Friday, October 15, 2010

Bergen Record: New Jersey is in the toilet bowl

More than four years ago, IPBiz commented on the Vai Sikahema op-ed piece "Rutgers is Wrong," which piece is not to be found anywhere in the archives of KYW-3. Sikahema criticized Rutgers spending money on the football program.

In a New York Times piece in October 2010, one has similar themes:

Alfred P. Doblin, editorial editor of The Bergen Record, pointed out in a May column that Schiano’s annual compensation package “would restore nearly a fifth of the total funding cut by the state toward libraries.”

“New Jersey doesn’t need Schiano to get into a bowl,” Doblin wrote, echoing the fury on both political and sports message boards. “New Jersey is already in a bowl. It’s called a toilet bowl.”

Schiano insists that this is where the “thick skin” of a New Jersey-native comes in handy. He was the highly regarded defensive coordinator at the University of Miami who wanted to return home and build what was essentially a lower-tier program into a big-time power.

“We were losing kids to New Hampshire,” he said this week.

Soon, by focusing on kids from New Jersey, New York and Florida, Schiano and his staff brought real football players to campus.

“Not top flight, but true Division 1 players,” he said. “We had some really great overachievers and chemistry. In 2006, we had a magical ride.”

When Miami and Michigan came calling, Schiano made it clear he wanted to finish what he started and the former Rutgers athletic director Robert E. Mulcahy III made him the highest-paid football coach in the Big East as well as gave him an interest-free loan on his house.

Now, Schiano says he needs to remain focused on the 62 freshmen and sophomores — the most talented group he has ever had — and that at 1-0 in the Big East his team is atop the conference standings.

“I’m glad there are expectations,” Schiano said. “It means we’re building something worthwhile.”

Rutgers’s current athletic director, Tim Pernetti, understands the frustration of some of the state’s residents and football team’s critics. He was hired in February 2009 after Mulcahy was fired after a special review committee of the university found that the athletic department overspent, made secret deals and operated without oversight as it pushed to become a player in big time football.

“The university is feeling a lot of pressure in this economic climate,” said Pernetti, who played tight end at Rutgers and was an executive CBS College Sports. “The one pressure we feel every day is running our budget in a responsible and transparent way.”

Pernetti says Rutgers’s annual athletic budget is $60 million and it does not make money. In fact, as part of the fight over university budget cuts and salary freezes, faculty members derided in a letter, “a subsidy of $11.5 million from the general fund to cover lavish overruns for Intercollegiate Athletics.”

See also

Sikahema blasts money for Rutgers football; stem cells next?
[IPBiz notes that NJ voters would later reject a bond proposal to fund stem cell research, showing them to be far wiser than their California counterparts.]

Ever wonder why college tuition is so high?

Of the economic value of bowl games to the school, see
UConn made the BCS, and all it got was this looming financial burden

BCS games are supposed to be a big payday, and on paper, they are: The Fiesta Bowl is doling out $17 million to both the Big East and the Big 12. Based on the Big East's revenue-sharing plan, the Huskies are guaranteed somewhere in the neighborhood of $2.5 million of that, with other revenue streams bringing their cut of the conference pie up to about $3 million. Not bad, until you start to add up the expense of traveling to a major bowl game, beginning with ticket obligations:
The Fiesta Bowl distributed 17,500 tickets to UConn, and the school is responsible to sell them all. The cheapest of those tickets cost $111 (in the lower end zone) and can cost as much as $268 for club level.
… and hotel obligations:
[…] a total of 550 rooms at three different hotels ranging in price from $125-225 a night, not including tax, with blocks reserved for either three or seven nights. Additional expenses include a chartered flight and meals for the team, staff and 300-member band, as well as a $100,000 bonus to coach Randy Edsall, and smaller bonuses for assistants, per their contracts, for getting the team to a BCS bowl.
… and obligations to move all that inventory, or eat the cost (emphasis added):
Cost of any tickets or hotel rooms that go unfilled are absorbed by the university, with the exception of the 150 rooms at the Westin Kierland Resort and Spa, where UConn is on the hook for only half of money owed on unsold rooms at the $225-a-night hotel.
Whether UConn maximizes its revenue opportunity will depend on the amount of tickets it can sell. The school will almost certainly take a bath. As of Monday night, only 4,000 tickets had been sold, meaning UConn was still holding roughly $2.5 million in unsold tickets.
Meanwhile, on, Terrace Level tickets are starting at $25 – barely a fifth of the cost of the cheapest tickets allocated to the university.


When Florida won the BCS championship in 2008, the university's profit from the advertised $17 million payday amounted to $47,000 – and that was with in-state travel, to Miami. The Gators took a loss on their 2006 BCS title trip to Glendale, as did their opponent, Ohio State.


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