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UConn going broke a cautionary tale for Group of 5 schools
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GTFletch Offline
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UConn going broke a cautionary tale for Group of 5 schools
Good Read...

Link
https://www.orlandosentinel.com/sports/m...story.html

The problem for Group of 5 programs is that it’s costing more and more and getting harder and harder to compete in the arms race of college football. Troublingly, there are even many Power 5 programs that have spent themselves into the poorhouse.
07-06-2019 02:24 PM
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scoscox Offline
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RE: UConn going broke a cautionary tale for Group of 5 schools
Some good points, but not everyone has a conference like the Big East to fall back on. What choice do those schools have, but to forge on in their current situations?
07-06-2019 02:34 PM
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oliveandblue Offline
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RE: UConn going broke a cautionary tale for Group of 5 schools
UConn had outstanding financial issues that made their move a necessity. The more I add up all the factors, the more the move adds up.
07-06-2019 02:59 PM
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Attackcoog Online
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RE: UConn going broke a cautionary tale for Group of 5 schools
I mean. yeah---its a cautionary tale for schools that use an 80+ million dollar budget to play G5 football. Thats a category with one member.

I doesnt have to be that way. S MIss and LaTech may not be Alabama---but they field perfectly respectable teams in a number of sports---for only about 25 million a year---and they typically have a pretty darn good football team. It can be done.

Frankly, Im not one that is all that big on athletics needing to break even or deliver a profit. To me, its a student amenity and a marketing device. Both are expense items---not profit centers. I see them as the front porch of the university. I think there is value in that. So, if they lose 5, 10, or even 20 million---you can probably make a reasonable argument that they are still a benefit to the school. Once you break that 20 million mark---I think that argument gets substantially harder to make.

Here's where I am---I dont think any school should be spending 80 million on sports unless they have the ticket sales and donor base to keep the school subsidy in that 20 million or below range. A 40 million dollar athletic deficit is just too large to reasonably defend---especially when the current performance of the 2 big revenue sports is so far below expectations.
(This post was last modified: 07-06-2019 03:52 PM by Attackcoog.)
07-06-2019 03:50 PM
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Renandpat Offline
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RE: UConn going broke a cautionary tale for Group of 5 schools
My problem with the column, and it's a column because Mike Bianchi is a columnist as opposed to a reporter, is that his comparison school, UCF, is exempt from FOIA requests, thus neither he nor us know how much money via UCF general fund or student fees goes to their athletic department. It is written as if there is little to no athletic debt service and as if every executive of note did not resign in the last six months due to finances, including the president emeritus he alludes to in John C. Hitt and his promoted replacement, Dale Whitaker, who was at UCF since 2013.
07-06-2019 03:50 PM
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quo vadis Offline
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RE: UConn going broke a cautionary tale for Group of 5 schools
(07-06-2019 03:50 PM)Attackcoog Wrote:  I mean. yeah---its a cautionary tale for schools that use an 80+ million dollar budget to play G5 football. Thats a category with one member.

I doesnt have to be that way. S MIss and LaTech may not be Alabama---but they field perfectly respectable teams in a number of sports---for only about 25 million a year---and they typically have a pretty darn good football team. It can be done.

Frankly, Im not one that is all that big on athletics needing to break even or deliver a profit. To me, its a student amenity and a marketing device. Both are expense items---not profit centers. I see them as the front porch of the university. I think there is value in that. So, if they lose 5, 10, or even 20 million---you can probably make a reasonable argument that they are still a benefit to the school. Once you break that 20 million mark---I think that argument gets substantially harder to make.

Here's where I am---I dont think any school should be spending 80 million on sports unless they have the ticket sales and donor base to keep the school subsidy in that 20 million or below range. A 40 million dollar athletic deficit is just too large to reasonably defend---especially when the current performance of the 2 big revenue sports is so far below expectations.

Given that we have often clashed over the "front porch" concept, I am surprised to say we almost agree. E.g., concerning your $20m subsidy rule of thumb, if we look at the AAC, excluding the departing UConn, we see (from USA Today) these subsidies:

Cincy ..... $27m

UCF ....... $27m

Houston ... $26m

USF ......... $21m

And this is with the private schools like Tulsa, Temple, SMU, and Tulane not reporting.

And beyond the AAC, we see many other schools well above the $20m mark. E.g., four MAC schools are at $23m or above, two MWC schools are, four CUSA schools are, and two Sun Belt schools are.

That's an awful lot of G5 schools burning through very large subsidies chasing the dream.

I think the Orlando writer is right, this is unsustainable in the long run. UConn was just the first domino to fall.

