, make a lot of phone calls, and talk to your peers about how they’re implementing changes. … I spend probably more time at games and practices than a lot of ADs to make sure we’re as well-connected to the coaches and the student athletes as we can be. With all the things that have happened, the issue at Penn State, you always feel like “You should have known,” no matter what it is. Some days I feel like if I’m not sleeping in my office, something could happen and somebody’s going to point a finger. I meet with lots of people around campus, including advisers and deans, and I tell them all, “You are now deputized.” If they know something, they have a responsibility to tell me.

    Massaro: Well, we always think when we have a construction project, that it’s the most important thing going on, but we have to be aware that the university moves at a different pace. We’re building parking garages and science buildings, and we have to recognize the other pressures that we have on campus.

    Is there a revenue line that has the most potential for growth?

    McGarity: There’s no question that it’s scholarship endowments — the donation piece there. That’s just here and not counting SEC revenue down the road. Really, the only way to increase revenue here are ticket price increases and increases in donations — seat licenses that you have for football. We’re focusing more on endowing coaching positions.
    Says Beauregard: “You don’t put your head on the pillow at night without thinking about how you’re going to increase revenue.”
    Photo by: Western Michigan University
    There are some great models like Stanford. They’ve done a great job of endowing their head coaching positions and even some of their assistant coaching positions.

    Coyle: For us, it’s the media side. With the move to the Big East for football, we’re part of the negotiations for a new media deal. Ticket sales also are an important area as we look to grow our fan base with football. We do have football tickets available for some games. It depends on who we’re playing. Sometimes the student tickets don’t get used, and we’re trying to be creative with how we market them. We expanded our football stadium by 4,000 seats, so we have had new inventory to sell. Our ticket prices increased 4 percent for football, but we were able to set a record for season-ticket sales. In men’s basketball, we cut prices in half to get more people exposed to the program.

    Villarreal: We opened our stadium a year ago and I think there’s a lot of potential for us in new ticket sales and the amenities that we have to offer now. We’re also a factor in the corporate community now. We’ve got 36,000 students and 100,000 alums in the Dallas market, so we have an ability to create corporate partnerships that haven’t been there in the past.

    Moos: We just started the first year of a $3 billion TV deal for the conferences, so our TV revenue overnight is going to jump from $2.8 million to about $20 million. That’s enabled us to invest in facilities and to hire a coach like Mike Leach and his staff. Once the Pac-12 Networks are going strong, institutions are going to see another $10 million-plus per year.
    Massaro: For us, it’s what we receive from the conference. As we’ve all seen with the new conference affiliations, with the new BCS deal, with the trickle down from TV contracts, there’s lots of room for growth there.

    Beauregard: We’re actually seeing nice increases in the guarantees that we receive from playing road football games.

    What expense line is growing the fastest?

    Beauregard: There’s no doubt it’s salaries. We’re in a situation where we’re turning over our football coach for the first time in eight years and there have been significant market increases in that time. It’s up to us to find the resources so that we can make the right hire.

    Massaro said tuition expenses are rising so quickly, it puts even added pressure on the athletic budget.
    Photo by: Middle Tennessee State University
    Coyle:
    The first thing I look at are salaries for the staff. That’s growing. And our travel is adjusting for our move to the new conferences, both for football and the Olympic sports. We’re looking at a six-figure adjustment for travel for all 19 of our sports.

    Moos: Mostly travel costs. When you’re in the Pac-12 and it stretches from the Canadian border to the Mexican border, you’ve got to go a ways to get anywhere. Nothing is easy or inexpensive. When you’ve got to get your baseball team down south to get in the warm weather, it’s expensive. We’re also paying our coaches a lot more money. We went from paying $500,000 a year for a coach to $2.2 million, but that’s what we needed to do to be competitive.

    Villarreal: Tuition increases are going up the fastest. Some might say coaches’ salaries, but the expense line that I make sure is accounted for in the budget process is putting a number on scholarships.

    Massaro:
    It’s got to be tuition. And unfortunately that’s something you can’t control. We get hit with tuition increases, housing increases, university-wide budget cuts, and it all makes it difficult to operate.

