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Lessons from Boise State and TCU?

December 10, 2011

With Tim Beckman’s departure from Toledo, and Ron English getting mentioned as a candidate for positions elsewhere, Kenneth Barna asked what will keep a coach at EMU, and what lessons we can learn from Boise State and TCU.

What will keep a coach at Eastern, if he is successful? I’m looking at Boise State as an example, and for the time being am not declaring that Eastern will be the next Boise State, or Texas Christian University. As those school’s programs got better and better, why weren’t their coaches picked off by what are considered to be bigger programs? Did the coaches salaries go up dramatically? What kept them at those schools?

In other words, they seem to be totally satisfied with the school they are involved. What could make Eastern a destination school, instead of a jumping off point for successful coaches? There have been destination coaches at other MAC schools. Doyt Perry comes to mind from Bowling Green.

Boise State had been reasonably successful in I-AA football, winning a national championship in 1980, and winning their conference just a couple of years before they moved up to I-A. Pokey Allen largely oversaw the transition, but he missed most of their first I-A season (1996) and died of cancer shortly after the end of the season. Houston Nutt coached the next year, before getting hired away by Arkansas. Then Dirk Koetter was there three years before getting hired by Arizona State. Then Dan Hawkins was there for five years before he was hired by Colorado. Chris Petersen has now been there six years. Interestingly, Petersen’s current salary ($1.5 million) is about the same as what his predecessor, Hawkins, was making at Colorado before he got fired (2010). So what you have is three consecutive successful coaches at the school, and a willingness (and ability) for the school to pay more and more over time. Petersen is clearly not motivated by more money; he reportedly turned down $4 million/year from UCLA.

If/when Chris Petersen leaves Boise State, it will be more about fit than money. — Brian Murphy, sports columnist for the Idaho Statesman

TCU is particularly interesting because they were a storied program with two claimed national championships (1935, 1938) and longstanding members of a top-tier conference but they (along with Rice and SMU) got the short end of the stick when the SWC broke up. Although things were rough for their first two years in the WAC (Pat Sullivan’s last two years at TCU), they were a good team before that. Dennis Franchione quickly got things back on the right track before he was hired away by Alabama, and of course, Gary Patterson has kept things going nicely for the last 12 years. Ever since the SWC breakup, it’s seemed as though TCU has been trying to work their way back into a top-tier conference, and Patterson seemed to buy into that.

What does it mean for EMU?

First, it’s clear that a winning football program will not come cheap. If this is EMU’s goal, they will need to be ready to eventually fork out at least $1 million to keep a successful head coach, and at least another $1 million for his assistants. They will also need to continue to invest in facilities, which will be needed not only in-and-of-themselves for use by the team, but also to help attract top recruits.

Second, EMU must be ready to go through several more coaching searches. Ron English is doing a great job, but I don’t think he’s going to stick around at EMU. If the team continues to improve, I wouldn’t be surprised if English jumps for the first decent offer he gets. EMU needs to be prepared for that and Derrick Gragg needs to be ready to hit the ground running on a new coaching search.

When that inevitable coaching search does come, there are two key factors Gragg needs to keep in mind. The first is to look for a coach who will continue with the same hard-hitting style of play English has implemented. At that point, EMU will be a respectable program, but things will be  tenuous. The new hire will need to be someone who won’t try to immediately rebuild the whole team around a different style of play the way Jeff Quinn has tried to rebuild Buffalo. That person will need to understand that the short-term goal is just to keep things rolling in the right direction, to keep the positive momentum going.

The other key factor Gragg will need to look for in hiring Ron English’s replacement is someone who will stick around for a while. I’m not expecting any coach to stay at EMU if a truly top-tier program comes calling, but the  goal should be someone who is not going to head for a different non-AQ or a low-level-AQ school the way Brady Hoke left Ball State for San Diego State or Jerry Kill left Northern Illinois for Minnesota. This is easier, of course, if you hire a coach near the end of his career (e.g. Frank Solich at Ohio) but Gary Patterson proves that it is possible to find a younger coach who’s willing to stick around and build a program for a while.

The trick is finding such a coach.

