Friday, December 13, 2013

"Obviously a Major Malfunction"

UMass McGuirk Stadium expansion (20% over original budget estimates, naturally)

The only thing I question in the "Failure To Launch" minority report issued by members of a break away group from the Ad Hoc Committee on FBS Football is the title.

Umass BIG time football indeed launched but, like the 1986 Challenger space shuttle mission, it quickly ran into major difficulties. 

According to the "official" report of the Ad Hoc Committee on FBS Football, the Big Business  of Umass football in FY13 cost $7,639,732 in overhead, took in $1,995,633 in revenues for a loss of $5,644,099 in taxpayer dollars.  Up from FY11 $3,100,000 the (pre-FBS) season two years before. 

And this year (FY14) it will be even worse, with total losses projected at $6,312,074. 

Let's see, with the team's 2-22 record that works out to $6 million per victory.  And yes, UMass football has always been a loser economically, but even if you factor in  FY11 losses (before going FBS) the total increase in subsidy these past two FBS years is $8,606,833 or $4,303,416 per victory.

Reminds me of comedian Tommy Smothers line during the height of the Vietnam war protests when he calculated the average cost per Viet Cong killed thus far in the ill-fated war was just over $600,000. "Heck, we could buy them off for a lot less than that."

So you have to wonder if the intangible benefits of BIG time football -- prestige and ego -- are worth $12 million?  And as an "opportunity cost," weight how many deserving students could be afforded the opportunity for a life altering education via scholarships.

Or even if you simply wish to keep the money within the realm of athletics, you could revive men’s tennis, gymnastics, or women’s volleyball and gymnastics, all cut in 2006 to save money.


Anonymous said...

"Ticket sales at Gillette improved from an average of 10,901 in 2012 to 15,830 in 2013, the highest ever for a UMass football team. "

key point. first, it's a positive note (had to be something good, right?)

Second, it's a rebuilding process for the football team over many years (similar to: "the recent success of the UMass men’s basketball squad, which this season has been ranked in the Top 25 nationally, five years after coach Derek Kellogg began a rebuilding effort."). So poor play is initially accepted, contributing to poor sales and poor income. Down the road, moving up divisions will have countless impacts on the integrity and popularity of the program, contributing to (hopefully) large profits.

takes money to make money. also takes time. don't fret!

Also, as far as scholarships go, I believe athletic scholarships for football have risen with the upgrade, another plus

Walter Graff said...

Can't expect everything in a school to make money. It's not a fro-profit business. Football serves a wonderful purpose to those involved. And like the guy says, time, just give it time. It won't be a college bowl but it sure is to the kids and parents involved.

Anonymous said...

Yes give it time and another 50-70mill and it might win a few games. Well worth the price for a few.

Cr. Ed said...

Someone is forgetting Title IX in all of this -- for every dollar you spend on men's sports (even if the sport raises the money) you must spend a dollar on women's sports -- even if they can't/don't.

I don't see that in any of these numbers....

Anonymous said...

While I appreciate the thought - indoor track was brought back, after it was determined it cost more to cut them, overall, than the cost to fund the program.

Anonymous said...

I would much rather have more funneled to the basketball program - who was a proven contender in the years even when scholarship money was reduced post-Camby - rather than the long, slow ride it will take to build up to Bowl game status. Why is the increase of football athletic scholarships always touted as a plus? I'm curious as to whether any analysis has been done (as it appears at other universities) on the positive or negative effects on other athletic programs and overall campus life.

Anonymous said...

Ahem. I thought the point was academic achievement. Do sports ever bring in a lot of money? Does men's basketball bring in a lot -- after subtracting coaching, travel, and scholarship costs?

Shutdown Touchdowns said...

Sports are truly a waste of time and money at any level. The US is one of the few countries where we spend more on football than math. No wonder we are falling behind in the world rankings of education.

Larry Kelley said...

Yes, supporters of the program are definitely math challenged when it comes to losses.

As are our town officials with the Cherry Hill Golf Course.

Walter Graff said...

Let's face some facts. Anyone that thinks Universities are in business these days to give an education is living on the moon. Wall St or UMASS it's about money, money and money. Only difference is intellectuals are too stuck up on themselves and how smart they are teaching college educations to see or care. This article talks about he subject in a accurate and truthful fashion:

Anonymous said...

The football experiment is a huge waste of money.

David Farnham

Anonymous said...

Also, not mentioned in the financial evaluation is the lost revenue to local business.

David Farnham

Dr. Ed said...

All of this further convinces me that the entire Higher Education Industry is one big speculative bubble about to burst.

Children (and their parents) are paying & borrowing a lot of money to essentially buy a piece of paper which they believe will enable them to get a good job (and which once did) but are finding out that the piece of paper is largely meaningless -- and as that becomes known, fewer and fewer will be willing to buy it.

Unlike the "Housing Bubble", where there at least was physical property securing the borrowed money, student loans are secured by nothing more than the student's soul.

The burden of repayment, in an economy where graduates simply are not getting good jobs in large numbers -- and at a place like UMass where a lot of students fall through the cracks and the institution simply does not care (absolutely no one is talking about the kids/parents with significant loan debt but who didn't graduate) -- is an issue every bit as pressing as the Vietnam Draft ever was.

It's arguably worse because those who were actually drafted and sent to Vietnam, 99% weren't killed (17,725 of 1,728,344 died) and after two years were free & clear -- as opposed to today when young people have this debt hanging over their heads for 20 years. Or one not wanting to go to Vietnam could join the Navy, USAF or even the National Guard -- and in either case was both paid and had basic living expenses (food/shelter/clothing) provided for.

Excepting the young lady who gets pregnant (and personally know several who intentionally did so), that's not true relative to the student debt obligation -- it and the credit rating is competing with basic necessities.

Throw in how ever-so-welcome Amherst makes UM students feel, and I argue that the whole bubble is gonna pop big time -- and soon.

Dr. Ed said...

One other thing -- what is implicitly (if not explicitly) being said when all the home football games are played a four hour drive away from campus?

(It's two hours *each way* -- that's four hours and makes attending a UM "home" game an all-day commitment.)

It's not about the people who are actually students and paying tuition/fees -- not anymore. No, they are a captive audience who are largely stuck -- not unlike someone "locked into" a lease or cell phone contract -- and can be ignored.

No, this is about lying to potential students about how much fun they will have at UMass, and (attempting to) lie to alumni about how much fun they did have there.

The fact that the number of first-offense judicial charges is about the same as the number of freshmen (seriously) sorta indicates that almost all the students either have had a rather unpleasant encounter with the university or knows someone who has -- and in most cases, will neither forget nor forgive.

Throw in the fact that a UM degree simply does NOT open doors for you -- that (with a few exceptions) you're not going to advance financially from attending UM Alumni events -- not even mentioning that UM does almost nothing to help graduates find jobs -- let's just say that I have an absolute blanket policy of never ever writing a letter of recommendation for someone applying to UMass and that I openly tell everyone of it.

No, the bubble's gonna burst. I think the football people see that and hope that there'll be enough outside revenue for the program (and thus them) to survive when it does.

After all, people do make money working for the farm teams in baseball...