ORLANDO, Fla. — We all know the dire economic repercussions for college athletics if there is no football season this fall — or even if there is a football season without any fans or a limited number of fans.
As Florida State athletics director David Coburn said last week when talking with school leaders about the financial ramifications of having no football season: “God help us.”
With all due respect, I believe God has better things to do than to help college athletic programs manage their bloated budgets, and that’s why I’m here to help.
I believe college presidents and ADs should look at the next several months as an opportunity instead of an obstacle. They should use these trying times as a way to do what should have been done long ago. From this point forward, they should quit spending money like drunken Democrats, er, sailors.
Here is my top-10 list of changes college athletics can make to finally start becoming financially responsible:
1. Put a salary cap on coaches, starting with this stipulation: College head coaches must make at least $1 less than the school president. Why? Because the president is the leader of the school and because academics who hire school presidents are generally much more responsible with their money than wild-eyed, free-spending ADs in search of the next Nick Saban. This move alone would cut the salaries of top college head coaches from $5-10 million a year to about $1 million a year. If Saban wants to make more than $1 million a year, then let him go fail again in the NFL.
2. Head coaches can only be signed to two-year contracts. This would solve the obscene amount of money our institutions of higher earning spend on buying out the long-term contracts of their failed coaches. FSU having to pay Willie Taggart $20 million not to coach for the next four seasons is the worst waste of public money in this state since the Cross Florida Barge Canal.
3. Cut the over-inflated football support staffs. The Florida Gators, for instance have, 10 assistant player personnel directors on the payroll, which means Alabama probably has 20. Fellas, is there really that much tape to break down?
4. Disarm the arms race. Schools need to quit going into debt to build ridiculously palatial facilities. Does Alabama really need indoor waterfalls in its football complex? Does Oregon need a barber shop? Does Clemson need a bowling alley, laser tag and a mini-golf course? It would be cheaper just to give every recruit a brand new car like they used to do back in the good ol’ days.
5. Regionalize the non-revenue sports. My good friend and radio partner Marc Daniels has been preaching this for years. Here’s how it would work: The existing conferences stay intact for football and men’s basketball, but for sports like baseball, softball, golf, tennis, etc., you simply play teams within your own region. If you ask me, it makes no financial sense for UCF’s softball team to fly to Houston, Wichita State and Connecticut for American Athletic Conference games when they could easily bus to Florida, Florida State and FAU. And did the FSU tennis team really need to travel to Hawaii last season? Come on now!
6. Combine certain men’s and women’s individual sports. Instead of having men’s and women’s golf and tennis teams with two separate coaching staffs and two separate schedules, why not just have one co-ed tennis and golf team?
7. Shorten the season for non-revenue sports. Would it really matter if college baseball and softball teams played 45 games instead of nearly 60?
8. Adjust schedules for non-revenue sports so teams only play on weekends. Be creative and have weekend Olympic-type sports festivals in cities like, say, Orlando where you could bring in collegiate teams in baseball, softball, track, golf, etc. It would be like an AAU basketball tournament for all sports. The teams would have a chance to play several games over the course of the weekend. Are Tuesday night road baseball games really necessary?
9. Reduce athletic scholarships across the board, starting with football. We don’t want to eliminate opportunities for athletes, but tough times call for tough measures. The biggest expense for nearly every athletic department is reimbursing the university for every athletic scholarship. You don’t have to be a mathematical genius to realize football teams don’t really require 85 scholarships when there are only 22 starting positions. Why not 65 scholarships and 20 walk-ons?
10. Please stop having football teams stay in hotels the night before home games. Texas A&M, according to a report by GateHouse Media, spent $346 a night at a local hotel for its more than five dozen rooms for every home game during the 2018 football season. Not only that, but the Aggies doubled their cost by booking two nights for each home game. It’s astounding why college football teams find it necessary to pay for hotel rooms, catered food, conference space, buses and police escorts for home games. Why not just have the players sleep in their own dorm rooms and walk to the stadium on Saturdays — just like they do every other day of the week?
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