“No matter the schedule, no matter the SDSU escape, no matter anything, Mizzou is 4-0. That’s all that matters folks. Survive and advance.”
That tweet was sent shortly after Missouri’s 51-23 football trouncing of Miami (Ohio) and it really irks me. It’s that mentality that drives one of the most infuriating practices in college athletics.
I’ve been know to have my head in the sand about a lot of issues but yesterday I took it out long enough to see the story in the Columbia Missourian. It seems last week’s football opponent, San Diego State, was paid nearly a million dollars to come here to play the Tigers. So the university that hasn’t given raises in three years and is considering a tuition hike paid out $850,000 to play one football game.
This is nearly pure reaction to the Missourian’s story (I haven’t done much research or crunched the numbers) but if the athletic department can afford to pay out this much money, then there’s an imbalance in our system — at Mizzou and probably many other colleges.
So far Missouri has paid out more than $1.3 million to the football team’s three non-conference opponents These payments are called guarantees in the sports world and they are used to lure lesser opponents to come play against us. Though is seems like humiliation, the weaker team gets to play against stiffer competition and their school get some bank.
The other two guarantees went to McNeese State ($310,000) and Miami of Ohio ($200,000.) According to the story, since 2003 Missouri has been paying more than $1.2 million a year in guarantees.
I’m trying to figure out what that money will bring back to the university — is there such a thing as ROI on football guarantees? There’s probably not much that Mizzou or Missouri gets back directly from SDSU. The payoff comes in things like inflated rankings, which will make more people want to come to the games and get more alums to give big donations to the program. Donors like winners.
Victories supposedly help boost player morale and self esteem. (But as we learned last week against SDSU, guarantees don’t guarantee a victory.) Lots of victories put the team in position for a bowl game, which comes with big pay-offs of their own. (The 2009 season Rose Bowl paid out $18,000,000 per team, but Missouri doesn’t get to play in the traditional Big Ten/Pac-10 game.)
And in theory, all of this attention will also bring attention, donations and more students to the university. But not pay raises.
I know that this university’s revenue-generating sports programs do bring a lot of revenue to the university, which helps support the non revenue-generating sports and the university. But I wish more of that revenue also went to the academic side of the university. Mizzou does not have competitive salaries. According to the Columbia Daily Tribune, “the average salary for professors at Mizzou was $111,200 in the fall of 2008, third from the bottom when ranked with 17 peer ranked institutions in surrounding states.” http://www.columbiatribune.com/mu-salary-database/ And someone else is getting my share of that $111,000 — my salary is nowhere near that amount.
We lose good instructors and can’t attract others because of these low wages. And the lower cost of living argument really only goes so far. When you’re spending your weekends traveling to Kansas City and St. Louis in order to get more culture and diversity, that salary doesn’t last very long.
In my mind, there’s more balance that could be had, more sharing of the wealth from the athletic department. After all, this is an academic institution, not an athletic institution.
But you know that the really pathetic fact is? According to the Missourian story, “Missouri pays out considerably less than Nebraska, Ohio State, Texas and most SEC schools.”
Share the wealth, people.