March 12, 2009 • UPDATED 3/15/09
Story/Photo By Ken Krayeske • 9:30 PM EST • UPDATED 3/15/09 8:30 PM
A University at Buffalo defender tackles an UConn ball carrier at the International Bowl in Toronto, January 3, 2009. Ed Daigneault of the Waterbury Republican today reported that UConn lost major money on the trip.
UPDATE/CORRECTION: Michael Enright of the UConn Sports Information Office represents that the Waterbury Republican got the story wrong.
"Basically, in the original story, Waterbury forgot to include the $81,890 of ticket revenue we received for selling tickets to the public and had a 63,406 loss on the operation of the bowl, not including the coaches' additional compensation," Enright said in an email.
"As it turns out, with that revenue, we made $18,484 on the bowl, not including coaches compensation," Enright writes in an e-mail.
However, according to these same numbers, the bonuses awarded to coaches would still put the bowl game at about a $170,000 loss.
The argument, for the past three weeks, has been that the salaries of Div. I college coaches are justified because they bring in huge profits for the university athletic departments.
These cash-cow sports teams, we are told, have no negative impact on the academic side of the university. In fact, they have a positive impact, the advocates gloat.
Well, what happens when they lose money? And the loss is announced the day after the University hikes tuition by 6 percent and promises to cut 160 jobs?
Let's find out, because according to sports reporter Ed Daigneault in today's Waterbury Republican, UConn football lost $63,406 on its trip to Toronto. The Huskies wanted to break even, but they had to purchase more than $340,000 in unsold tickets because fans didn't give a rat's ass about a second rate bowl game, according to Daigneault.
But for a change in accounting methods in how UConn write-down coaching bonuses, the loss would have been $255,103 Daigneault wrote. Unreal.
So will UConn football coach Randy Edsall, sitting pretty at $1.5 million annually, kick in some of his salary because Calhoun's argument has been, we'll, I bring in big bucks, so I am untouchable? What happens when the football program loses in one day the equivalent of the in-state tuition of three students?
The Republican ran a photo of UConn athletic director Jeff Hathaway with the story. Hathaway, at $550,000 a year or so, is one of the six highest paid state employees.
Will Hathaway be kicking in that $63,046 from his salary to make up the loss? Or do we students and taxpayers have to absorb the costs of this misguided adventure?
Or will former UConn running back Donald Brown, a projected first round draft pick out of UConn, who lied about his draft status before the bowl game, contribute some of his signing bonus to make up the loss? Brown's stock in the draft jumped significantly after he tore up the University at Buffalo defense for something like 265 yards.
What risk do these individuals who benefit from taxpayer subsidies bear when the sport loses money?
Funny, too, that Jesse Jackson, the featured speaker at the International Bowl, appeared on Democracy Now! today to decry the usurial rates of student loans, and to decry the rising costs of college.
So listen up, Hathaway, Edsall, Calhoun, Auriemma, the salad days are over. Start forking up the cash, and start turning it over to students now.
Here's Rev. Jackson:
Well, really we have made a fundamental shift from grants to loans. And these are very oppressive loans. The more you go to school, the worse off you are. Talking about students who are in $150,000 in debt, they marry a classmate, $300,000 in debt, and so you have the combined burden of the loan, and then you have compounded interest. If you don’t start paying back after six months, then you’re facing default and garnishment. If 20 percent of your school cannot pay back, it can face the loss of accreditation. It only gets worse.
And so, we feel that students should get the same deal banks are getting. If they can get, on the top, zero to one percent loans, students should get zero to one percent loans, and it is a transparent flow of the moneys. When you, in that sense, restructure the student loan process—more grants and less loans—it helps the student, it helps their parents, it helps the school, it helps community. I mean, the help just never stops coming.
And so, we have launched a website, reducetherate.org. Students should begin rebelling and marching across the country. Students have accepted this as like normal. It’s normal, but it is not right. And it is a point of rebellion. So we’re urging students across America who want to reduce the rate and have more grants and less loans, let’s begin to have marches, use last year’s energy in the presidential campaign, demand a new deal.