IMO, "amenity" and "marketing" are both hard to justify in terms of immense subsidies. E.g., if football is an amenity, you don't need to be playing Florida or Georgia to be entertained. Many FCS schools provide their students with entertainment playing other FCS schools they have rivalries with. In Baton Rouge, sure, we have LSU, and they fill their stadium playing Alabama and Florida and Texas A/M. But across town, at HBCU Southern University, they have three days of intense tailgating before their home games vs schools like Jackson State, Alcorn State, and Texas Southern. Football is as big a part of their campus culture as it is at LSU.

As for marketing, schools like USF and UCF were booming their enrollment before football became a thing for them, so not sure what the connection is.
(This post was last modified: 07-06-2019 04:21 PM by quo vadis.)
07-06-2019 04:16 PM
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Chappy Online
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RE: UConn going broke a cautionary tale for Group of 5 schools
It's definitely not sustainable. A correction will occur down the road, and probably not too far into the future.
07-06-2019 04:50 PM
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Stugray2 Offline
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RE: UConn going broke a cautionary tale for Group of 5 schools
(07-06-2019 03:50 PM)Attackcoog Wrote:  I mean. yeah---its a cautionary tale for schools that use an 80+ million dollar budget to play G5 football. Thats a category with one member.

I doesnt have to be that way. S MIss and LaTech may not be Alabama---but they field perfectly respectable teams in a number of sports---for only about 25 million a year---and they typically have a pretty darn good football team. It can be done.

Frankly, Im not one that is all that big on athletics needing to break even or deliver a profit. To me, its a student amenity and a marketing device. Both are expense items---not profit centers. I see them as the front porch of the university. I think there is value in that. So, if they lose 5, 10, or even 20 million---you can probably make a reasonable argument that they are still a benefit to the school. Once you break that 20 million mark---I think that argument gets substantially harder to make.

Here's where I am---I dont think any school should be spending 80 million on sports unless they have the ticket sales and donor base to keep the school subsidy in that 20 million or below range. A 40 million dollar athletic deficit is just too large to reasonably defend---especially when the current performance of the 2 big revenue sports is so far below expectations.

Houston is an example of a school that has transferred over $50M in tax payer dollars over the last three years to fund it's FBS program, $160M over the last decade. Their budget has been rising steadily from around $40M in 2013-14 to almost $60M in 2018-19.

Contributions have gone up at the same rate, from about $6-7M to almost $10M. Student fees have doubled and are now maxed out from $4M to $8M; this is an avenue that has reached it's limit.

If Houston does not make the B12 in 2025, there will almost certainly be a huge reckoning. There is no way they are going to be allowed to continue to subsidize a non-power program at $20M a year in tax payer funds earmarked for classrooms.
07-06-2019 05:04 PM
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CliftonAve Online
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RE: UConn going broke a cautionary tale for Group of 5 schools
“I can’t wait until the public schools in the AAC give up on
Athletics. Once this happens it will be to the benefit of my mediocre school.”

- Most of the people on this board
(This post was last modified: 07-06-2019 05:13 PM by CliftonAve.)
07-06-2019 05:12 PM
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Chappy Online
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RE: UConn going broke a cautionary tale for Group of 5 schools
(07-06-2019 05:04 PM)Stugray2 Wrote:  Houston is an example of a school that has transferred over $50M in tax payer dollars over the last three years to fund it's FBS program, $160M over the last decade. Their budget has been rising steadily from around $40M in 2013-14 to almost $60M in 2018-19.

Contributions have gone up at the same rate, from about $6-7M to almost $10M. Student fees have doubled and are now maxed out from $4M to $8M; this is an avenue that has reached it's limit.

If Houston does not make the B12 in 2025, there will almost certainly be a huge reckoning. There is no way they are going to be allowed to continue to subsidize a non-power program at $20M a year in tax payer funds earmarked for classrooms.

I don't know, IMO Houston is a success story. Call that money part of the marketing budget. Set a record enrollment last fall. I doubt they'd have done that without successful Football and Basketball the past few years.
07-06-2019 05:13 PM
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Chappy Online
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RE: UConn going broke a cautionary tale for Group of 5 schools
The schools spending tons and not winning are the ones to be worried about. Which is why it's crucial that Houston and Dooley get ECU turned around.
07-06-2019 05:15 PM
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uakronkid Offline
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RE: UConn going broke a cautionary tale for Group of 5 schools
I wonder how much of G5 schools' financial troubles come from travel costs. Outside of the MAC (and to a lesser extent, the Sun Belt), every team is flying their olympic sports half-way across the country for conference games.
(This post was last modified: 07-06-2019 05:27 PM by uakronkid.)
07-06-2019 05:25 PM
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quo vadis Offline
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RE: UConn going broke a cautionary tale for Group of 5 schools
(07-06-2019 05:13 PM)Chappy Wrote:  
(07-06-2019 05:04 PM)Stugray2 Wrote:  Houston is an example of a school that has transferred over $50M in tax payer dollars over the last three years to fund it's FBS program, $160M over the last decade. Their budget has been rising steadily from around $40M in 2013-14 to almost $60M in 2018-19.

