Cost Cutting Coming to College Sports

The deep recession is being felt all over and intercollegiate athletics is no exception. Next week's SEC meetings, like meetings all over the country are bound to bat around ideas for streamlining costs at college sports programs. Since all the athletic directors are too busy to call, many media types are sharing their thoughts on the matter.

So now I'm offering up some suggestions that I believe will accomplish significant savings and more.

By more, I mean a dose of reality for college student-athletes who at times can live incredibly pampered lives. By more I mean minor hardships that can be shared throughout a program. By more I mean showing your fans that you actually do feel their pain and are willing to cut back in order to keep ticket and concession prices from rising. And by more I mean eliminating some unnecessary benefits to people like me.

No weekend charter flights (non-football) ----- I have traveled just about every way imaginable. I've driven, bussed, trained, flown commercial, ridden in RVs and, yes flown charters. Flying charter is great, but very expensive. There's no reason to charter when you have a Saturday afternoon basketball game in Athens or Auburn. On weekdays, sure it gets kids back to class sooner, but on the weekends it's excessive.

No charter under 400 miles (football) ----- I never understood taking a charter to Auburn or Columbia. I realized chartering was all about ego when the Gators chartered to the Georgia game in Athens which took longer than bussing would have. This is where football shows it can be part of the solution. The time lost (3-4 hours tops) is well worth the job it saves.

No commercial flights under 400 miles ----- And you could make it a longer distance. I drove back from South Carolina once and beat the volleyball team back (and they flew). I drove back from Knoxville and beat the soccer team which flew. I've done it with baseball, too. The simple fact of the matter is when you consider that you cannot fly directly, you can bus as fast and sometimes faster and save money.

No printed media guides ----- Let the schools produce a single publication for all prospective student athletes for recruiting purposes. But when it comes to the actual "media guide" schools should produce them and make them available online. It's a huge expense and I can't tell you the last time I read one cover to cover. Probably saves six figures in printing and mailing costs. Send us a CD-Rom and call it a day.

Stop feeding the media ----- I appreciate the fact that schools do it, but where else do you go to work expecting someone to feed you? Soft drinks and snacks are adequate. You can keep providing the post-game pizza too, but spending all that money on a meal is silly. And besides, half the people the school feeds are people the school is paying to be there.

Charge for parking passes ----- Miami did this a few years ago and it was amazing to see how entities that had gotten four and five passes a game figures they could manage with one or two. Again it's our job to get there and there are plenty of affordable options near campus. You might even decide to give one per media outlet with more than one credential and charge for extras.

Three official visits, that's it ----- Many media guys have suggested this and I have done so for years. Now this change would benefit schools in talent-rich states, but five paid mini-vacations is still wasteful. Kids who sincerely wish to visit more schools can pay their way once or twice.

Limit the times you can see a player perform ----- I think if you see a guy play five times that's enough. Schools spend a fortune especially in basketball watching games all summer long and it's too costly.

Coach, buy your tickets and your car ----- Head coaches can afford to provide their own wheels and buy their game tickets. It's a nice way to give back too. The administration can charge tickets to the recruiting budget when it involves taking prospects to games in another sport, but otherwise it's time to pony up.

Limit booster bowl trips ----- Schools often lose money or make far less than they should for bowl games because they bring along so many people. Maybe that's okay in a great economy, but nowadays you need to limit it. How about no more than one non-player for every player on the trip? Now let's see you lose money on a bowl trip.

Now that I've saved the Gators a fortune, time to come up with some revenue enhancements! Maybe.


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