29 Comments leave one →
  1. Mark H. permalink
    December 10, 2011 4:14 pm

    A million a year for a coach, and that much at least for assistants. Plus, increased investments on facilities for football…On what tree would this money be growing? Tuition paying students and their families?

  2. Kenneth Barna permalink
    December 10, 2011 6:51 pm

    Dear Mark,
    The whole proposition is based on winning football teams that will fill Rynearson Stadium. This is not going to happen tomorrow. If, you charged ten dollars a ticket, and filled the stadium at 30,000 fans, that’s $300,000 a game, times five home games, you end up with $1,500,000. That would almost cover the coaching costs as mentioned. Add more home games, increase the cost of tickets, and you will easily cover costs.
    This is still a program in the making, (I hope) so it is going to take time, and hopefully the students will not have to cover any of the costs.

    • December 10, 2011 7:51 pm

      I’m not suggesting — I don’t think anyone is suggesting — an overnight raise for Ron English to that level. Continued winning will lead to larger crowds. Larger crowds will also allow EMU to raise general admission tickets into the $15-$22/ticket range charged by the rest of the MAC. We can safely estimate EMU’s current football ticket revenue at somewhere less than $300,000 (6 games at 6,000 people each, at $10 each would be $360,000 for the season). But with the improved attendance that will come with winning, and the potentially higher ticket prices that can come with improved attendance, the numbers start to look more reasonable. Consider 6 games at 15,000 people each, at $20 each would be $1.8 million, nearly six times the current ticket revenues. Those aren’t unrealistic numbers, that’s in line with what most other MAC schools are already doing.

      • Mark H. permalink
        December 11, 2011 8:53 am

        Thanks for the thoughtful replies. (And thanks for for the great photos and sports coverage on this blog!)

        But on what data is it projected, and by whom, that EMU has a realistic chance of ever selling tickets for all home games? Nothing that I’ve seen suggests that’s viable, prudent, or realistic. Market demand for football in this county is pretty much saturated.

        Even if it turned out to be true sometime in the future for at least some seasons, and EMU made a cool 1.5 million (using your numbers Mr. Barna) on football tickets in such good seasons, there’d still be a huge deficit in costs over revenue. No where else in higher education, or at EMU, would anybody suggest for one minute a 25% shortfall in revenue to new costs, for a half million extra costs per year, “would almost cover the coaching costs as mentioned.” In real budgeting, in realistic projections of costs, when you expect to fall short 25% of new costs, you do not take on those new costs. Unless you have a money tree, and EMU students are the only money tree around for the costs of EMU athletics.

        EMU is not a rich school and never will be, yet we force our students to subsidize the costs of expensive athletic programs more than any rich university does. This subsidy holds in both absolute dollar amount of the total subsidy and as a per capita costs that students are forced to carry.

        As for the average MAC ticket price: EMU can’t charge that much because virtually nobody wants to attend EMU games. Better value exists a few miles to the west and on ESPN. These facts won’t change even if someday EMU has a genuine winning season or two.

        And isn’t most of the current EMU ticket revenue artificial, that is, from the Pepsi contract not from actual fans putting their own money down for something they want?

        Your point about not immediately raising the coach’s salary to one million is clear, absolutely. Yet such a salary is probably needed to retain a good coach. This fact underscores how fast athletic costs are going up, and the unsustainable nature of athletic budgets for schools like EMU and students like ours.

  3. December 12, 2011 12:08 am

    I don’t know, I think if EMU can put together a couple winning seasons, people will go to the games. It seemed like there were quite a few people at the homecoming game and the couple of home games after that. Hell, I remember a couple years ago when EMU had a good shot at the MAC title in Basketball, the Convocation center had a good number of people there.

  4. Bobby Wicks permalink
    December 16, 2011 11:09 am

    Here’s I all needed to see to tell me that no matter how good EMU gets, there just isn’t sufficient demand: First game of the year, makeup game vs Howard, it was FREE and no one showed up. The first game of the year is usually the best attended game because everyone is 0-0 and optimistic.