Contributions have gone up at the same rate, from about $6-7M to almost $10M. Student fees have doubled and are now maxed out from $4M to $8M; this is an avenue that has reached it's limit.

If Houston does not make the B12 in 2025, there will almost certainly be a huge reckoning. There is no way they are going to be allowed to continue to subsidize a non-power program at $20M a year in tax payer funds earmarked for classrooms.

I don't know, IMO Houston is a success story. Call that money part of the marketing budget. Set a record enrollment last fall. I doubt they'd have done that without successful Football and Basketball the past few years.

Houston has seen its enrollment go up for many years now. In contrast, the football team has typically lost 4 or 5 games a year during that time against mediocre competition, with the exception of the big 2015 year, so not sure there is a connection.

At USF, our enrollment has gone up during the 21 years we have had football. But it also was going up before we had football too.
(This post was last modified: 07-06-2019 05:42 PM by quo vadis.)
07-06-2019 05:41 PM
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RE: UConn going broke a cautionary tale for Group of 5 schools
(07-06-2019 04:16 PM)quo vadis Wrote:  if we look at the AAC, excluding the departing UConn, we see (from USA Today) these subsidies:

Cincy ..... $27m

UCF ....... $27m

Houston ... $26m

USF ......... $21m

And this is with the private schools like Tulsa, Temple, SMU, and Tulane not reporting.

We can see that SMU, Tulane, and Tulsa are probably running similar annual deficits by looking at their reported annual athletic budgets from the federal database at https://ope.ed.gov/athletics/#/institution/search :

SMU $64.6 million
Tulane $48.4 million
Tulsa $40.8 million

Other than conference-related revenue, the primary sources of funding are ticket sales and donations. Houston's ticket sales plus donations for 2017, per USA Today, was about $16.5 million. Unless you want to assume that any of those schools make more in ticket sales and donations than Houston (personally, I would assume that they all make less than Houston), then it's very likely that the private AAC schools have annual athletic deficits at least as large as the public AAC schools with similar annual athletic budgets.
07-06-2019 05:45 PM
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UConn going broke a cautionary tale for Group of 5 schools
(07-06-2019 05:45 PM)Wedge Wrote:  
(07-06-2019 04:16 PM)quo vadis Wrote:  if we look at the AAC, excluding the departing UConn, we see (from USA Today) these subsidies:

Cincy ..... $27m

UCF ....... $27m

Houston ... $26m

USF ......... $21m

And this is with the private schools like Tulsa, Temple, SMU, and Tulane not reporting.

We can see that SMU, Tulane, and Tulsa are probably running similar annual deficits by looking at their reported annual athletic budgets from the federal database at https://ope.ed.gov/athletics/#/institution/search :

SMU $64.6 million
Tulane $48.4 million
Tulsa $40.8 million

Other than conference-related revenue, the primary sources of funding are ticket sales and donations. Houston's ticket sales plus donations for 2017, per USA Today, was about $16.5 million. Unless you want to assume that any of those schools make more in ticket sales and donations than Houston (personally, I would assume that they all make less than Houston), then it's very likely that the private AAC schools have annual athletic deficits at least as large as the public AAC schools with similar annual athletic budgets.


I know how much the school funds, nowhere near UCONN and way less than I thought.

