More Schools Looking At Adding Beer Sales To Cover Cost Of Student-Athlete Stipends
SMU this football season will "begin selling beer and wine" at Ford Stadium, and with athletic departments "getting ready to absorb multimillion-dollar obligations in new player benefits thanks to a wave of litigation and NCAA restructuring, it's plausible that others might soon follow," according to Dan Wolken of USA TODAY. Virginia Tech AD Whit Babcock said, "It seems like it's going that way, and I think you'll see more doing it." He added, "I don't know that it will be one of the top things on my agenda. But as more people do it … I'll definitely be watching." Wolken notes the majority of high-profile FBS programs "have chosen not to go in that direction for reasons that range from philosophical/religious to concerns about crowd control to unease about the appearance of profiting off alcohol." Though schools in larger metro areas like Houston, Louisville, Memphis and Tulane "have sold beer for years in their venues, the practice is now being embraced" in smaller places. West Virginia implemented beer sales at games in '11, generating "upward of $500,000 in new revenue while seeing fewer incidents of rowdy fan behavior related to binge-drinking outside the stadium." Minnesota sold beer and wine at TCF Bank Stadium as "part of a two-year pilot program beginning in 2012 and reported a $181,678 profit last season." SMU AD Rick Hart said, "There's a revenue component to it, for sure, but it was part of the experience fans wanted. And we had zero alcohol-related arrests. We didn't see a spike in any type of behavioral issues." Wolken notes many schools will "face a crunch" concerning a monetary source to cover player benefits. Beer sales "could very well be the answer" (USA TODAY, 6/23).