WVU Enjoying Unprecedented Athletic Success
By Bob Hertzel
A Twittermate of mine, who goes by the handle of Honey Roy Palmer — the character portrayed by Louis Gossett Jr. in the 1992 movie “Diggstown” — made note via a recent retweet that out of the Power 5 colleges there was only one school that had qualified a team to play in a football bowl game or NCAA Tournament this year in men’s and women’s basketball, women’s soccer and baseball.
That school, by now you have guessed, is West Virginia and due to time constraints, we will not bother double checking this tidbit because whether or not someone else did accomplish does not diminish the fact that WVU did.
It points out in no small way the success WVU is enjoying athletically at the present moment, success that has to build momentum toward future success.
And athletic success almost always translates into financial success, a point that was driven home with the sledgehammer of an announcement at the end this week’s Big 12 meetings that revealed the 10 Big 12 schools — save for Baylor, which is having some of its revenue withheld due to the sex scandal at the school — will get $34.8 million … EACH.
That means the conference is distributing a record $348 million in revenue.
If that sounds like a lot, it is, but the SEC and the Big Ten are tossing even more lettuce around, although their revenues includes third-tier media rights while Big 12 revenue does not.
When you consider that Texas takes in maybe $20 million off its own Longhorn Network and Oklahoma and WVU rake in considerable amounts, the picture grows even more.
In fact, when WVU adds in its IMG money its revenue for the 2015-16 year grows to about $41 million or $42 million.
Perhaps the best way to make you understand just how much money this is, consider that back in 2011, before the current television deals were put in place that allowed the schools athletic departments to grow rich while ESPN is laying off people, the Big 12 takes was $11 million per school.
That’s roughly a third of what they are taking in now … and as the years went by it rapidly increased to $159.5 million in 2012, $198 million in 2013, $221 million in 2014, $254 million in 2015.
And what has WVU’s jump to the Big 12 means?
Well, on May 30, 2014, the Mountaineers were cut a check for $14 million from the Big 12, which represented a three-quarter share of a full share as they were eased into the league.
Things, you see, have literally turned around … from $14 million to $41 million.
All of this is good. Or is it?
Well there are a lot of new facilities, a lot of improvements in the current facilities and the coaches are raking in more money than they ever dreamed they’d make. But what’s it meant to you?
Certainly not lower ticket prices or concession prices.
And the requests for donations haven’t gone down any.
But, hey, that’s the reality of life and we all can live with it.
There is, however, a place where I’d like to see the Power 5 Conference schools get together and work out a way to float the money back down to the players, seeing as everyone is getting rich but them off their success.
They have taken strides in the amount of money they get, the feeding, the facilities … but there’s a group that really is taken advantage of and with these schools taking in as much money as they do, what I’d like to see is … football walk-ons.
There’s enough money to make them all scholarship players.
They sweat, they hurt, they do whatever the coaches ask them to do and do it for the love of the game and the love of their school.
Every football team has 40 or so walk-ons. You don’t have to give them full scholarships, but if each school would put a million dollars or so of that $40 million they are clearing into a scholarship fund to be doled out to walk-ons, it could serve to make their lives and their family lives better without causing starvation or hardships throughout the athletic department.
Just a thought, just a gesture from the administration and coaches to say thank you for all those years you walk-ons made it possible for us to dine at the Ritz while you were eating Ritz crackers in your dorm room.