Now if our money donors ever disappear we will be in trouble
07-06-2019 05:48 PM
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DavidSt Offline
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RE: UConn going broke a cautionary tale for Group of 5 schools
All schools are spending beyond their means building onto their stadiums and all that is the issue. Not even the media contracts would not be there in the future to bail out the P5 schools either in the future. There are like about 75% of households in this country that can't afford or be able to pay their cable bills as is. Cord cutters do not mean that these people will go to online streaming. The next realignment will be regional as all conferences will disband and reformed. Schools need to find ways to save money including G5s. The Big East model is no different that the AAC at all until they shed the western schools and add schools in the northeast. I think the conferences would be more like the Big West, RMAC, Lone Star, PSAC and the likes in the future. The northwest PAC 12 schools would benefit if schools like Idaho, Idaho State, Boise State, Eastern Washington, Portland State, UNR, Utah State, BYU, football schools from D2 and NAIA, and the non-football schools join an alliance for schedule alliance for all sports. D2, D3 and NAIA conferences do have it right on how to save money when the majority of the conferences are regional and by a whole state.
07-06-2019 06:10 PM
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colohank Offline
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RE: UConn going broke a cautionary tale for Group of 5 schools
(07-06-2019 04:16 PM)quo vadis Wrote:  
(07-06-2019 03:50 PM)Attackcoog Wrote:  I mean. yeah---its a cautionary tale for schools that use an 80+ million dollar budget to play G5 football. Thats a category with one member.

I doesnt have to be that way. S MIss and LaTech may not be Alabama---but they field perfectly respectable teams in a number of sports---for only about 25 million a year---and they typically have a pretty darn good football team. It can be done.

Frankly, Im not one that is all that big on athletics needing to break even or deliver a profit. To me, its a student amenity and a marketing device. Both are expense items---not profit centers. I see them as the front porch of the university. I think there is value in that. So, if they lose 5, 10, or even 20 million---you can probably make a reasonable argument that they are still a benefit to the school. Once you break that 20 million mark---I think that argument gets substantially harder to make.

Here's where I am---I dont think any school should be spending 80 million on sports unless they have the ticket sales and donor base to keep the school subsidy in that 20 million or below range. A 40 million dollar athletic deficit is just too large to reasonably defend---especially when the current performance of the 2 big revenue sports is so far below expectations.

Given that we have often clashed over the "front porch" concept, I am surprised to say we almost agree. E.g., concerning your $20m subsidy rule of thumb, if we look at the AAC, excluding the departing UConn, we see (from USA Today) these subsidies:

Cincy ..... $27m

UCF ....... $27m

Houston ... $26m

USF ......... $21m

And this is with the private schools like Tulsa, Temple, SMU, and Tulane not reporting.

And beyond the AAC, we see many other schools well above the $20m mark. E.g., four MAC schools are at $23m or above, two MWC schools are, four CUSA schools are, and two Sun Belt schools are.

That's an awful lot of G5 schools burning through very large subsidies chasing the dream.

I think the Orlando writer is right, this is unsustainable in the long run. UConn was just the first domino to fall.

IMO, "amenity" and "marketing" are both hard to justify in terms of immense subsidies. E.g., if football is an amenity, you don't need to be playing Florida or Georgia to be entertained. Many FCS schools provide their students with entertainment playing other FCS schools they have rivalries with. In Baton Rouge, sure, we have LSU, and they fill their stadium playing Alabama and Florida and Texas A/M. But across town, at HBCU Southern University, they have three days of intense tailgating before their home games vs schools like Jackson State, Alcorn State, and Texas Southern. Football is as big a part of their campus culture as it is at LSU.

As for marketing, schools like USF and UCF were booming their enrollment before football became a thing for them, so not sure what the connection is.

Thank goodness Cincy doesn't have to pay reparations for having been a slave-owning institution like Georgetown University. The sins of those eighteenth and nineteenth-century Jesuits could become very expensive.
07-06-2019 06:11 PM
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RE: UConn going broke a cautionary tale for Group of 5 schools
a pretty poor article in general

you could take away 100% of the student fees and university funds and UConn would still have a $41 million dollar budget and that puts them way up at the top of G5 programs and that is with all those other G5 programs keeping 100% of their (often very large) subsidies

so saying UConn is "broke" is a bit of a joke they clearly had very poor cost controls and an athletics department that thought they could spend their way into the P5 (as many G5s think) and they woke up and realized that in the process they were in a conference that was terrible for their programs (especially the revenue producing ones) and they realized to protect that $41 million in unsubsidized revenue they needed to make a change

the warning should be to those that do not understand what UConn is doing and that still think they can impress the P5 with massive subsidies

no P5 conference is going to do G5 expansion math where they take the current highly subsidized budget, do not remove any of the money from the current conference distributions, and then add on a full P5 conference distribution to try and claim that a program would be way up in P5 budgets at that point and thus able to easily compete

never mind ignoring that facilities would need to be expanded to match what most P5 programs have and those G5 programs usually already have a massive debt load they accumulated to get the current (often very small) venues compared to P5 programs

then you tack on the highly unimpressive "we will sell more tickets if "our fans" can see us play better teams" and "our big donors will give lots of money if you just let us in"

