Sports Illustrated sends a heads-up that their next issue (Nov. 15, 2010) tackles the Bogus Championship Series that props up this path to the fake national championship. The money interests that prop up the BCS are the non-profits that own the major Bowls, the major conferences and very well paid Bowl and conference executives.
The smaller Bowls in the series lose money and are subsidized by the major Bowls. Participating teams lose money according the anecdotal evidence in the article.
Abolishing the BCS and moving to a NCAA Football playoff system is a campaign of mine, so I’m about to do what SI hoped I would do when they emailed this information to me. I’ve shamelessly cut & pasted their information in this post. Here’s what’s coming in the SI story:
“The strong cases made by [Oregon, Auburn and TCU] and the seemingly inevitable, end-of-season BCS chaos suggest that a change in college football is necessary, as summed up by the heading Playoff: How (and Why) the BCS is Blocking What College football Needs. Senior writer Austin Murphy (si_austinmurphy) worked with Dan Wetzel (who co-wrote the highly-regarded Death to the BCS with Yahoo! Sports colleagues Josh Peter and Jeff Passan) to make an impassioned plea for a revised postseason format.
“Back in 2005, Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany told Congress that “an NFL-style football playoff would generate three or four times” more than the BCS, i.e. $700 to $800 million annually to be distributed among the I-A conferences. When Murphy and Wetzel try to make sense of how things currently are, they end up describing a business model that cannot sustain itself (page 42): “Most conferences pool all their bowl payouts, using the bigger-money BCS games to cover the losses incurred in the smaller games. Thus does the Rose Bowl help subsidize the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl – a bowl bailout system that indeed spreads the wealth. Bowl directors privately admit that fewer than half the bowls could survive without the financial support from the schools. Meanwhile, the sad sack programs that fail to qualify for a bowl often end up in the best financial position. As former Michigan AD Bill Martin said after the 2009 season, ‘The fact we didn’t go to a bowl game the last two years means we actually made money.'”
“Murphy and Wetzel also shed a light on the money-making traditionalists – namely bowl executives and the highest-profile conference commissioners, ADs and coaches – that are eager to maintain the status quo. Here are several reasons why this group of power brokers wants to keep things the way they are:
“· Bowl games enjoy tax-free, not-for-profit status despite generating money: “The Sugar Bowl finished 2007 with $37 million in assets and turned an $11.6 million profit. What’s more, the Sugar Bowl accepted $3 million from the Louisiana state government-this a year before it was announced that the state was running a $341 million shortfall in its budget.”
“· Bowl executives are handsomely compensated: “Working for bowls is a great gig, if you can get it…. The money is excellent, even for such inconsequential games as the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl, whose executive director, Gary Cavalli, is unlikely to go hungry, having pocketed $377,475 in 2009. Cavalli, of course, is a bargain compared with Sugar Bowl CEO Paul Hoolahan, who made $607,500 in fiscal 2007.”
“· The majority of a bowl’s revenue goes to the bowl, not the participating schools: “The 2007 Chick-fil-A Bowl generated $12.3 million in revenue but paid out just $5.9 million total to the participating schools, Auburn and Clemson.”
“· Schools profit little from bowl games, even if they’re BCS bowls: “The $18.5 million [Ohio State received for making the Rose Bowl last January] went to the Big Ten, where it was added to a pool of bowl revenue that was then sliced into 12 shares – one for each team, one for the league office. That still left Ohio State with a tidy $2.2 million to spend, which the Buckeyes did. Ohio State’s team travel costs were $352,727. Unsold tickets ran the school a cool $144,710. The bill to transport, feed and lodge the band and cheerleaders came to $366,814. Throw in entertainment, gifts and sundry other expenses and the Buckeyes lost $79,597.”
“· Bowls profit off of the teams that play in them: “Halftime entertainment at the Jan. 1, 2009, Outback Bowl was provided by the [Iowa] Hawkeye Marching Band. And how did the Tampa Bay Bowl Association, which runs the game, thank the band for that gratis performance? By charging the university $65 a head for each of the 346 band members. According to university records submitted to the NCAA, the school was forced to purchase face-value tickets totaling $22,490 for the band, even though the game wasn’t sold out.”
“○This includes required ticket agreements: “For their appearance in the 2009 Orange Bowl, Virginia Tech and the ACC agreed to purchase 17,500 tickets at $125 per seat, but they could sell only 3,342, according to university documents. The result: a $1.77 million bath for the school, not the bowl.”
“· Bonuses for certain coaches/ADs that make bowls: “Coaches land tidy bonuses for even minor-bowl glory. ADs, too, reap a windfall for a bowl invite. The going rate: one month’s extra salary for an appearance in even the lowliest game. Oregon’s Rob Mullens receives $50,000 if the Ducks go bowling. Kentucky’s Mitch Barnhart collects $30,000.”
So if you are interested, get the next Sports Illustrated. Whatever else you do, don’t call this thing the “national championship.” It’s the BCS champion and it’s bogus.