    McGarity: You’ve got standard increases with scholarship increases, as tuition rises. That affects our bottom line. You’ve got increases in insurance and utilities, and those are continuing to grow. You’re seeing travel expenses grow. That might factor how you schedule your nonconference events. We have not had a pay raise on this campus in three years, so hopefully we’ll have raises at some point, so that will be an increase.

    What is one thing you’re most curious about, in terms of other ADs and other campuses?

    Moos: The big one in our conference [Pac-12] is football attendance. With all of the games on television, which is what you wish for, you worry about people that have the option of staying at home and watching the game. And then your gate goes down. That’s a common theme among our colleagues.

    Massaro: I’m always following coaching searches because I’m curious about the domino effects. I ask other ADs what
    McGarity said Georgia is focusing more on endowing coaching positions.
    Photo by: University of Georgia
    qualities they look for in the interview process or why they chose a certain candidate. I’m just interested in how other people hire people. As an AD, that’s probably the most critical thing we do.

    Beauregard: I ask other ADs about complexities in coaching contracts, dealing with agents, how buyouts are paid. That area has gotten so difficult to navigate and it changes every day. I try to pick up as many best practices as there are.

    McGarity: I always ask another AD, “What makes your department better than anyone else’s?” I talked to Rob Mullens at Oregon and asked, “What makes Oregon different?” He said he has a staff that’s so creative with ideas, but on the back end there’s not a financial cost associated with it. We’re directly the opposite. We’ve got a group that focuses so much on dollars that sometimes we get bogged down with coming up with new ideas.

    Coyle: Again, being in the first year at Boise State, I’ve done a complete inventory of our program and I’ve taken a hard look at our facilities and what others are doing. We’re working on a new football complex, and facilities for our Olympic sports. The question I always ask other ADs is what they’re doing for capital improvements. We typically talk about specific facilities, locker rooms, training rooms, things we can do to create the “wow factor” for our student athletes.

    Villarreal: I’m always curious about what costs are funded through the athletic department and what’s funded somewhere else. When I compare budgets with someone else, I question what’s included. Are you paying for academic services? Are you paying for utilities?

    What is your toughest competition for donor or ticket dollars?

    McGarity: I don’t think it’s the pro sports in Atlanta. We have a tremendous donor base, so we’re sold out of tickets for every game. I think our biggest competition is the expendable dollar. Is the experience of coming to Sanford Stadium worth the $40 or $45 ticket for a family of four? Is it worth it to come to the stadium, fight traffic? We’ve tried to work hard to create that experience at the game that you’d have at home.

    Coyle said Boise's isolated location makes it even more important to provide a fan experience that will make people want to drive long distances to attend sporting events.
    Photo by: Boise State University
    Coyle:
    We’re pretty isolated in Boise, which can be a strength, but it poses some challenges as well. We’re asking people to often travel long distances to come to our games.

    Villarreal: A lot of people would say that since we’re in the Dallas market and deal with the Cowboys and the Mavericks, our biggest competition is professional sports. I understand that. This might sound crazy, but I really believe our biggest competition is fighting the apathy that existed here for so long. From the time Hayden Fry left in the late ’70s, the university didn’t invest and our toughest competition has been getting people to come back. Rebuilding the culture is what’s been tough.

    Moos: Well, for one, Gonzaga basketball is competition. They’ve done a nice job of producing winning teams. We’ve got a lot of fans in Spokane, and some of them are content to go across the street to watch them play. We have to get into the Spokane market.

    Massaro: We’re 45 minutes from Nashville, so with the whole Nashville market, the entertainment dollar is stretched pretty thin, whether it’s the music industry or the pro franchises in town or the SEC. I throw in the whole league because the brand of the SEC is so powerful. We fight that.

    Beauregard: We sit between Detroit and Chicago, and we’re an hour and a half from Ann Arbor, Michigan State and Notre Dame. Expanding our alumni base against all of that competition is huge for us. We’re also impacted by the economy. Our largest student population comes from metro Detroit, and the largest number of alums lives in Detroit. They’ve been hit significantly by the amount of people out of work or leaving the state.