The Republican probably won't keep its link for the Daigneault story up, but they have a great take on the numbers, so I'll share:
While officials stated before the game that their goal was to break even financially, the final numbers showed a deficit as the school was forced to spend more than $340,000 to buy unused tickets. That meant a loss of $63,406 after factoring in the expense of taking the team, staff and the band to Toronto for several days.
The loss would be sharply higher except for the fact that the athletic department changed its accounting procedures at the start of the current fiscal year, which began July 1, 2008.
At that time, UConn decided to account for additional compensation (bonuses earned for bowl games, league or national championships and/or postseason appearances) for coaches in every sport as a separate payroll item. Including the $191,697 in additional compensation paid by UConn to its football coaches in the bowl expenses would raise the loss to $255,103.
Those losses are far different from similar totals following the Meineke Car Care Bowl in North Carolina after the 2007 season. For that trip, UConn was able to post a profit of $225,174 (not counting the bonus money paid to football staff), or $51,448 (counting the bonuses), basically because it sold all 10,000 tickets available for public sale.
The official report on the International Bowl trip that UConn is required to file with the NCAA lists a small profit, but that figure fails to include the additional compensation money.
“As we looked at it from an accounting standpoint, we think it’s a payroll expense,” UConn athletic director Jeff Hathaway said of the bonuses. “We’re just tracking it differently. We needed a way to monitor that.”
At least one other Big East bowl participant does it differently. Rutgers, the state university of New Jersey, reported a loss of more than $184,000 for its trip to the PapaJohn’s.com Bowl in Birmingham, Ala. Rutgers reported its bonuses, totaling nearly $270,000, as a bowl expense to the NCAA.
Rutgers might have decided to report the bonuses to the NCAA because of trouble regarding its bowl accounting practices in the past. An internal audit in 2005 found the school underreported its expenses for the 2005 Insight Bowl and reclassified other expenses. Last May, a New Jersey state auditor reported that the school broke its own policy regarding travel expenses. Among other violations was paying airfare, hotel and meal expenses for spouses, guests and children of the athletic department staff.
UConn coaches and staff were required to reimburse the school for travel expenses incurred by spouses and children, a school official said.
Large state schools such as UConn and Rutgers reporting losses or marginal profits for lower-tier bowl games is not unusual. The payouts are much less than the $17.5 million the four BCS bowls (Rose, Fiesta, Sugar and Orange) paid to each participating conference, meaning the schools participating in lower-tier bowls don’t get as much help from the Big East.
The conference pools all the bowl payout money for each team and then distributes it on a scale to each bowl participant. While UConn and Rutgers received similar payouts (Rutgers $1.2 million, UConn $1.1 million) from the conference, Cincinnati — which earned the league’s BCS bid to the Orange Bowl — received a reported $1.5 million to help defray costs.
UConn’s bottom line would have been much better had the economy/fan apathy punch not been such a factor. The school was committed to either selling or buying 10,000 tickets. The slow ticket sales to the public left UConn to purchase 8,009 tickets at a cost of $320,360.
The timing of the International Bowl, played Jan. 3, also had an effect. Pre- and post-trip lodging, primarily on-campus housing at the Nathan Hale hotel or dormitories combined with food-service costs during semester break, cost UConn $43,222. The players stayed on campus to practice before Christmas, adjourned for a few days, and then returned Christmas day for practice.
That expense was just $15,200 in 2007 because the Meineke Bowl was played Dec. 29, requiring little in the way of time spent on campus during the break.
UConn incurred a ticket expense in the 2007 bowl as it had to pay for tickets for staff and players’ families, the band and cheerleaders. That expense was mitigated by selling out its other tickets. It became a double-whammy at the International Bowl. The school bought more than 8,000 unsold tickets and then had to buy staff, family, band and cheerleader tickets.
“We were within budget for the bowl,” Hathaway said. “We weren’t able to maximize our ability to generate additional revenue. We would like to have been able to take advantage of that given the economic and fiscal situations.”