LEAD1 targets reduced charter costs for schools
Chartered flights have transitioned from a luxury item to a must-have for most of the top college football and basketball programs. In fact, an industry survey showed that the 130 FBS schools spent a total of $200 million on chartered air travel last year to go to games.
Reducing those costs has been one of the top initiatives over the past year for LEAD1, the trade association for FBS schools. LEAD1’s CEO, Tom McMillen, recently unveiled a plan that could help schools save thousands as part of a new five-year arrangement with Private Jet Services, the largest corporate aviation consultancy in North America.
Through this agreement, which takes effect Feb. 15, schools in LEAD1 will have access to PJS aircraft with fixed hourly rates and a 20 percent rebate if the school makes at least a three-year commitment.
LEAD1’s 130 members include all 124 of the schools across 10 FBS conferences, plus six independents. The expense and inconvenience of travel in general has been one of the topics McMillen has heard the most about from the membership.
McMillen, a three-term congressman who played basketball collegiately at Maryland and still is based in Washington, D.C., said the collective buying power of 130 major institutions helped LEAD1 negotiate better terms than schools could on their own. Chartered air travel has become a necessity, especially for basketball teams that play midweek games and need to return to campus so that student athletes can go to class the following morning.
McMillen said he’s also looking for insurance carriers that will work across all of LEAD1’s members as a way to create cost efficiencies.
Separately, LEAD1 has embarked on an exhaustive salary survey across coaches and administrators to get a better grasp on compensation levels and disparities, McMillen said.