College Football Bowl Losers

Television, big-time sponsors and $100+ tickets would lead one to believe that college football bowl games are money making machines.

With one college football game of this season remaining tonight(Oregon v. Auburn), the financial facts are sad.  [fyi, I'm picking the Ducks as a 2 point underdog]

Many of those $100+ tickets purchased by universities end up going unsold or sold on StubHub for less than $1.

Added to the financial bath they take on mandatory ticket allotments, transportation, and housing, the bowls charge schools for every conceivable expense. The Tampa Bay Bowl Association, for example, charged the University of Iowa $65 a head for its 346-member marching band’s free half-time performance at the 2009 Outback Bowl.

Rather than shoring up schools’ athletic budgets, these expenditures add to the shortfall in their athletic budgets. Even powerhouses like Ohio State lose money. After sharing its $21 million payoff with other members of the Big Ten Conference, OSU’s athletic department owed almost $80,000 after expenses despite the $2.2 million share from its 2010 Rose Bowl appearance.

School pride is often cited as justification for athletic departments squandering scarce funds.

Imagine the OSU Buckeye chemistry department running annual deficits like this.

Best way to make money from a bowl?  Be a lowly BCS school whose team doesn’t qualify to play in a bowl.  Conferences divide the bowl payout equally between their member teams.  But, only the teams that play have to pay out the outrageous expenses for 3 hours of rah-rah exposure.   Rah, Indiana University.  Go Hoosiers.

Bowl CEOs bring in six figure salaries for their part-time jobs.   Golf tournaments, cocktail parties, traveling expenses and other “entertainment expense” goodies handed out to insiders eat up bowl profits.

Below are figures from the 2008-09 season.  The small or negative profits are not surprising, as the bowl organizations are non-profit(wink).

Bowl Game Revenue ($mil) Expenses ($mil) Profit ($mil)
Advocare 100 Independence 0.8 0.8 -0.1
Allstate Sugar 12.8 13.2 -0.5
at&t Cotton 11.3 9.8 1.4
AutoZone Liberty 6.1 6.1 0.0
Bridgepoint Holiday/Credit Union Poinsettia 7.0 6.7 0.3
Capital One 11.9 11.7 0.2
Champs Sports 5.9 5.7 0.2
Chick-fil-A 17.3 15.3 2.0
Discover Orange 40.8 34.4 6.4
Franklin American Music City 5.2 5.4 -0.2
Go Daddy 3.3 3.2 0.1
Hyundai Sun 5.6 5.9 -0.3
Insight 5.2 5.1 0.1
Kraft Fight Hunger 3.6 3.4 0.2
Military 2.3 2.1 0.2
Outback 10.0 10.0 0.0
Progressive Gator 10.9 9.9 1.1
R+L Carriers New Orleans 2.1 2.0 0.1
Rose presented by Vizio 50.6 50.9 -0.3
Tostitos Fiesta 17.6 15.8 1.8
uDrove Humanitarian 1.9 1.9 0.0
Valero Alamo 7.6 6.7 0.9
Totals 239.6 226.0 13.7
Averages 10.9 10.3 0.6
Note: Figures for Bridgepoint Holiday Bowl and Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl are combined
because they share the same committee.
Complete Article from Forbes
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