    Then the team showed they were actually pretty good and 3,000 showed up for some really key games, one vs a rival (WMU). I’ve resigned myself to the fact that there is a very low ceiling here at EMU. One big problem is the stadium itself. It’s just too far from campus and it looks like an erector set, although the latest improvements are fanstastic.

    Being a visionary here’s what I would do:

    1. Charge $5 for parking. NO ONE would think twice about paying a measley $5 to park at a sporting event, IT IS EXPECTED. The fact that EMU is not charging for parking is ludicrous, it would go a long way towards paying for program incidentals. No is would decide not to go to a game if they had to just because they had to pay $5.

    2. As I was walking around Rynearson, I noticed that the Convocation center on the south side of the stadium would be PERFECT for suites if you just extended it out from the Hall of Fame plaques to the railing. You could have 4 suites with an endzone view which could be sold to high roller alums or corporate sponsors. Give em all the amenities, food, refreshments, TV. I’m telling you, it would generate real money for EMU athletics. I’d make them themed like the Ron Johnson suite, the Charlie Batch suite, etc, etc.

    I’d love some feedback on these ideas.

  5. Kenneth Barna permalink
    December 17, 2011 10:14 am

    Dear Bobby,
    Five or six years ago (maybe more) one did pay for parking. I think it was three dollars, but not sure. I believe the administration went away from the paid parking concept to hopfully draw more fans in. I’m not against paying for parking, and if the stadium is too far from campus, how about using buses to shuttle students or others back and forth.
    Eastern is going to have to win much more consistently to bring any fan base back. By that, I mean win eight or more games a year for about five years in a row. People want to watch winners. I don’t care what the school is, or where it is located. Win and they will come. Remember, for the most part, Eastern has had losing football teams for thirty years.
    You just don’t change attitudes about fans overnight.
    One last thing. I was disappointed in your attitude about women’s athletics. I went to the NIT game last year against MIchigan, and it was exciting and well worth watching. Try to be more supportive in the future, because they represent our alma mater too.

    • Mark H. permalink
      December 17, 2011 10:34 am

      Paying for parking is irrelevant. A little revenue, but more reasons NOT to go to EMU home games. Few people have too search for reasons NOT to go, even avid sports fans.

      And I quite agree that only with a winning record — 7 or 8 games a year, for five years or more being the likely threshold — will there likely be any possibility of home games filling most of the stadium. This would costs, probably, an average yearly of $6 million, for football alone, over five years, and even then is far from assured. How many Div 1 football schools achieve such an envious on-field record, and sustain it, year after year? To aim for that standard is so unrealistic it is nothing more than gambling against the house.

      So, whose money is this? What money tree does it grow on? We invest tens of millions on the part of the university that has little market value, student interest, and zero financial return….and we thus drain resources from the real university, which has real market value, real student interest.

  6. Kenneth Barna permalink
    December 18, 2011 6:41 pm

    Dear Mark H.,
    I really do not know where to start with you, but here goes.
    Everything costs money, and yes, universities should be prudent about how much or what for, on spending it. Most of us on this site believe that a self supporting football program is attainable. We all agree that it will only happen with winning teams. To get to that point, money will have to be spent, so that money can be earned, to make the goal feasible.
    Student interest, community interest, and maybe in the longer run, a State interest may be created by having a winning product. If other schools have done it, even a hand full, why can’t Eastern? Maybe this is not a good analogy, but what if someone wanted to revive the automobile company Studebaker? Its been gone for fifty years. One would have to try and demonstrate that it was going to be a quality product, be around for the long haul, and be dependable. How long would one have to be in the marketplace, how much money would have to be spent, and what returns could be expected? The first buyers would be what I call novelty buyers, they just want to be different. They are willing to gamble on the outcome. If, they like the car, and it starts to catch on with other buyers, one could say it’s moving in the right direction. This is going to take time, just to get to this point in the resurrection, and the company will maybe still be in the red. If, they continue they may succeed, but only time will tell.
    This is what I think Eastern is beginning, but we really won’t know until we give it our best shot. I think it’s worth going after…. for a better university.

    • Mark H. permalink
      December 18, 2011 8:27 pm

      Hey Mr. Barna,
      I appreciate your passionate rebuttal to my comment, and will reply in kind.

