Year in Sports : The NCAA bowl system has a reputation of big payouts

first_img Published on April 19, 2011 at 12:00 pm Contact Jon: [email protected] Comments Year in Sports: Part 1 of 9For Doug Marrone and the contingent of Syracuse players on the field at Rutgers, this scene was special. Following SU’s 13-10 win at Rutgers on Nov. 13, this group had ensured the Orange’s first bowl appearance since 2004.Seniors rejoiced. Four — maybe five — years of work finally paid off. Players bowled their helmets. After the game, SU’s head coach Marrone stood proudly at the podium to deliver his postgame press conference. His goal had been met.But for Athletic Director Daryl Gross, the work was just beginning before the program would eventually accept an invitation to the New Era Pinstripe Bowl in Yankee Stadium.That’s because Syracuse’s return to a bowl game meant a return to a system in which financial deficits are commonly a consequence of participating in a bowl game. It’s a system Jake Crouthamel, SU’s athletic director from 1978 to 2005, knew well.AdvertisementThis is placeholder text‘People don’t realize the huge amount of expense there is,’ Crouthamel said. ‘You’re taking the band, you’re taking cheerleaders, you’re taking some faculty members and administrators, you’re paying bonuses to coaches, you’re paying bonuses to some of the staff members, and your commitment to tickets can’t possibly all be sold.‘It’s really a major undertaking and it’s more red ink — as if we need more red ink.’Crouthamel said bowl games often ended up losing Syracuse University money. That was the case in the 2004 Champs Sports Bowl. That bowl game, which ended in a 51-14 loss to Georgia Tech, was the last time the Orange had played in a bowl game prior to the Pinstripe Bowl.But in the Dec. 30 Pinstripe Bowl, which the Orange won 36-34 over Kansas State, the university came close to balancing its expenses and revenue after the Big East conference distributed payouts to the six Big East football teams that played in a bowl, Gross said.‘We are happy to have been in a bowl game. It is a reward for a great season. The expenses and payout for the bowl are almost equal. We do foresee a small profit, which will be reinvested in the program as we continue its resurgence,’ Gross said in a statement.During a Feb. 9 University Senate meeting, Gross said the football team received a little more than $1 million by attending the Pinstripe Bowl, but ticket allotment and team expenses lowered that amount.Crouthamel said bowl revenue is always put back into the program to aid in overcoming the deficit of the program. ‘Anything extra that an athletic program can generate goes back into the program to cover the red ink,’ he said.SU’s athletic department declined to provide financial information pertaining to the football team’s appearance in the Pinstripe Bowl. As a private institution, the university isn’t required to release financial data. Pinstripe Bowl officials also declined to provide financial figures for this article.For Crouthamel, the costs of playing in non-BCS bowls have been overwhelming in the past and remain overwhelming today. But it would be hard to justify changing the current bowl system.‘It’s difficult to say let’s get rid of the system because, from a financial standpoint, the coaches don’t suffer, the staff doesn’t suffer, but the program suffers,’ he said.Crouthamel said SU was lucky financially to be invited to the Pinstripe Bowl.‘That’s a bus ride down there for the team instead of getting on an airplane and flying cheerleaders and band members and everybody else down there,’ he said. ‘That was a godsend from an expense standpoint.’Kansas State ended up making $125,089 from the bowl game, according to KSU’s 2010-11 Institutional Bowl Expenses report. Kansas State had to absorb 219 tickets while the Big 12 conference failed to sell 82 of its allotted tickets, for a total expense of $35,155.Kansas State’s total bowl expenses were $1,348,511. The university received an expense allowance from the Big 12 of $1,473,600, made up of an appearance fee and travel allowance.The Big 12 and Kansas State received a lower ticket allotment than the Big East for the Pinstripe Bowl because of Syracuse’s proximity to New York City, said Kenny Lannou, Kansas State’s director of athletic communications.‘We broke even pretty much, and I think that’s the case for most of the bowls outside the BCS,’ Lannou said. ‘I think the exposure, the experience, and then from a football standpoint, to get back to the postseason for recruiting and then the extra practices, I think it outweighs the cost.’Big East payoutAlthough the Pinstripe Bowl had a payout of $2 million to each of the participating schools, the SU football team never saw the money.The Big East shares all of its postseason revenue, a common trait among many of the country’s conferences. The payouts from each of the bowls are pooled together before being allocated to the teams that play in bowls. In the 2010-11 bowl season, six teams from the Big East took part in bowl games. Regardless of a win or loss in the bowl, both teams receive the same payout.The athletic directors of the Big East’s member schools agree on a preset amount the school will be paid for appearing in its respective bowl to cover its expenses, said Nick Carparelli, senior associate commissioner of the Big East. By having preset amounts, the conference may end up giving certain schools more money than the payout of the school’s bowl game, which helps to alleviate the issue of schools losing money by participating in bowl games.‘One of the philosophies behind being in a conference is that the conference as a whole generates greater revenue than any one school could generate on its own,’ Carparelli said.Each bowl team gets an appearance fee and a travel allowance from the Big East included in the payout. SU received a total of $1.6 million from the Big East, which is less than the $2 million Pinstripe Bowl payout. That payout included a $1.5 million appearance fee and a $100,000 travel allowance, Carparelli said.The teams know in advance what their payout will be, so they know if their spending will go under or over budget, he said.