College athletics is an extension of Wall Street.
It’s gray-haired college presidents, athletic directors, conference head honchos swinging deals with sponsors, advertisers and even representatives of TV networks to put schools and leagues in the best possible position to make the most money as possible.
Being successful on Wall Street is about having the knack to read the market to make effective financial decisions. When to strike. When to invest. When to play it safe.
Morgan State athletic director Floyd Kerr confirmed that his fellow suits within the MEAC have decided to pull out of the FCS playoffs to partner with the SWAC in participating in a postseason game starting in 2015.
Citing a “climate of change” within in NCAA’s structure and noting that all of members of the conference are LRIs (limited resource institutions), Kerr indicated the primary obligation for the conference was to be able to adequately fund its athletic programs.
“All of us operate at deficits and we have to solve these financial issues because our institutions are not funding us at the levels that we can remain competitive,” Kerr said. “We have to figure out ways to better fund our programs without taxing the students at our institutions or the general funds of our institutions, which are already under tremendous fire to increase enrollments, grow revenue and graduate students.”
For many, the MEAC no longer sending it’s champion to the playoffs will be a shock to their systems, which has been strung along for so long believing that schools were supposed to be focused on winning national championships.
Florida A&M was the last HBCU to win an FCS title. That was in 1978.
No MEAC or SWAC school has come close since. First round playoff losses have become commonplace and somewhat expected.
There is simply no upside in participating in the FCS playoffs. Schools don’t receive a bowl-like payout for starters.
In fact, Towson reportedly lost $250,000 after being seduced into chasing a championship.
Schools that wish to host a playoff game must bid minimum of $30,000. A second round home playoff game costs $40,000.
The MEAC and SWAC participants in this ESPN-created marriage will allegedly bank $1 million for each conference.
How can the FCS playoffs be a more lucrative economic option?
It can’t when the nobody cares about the FCS playoffs. I don’t care about it. Football crazed Americans don’t. Twitter doesn’t. ESPN, which broadcasts the games, fails to promote the contests like they matter much.
The network is, however, feeding constant coverage of the bigger, more important College Football Playoff.
After then FCS member Appalachian State beat No. 5 Michigan in 2007, the team immediately became the darlings of the sports world.
Columnists at Yahoo! Sports and ESPN gave them all sorts of shine in print and online.
This was a football program that was the reigning FCS national champion at the time, mind you.
ASU football was smothered with more attention for one win in a regular season game than any wins it got in playoff games.
To put this further into perspective, the 2013 FCS title game between North Dakota State and Sam Houston State drew a 0.7 TV rating.
The Beef O’Brady Bowl (real name, no gimmick) between a pair of bad FBS schools got a 1.3 TV rating.
This year’s Bayou Classic, a game played in the middle of a Saturday afternoon featuring Grambling State and Southern, pulled a 1.0 rating on NBC.
While HBCU football has a niche following, ESPN is looking to fill time slots during the meaningless bowl season.
An HBCU postseason game fulfills that need, provides a different football vibe and attracts the interest of a diverse audience.
In exchange, schools get paid and three hours of advertising from the premiere sports network in the world.
That seems like a fair trade.
Intercollegiate sport is all about generating unholy gobs of cash at almost no expense. That is the whole point of this exercise. It is why the College Football Playoff has made the Rose Bowl a stepping stone to a more important game.
It explains why Maryland and Rutgers are in the Big Ten, Texas has it’s own network and a school can pay a coach an NFL salary to work with amateurs.
These are investments just like the ones made on Wall Street every day.
HBCUs have been bleeding more money than it makes lately. Some have had to rob Peter to pay Paul to make ends meet.
If black colleges want to survive and thrive, everyone associated with these institutions should be on board with this move.
Either you adapt to the changing market or die. Looks like HBCUs have chosen to live.