      Your analogy to bringing back Studebaker, as a parallel to making EMU football cover its expenses, is apt! I think it’s an admission that the task is virtually impossible — unless some sugar daddy with unlimited deep pockets comes along and pours hundreds of millions into the football program. None yet are on the horizon, and total donations to the athletic department are like nothing compared to the expenses.

      I am sure all who read this blog are in agreement — we’re “for a better university,” as you put it. But shouldn’t we pursue this through realistic means instead of pipe dreams? You say, “If other schools have done it, even a hand full, why can’t Eastern?” — but what other schools have come from the bottom of Division 1 and made a football program that covers its own expenses? Can you name even two?

      The finances of higher ed and collegiate athletics have radically changed. Hopes for getting State support for EMU football is akin to hoping for money from heaven. Prudent business people have to ask why investments in what’s a publicly subsidized form of entertainment, with little public interest, are worthwhile. Goodness knows that business leaders don’t want seats at EMU games, and almost nobody else does either: They have no market value and haven’t for decades.

      Our students can no longer afford to pay for somebody’s hope that someday, some year, there will be a successful Studebaker (or football program) at EMU that earns at least as much as its total costs. This is not a conclusion born of “hating” sports — its the only conclusion possible from a reasoned assessment of the finances of EMU athletics, which are more precarious than most of the MAC, and the MAC is one of the most precarious conferences of all: its members aren’t as “rich” as the athletic powerhouses, yet the MAC athletic program rely more on subsidizes from student fees and tuition than most Division 1 schools. U of Calif. at Berkley, a very rich school, subsidizes its athletic program with far fewer absolute dollars than EMU — because Berkley recognizes that such subsidizes deprive students of educational opportunities.

      Education First! Go Eagles.

      – Mark Higbee, EMU professor of history

  7. Carterman permalink
    December 29, 2011 10:32 am

    http://www.ibj.com/the-score/2011/10/12/college-football-financial-listing-reveals-winners-losers/PARAMS/post/30084

    I find it funny that a History professor argues so vigorously against another department’s value.

  8. Mark H. permalink
    December 29, 2011 1:48 pm

    Hey Carterman,
    Something very serious is wrong with the methodology of the “study” you link to, or with how that other blog wrote it up. It shows EMU’s football program as #62 out of 100, with a market “valuation” of $9.1 million. And yet it shows no other MAC schools as having a valuation any where close to EMU’s except Northern Ill., which at #100 is listed at being “worth” $32 million. Ohio and BGSU are listed at $696,035 and $876,287, respectively, but all the other MAC schools are listed as having zero market value. The supposed criteria is cash flow of the football program — but that can’t be seriously applied, as virtually every dollar of EMU’s football program comes directly from student revenues. And EMU has the least “revenue” from ticket sales of all MAC schools (last I looked) and the highest of subsidies. So, the study you link too seems seriously flawed, probably because of EMU’s own odd accounting.

    You may find it odd that a history professor would look at evidence and reach conclusions based on evidence, but that’s what I’ve done and its what historians do. We don’t judge things based on mere hopes. There is no evidence available to the public, or produced by my own FOIA, that suggests that EMU’s investments in athletics can pay for themselves (return on investment) or produce other benefits to the university worth the costs.

    I repeat my challenge, posted above: “what other schools have come from the bottom of Division 1 and made a football program that covers its own expenses? Can you name even two?”

    History is relevant here because, if you look at higher education finance, you’ll see that it has changed much in recent years, and athletic costs have risen. There’s’ no reason to think that we’ll find a sugar daddy who has money growing on trees with which to subsidize athletics in the way we’re used to doing: without regard to demonstrated benefits to the whole university.

    None of this diminishes the valor of our athletes or coaches. But intelligent people are increasingly asking for more accountability from higher ed, and pouring public funds and tuition dollars into money losing entertainment ventures such as football that has no true market value or sizable fan base, is questionable indeed.

    A great new year to all readers of this great blog, which is the only serious source of sustained coverage of EMU athletics available!

