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Texas A&M Football

Financial changes force athletic departments to act like accountants

May 29, 2024
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DESTIN, Fla. — Surrounded by reporters on Tuesday afternoon at the Southeastern Conference Spring Meetings, Texas A&M Director of Athletics Trev Alberts revealed the secret everybody already knew.

“We’re not very good at running good businesses,” Alberts said.

The 'we,’ of course, is college athletics administrators.

The notion they spend money like politicians isn’t surprising. The surprise is that someone admitted as much.

As SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey once said: “Times … they are a changin’.”

From awarding coaches outrageous salaries, paying huge buy-outs to fire coaches, to accumulating large administrative staffs, to paying seven figures to host an opponent in football to excessive travel, college athletics has typically spent without conscious because… well, because it could.

“We just always had enough increasing revenue to overcome dumb expenses,” Alberts said. “I’ve said it 100 times, I’ll say it again: We don’t have a revenue problem in college athletics. We have an expense problem.”

Expanses of expenses are widening so much that some steadfast traditions and opportunities could be swallowed up.

“We just always had enough increasing revenue to overcome dumb expenses. I’ve said it 100 times, I’ll say it again: We don’t have a revenue problem in college athletics. We have an expense problem.”
- Texas A&M AD Trev Alberts

More on that later.

This uncharacteristic discussion of fiscal responsibility stems from the NCAA’s recent move to settle three multi-billion dollar lawsuits.

Power 5 conference programs have agreed to share about $20 million in revenue with athletes. That creates a huge annual expenditure for which athletic departments previously never had to account.

Now, they’re accounting like accountants.

Balancing budgets has been the primary topic of discussion among athletic directors here this week at the SEC Spring Meetings.

Alberts has a lot to say, too.

“There’s X amount of dollars in the ecosystem,” Alberts said. “Some of it is being redirected (to athletes). We essentially have a new expense category of $21-and-a-half million annually that we haven’t had previously. By the way, that gets to be reframed every three years.

“It’s an entirely new world. Tough decisions, tough cuts. Things we haven’t done previously are going to have to be contemplated.”

Preaching about tough decisions and tough cuts would be like tough love for the frivolous ADs.

But Alberts can’t preach too loudly.

In recent years, A&M has quite possibly been the most frivolous of all.

A&M paid a buyout in excess of $10 million to fire former head football coach Kevin Sumlin. That doesn’t include payments to his ousted staff.

A&M is still in the process of paying former coach Jimbo Fisher more than $75 million not to coach the Aggies. That doesn’t include payments to his ousted staff.

A&M reportedly paid Appalachian State $1.5 million to play a football game at Kyle Field in 2022. The Aggies lost, 17-14.

TexAgs
Greg Sankey infamously quoted Bob Dylan at SEC Media Days in 2021, hours before news broke about Texas and Oklahoma joining the league.

Fisher demanded A&M travel to road games on Thursdays rather than Fridays like most teams do. The annual expense was approximately $500,000, which is a drop in the bucket.

But the bucket was overflowing.

College athletics can’t complain about paying players when so much money has been wasted. And to be fair, nobody seems to be complaining.

Coaches, publicly, at least, are celebrating the decision.

“There’s a lot of players that have done a lot wherever they’ve been,” A&M basketball coach Buzz Williams said. “(The decision's) helped them. But considering how they’ve helped me or our staff or our institution or our department, I personally don’t have a problem with the money.

“But is there going to be some level of systematic process on how we go about that? Obviously, that’s what they’re trying to figure out.”

Administrators are mainly trying to figure out how to balance future budgets. Alberts knows what that’s going to take: Increase revenue and decrease expenses.

Perhaps college programs will be slower to give coaches long contracts with high buyouts. Maybe more struggling coaches won’t be fired until their contracts run out.

Also, don’t be surprised to see more corporate presence in college athletics. Naming rights may be one option for increasing revenue.

Are you ready for Kyle Field at Buc-ee’s Stadium? Limits will be pushed.

“I would anticipate there’s going to be a continuing push of those limits,” Sankey said. ”We’re going to have to come to some agreement in this new environment on where those limits exist.”

Teams will probably limit the money they’re willing to pay to play host to a non-conference opponent.

