The captains of college football industry march happily along, expanding stadiums and raising coaches’ salaries. What economic downturn?
I was stunned to read that the state of Idaho and donors will spend more than $22 million on stadium expansion and football complex facilities at Boise State University’s Bronco Stadium. The Broncos are a hot property in big-time college football, and to keep pace with the nation’s mammoth programs, the folks in Idaho obviously feel urgency to expand, to get blue-chip recruits, to be competitive. The new athletic director also has landed a $325,000 salary with big bonuses and a Midas-like buyout package.
Taxpayers might be feeling a different type of urgency as the nation’s economic doldrums continue, but I guess it must be tough to say no amid the fervor emanating from having an exciting Top 25 football team every year in little old Idaho.
Truly, I’m not surprised by any of this. I’m not picking on Boise State. It’s happening everywhere. Closer to home, Utah football coach Kyle Whittingham just got a raise, from $1.7 million to $2 million per year. In the football world, of course, this is more than justified, as Whittingham guided the Utes to a relatively successful initial season in the big-time Pac 12 Conference.
Expect movements to expand Rice-Eccles Stadium, the 45,000-seat home of the Utes. One opposing coach famously derided Rice-Eccles as a “nice little stadium,” comparing it to some of the gigantic venues in the Pac 12. So, to remain competitive, Utah taxpayers and U donors are going to be tapped.
Where’s the ceiling? If economic stagnation continues, more people on unemployment, trapped in wage-frozen jobs or foreclosed out of their homes might become ready to support an “Occupy the Athletic Department” movement.