  9. Carterman permalink
    December 30, 2011 9:46 am

    Mark,

    I think you are overlooking the money the that the football team takes in from taking games from mostly BCS opponents. This number generally exceed $600K per game and can be as much as a $1 million. Additionally, there is the Pepsi contract although it could be argued that it could be used to fund other sources and televison contract money. This is actual cash flow. Your repeated assertion that the students pick up the majority of the tab for the football program is unfounded. Reports filed with the U.S. department of education show that the EMU football program actually turns a profit.
    http://businessofcollegesports.com/2011/12/21/mid-american-conference-financials-10-11/
    I have also seen where you have attacked the value of even having a women’s basketball team. Again I would argue by your own criteria, that EMU should turn itself into a Career College as many of the superfluous departments that add no tangible benefit to the students would be cut. This would of course include the History department as the need for education in history in Washtenaw County could more than be serviced at the local community college at a better price for students.

    The University of South Florida and Texas Tech both have highly profitable football programs ($11.5 and 4.4 million dollars respectively) and are in regions and markets that have a high density of large college football programs and have come from obscurity to great heights in the overall landscape of the sport.

    I am still bothered by your continued attacks on sports at EMU as these contribute to the overall value of the college experience and create a better environment for the university community. If anything can be said of the EMU athletic department, they continue to do more with less. They have one of the smallest athletic budgets in the Mid American Conference and yet field the most teams thereby engaging the most student-athletes and the community.

    Carterman

  10. Kenneth Barna permalink
    December 30, 2011 9:52 am

    Dear Mark H.,
    I just might take up your challenge, to find a school that has risen from the ashes. In the mean time, there is one point that needs some clarification with regards to costs.
    You mentioned that virtually every dollar comes from student fees, however that is not correct. Eastern schedules schools like U – M, Pennsylvania State, etc. for a fee that usually amounts to $500,000 or more, sometimes less, depending on the school. That usually means that Eastern can count on approximately a million dollars to help subsidize the football program. Again, this is not to say that this will cover all costs, but it does help to pay for some of them.

  11. Mark H. permalink
    February 25, 2012 1:36 pm

    I do hope someone will take up my challenge, to name schools that “have come from the bottom of Division 1 and made a football program that covers its own expenses? Can you name even two?” I don’t think there are any, and that may be why no one has taken up the challenge. I will gladly buy dinner for anyone who does, at the Ypsilanti restaurant of their choice.

    And Carterman, I am well aware of the amounts of real revenue that EMU athletics takes in: that revenue is like peanuts to the real costs of EMU athletics. I know how to add and subtract, and I know enough to look at the whole balance sheet and not just those parts of it that make athletics look economically viable.

    • February 25, 2012 2:28 pm

      That’s arguably true of Boise State (arguably because they’ve moved up from junior college football to NAIA to NCAA Division II to NCAA Division I-AA to NCAA Division I-A and soon to a top-tier conference).

      • Mark H. permalink
        February 25, 2012 3:01 pm

        Cmadler,
        Boise State meets maybe half the conditions of my challenge. I’ll grant that it’s now a top program in football. But does Boise State football cover its own expenses? No. It takes money out of students’ and taxpayers pockets to meet its bills.

        Both parts of the challenge are crucial, for anyone who wants to understand higher education athletic finances.

        Still, I’ll buy you dinner happily. Contact me at mhigbee at emich dot edu

      • February 25, 2012 4:24 pm

        Here’s why this is an almost-impossible question for someone without an inside connection at a school to answer. The Orlando Sentinal lists football-only revenues ( http://blogs.orlandosentinel.com/sports_college/2009/07/how-much-revenue-did-your-favorite-fbs-school-take-in-in-200708-this-chart-will-tell-you.html ) but I’m having trouble finding data on football team expenses. That said, since your USA Today page gives total subsidy to the athletic department and the percent of athletic budget that represented, we can figure the total athletic budget. Based on that table, Boise State’s total athletic budget in 2006 (in 2010 dollars) was about $22.1 million. But that is totally out of whack with Boise State’s reported 2007-08 football revenue of about $21.77 million plus a $8.6 million athletic department subsidy. (Obviously I’m mixing numbers from different years, because that’s what I can find, but that’s such a big discrepancy that year-to-year variation shouldn’t account for it.)