‘If they want to stay within the budget and make a little extra or if they come in under budget, that’s their business. If they want to spend more than their appearance fee for a given reason, that’s their prerogative as well,’ he said.The $1.5 million appearance fee given to Syracuse was the second largest fee allocated by the Big East this bowl season, trailing only Connecticut’s fee of about $2 million.West Virginia, which played in the Champs Sports Bowl in Orlando, Fla., on Dec. 28, received a $1.3 million appearance fee and an approximately $200,000 travel allowance from the Big East, said John Paquette, associate commissioner of the Big East. The Champs Sports Bowl had a payout of $2.13 million.Paquette said the conference’s travel allowance given out to its bowl teams ends up being between $100,000 to $300,000, depending on how far the school has to travel.Pittsburgh, which participated in the BBVA Compass Bowl in Birmingham, Ala., on Jan. 8, received an appearance fee of $1.1 million and a travel allowance of around $150,000 from the conference, Paquette said. The Compass Bowl had a combined payout of $1.5 million.E.J. Borghetti, senior associate athletic director at Pittsburgh, said in an email the rewards of playing in a bowl game outweigh the financial considerations. Some of these rewards are increased national exposure, a chance to play teams from different conferences and additional practice time.‘Even lower-profile bowls are televised by national networks,’ Borghetti said. ‘That benefits recruiting, alumni relations and the overall visibility of your program.’Ticket allotmentAnother concern of the bowl process is the ticket requirement every bowl places on participating schools.‘One of the obligations that a school has in accepting an invitation to a bowl game is to bring its fans,’ Carparelli said. ‘In every bowl agreement, there’s a ticket commitment that’s involved, and if a school sells all their tickets, then that’s a positive for a lot of reasons. If they don’t, the school is on the hook for the tickets they have not sold.’Connecticut was on the hook for 14,729 unsold tickets of the 17,500 it was allotted by the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl, according to the university’s 2010-11 Institutional Bowl Expenses report, meaning it had to absorb $2,924,385 in ticket expenses. When added to the university’s other expenses — including travel, lodging and meal expenses for the team, staff, band and cheerleaders — Connecticut ended up with a total of $4,280,998 in expenses.‘I think our ticket sales would’ve been increased if we were in a bowl that was a little closer,’ said Mike Enright, associate director of athletics at Connecticut. ‘Obviously Phoenix is far away and is an expensive place to fly to.’Despite playing in the Fiesta Bowl, which has a payout of $17 million, Connecticut was given an expense allowance from the Big East of $2,523,200. By participating in the Fiesta Bowl, Connecticut ended up losing more than $1.7 million.‘It’s really not the BCS’ concern on whether individual schools make or lose money on their games,’ said Paquette, the associate commissioner of the Big East.Although Connecticut lost money in the Fiesta Bowl, Enright said it was worth playing in the game to gain exposure for the football program and the university.After paying all of its bowl teams, the Big East takes the remainder of its BCS money and funds from its television contract and splits it up into eight equal shares — one for each Big East football member, Paquette said. The equal revenue share for each conference team has been reported as between $2 million to $2.5 million per school, he said.From the 2010-11 bowl games, the Big East received a net BCS revenue of $21.2 million as a conference with an automatic bid to the BCS. The conference had approximately $30 million in funds before the 2010-11 bowl payouts were allocated among the bowl-participating teams. Then the remainder was split into equal revenue shares to each Big East school, Paquette said.Champion in the redThe scene in Glendale, Ariz., was similar to the Syracuse postgame field celebration at Rutgers — on a much larger scale. After Auburn won the Tostitos BCS National Championship Game on Jan. 10, the program collectively rejoiced after it was surrounded by a scandal during the season.But in the current bowl system, Auburn lost more than $600,000 in the game.Auburn was allotted 17,400 tickets, according to Auburn’s 2010-11 Institutional Bowl Expenses report. The school had to absorb 2,456 unsold tickets, an expense of $781,825. When added to the university’s other expenses, Auburn spent a total of $2,901,706.The BCS National Championship Game had a payout of $17 million. But Auburn’s conference, the Southeastern Conference, pools its bowl revenue together and then splits it into 13 shares, said Scott Carr, senior assistant athletic director at Auburn. One share is given to each of the conference’s 12 teams, and the other goes to the league office, he said.Auburn received an expense allowance of $2,287,600 from the SEC, which failed to cover its more than $2.9 million in expenses.Similarly, in the Western Athletic Conference, each school’s bowl payout goes to the conference, and then the WAC gives each bowl team an expense allowance, said Mike Waller, associate athletic director at Boise State.‘We want the conference to be as successful as possible,’ Waller said. ‘If there’s money made or saved by the expenses of a bowl, then everybody in the conference helps share in that luxury.’But Boise State lost money in the MAACO Bowl Las Vegas on Dec. 22, which had a payout of $1 million. Boise State had to absorb 3,059 tickets, an expense of $168,245, according to the university’s 2010-11 Institutional Bowl Expenses report.Boise State’s total expenses for the bowl game were $585,603. The university was given only a $375,000 expense allowance from the WAC. At Boise State, like so many schools under the system, it’s only about breaking even.‘I would say that at Boise State, we try our best to break even,’ Waller said. ‘We’re pretty good at breaking even on what the conference gives us. If we’re in a BCS game, like the Fiesta Bowl, then that’s a different story because the payout is so much larger. But in a non-BCS game, we attempt very strongly just to break even.’[email protected]center_img Facebook Twitter Google+last_img

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