no P5 conference cares to take that risk it is just not worth it to them......even if that G5 program was willing to keep their top 5 (if compared to other P5 programs) academic side subsidy for a long number of years no P5 conference really wants to be saddled with that because you never know when that willingness will change and many P5 conferences are moving to reduce their academic subsidies and there is no reason to go against that and get a program that could reverse that momentum
07-06-2019 06:22 PM
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DavidSt Offline
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Post: #19
RE: UConn going broke a cautionary tale for Group of 5 schools
(07-06-2019 05:45 PM)Wedge Wrote:  
(07-06-2019 04:16 PM)quo vadis Wrote:  if we look at the AAC, excluding the departing UConn, we see (from USA Today) these subsidies:

Cincy ..... $27m

UCF ....... $27m

Houston ... $26m

USF ......... $21m

And this is with the private schools like Tulsa, Temple, SMU, and Tulane not reporting.

We can see that SMU, Tulane, and Tulsa are probably running similar annual deficits by looking at their reported annual athletic budgets from the federal database at https://ope.ed.gov/athletics/#/institution/search :

SMU $64.6 million
Tulane $48.4 million
Tulsa $40.8 million

Other than conference-related revenue, the primary sources of funding are ticket sales and donations. Houston's ticket sales plus donations for 2017, per USA Today, was about $16.5 million. Unless you want to assume that any of those schools make more in ticket sales and donations than Houston (personally, I would assume that they all make less than Houston), then it's very likely that the private AAC schools have annual athletic deficits at least as large as the public AAC schools with similar annual athletic budgets.


Tulsa, Tulane and Oral Roberts need to join a conference that are not flung out like the AAC and Summit. Would like to see the AAC west break away and reforms the SWC.

Houston
SMU
Rice
Tulane
Tulsa
La. Tech
North Texas
Missouri State
Arkansas State
UTSA
Texas State
Lamar
Wichita State
Little Rock

UTEP goes to MWC.

This is kind of example that D1 should go to. There are D2 schools that could also help fill in spots that are needed to save money.
Would the Summit benefit if they add schools like Northern Colorado, Montana State-Billings, Central Oklahoma, Central Missouri, Missouri Western, Missouri Southern, UAFS, Augustana. Mankato State and others?
Could the Southland Conference go to 24? They grab Lone Star football schools, Texas Southern, Prairie View, Grambling, Southern, Delta State, Henderson State (largest football stadium in GAC), Arkansas Tech or Christian Brothers.
07-06-2019 06:23 PM
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RE: UConn going broke a cautionary tale for Group of 5 schools
(07-06-2019 06:22 PM)TodgeRodge Wrote:  a pretty poor article in general

you could take away 100% of the student fees and university funds and UConn would still have a $41 million dollar budget and that puts them way up at the top of G5 programs and that is with all those other G5 programs keeping 100% of their (often very large) subsidies

so saying UConn is "broke" is a bit of a joke they clearly had very poor cost controls and an athletics department that thought they could spend their way into the P5 (as many G5s think) and they woke up and realized that in the process they were in a conference that was terrible for their programs (especially the revenue producing ones) and they realized to protect that $41 million in unsubsidized revenue they needed to make a change

the warning should be to those that do not understand what UConn is doing and that still think they can impress the P5 with massive subsidies

no P5 conference is going to do G5 expansion math where they take the current highly subsidized budget, do not remove any of the money from the current conference distributions, and then add on a full P5 conference distribution to try and claim that a program would be way up in P5 budgets at that point and thus able to easily compete

never mind ignoring that facilities would need to be expanded to match what most P5 programs have and those G5 programs usually already have a massive debt load they accumulated to get the current (often very small) venues compared to P5 programs

then you tack on the highly unimpressive "we will sell more tickets if "our fans" can see us play better teams" and "our big donors will give lots of money if you just let us in"

no P5 conference cares to take that risk it is just not worth it to them......even if that G5 program was willing to keep their top 5 (if compared to other P5 programs) academic side subsidy for a long number of years no P5 conference really wants to be saddled with that because you never know when that willingness will change and many P5 conferences are moving to reduce their academic subsidies and there is no reason to go against that and get a program that could reverse that momentum

There seems to be something different between a school like Boise State and a school like UConn. Boise State does have a deep pockets sugar daddy to donate money. Their football stadium is named after that sugar daddy. They do have plans in place to expand the stadium, and that sugar daddy, and other donors would raise the cash to make it happened that Boise state does not really depend on subsidies. UConn do not have a deep pocket sugar daddy to bail them out.
07-06-2019 06:30 PM
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