BCS Games Full of White Elephants for Universities

A common defense of the BCS -- at least on the financial side -- is that it yields a financial windfall for the schools that are able to get a berth in one of its bowl games.

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The problem is that this argument is often a misconception, as well. In the last three years, there are a host of examples of colleges ending up in the red after receiving what is supposedly a prized bid.

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The Big East's payout to West Virginia for its trip to the 2008 Fiesta Bowl was $2,425,600, but the team's expenses totaled $3,495,000. That's a loss of $1,069,400.↵

Florida and Ohio State ran up more than $5 million in expenses in the 2007 BCS title game, finishing with a combined deficit of more than $600,000.

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Texas A&M racked up losses of $489,978 for its trip to the 2006 Holiday Bowl.

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Ball State lost $142,398 on its appearance last season in the GMAC Bowl.

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Northern Illinois reported a loss of $154,125 for its trip last year to the Independence Bowl. That's considerably better than the $317,898 it lost for an appearance in the 2006 Poinsettia Bowl.

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Ohio lost $277,550 for its trip to the 2007 GMAC Bowl. The university dipped into general reserve funds to pay the tab, weeks after the school dropped track, swimming and lacrosse. Funding those sports cost less than $200,00 annually.

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Someone has to be making money off these games, right? It shouldn't come as too big a surprise that the bowl game executives aren't faring too badly, often with six-figure salaries. How can the participating schools suffer so badly? Because of arrangements between the bowls and conferences, the school are locked into commitments to sell out their ticket allotment and get fans to stay in hotels that have agreements with the bowl, lest they lose money. With more and more bowls in existence, the cachet of making one is diminished, and with it, fan interest. Throw in a fallow economic period, and a lot of schools that should be excited about making a bowl game will instead worry about how it will affect the bottom line.

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This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.

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