Home games 100 miles from home not working out so well for UMass Amherst

Maureen Rogers reviews the dismal attendance at Gillette Stadium for UMass football games - and the $5 million the state school is paying in rent:

What's wrong with having a nice little local program? Play the other New England state universities, and schools like Holy Cross? Why not keep it on campus, where students can attend more easily? What's wrong with 13,000 people watching a football game on a nice Indian Summer day? Does it have to be 90,000 diehards screaming for blood?

Personally, I'd rather see that taxpayer money go for scholarships, or labs, or a few more professors.

Forget putting medical marijuana on the ballot. Can't we vote on this?



    Free tagging: 


    Kansas State and Wisconsin.

    Will both pay Umass $1.65 million dollars next year to play them on the road (900K and 750K each). Florida and Notre Dame will pay $2.25 million total for two home games in the next few years as well. I believe the total given back to Umass for future non-conference games is over $6 million up through 2020, which is more than what they have expected.

    I think Umass got the wrong coach and seems to have picked the wrong location to have their home games.

    With the current up in the air status of leagues and the NCAA, I think Umass hopes to jump to a great conference like the Big Ten if expansion keeps going like it has been.

    Umass doesn't do well nationally on the athletic side or the educational side, and their hope is to get them on par educatioinally with the Wisconsins, Michigans, Texas, and Penn States.

    So far though, this has not really been a good year for Umass football.

    Explain Please

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    Could you explain why any school would pay any other school when they face off? This is a real question, not a sarcastic one.

    Good question.

    Teams do this for different reasons.

    Even though only about 10-20 D1 programs "make money" on paper, about 50-75 programs actually bring in a lot of money and then spend it on the same facilities, staff, and athletic programs within the same budget. Big football programs also bring in a lot of people to the campus during the week, creates exposure for the school, and these factors don't equate on paper for buget purposes.

    But it really comes down to finding other college football programs that have open dates for those 3-5 non league games at the beginning of the season. When Florida looks at their 2019 non leage schedule, they want to make sure it is filled with a mix of teams they can beat, have a home and home schedule with, etc. Florida looks and sees that 25 teams have open dates, and calls these teams and finds out that only 7 of them want to go to Florida to play one game for one season. Florida negotiates with these teams (usually ones they know they can beat, since losing a game could cost them tens of millions in bowl game receipts). Umass fits in for Florida, since there is a 99% chance they should win, but Umass offers a little more than other schools might for the non league game (Boston College might have a 10% chance of winning, Lower division schools effect thier BCS rankings, Umass is a bigger name than Furman, Savanagahh State, Moorehead State, etc,.)

    So Florida will pay out about 2 million a year for non leage teams they know they will beat, basically helping their chances for a higher paying BCS Bowl game.

    So this year, Alabama, Georgia and Florida compete for the SEC title and a large Bowl Game.

    Alabama (and Notre Dame) is looking at a 20-24 million dollar payout for their national championship game, Florida gets about $17 million for playing in the Sugar Bowl, while other SEC teams who lost game during the season get smaller payouts:

    Georgia gets 4.5 million for the Capital One Bowl
    Vanderbilt gets 2 million for the Music City Bowl
    LSU gets 3.5 million for the Chick-Fil-A Bowl.

    So as you can see, the possiblity of losing one game can cost you 5-15 million dollars for teams like Florida, Notre Dame, Wisconsin, etc.

    The SEC pools all of its bowl

    The SEC pools all of its bowl revenue and distributes it equally to each of the 14 member schools. Not all conferences do this, but Florida isn't trying to get to a better bowl because of the bowl payout.

    Thats right, I forgot about that..

    But the SEC still divides the bowls into 4 tiers I believe and gives the participating teams some of the bowl payouts.

    But they still want to get to the best bowl possible, and part of this process is negotiating with teams they can beat.

    Bowl Games

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    SEC teams often lose money on their bowl games, unless they go to a big one.

    Revenue sharing

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    While it has become more complicated in today's college athletics, the typical arrangement used to be that the home and visiting team would split the revenue from tickets to the game, while the home team kept any revenue arising from other sources such as concessions and parking. If the game were televised, the teams would share the revenue from that.

    Today, things are more complicated since there are also revenue sharing schemes within some conferences that redistribute a portion of the ticket revenue to all teams within those conferences. The Big Ten has such a a revenue sharing scheme. And the home teams now often offer a guaranteed revenue for the visiting team that is essentially based on projected ticket and broadcast revenue.

    This revenue sharing is one of the driving forces behind a relatively weak team being willing to visit a powerhouse team and likely lose a game. The revenue from one such a road game can often eclipse the revenue from several home games. This is particularly true when the powerhouse team has games in stadiums or arenas holding tens of thousands of fans - lot of ticket revenue there.

    The Model...

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    Generally, home teams pay the visiting team something for coming to their place, be it football or basketball or baseball, unless they have a reciprocal visit planned. It's like any event ... you need to be paid for performing.

