No economic crisis in college football

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.

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13 Responses to No economic crisis in college football

  1. Bob Becker says:

    The theory is that if the football team becomes sufficiently famous and powerful, that it will benefit the school overall because fans and alums will demand [as Bear Bryant, among many others, is rumored to have put it] “a university the football team can be proud of.”

    The best book on the relationship between football and the broader university at football factory schools is still Murry Sperber’s Beer and Circuses. [Fuller description here: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/beer-and-circus-murray-sperber/1012225105?ean=9780805068115&itm=1&usri=beer+and+circuses ]

  2. Doug Gibson says:

    Mark, it seems that sports and entertainment flourished during the Great Depression as an escape from misery. Although the prices are much higher by comparison, at least for sports, free, or cheap cable TV provides the escape today, and likely so even if it gets worse.

  3. hawg says:

    so why exactly are you opposed to the jobs a 22 million dollar expansion project would provide?

  4. Bob Becker says:

    Well, let us at least consider that the 22 mil might be spent on other projects more likely to benefit the states involved than stadium improvements. The money would still be spent, the multiplier would still go into effect because it would be spent locally, and — perhaps — more would be achieved that putting more fannies in seats on Saturday afternoons.

    • hawg says:

      you’re not assuming, that those additional fannies in seats are sitting there for free are you? seems like a local benefit to me

  5. rah says:

    Utah bloggers are pretty arrogant when it comes to writing about Idaho I’ve noticed. Utah isn’t a huge state population wise either so I guess they have to find someone to look down on. Every state in the union has colleges expanding their facilities so why target bsu in particular?

  6. rah says:

    p.s. 7 million is covered in donations, another 5.5 million is pledged but waiting on all details being worked out. That leaves less than 10 million remaining. There was a multi year private fund raising program called destination distinction that hit its goal of raising 175 million just this year and the money is for academic as well as athletic programs and facilities. i would imagine the rest would come out of that, so the tax payers can rest easy in little old Idaho. Always love it when people write about things they know nothing about, good day sir.

  7. DougUte says:

    Plans to expand Rice-Eccles have been in the works for a while. Even before the conference change to the Pac 12. I seriously doubt taxpayers will be tapped for money for the stadium expansion. The money will come from donations – there is nothing wrong with tapping donors who are vonluntarily giving their money to the project, bonding – to be paid back by funds raised by the athletic department via the new money coming in with the PAC-12 TV Deal, the sharing of BCS revenue, etc.. that Utah now has access to. I see absolutely no reason taxpayer money would have to be involved at all in future Ute stadium expansion projects.

  8. Myth Buster says:

    College football teams generally charter a commercial 757 aircraft for the team and when the band travels, a 767. They are charged for bringing the aircraft to the school, to the destination and back to the crew base twice; every weekend game at a cost of about $1 Million. With 40+ Bowl games it’s no wonder why tuition costs are soaring through the roof. Thank goodness we get to pay for that as well as their scholarships eh?

  9. Yiddish says:

    Economic stagnation continues!!!

  10. Raymond, H Roberts says:

    If you can can even afford the tv!

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