Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Expensive Losses


UMass McGuirk Stadium (pre-expansion)


Hard to say if the initial 12 game football season that resulted in 11 losses made a major difference in the whopping financial losses this year for UMass football, but it certainly did not help.

At $8 million dollars in red ink (at least it's somewhat in the spirit of the holiday season) that comes out to $727,000 in losses per loss.  That a lot of loss.  Not to mention the hit Amherst businesses have taken ("intangible costs") now that "home" games are 100 miles away.

Earlier this evening the UMass Faculty Senate barely beat back a challenge from members wishing to vote on an motion to have the flagship University football program withdraw from the Mid-American Conference (MAC).  The motion required two-thirds support just to get to the point of being allowed on the floor for a discussion and vote, but failed.

Only narrowly, however, as it received 60% support.

While the Athletic Department only wants to acknowledge $715,068 in losses due to lousy attendance, the watchdog Ad Hoc committee casts a wider net, bringing up all the hidden costs.  Advertising alone was another $700,000 -- all of it paid for by External Relations using taxpayer money.

Throw in the $2 million for renovations to McGuirk Stadium, and Title 1X mandated gender equity scholarships of $260,105 plus the original FY13 Football budget of $7,160,339 and your grand total comes to just over $10 million spent on BIG time football.  Offset by gate receipts and sponsorships of almost $2 million, leaving a loss of $8,220,461.  On a football team with a 1-11 record.

Or ... many, many scholarships for a bevy of deserving students -- the serious ones who keep partying to a minimum.

16 comments:

Brian W. Ogilvie said...

Larry: thanks for posting this, and may it reach a wide readership. Along with 60% of my fellow Faculty Senators, I voted to supend the Faculty Senate rules in order to consider a motion to recommend (all we would have done) that the UMass Amherst administration withdraw from FBS football as soon as possible; I'm deeply disappointed that the Senate did not even reach the point of considering the motion (since suspending the rules requires a 2/3rds vote, or 67%, while we had only 60%).

I think that the decision to enter FBS football was ill considered, and that a new President and new Chancellor are well positioned to rescind the decision. The costs are enormous, especially in light of the budget cuts we've taken in the 15 years I've been at UMass Amherst, and the purported benefits don't seem to have materialized. We did pretty well in Division I-AA football, and if we must have college football, that seems to be the right level for us. Of course, current students and faculty aren't really the target audience for FBS football; if we were, "home" games wouldn't be played in Foxboro. But if alumni are the target audience, they seem to be voting with their feet: voting against it, that is.

Dr. Ed said...

Larry, how come you haven't had anything to say about the Basketball Player arrested for assaulting a cop at UMass?

I think that is worse than just Joe Drunken Freshman doing it because he did it as a member of the team.

And this is the truly hidden price of athletics....

Larry Kelley said...

My young friends at the Collegian covered that story pretty well.

Anonymous said...

If I understod this story correctly, last season...prior to moving to the MAC...UMASS fotball had a net loss of $10 milion. Not it is certainly possible that i misunderstood what I read, and if so please correct me. However if my info is in fact correct, the transition actually improved the bottom line. Either way ist clearly a huge money loser for the school and the State.
Jeff Parr

Larry Kelley said...

Hey Jeff,
Before the move they lost $3 million, after the move, $8 million.

This past year they spent $10 million, but did take in revenues of $2 million (ticket sales, corporate sponsorships, etc), thus the bottom line loss of $8 million.

Anonymous said...

OK...thanks Larry. I guess I did misunderstand what I'd seen.

Thanks

Jeff Parr

Larry Kelley said...

Scott Merzbach took me to task over on Facebook for not mentioning the program lost $3 million the year before the BIG move.

And yes, that number alone is unacceptable; but $8 million can only be described as outrageous.

Anonymous said...

Did UMASS originally plan to build a brand new football stadium? I thought that is what I had read before. I understand the cost of a new state of the art facility, but thought it might have been worth it in the long run. Now I see that the university is planning to throw millions to upgrade the current stadium to just be a practice facility and still play home games at Foxboro for 5 years(or more?). If the university really wanted to improve their football program and bring back the money they spent maybe they could have looked at other colleges and university programs who were successful at this, like UCONN. Often a sports team does not do well the 1st or even the 2nd year in a new division. I'm not against growing the facilities, acquiring more professors or adding more opportunities in the academic arena. I think that both the sports and academic programs of the university can benefit each other. I do agree that it is unfortunate that area businesses may have lost money due to the football team not playing home games here. Maybe this is an opportunity for the area to attract other groups to choose the Pioneer Valley as their destination-and to spend money-during the football season.

Larry Kelley said...

The only team we beat this year,University of Akron, built a brand new $61.6 million dollar stadium.

It holds 30,000 fans but this year they averaged only half that.

Thus, it's losing money hand over fist.

McGuirk Stadium will cost about $35 million to renovate.

Anonymous said...

The main $ concern to me is that $30+ million in renovations that are planned for McGuirk even though the football team is expected to play only 1 game per year there assuming they stay in their new conference.

UMass is an educational institution and education should be its primary mission. All this big $ spent on sports is outrageous!

Anonymous said...

is there any possibility that this move (to a bigger stadium, bigger conference more fans, higher ticket prices, more media contracts and sponsorships) could result in better financials in the long-term?

Larry Kelley said...

Anyone who answers "yes" should put up a blank check in escrow so when that pipe dream does not pan out, they can be held financially responsible.

john comb said...

Larry, please don't ever report on matters that involve sport. You have absolutely no understanding of how the move to the FBS works in terms of building a program and obtaining 4-5 star recruits. Don't make yourself look foolish. Stick to pissing off college students with your babble.

Larry Kelley said...

Yeah, I must have wasted my time taking Glenn Wong's "Sport and the Law" class at UMass (back in the day).

Anonymous said...

I'm sure your one experience some 20 years ago is still perfectly locked away in your ignorant skull. Nothing in that class pertained to this case. But I'm sure you're also well versed in both the coaching and financial aspects of running a successful football program. Ask any coach it takes three years to rebuild a team after a significant move like this. Please go back to complaining about unshoveled sidewalks.

Larry Kelley said...

I guess the one good thing about a 1-11 season is it's not all that hard to have an "improving season" next year.