    • February 25, 2012 2:59 pm

      Actually, according to this (which uses the official numbers, which we know may not be accurate but are the only numbers really available), EMU’s football program has turned a profit in each of the last two completed years (2009-10 and 2010-11). And that’s the true problem: when you get fictitious numbers from the school, there’s no way to know just how good or bad things really are.

      • Mark H. permalink
        February 25, 2012 3:21 pm

        USA Today regularly analyzes all the financial data for all the Div 1 schools, and publishes the results. It uses the same methods and same data sources for all schools, and are fair and independent. The story USA Today published last June shows that EMU athletics consumes a “subsidy” of about $22 million — after its paltry income is costed against expenses.

        Only a few schools in the whole country put more subsidy into their athletic programs — so, with only another six million or so in subsidy, EMU could be #1 in this ranking of money taken from students to support athletics! This was pointed out to me by administrator friend as a goal for athletics at EMU that we are likely to realize, but be embarrassed by the accomplishment.

        See the USA Today story at —

        http://www.usatoday.com/sports/college/2011-06-23-2011-athletic-department-subsidy-table_n.htm?loc=interstitialskip

        Right now I don’t have time to dig down in the data to find the total loss of the EMU football program, but it’s about $9 million above costs, if I recall correctly. EMU football gets about twice the subsidy as the average in Div 1.

        Many of the bogus accounting efforts (which are popular with some readers of this fine blog) do crazy things like crediting the Athletics Department with total “revenue” for the tuition and housing fees of student-athletes….as if any other unit of a university could claim such revenue as “theirs” — and as if athletic scholarships weren’t covering much of such costs, so there is no revenue there.

      • February 25, 2012 3:42 pm

        Well, let’s be clear on what we’re talking about. This USA Today table is about the athletic department as a whole, not just football. It also doesn’t paint a complete picture, because, for example, it lists Kentucky athletics as receiving an annual subsidy on the order of $600-$700,000 (probably student fees and some sort of facilities value accounting) when, in fact, the Kentucky athletics department pays about $1 million/year INTO the UK general fund.

      • Mark H. permalink
        February 25, 2012 3:54 pm

        I think my last post was perfectly clear in stating that the USA Today story was about total subsidies to the athletics departments. The football program typically produces most of the red ink in athletics departments that’s covered by pulling money off the money tree — students and their families and taxpayers — through the total subsidies to athletics). I don’t know the Kentucky finances, but however much revenue it may produce for the General Fund, no doubt the University covers costs not covered by athletics. So, I’d stand by the USA Today methodology’s accounting, rather than anecdotal claims…

        Fact is undeniable: college sports lose LOTS of money, and the EMU program loses far more money than most. MSU only loses $3.3 million, UofM breaks even — but those two schools have huge fan bases, and draw interest to their core mission through sports. Not so for the other 3 Division 1 schools in the state.

      • February 25, 2012 4:37 pm

        The reason I’m being so picky about looking about football profit/cost rather than total athletic department subsidy is that looking at wrong numbers can lead to a wrong prescription. According to the NCAA, although only a few athletic programs are profitable, about 50%-60% of football and basketball programs at FBS schools cover their costs each year. So, I don’t think it’s realistic for EMU athletics to become profitable, but I think it’s very realistic for the “revenue sports” to cover their own costs and support part of the cost of the “non-revenue sports”. I don’t see it as naive or foolish to suggest that EMU football and men’s basketball could both work their way out of the bottom 40%.

      • Mark H. permalink
        February 25, 2012 4:56 pm

        I’ve seen the figures produced by the EMU athletics department & finance division, for costs per sport, and it’s clear that the so called “revenue” sports at EMU are the ones that produce the bulk, by far, of athletics department expenses. The other sports are cheap to run, and nobody has any illusions about them producing “revenue.” Our three most expenses sports are football, men’s basketball, women’s basketball, in that order, I believe.

        But the accounts are tricky. Rynearson’s expenses are not, aside from game day costs, costed to football, nor are the Convo’s costed to basketball.