TexAgs
Introduced to the Aggie family on March 18, Trev Alberts has already begun making changes to A&M’s budget.

In fact, Alberts predicted the SEC will change its scheduling format from eight conference football games to nine.

“I think it’s inevitable,” Alberts said. “As you think about these finances, how much are we paying some schools to come play us?

“It’s inevitable that more conference games are coming rather than fewer. That’s just a reality.”

Unfortunately, limiting a football roster to 85 scholarship players may also become a reality.

That could mean abolishing walk-on programs. That’d be devastating for A&M, the Home of the 12th Man.

A&M’s designated 12th Man on the football team is a walk-on. Without walk-ons, A&M former 12th Man star Cullen Gillaspia may never have played for the Aggies.

Without walk-ons, the movie “Rudy” never would’ve been made. Nebraska — Alberts’ alma mater — was once known for a thriving walk-on program.

Could college athletics really abolish walk-on programs, which forms a connection to the student body?

Alberts seemingly isn’t sure.

“Roster limits are a part of it. … a part of the settlement,” he said. “No decisions have been made. We’re sorting through some of those deals. There’s financial components to all of it.

“The good news is we’re having very robust conversations. We’ll have some more. No details or decisions have been made in those areas.”

The bad news?

Sankey was asked about the possibility of ending walk-on programs. He couldn’t give an answer. He doesn’t know how discussions will progress. But he repeated his famous quote.

“Times ... they are a-changin’," is all he said.

Discussion from...

Financial changes force athletic departments to act like accountants

6,754 Views | 9 Replies | Last: 10 days ago by northeastag
4
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AG
College Athletics, football in particular, is going to be crushed under it's own weight. So the solution to NIL is NIL.

They'll eventually have to return to student athlete, amateur status, and the kids playing major college football right now will go straight from high school into a minor league system.

Which is all fine with me.
12thMan9
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AG
4 said:

College Athletics, football in particular, is going to be crushed under it's own weight. So the solution to NIL is NIL.

They'll eventually have to return to student athlete, amateur status, and the kids playing major college football right now will go straight from high school into a minor league system.

Which is all fine with me.
Who's going to fund the minor league system you claim will eventually come?
Ronnie '88
AGDAD14
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C'MONMAN… there are no profits in college sports, no revenue sports that breakeven, no value in media rights, and no players NIL, without the foundation of extremely generous DONORS who heavily subsidize this so called "big business of college sports".

This is all quicksand and fools gold.

The last numbers that I saw from the TMF, their annual payment (which includes ticket revenues) to the athletic department was nearly 70% from donations, and the TMF payment is significantly larger than any payment from the SEC office. Where I come from this is called a charity, not a business.

These generous donors need to bring the whole system, including judges, lawyers, NCAA, conferences, TV executives, sponsors, and players to their knees! The sooner, the better, then we can get back to the way college sports were intended to be!
4
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AG
12thMan9 said:

4 said:

College Athletics, football in particular, is going to be crushed under it's own weight. So the solution to NIL is NIL.

They'll eventually have to return to student athlete, amateur status, and the kids playing major college football right now will go straight from high school into a minor league system.

Which is all fine with me.
Who's going to fund the minor league system you claim will eventually come?

Well, gee, I don't know. Who would possibly have an interest in doing that?
one safe place
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They will revert to what they have always done. In time.
agcivengineer
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AG
The golden goose is getting smashed by the same people who benefit from it.
AGDAD14
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You can say that again!!! Some just never learn.
greg.w.h
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AG
The law limits what the member institutions can do. The likely only fix is collective bargaining which this first settlement establishes a framework for.

Trev even mentions a three year term before it's adjusted. Will NIL be separate from such a system? Hard to say. Michael Jordan and Caitlin Clark are of extraordinary value to brands. Jordan's jumping silhouette of the Air Jordan brand is featured on NBA uniforms.

The CBAs don't limit that income but do address percentage of media revenue that is committed to the various player's union members and roster sizes. The top leagues share around 50%.

But the settlement includes plaintiffs supporting efforts to lobby Congress for favorable changes to the law which in effect seeks to establish a permanent concession. I doubt Congress falls for that because they have t been happy with the moral hazard it causes for pro team owners and leagues.
northeastag
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AG
Enough of this crap. We're less than 3 months from kick-off.

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