    Teams in big conferences like to have patsy teams that are also in the top division (FBS) come to play because they need so many wins against top division teams to qualify for a bowl game (currently 6 wins). If you are a lesser member of the top division, you don't really want to go play a goliath team to sully your record (important for post-season selection). But big teams are willing to pay big money to trounce you while their students/alumni pay big money to be there. A lesser team will take the paycheck (and the beating).

    It's gotten so perverse that some smaller FBS teams get paid big money by bigger teams to host a game at a neutral site that is really the big team's secondary home site. It lets the big team satisfy their fans while giving the little guy have a really good paycheck for giving up a home game (that wouldn't have made that much money because they usually have a smaller stadium).

    My alma mater made more money being an 0-11 patsy for big teams in their first years of Division 1 (old terminology) than they made being a playoff team in Division 1-AA. It was painful, but lucrative.

    Our Tax Dollars At Work

    Love how all the Red States that get more federal money than they pay in are willing to pony up big $$$ out of their state coffers when it comes to football.

    I realize that there is likely big private advertising and broadcast money behind that, but that just raises the question about what any of this has to do with education.

    (I need to google the recent study where sports programs don't contribute to University bottom lines here ...)

    Not sure why MA should get into this racket just because everyone else does, too.

    UMass does just fine on the educational side of things, BTW. Maybe not UMass Amherst (but some majors are highly regaded), but UML is very well regarded academically. When you consider that Massachusetts is packed with education institutions and only has 6 million people ... we do just fine and are improving.

    Look at Umass basketball.....

    They were probably close to making money for the state when Calipari was here, but after he left the school/state/taxpayers lost a lot of money.

    I think Northeastern and Umass Lowell can see how football isn't going to help them down the road, but other schools find that it helps in other ways (Mt. Ida and Anna Maria colleges basically attract dozens of male tuition students a year). I worked at a NESCAC school once which had 3 alumni who would donate more money per year than the football budget needed for 10 years. These 3 donors wanted a say on who was hired, etc and for all intents and purposed they got it.

    The Harvard football staff sits down with program donating alumni every year and goes over the Yale game on film with them explaining the ins and outs of the game planning (much more fun in recent years with Harvard winning).

    All in all it is an interesting process that doesn't always make money for schools, but can benefit them in other ways.

    Anecdotally, perhaps

    Take a look at the report, below. I've posted one of the concluding paragraphs, but they do sift through the information in a comprehensive way that addresses everything you said here ... and puts the lie to much of "what we just KNOW is true" and what is often said (without much data support) about the purported positive financial impacts of massively funded sports programs.

    For virtually all colleges, intercollegiate athletics is not a good financial investment. In 2006, only 19 of 119 FBS institutions realized a net profit from athletics, using a liberal definition of the term “profit.” As an average for the entire period from 2004 to 2006, only 16 broke even. Instead of making money, the evidence suggests that allocated revenue (largely coming from the wider university budget) has grown. By 2006, this allocated revenue accounted for more than a quarter of total athletic revenues. Since expenditures per athlete have grown more rapidly than generated revenues, athletics have become more of a burden, using up scarce university funds. When considering the opportunity cost of such funds, such as spending to build new classrooms, purchase new technologies, or hire quality faculty, this cost is considerable.

    Oh the conslusion is the best part...

    Suppose the leaders of 25 to 30 universities, most of them with good athletic reputations as FBS
    schools and also with relatively high academic reputations, were to get together to call for a radical
    revision of college athletics. For example, what if schools like the University of Michigan, University of
    Illinois, University of North Carolina, University of Virginia, Duke University, Stanford University,
    University of Notre Dame, University of California (Berkeley), University of Washington, University of
    Texas, Northwestern University, Ohio State University, University of Southern California, Boston College,
    University of Georgia, UCLA, University of Florida, Wake Forest, Vanderbilt, and the University
    of Wisconsin gathered, with the support of the eight presidents of the Ivy League schools (Harvard,
    Yale, Princeton, Columbia, Pennsylvania, Brown, Dartmouth and Cornell). These schools represent a
    significant portion of several major athletic conferences, including the Southeastern Conference, Big
    10, Pacific-10, Big 12, and Atlantic Coast Conference, as well as the entire Ivy League.
    Suppose these schools say they are going to:
    • Reduce the length of seasons, number of games, size of coaching staffs, and the number of permissible
    players in football and perhaps other sports;
    • Play at least 80 percent of their matches with other schools adhering to these reform principles;
    • Form at least two new conferences (seriously gutting five major existing conferences in the process);
    • Outlaw redshirting and other practices that detract from emphasizing the primacy of academic
    matters even for athletes;
    • Prohibit play during examination periods;
    • Put limits on coaches salaries and put a limit on administrative staff size;
    • Insist that athletic departments be under the control of a university official such as the Provost;
    • Put strict limits on the size of institutional subsidy for the athletic programs;
    • Put academic officials in firm control of changes in conference/ national association policies (or
    at least give them a veto power);

    Of course if you elimated

    Just Imagine

    Yes, if universities were behaving rationally and in accordance with their educational mission, these things would make sense.