        The NCAA is not a neutral party here — it’s the chief justifier for taking more money from students and putting it into athletics.

  12. Carterman permalink
    February 25, 2012 5:07 pm

    I answered Higbee’s challenge some time ago when I stated:

    “The University of South Florida and Texas Tech both have highly profitable football programs ($11.5 and 4.4 million dollars respectively) and are in regions and markets that have a high density of large college football programs and have come from obscurity to great heights in the overall landscape of the sport.”

    When are we going to meet for dinner

  13. Mark H. permalink
    February 27, 2012 2:39 pm

    Carterman,
    If you wish to be seriously “in the game” of addressing this Challenge, put some evidence behind your claims about those 2 Florida teams being “highly profitable.” Then you’d have something for me to consider, but you’ve not done anything yet aside circulate unverified claims.

    Send anything you have to me at mhigbee at emich dot edu.

    For the whole 18 years I’ve been at EMU, I’ve heard EMU officials claim that our football team made money, or would soon. Never have they had facts to base such misleading statements on, because there are no facts to show the football or ever will pay for its own total costs. It’s a big time money loser.

    My challenge remains —

    “what other schools have come from the bottom of Division 1 and made a football program that covers its own expenses? Can you name even two?” And, yes, I’m an educator, so evidence is required, not mere assertions, Carterman.

    Nonetheless, these 2 Florida programs are illustrative of a particular problem for the 3 MAC schools in Michigan: our state is losing population, and the state’s 2 big Division 1 schools overwhelmingly dominate the “college football audience market,” no matter how it’s measured. In Florida, a fast growing population and the South’s near religion of football may make it less of money losing deal than in Michigan. I’ll grant that to you. But this concession of mine is no concession, as it underscores the validity of the broad claim of educators on the EMU campus: football here is a losing proposition, and the market potential is slim to nil.

    Still, Carterman, since you seem inpatient to have want dinner with me, even without meeting the Challenge, fine. Email me, OK? It’d be my pleasure, but I’ll pick where unless you meet the Challenge. And several people are betting the Challenge can’t be meet. Best, Mark

  14. Kenneth Barna permalink
    February 28, 2012 9:17 am

    Dear Friends,
    I thought this thread died a long time ago, but since it hasn’t here comes a couple of cents worth.
    To my knowledge, Central and Western, have increased tuition at fairly dramatic rates compared to Eastern. This is over the last few years. My point being that Eastern has probably brought in less money as a result, and as we all know costs have skyrocketed.
    I also think with the economy beginning to turn around, more people will stay in the State, and maybe, our governor will see fit to give the universities what they need. These things will help, but I really think we are beating a dead horse here. Mark, believes in strict costs for everything, and most of the rest of us believe that certain things have been a part of university life for generations, and should be a continuing part, even if they do not carry their own weight.
    If, we are seeing the beginning of an athletic renaissance here at Eastern, funds will increase, and less money will be needed from the general fund. That being the case, Eastern may get closer to self funding, but I don’t see it ever ending that way.

  15. February 28, 2012 11:42 am

    The Football team was a pleasant suprise this year. I kind of wish they would have sealed the deal but I guess baby steps here. For the first time in 16 years, they didn’t have a losing record and they looked competitive in most the games lost (except PSU and UM). Now I realize that one season is a data point and not a trend but based on recruiting, things are looking up. I’m hoping that will translate to more people in the stadium.

    The men’s basketball team was also a pleasant suprirse this year. They also looked competitive.

    Hopefully these translate to more money for the respective programs.

  16. Mark H. permalink
    February 28, 2012 3:18 pm

    I agree with the last posts — it’s hard to make a case for EMU athletics ever becoming financially self-sustaining. And, obviously, there’s little market value in EMU athletics, but it is sustained by State Socialism – a redistribution of income that few students or taxpayers would endorse.

    And, the EMU subsidy to athletics is one of the largest in all of Division 1, measured by absolute dollars and by % of total costs of athletics being carried by subsidy.

    My Challenge stands. Nobody has put forth any evidence relevant to the Challenge.
    Still, I offer dinner to cmadler and carterman, if they contact me off blog.

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