    How many millions in construction do you have going on right now?

    Massaro: Nothing, really, right now. We’ve got about $12 million in the planning stages for an indoor multipurpose facility for football, baseball, soccer and track. And we’re looking at an indoor tennis facility.

    Beauregard: Not a lot right now, but we just finished about $28 million in construction. We’ve done most of what we
    need to do. Now we’re fundraising for a new scoreboard and an ice rink. We used to be able to borrow money from the university, but now we have to fully raise the funding before we can break ground on anything.

    Coyle: We’re north of $30 million in construction projects. We’re working on a new football complex and that’s $26 million. We also completed a new outdoor track and field complex for $6 million.

    McGarity: Fortunately for us, only about $2 million. When I got here in 2010, we were coming off a stadium addition, the renovation of the coliseum and an addition to the football building. The brick-and-mortar projects have really given us tremendous growth. We’re fundraising for a $10 million baseball stadium renovation. We’re renovating concrete, trying to be as green as we can in our mechanical systems. We’re reinvesting in our structures so they stand the test of time.

    Villarreal: Well, I look at our stadium as an ongoing project and that’s $74 million. We also have [about $8 million] in a basketball practice facility and a golf practice facility. We’re also looking at a baseball stadium.

    Moos: We’re in the middle of a $65 million stadium renovation and our board just approved a $61 million football operations building. So that’s $126 million that we’re pretty aggressively trying to get done. Right now in the conference, there are more than $1 billion in construction projects going on.

    Should the NCAA adopt the measure that would pay stipends to athletes?

    McGarity: We’d love to see the stipend enacted. We think that’s a step in the right direction. On the flip side, we’re one of the few schools that can afford that. A lot cannot.

    Beauregard: I’m not in favor of it in the way it was proposed. I understand why the institutions that can afford it would do it. With all of the TV contracts, playoff money and corporate dollars coming in, I understand how this is viewed. I just don’t think this issue has been fully vetted through the membership, so we voted no. There are a lot of unanswered questions about it.

    Moos: It’s needed. At our place, it would cost just over $300,000, but we need to work through the equivalency aspect of it for the Olympic sports. We’re asking our athletes to be on campus year-round without a window to get a job. It costs more to attend than what’s in a scholarship.

    Villarreal: My answer, a lot of times, is that people don’t realize all the things already being done for student athletes. Most point out tuition, room and books, but that’s not it. We have a full academic staff, tutors for every kid that needs them, a lot of things that are not available to regular students. That said, I don’t know what the right number is for a stipend, but you have to look at the full cost of attendance and that money needs to be there.

    Massaro: There should be some trickle down to student athletes within the scholarship structure, as long as it’s delivered in a way to all of our athletes and it keeps gender equity where it should be.

    Coyle: Boy, that’s a topic that has generated a lot of attention nationally, and what I would say is that we will do whatever we need to do to be competitive. If that’s something that’s enacted nationally, we’ll be a part of it.

    Do you tweet?

    Massaro: I started this fall. It’s just another avenue to reach people, and it’s a chance to tell your side of the story. I find it to be a time saver in some ways, because you get all of the bullet points you need on an issue and you don’t have to navigate the Web as much. I’ve encouraged all of our coaches to do it, too, because that’s how high schoolers communicate today.

    McGarity: No, but I do follow some of our athletes, some of our coaches, some of our media. We had a discussion at last year’s Division I AD meeting in Dallas, and one speaker encouraged ADs to tweet and another speaker discouraged it.

    Coyle: I follow people on Twitter, but I don’t tweet myself.

    Villarreal: I don’t tweet. To be honest, I don’t have the time.

    Moos: Nope. I just started texting six months ago so that I can communicate with the kids. We just took Twitter away from the football team.

    Beauregard: I actually started tweeting [last week]. I have held back and I don’t want to get into this ridiculous thing where I’m tweeting every time I go somewhere.

