“The weatherman but I do not broadcast/I throw up more cash and change the forecast.”
– Dwayne Michael Carter, Jr.
Last week, we began series of posts focused on quashing excuses for the football program’s inadequacy. We examined the perceived deficiencies of the Commonwealth’s high school football talent pool, and determined that although Kentucky is lacking a strong recruiting base, there are a number of programs that recruit better and win more games despite poorer in-state recruiting conditions.
This week we look to the new trend among UK football apologists: the “under funded” routine. By popular demand, I am attaching a spreadsheet of my entire findings. The sources of my data are the disclosures that each institution made in compliance with the Equity in Athletics Act. The disclosures were for FY 2010. I only aggregated data from SEC member institutions and the benchmark institutions I indentified last week.
Excuse #2: “We don’t make enough money to be a good program.” or “We can’t spend enough money to be a good program because of Olympic sports.”
Far be it for me to disagree with Coach Brooks, but I was not sure that UK was signifigantly underfunded. Before I compiled this data, my question was “Are football programs that spend more per participant than Kentucky spends generally more successful on the field?” While I believe that the data is affirmative to that question, a better approach is, “Can UK Athletics actually make the financial commitments necessary to fully invest in the football program?”
This “excuse” is much more difficult to break down because the disclosures are un-itemized, so you cannot readily make side by side comparisons and match numbers with win totals. For example, Kentucky is one of only a handful of states that does not allow state institutions to bond university construction projects, so one program’s total expenses may indicate facility improvements while another program chooses to include those costs elsewhere.
This challenge reflects in the “Expense per FTE” label, which represents the funds that each institution allocated for each ‘Full Time Equivalent.’ The data makes no distinction between scholarship players and walk-ons; just lists participants.
Kentucky’s expenses per FTE are low at $13,600, but it is unclear as to what these expenses represent. The costs may indicate expenses exclusively associated with hosting games on or off campus, as Arkansas ($40,280) plays two games a season in Little Rock. However, if you look at Florida ($60,589) and Alabama ($41,194), both schools have older, on campus stadiums that were built decades ago but have experienced recent renovations, and both schools played games at neutral sites. The argument can also be made that these figures best represent critical costs associated with program growth, like neutral field contests (Not WKU), stadium renovations, practice facility upgrades, stadium suite improvements and expansions, or team equipment (sneakers, shirts, sweat suits, etc.).
However, the complete revenue and expense figures for all sports other than basketball and football are clear. I labeled these figures as “Sports Expenses” and “Sports Revenue.” These figures undermine the argument that Kentucky’s Olympic sports prevent full football investment. Several schools found ways to make Olympic sports revenue neutral, while others like Auburn (-$17M) absorbed much heavier losses. Ignore that Kentucky makes a significant investment into men’s basketball; they are hardly the only school on this list to do so and they operate basketball at a profit. I’ll dedicate a post to this as well.
For Kentucky fans, the most disparaging numbers lie in the summary. It is evident that Kentucky football is out earning many of its SEC and FBS benchmarks. It is irrelevant whether the UK Athletics Association is pursuing revenue neutrality for Olympic sports or has accepted annual losses, as Kentucky’s Olympic deficits are average for this list. I am not sure that UKAA is paying labor or bond fees on Commonwealth Stadium projects either, as UKAA effectively bonded the new video boards using a “loan” from the University. The endowment appears to be healthy, so money not readily available in the operational budget could conceivably come from there. Now, what is really preventing a full investment in football? The facts seem show that we are in a position to do so.