Survey: College sports in need of financial reform

MIAMI (AP) — College and university athletic departments might have to drop some sports unless reforms
such as controlling the cost of coaching contracts are implemented, according to a survey released
The survey of presidents of schools at major college football’s highest level also suggests even the
administrators aren’t sure how to rein in costs. That’s not saying no one will try: A group representing
the athletic directors at those schools will present seven presumably cost-cutting proposals to the NCAA
in the coming weeks.
"What’s going on out there, it’s almost scary," former Notre Dame football standout Chris
Zorich said.
The Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics released the survey at its 20th anniversary meeting.
The commission has successfully lobbied for stronger academic standards, improved graduation rates and
more institutional control of college athletics.
Commission members say finding ways to solve financial woes will be its most daunting challenge.
"It’d be nice if there was a road map. There isn’t," said Dr. Gerald Turner, the president of
Southern Methodist University and the commission’s co-chairman. "There are a number of ideas, but I
really harken it to where we were in 1989, 1990 when we were trying to think about how to do academic
Several financial-reform ideas are coming from the Division 1-A Athletic Directors Association, an entity
independent of the Knight Commission but with involvement at Monday’s meeting.
Dutch Baughman, the association’s executive director, told the commission the majority of ADs at the 120
FBS schools support what he called "low-hanging fruit," measures he believes could be
implemented quickly. Most notably, they include:
— Eliminating off-campus housing before home contests, a common practice for many football programs who
check into hotels before a game to minimize distractions.
— Creating a sport-by-sport squad limit for team travel, something that’s already in place for football.

— Reducing the permissible number of regular-season contests.
— Eliminating nontraditional seasons of competition and all foreign travel, outside of any already
"It’s what we’re responsible for doing, and we’re very serious about that," Baughman said.
Baughman also stressed the association is not forgetting "institutional prerogative,"
essentially saying guidelines that would help some schools might not work for all 120 FBS schools.
Miami coach Randy Shannon said earlier this year that he trimmed $150,000 from his travel budget by
switching to buses instead of flights for two games, but that staying in hotels before home games was
essential to ensure that his team would be rested and focused.
Nebraska coach Bo Pelini quickly came out Monday against the proposal to ditch hotel stays before home
"I think that’s a bad idea," Pelini said. "You’re just opening yourself up to problems,
things happening. There are so many things that happen the night before the game. … It’s nice to have
them in one place. Keep them out of the distractions. Kids will be kids."
Former NCAA president Cedric Dempsey also offered a list of recommendations, including suggesting that
the time has come for a new revenue-sharing model, particularly regarding Bowl Championship Series
money. The Knight survey showed 62 percent of FBS school presidents support that notion.
"I would speculate that if we cannot change our model, that we will see more and more programs not
just drop football but possibly change their whole intercollegiate athletic programs," Dempsey
Among the Knight Commission findings, which came from brief interviews with 95 presidents at FBS schools
and then were further culled by 22 deeper interviews with some of those administrators earlier this
— More than 6 of 7 presidents believe total compensation for football and basketball coaches at other FBS
schools is excessive, but only about half those presidents say the pay for those coaches at their own
school is too much.
— Presidents believe they have "limited power" to change athletics financing on their own
— Enormous television rights contracts have further eroded the authority administrators have at their
— 64 percent would like to study ways to reduce the number of games for non-revenue sports.
It’s not easy, warned Big 10 commissioner Jim Delany, who said raising revenue is easier than cutting
"Cutting costs, especially at the national or conference level, is heavy lifting. It is a contact
sport, whether you’re a president, a commissioner or athletic director," Delany said. "Unless
you’re prepared to deal with boosters, board members, power coaches and the public, and I’m talking
about in a conflict-rich environment, don’t take it on."
Clearly, the recession is hitting college sports hard.
"Something has to happen," said Zorich, a Knight Commission member. "The part that hurts
the most, to me, is that I had some great opportunities as a collegiate athlete. And there’s going to be
a lot of young people who don’t have those experiences because programs are going to get cut."