    Turnkey Sports Poll

    The following are results of the Turnkey Sports Poll taken in November. The survey covered more than 1,100 senior-level sports industry executives spanning professional and college sports.

    How would you rate the current popularity of college sports?

      Worse than ever Poor Fair Good Better than ever Not sure
    College football 0% 0% 3% 33% 64% 0%
    Men’s basketball 0% 1% 15% 57% 27% 0%
    All other college sports 3% 23% 42% 25% 5% 2%

    Source: Turnkey Sports & Entertainment

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  • Players share the wealth with bowl gifts

    In SportsBusiness Journal’s seventh annual analysis of the gift packages provided to participants in postseason college football games, bowl operators report that with the emergence of gift suites and shopping trips as a popular way to provide these giveaways, players are migrating to a most unexpected place — the women’s section.

    Will Webb, executive director of Charlotte Collegiate Football, the nonprofit committee that operates the Belk Bowl and the ACC Dr Pepper Championship football game in Charlotte, relates an experience during last year’s player shopping trip.

    “I saw one young man carrying a high-end Cuisinart coffee maker and pink slippers to the checkout counter,” Webb said. “I asked him jokingly if those were for him. He put his hand on my shoulder and said, ‘You have no idea how much this means to me. This is the first time in my life I’ve ever been able to buy my mom a Christmas present.’”

    The trip was an integral part of a $70 million sponsorship deal with Charlotte-based retailer Belk, which includes title sponsorship to the annual ACC-Big East matchup. In a ritual that will continue this month, players from each of the competing schools will be taken separately to Belk’s flagship department store in Charlotte’s upscale South Park Mall for a storewide shopping spree. The bowl game will be played Dec. 27 at Bank of America Stadium a few miles away.

    The NCAA allows each bowl to award up to $550 worth of gifts to 125 participants per school. Schools can, and almost always do, buy additional packages that they can distribute to participants beyond that 125 limit. In addition, participants can receive awards worth up to $400 from the school and up to $400 from the conference for postseason play, covering both conference title games and any bowl game.

    Gift suites are set up as private events in which game participants, and often bowl VIPs, are given an order form and allowed to select a gift, or gifts, up to a value that is predetermined by each specific bowl, not to exceed the NCAA limit.

    “The need for women’s VIP gifts has increased considerably over the past few years,” said Doug Smith, Fossil’s vice president of sales and operations for the corporate markets division. “One of our most popular brands that we have the license for — meaning we design, manufacture and distribute — is Michael Kors, and that helps position us well with
    It’s become more common for players on sponsor-provided shopping trips to pick up something they can give to others. Here, players in last year’s Belk Bowl look over watches.
    Photo by: Mark Sluder / Belk Stores
    cheerleaders and coaches’ wives.”

    Fossil products will appear in 19 bowl packages this year (including those for players, cheerleaders, staff and VIPs), the most of any vendor.

    Players re-gifting their bowl gains is not new, but prior to the gift suites and shopping trips, their only options were whatever was in the gift bag presented to them.

    Jon Cooperstein, who helped conceive the gift suite concept at the 2008 Orange Bowl, said his company, Performance Award Center, is offering a substantially more diverse selection of products this year. That’s because he and his staff have noticed that players are now just as likely to use the experience to shop for others as they are to sign up for things for themselves.

    “When we were at the Alabama-Texas BCS championship game in 2010, one of the Alabama players came to me and said he wanted to select the watch with the bowl logo, but asked if we could fit it to someone else,” said Cooperstein, who was running the gift suite on behalf of the Rose Bowl committee. “I wasn’t quite sure what he meant, but he disappeared and came back a few minutes later with his grandfather in a wheelchair and said he wanted to give his bowl watch to him. It was a very emotional experience for everyone.”

    One new product making its appearance this year will be Sol Republic headphones. Seen frequently this summer being worn by Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps, players competing in the AutoZone Liberty and GoDaddy.com bowls will each receive a set.

    As in each of our previous reports, the committees representing the AT&T Cotton and New Era Pinstripe bowls would not disclose the contents of their gift packages.



