Come on offa that cash pile, Damon!
It’s been reported that my undergraduate alma mater’s fabulously profitable athletic department is, in fact, the country’s most profitable, according to US Department of Education statistics. Led by new director Damon Evans (above), the
By comparison, the (distant) number two program was the
To put it in another context, the UGA AD’s operating profit is roughly equal to 5% of the
While my fandom of Georgia athletics is rarely anything less than rabid, seeing Bulldog sports that far in the black actually makes me see some red, and not Georgia red. And no, I’m not pinko either – there’s barely a year’s worth of dust on my MBA. Next to positive cash flow, profits make me happy, particularly when they’re being churned out by an enterprise in which I hold an equity stake.
But the UGA AD doesn’t have shareholders. It has donors, none of whom, so far as I am aware, are paid dividends, in spite of being shaken down for ever-escalating “donations” for season tickets and in spite of suffering ever-withering tailgating privileges. To these people, the UGA AD's Big Oil-rivaling profit margins aren't a point of pride; they're a slap in the face.
Georgia’s 35% operating margin (a breathtaking 53% return on its expenditures), is nearly double that of the NFL’s most profitable franchise, the Washington Redskins, which raked in $53.8M on sales of $287M. And that would be super if the UGA athletics department were a private sector enterprise whose managers had a fiduciary responsibility to run the most profitable organization possible.
But it isn’t.
The department’s mission, per its web site, is “to offer nationally competitive intercollegiate athletic programs, which reflect the interests of our students and faculty, the Southeastern Conference, and the people of
Still, if you measure “nationally competitive intercollegiate athletic programs” in Directors’ Cup rankings, you could make a case that the UGA AD is executing on its mission.
But piling up cash for the sake of piling up cash is pointless. When you have the goods, also have the knowledge of how and when to exploit them fully.
If our mission is national competitiveness, such regional insularity by our most prominent athletic team is wildly inconsistent and is sorely disappointing to out-of-region alums like me. Sure, we’ve been constrained by having to play
For more on this, please refer to T. Kyle King’s eminently worthy Movement, in which the Bulldog blogosphere’s most erudite scribe advocates a home-and-home with
Meanwhile, our basketball team plays in a coliseum that was designed by the Jetsons’ architect. A facelift by Mike Brady would qualify as modernization. In the interests of portfolio diversification and particularly given the basketball success of so-called football schools such as Florida, LSU and Texas, a sustained commitment to men's hoops, our only other profitable sport, is long overdue. The addition of a practice annex to the Stegasaurus is encouraging, but time will tell if it's just another bone the AD has infrequently tossed at hoops throughout its Ike-and-Tina relationship with the sport.
We have a varsity women’s soccer team and at least a dozen intramural men’s teams, but no varsity equivalent. The sport of lacrosse has caught fire in the sunbelt, with dozens of high school teams budding in
Outside of reinvesting in sports, how about giving back to the entities who fertilized this money tree? Perhaps a nice gift to the school or, for the unfailingly generous and unceasingly beleaguered fans who will be asked to tailgate in Winder next year, how about a proper tailgating village, a sort of Grove on steroids?
Anyway, by now, you should have gotten my point. For the dim, it is this: cash is not its own end for a quasi-public enterprise like the UGA athletic department. It is a means. Deploy it, Damon.