Amateurism is quickly becoming the most understated word in collegiate sports. That’s because by now most people know better. Collegiate athletics has the ability to give an institution millions of dollars in revenue, while making their name and brand more popular. For instance did you know, that a school that wins the NCAA men’s basketball tournament receives an average increase in applications by 10% (Glatter, Hayley;2017. The Atlantic, The March Madness Application Bump)? Doing well in athletics, means flourishing in revenue stream…… and schools know it. That is why the pressure is so high to win, and it’s why some college coaches are paid so handsomely well. For example the SEC arguably the toughest football conference, owns 9 of the top 25 highest paid football coaches in the country, the conference only has 14 schools! Nick Saban, who coaches in the SEC for Alabama is the nations highest paid coach at $11 million, while Butch Jones was the nations 20th highest paid coach, Tennessee pays him $4.1 million annually.
The SEC has a zero tolerance for losing, that is why in the 14 team conference 6 of the schools are currently replacing their football coaches. All 6 schools except for one (Mississipi State) fired their head coaches, because of disappointing regular season results. The story that strikes closets to home, is Tennessee’s Butch Jones. Jones was fired after a 51-17 loss to Mizzou which left the Volunteers 4-6 overall and 0-6 in the SEC. Much of the fan base questioned why Jones wasn’t let go after the humiliating loss to Georgia, but rumors swirled it was Jones contract that saved him. Fans speculated the school did not want to buy Jones out of his contract for $9 million. The people that believed these rumors were enraged, after all Tennessee has money to spend, and a lot of it. We know this because Tennessee’s athletic Director, John Currie recently laid out plans to renovate Neyland at all small cost of 300 million. On top of that UT is constantly in the top 10 colleges for athletic revenue! (Strange, Mike; 2017. USA Today, University of Tennessee top 10 nationally in sports budget) so….. they got money.
Because of the monster revenue athletics brings to school, sometimes athletics is treated as business. Players may illegally receive money, to come play for a certain school, salaries for coaches are at an all time high, and of course the possibility for these athletes to go professional. Schools pay top dollar, to make sure they have a state of the art facility, anything for that competitive edge. A review from the Washington Post was conducted in 2014, on how much the athletic departments at 48 schools, from the 5 wealthiest conferences in college sports spend on their facilities. These 48 schools reported spending a combined $772 million on athletic facilities, up 89% from 2004. For an example that hits close to home, the University of Tennessee finished the new Anderson Athletic center in 2013, that is reported to have cost the school $45 million.
In some places winning is everything, just look at Miami’s Mark Richt, he was fired at Georgia, after going 10-3! Let me say that again 10-3! Most schools would be throwing millions at Richt to stay there, not Georgia. The worst part, it doesn’t seem to be stopping any time soon. With schools receiving Nike deals, Adidas deals, TV deals, etc. college revenue will only continue to steadily raise, after all it was just last year that UCLA received a $280 million deal from Under Armor to become the school’s apparel sponsorship. The Under Armor deal is reported as the largest deal in college sports history.
It’s really quite amazing how much money college athletics generates, when you realize only two sports in the institution actually generate a surplus in money. Basketball and football, baseball I believe has the potential to make a lot of money, but that’s years away. Unfortunately the intitutions other sports, soccer, gymnastics, volleyball do not receive very much attention from fans and boosters alike, and that shows in a lot of ways. The first things you notice about the other sports, is they do not receive nearly the same attention from the media as football and basketball. No tabloids come out about soccer, and gymnastic is never televised. Another thing you noticed is coaches in the other sports are not nearly paid as well. Revenue in college sports…….. it’s a business.