    2012 Bowl gifts to participants

    Gildan New Mexico
    Sat., Dec. 15, 1 p.m. (ESPN), Albuquerque, N.M.
    Gift suite, Deuce Brand watch, Oakley Holbrook sunglasses, Oakley fine knit beanie cap, Oakley Flak Pack XL backpack, Gildan stadium blanket, quill pen

    Famous Idaho Potato
    Sat., Dec. 15, 4:30 p.m. (ESPN), Boise, Idaho
    Gift suite, North End black winter coat, Kombi winter gloves, white Tiger Woods Victory Nike beanie, Ogio Bullion backpack, Big Game football

    San Diego Co. Credit Union Poinsettia
    Thurs., Dec. 20, 8 p.m. (ESPN), San Diego
    Best Buy gift card, Tourneau watch, Maui Jim sunglasses gift certificate, cap

    Beef ‘O’Brady’s St. Petersburg
    Fri., Dec. 21, 7:30 p.m. (ESPN), St. Petersburg, Fla.
    Jawbone Jambox, Oakley Dispatch II sunglasses, Oakley backpack, Schutt mini helmet

    R+L Carriers New Orleans
    Sat., Dec. 22, Noon (ESPN), New Orleans
    Beats by Dre headphones, Fossil watch, Oakley backpack

    MAACO Las Vegas
    Sat., Dec. 22, 3:30 p.m. (ESPN), Las Vegas
    Gift suite

    Sheraton Hawaii
    Mon., Dec. 24, 8 p.m. (ESPN), Honolulu
    Fossil watch, Oakley backpack, Tori Richard aloha shirts, custom beach towel, Pro Athletics shorts, T-shirt, performance T-shirt, hat/visor, calendar

    Little Caesars Pizza
    Wed., Dec. 26, 7:30 p.m. (ESPN), Detroit
    Timely watch, leather travel sports bag, football

    Military presented by Northrop Grumman
    Thurs., Dec. 27, 3 p.m. (ESPN), Washington, D.C.
    Applie iPad Mini, Timely watch, beanie

    Belk
    Thurs., Dec. 27, 6:30 p.m. (ESPN), Charlotte
    Shopping trip to Belk department store, Fossil watch

    Bridgepoint Education Holiday
    Thurs., Dec. 27, 9:45 p.m. (ESPN), San Diego
    Best Buy gift card, Tourneau watch, Maui Jim sunglasses gift certificate, cap

    AdvoCare V100 Independence
    Fri., Dec. 28, 2 p.m. (ESPN), Shreveport, La.
    Gift suite, Timely watch, New Era cap, football

    Russell Athletic Sports
    Fri., Dec. 28, 5:30 p.m. (ESPN), Orlando
    $420 shopping trip to a local Best Buy*, Timely watch

    Meineke Car Care of Texas
    Fri., Dec. 28, 9 p.m. (ESPN), Houston
    Fossil watch, 32-inch flat-screen TV, belt buckle, T-shirt, lapel pin, backpack

    Bell Helicopter Armed Forces
    Sat., Dec. 29, 11:45 a.m. (ESPN), Fort Worth, Texas
    Sony gift suite, Fossil watch, Dakine backpack, Big Game football

    New Era Pinstripe
    Sat., Dec. 29, 3:15 p.m. (ESPN), New York City
    New Era cap
    Note: Bowl committee would not disclose details about participants’ gifts, but last year’s gifts included a Sony video camera, Armitron watch, Balfour ring, New Era duffle bag, New Era caps, a winter hat, hoodie, sweatpants, thermal, polo and crew shirt.

