Sure, there’s panic when a school like UAB drops football. There’s panic when a tornado rips through Oklahoma. But, relax, it’s not happening in Hawaii. Different circumstances, different everything.
First, UAB, as it revealed in its announcement, was subsidizing the athletic department with $20 million annually. If an athletic department can’t make a go when two-thirds of the budget is covered, there are bigger issues. UH athletics doesn’t receive that type of support for its operating budget.
Most important, UH football makes money. It might not make enough to buy new lightbulbs for Rainbow Wahine Softball Stadium, but it makes money through the gate, TV and radio deals, sponsorships, and so forth. And while UAB had competition from a little school in Tuscaloosa, Manoa isn’t worried about Hilo or West Oahu draining money from the sports pot.
But image and perception are important, so Uncle Stevie offers these financial tips:
> UH students each pay $100 annually for what is essentially a sports fee. Raise the fee to $200 annually with this stipulation: For every sports event a student attends, $10 will be reimbursed up to 10 events. If every student maxes on the credit, the athletic department will receive exactly what it currently receives (and attendance will increase dramatically). But most won’t attend because of various reasons, including time, interest, so forth. So then UH makes money from the unredeemed extra income.
> UH should impose the sports fee on its community college students. We’ve seen the commercials about the UH system being inclusive and blah, blah, blah. This is one way to make CC students connect with the Manoa campus.
> The Warriors are scheduled to play road games against Wisconsin and Ohio State during a three-weekend period. It’s time for the AD to use his connections and tell the Buckeye folks: “Yikes, my bad. No can do.” 1) It’s a financial hardship. Go to the Midwest, come back to Mid Pacific, then go back to the Midwest. 2) It’s a competitive disadvantage as the Warriors will be underdogs in both games. 3) It’s not a recruiting benefit for either school. OSU is not going to pitch to recruits: “Sign with us because Hawaii is visiting.” Even UH supporters have a one-or-the-other feeling. For instance, the alumni group usually attends, at most, three road games each football season. I’m assuming that two of the slots are marked for Las Vegas and Reno. That leaves either Wisconsin or Ohio State as the third. Those two games are too far apart for one travel package. I’m sure Ohio State can get interested replacements for a seven-figure appearance fee.
> Here’s the drastic one. Put only 80 players on football scholarship. With a full scholarship valued at roughly $20,000, the five-player reduction comes to $100,000. The savings then cam be re-distributed to the 80 players at $1,250 per as cost-of-attendance payouts. Or give the seniors on scholarship $5,000 per as COA payouts. More walk-ons actually make more money for the school. If there are 30 walk-ons, bringing an 80-scholarship roster to 110 players, then that’s about $600,000 in school-related revenue (tuition, fees, meals, housing) from walk-ons that the school will receive. That figure, of course, will be reduced with local students who eat and live at home.