    Too bad there are too many people out there who don't want to look at the actual data and, instead, parrot the party line that "but it makes money for other things!!!" (despite evidence, data, etc. to the contrary - you know, the things that universities are supposed to be making their policies with? The things they are supposed to be teaching their students to understand and comprehend?)

    Although one might argue that support of massive collective egotism through pseudocombat has traditionally been a role of universities, you won't generally find that in their mission statements.

    Well its the schools like Umass who are in the middle.

    Umass doesn't have the academic reputation of Michigan or Duke but they also don't fit into the academic profile of Patriot League teams (Holy Cross, Colgate, Fordham) nor the Ivy League schools. Even compared to New England Schools (Vermont, UNH, Uconn) they lose out on some of the better Massachusetts student applicants.

    I think D1 football is in a transition phase that Umass doesn't want to lose out on. They had two choices: Be content with where they were and keep trying to compete with Vermont, UNH and Maine, or go up and try to be the next Michigan. Football and basketball conferences are shuffling and expanding. I think Umass sees itself as having more potential to be great than other schools that have moved up (Sacred Heart, Marshall, Temple, Albany, Stony Brook, Buffalo). Now the ACC has some other smaller schools that (attempts at least) to put a little more focus on academics (BC, North Carolina, Syracuse, Duke).

    That is laughable

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    That would never happen. Alumni would band together and donations would go way down. People who didn't go to one of those schools might not realize how much alumni open their wallets after a bowl game win or, if the heavens open up and the angels sing, a BCS Championship.

    Hell, I bet Stanford is getting more donations this year because Andrew Luck is doing so well in the NFL.

    It won't happen but it might be the right thing to do.

    If those teams did that, there would not be a BCS anymore, nor an NCAA as we know it. That would mean Georgia and Florida would not get that money. If those schools agreed to restrict their academic standards and do at least some of the above, they could make out as well. You would basically force the Floridas and Georgias to conform, and they would learn that they could benefit as well.

    What might end up happening is exactly what happened at Georgetown with the basketball program. Basically black coaches fighting against the NCAA for the right of young black students getting the opportunity to attend college. Even this study mentions this dynamic of the college athletic process.

    Comprehensive Report on Athletic Program Impacts


    Yet it seems that at many of America’s largest colleges and universities, athletics has become overemphasized at great financial, academic and, arguably, moral costs. The fundamental mission of any university should be to advance the knowledge of its students and society through instruction and research. Athletics are often a distraction, both to the athletes themselves and the wider institution in meeting these primary goals. While graduation rate data are still somewhat murky, the low graduation rates among athletics, particularly in sports like football and basketball, is alarming, although there is strong evidence that this problem is endemic to the entire academic enterprise. The introduction of the Academic Progress Reform (APR) by the NCAA is a positive development that appears to be helping to provide an incentive for coaches and athletes to take academics a bit more seriously. However, there have also been reports of athletes ‘clustering’ in certain academic majors that are less strenuous in order to meet these new standards. If it is the case that certain athletes can only remain eligible for competition by pursuing meaningless academic endeavors, our universities need to reexamine their priorities before granting them admission to an institution of higher education. By admitting sub-standard students, universities compromise their academic integrity and have negative spillover effects on the academic mission.

    WE are paying for this? $5

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    WE are paying for this? $5 MILLION dollars? Imagine the tuition this could pay for some kids who can't afford school, nor what research this could fund? I assumed the only reason they made this asinine deal is because the school benefitted financially. Not only is it a ridiculous trek for the fans, but every game is an away game for the players.

    UMass/Amherst and University of Georgia grad here

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    All I'll say is this: people in the Northeast DO NOT CARE about college football. It's not part of our culture. It's just not our thing and it never will be.

    In the South, football is like a religion. Everyone cares about it. People cram themselves into 100,000 stadiums week after week and love it.

    Major League Baseball pays for much of minor league baseball

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    College football is minor league football. It has absolutely zero to do with education, research, and academics. The NFL has at least as much money as MLB. Why don't we expect them to pay the "students", hire coaches, cover other expenses the way MLB does for their minor leagues?

    I am a UMass grad and season

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    I am a UMass grad and season ticket holder and the bottom line for me are these ooints:

    UMass's goal should be to become an AAU institution, like many flagship state universities.

    Every public university in the AAU plays FBS football except for SUNY Stony Brook. Either UMass can try to be an outlier like Stony Brook or not aspire to join the AAU, which is a prestigious academic achievement.

    I hate that elite public universities in the U.S. have to play bigtime sports (with very few exceptions) but that's the way that the game is played.

    Also, football will be back in Amherst in 2 years except for big games. THEY HAD TO PLAY AT GILLETTE TO RECEIVE AN INVITE FROM THE MAC!

    There is almost no risk for UMass at Gillette and imagine the outrage here if a $100 million stadium was proposed for Amherst as part of the upgrade right off the bat.