    Kraft Fight Hunger
    Sat., Dec. 29, 4 p.m. (ESPN2), San Francisco
    Fossil watch, Nike FuelBand, FoxL wireless portable speaker system, Nike backpack, cap

    Valero Alamo
    Sat., Dec. 29, 6:45 p.m. (ESPN), San Antonio
    Apple iPad Mini, Fossil watch, $100 Best Buy gift card, panoramic team photo, Schutt mini helmet

    Buffalo Wild Wings
    Sat., Dec. 29, 10:15 p.m. (ESPN), Tempe, Ariz.
    Gift suite presented by PAC Sports Division, Fossil watch, Ogio Mercur backpack

    Franklin American Mortgage Music City
    Mon., Dec. 31, noon (ESPN), Nashville
    Gift suite, Fossil watch

    Hyundai Sun
    Mon., Dec. 31, 2 p.m. (CBS), El Paso, Texas
    Timely watch, Majestic fleece, Top of the World cap, coin, Helen of Troy hair dryer

    AutoZone Liberty
    Mon., Dec. 31, 3:30 p.m. (ESPN), Memphis
    Sol Republic Tracks HD Anthem headphones, Bulova watch, Nike athletic shoes and sandals, Nike sunglasses, Nike backpack, football

    Chick-fil-A
    Mon., Dec. 31, 7:30 p.m. (ESPN), Atlanta
    $300 gift card, Fossil watch, Russell Athletic Chick-fil-A Bowl hat, Russell Athletic travel bag, Chick-fil-A gift card

    Heart of Dallas Bowl presented by PlainsCapital Bank
    Tues., Jan. 1, noon (ESPNU), Dallas
    Gift suite
    Note: Bowl committee said complete gift packages had not been finalized as of press time.

    TaxSlayer.com Gator
    Tues., Jan. 1, noon (ESPN2), Jacksonville
    Fossil watch, Dome hat, Mercury garment bag and carry-on bag, Jostens ring, football

    Capital One
    Tues., Jan. 1, 1 p.m. (ABC), Orlando
    $420 shopping trip to a local Best Buy*, Fossil watch

    Outback
    Tues., Jan. 1, 1 p.m. (ESPN), Tampa
    $150 Best Buy gift card, Fossil watch, ring, cap, Outback Steakhouse gift card

    Rose presented by Vizio
    Tues., Jan. 1, 5 p.m. (ESPN), Pasadena, Calif.
    Gift suite, Fossil watch, Oakley backpack, New Era Thirty9 Thirty cap

    Discover Orange
    Tues., Jan. 1, 8:30 p.m. (ESPN), Miami Gardens, Fla.
    Gift suite, Tourneau watch

    Allstate Sugar
    Wed. Jan. 2, 8:30 p.m. (ESPN), New Orleans
    Gift suite, Fossil watch, New Era cap, Boxer & Stone hoodie

    Tostitos Fiesta
    Thurs., Jan. 3, 8:30 p.m. (ESPN), Glendale, Ariz.
    Gift suite presented by PAC Sports Division, Fossil watch, Ogio Mercur backpack

    AT&T Cotton
    Fri., Jan. 4, 8 p.m. (Fox), Arlington, Texas
    Fossil watch
    Note: Bowl committee would not disclose additional details about participant gifts, but last year’s gifts included an iPad2 and a Fossil watch.

    BBVA Compass
    Sat., Jan. 5, 1 p.m. (ESPN), Birmingham, Ala.
    Fossil watch, Oakley Dispatch II sunglasses, wireless portable speaker, backpack, football

    GoDaddy.com
    Sun., Jan. 6, 9 p.m. (ESPN), Mobile, Ala.
    Sol Republic headphones, Fossil watch, leather garment bag, Wilson football

    Discover BCS National Championship Game
    Mon., Jan. 7, 8:30 p.m. (ESPN), Miami Gardens, Fla.
    Gift suite, Tourneau watch

    * To be spent during the team’s official store visit. Balance not used that day will be forfeited.
    All times listed are ET. Product details are provided as they were available. Most watches, rings, clothing and luggage are custom-made with the bowl logo. Gift suites are set up as private events in which game participants, and often bowl VIPs, are given an order form and allowed to select a gift, or gifts, up to a value that is predetermined by each specific bowl, not to exceed the NCAA limit of $550 per person.

    Compiled by David Broughton and Brandon McClung
    Sources: Bowl committees and vendors

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