Ohio State Might Generate Some Extra Cash From Practice Tickets, But It's a Drop in the Bucket

By Johnny Ginter on June 14, 2024 at 10:10 am
Ohio State football coach Ryan Day and comapny

I would like $150,000. Please.

I know, it seems like a lot of money, but I need it for things that I want. The problem is that I don't have anywhere near that amount of money, and without any discernible skills, motivation, or an entire-ass college football team to leverage, I turn to the readers of Eleven Warriors dot com for help.

I understand that you might be skeptical; $150,000 dollars is a lot of dollars, but also... is it?

Ohio State selling 750 tickets at fifty bucks a pop over the course of four open-to-the-public football practices gets them there no problem, but in the face of an NIL budget likely in the tens of millions of dollars and a future revenue sharing regime that could cost much more than that, 150k is a drop in a very, very large bucket of cash.

And yes, The Ohio State University is a public college with a multibillion dollar endowment and I'm a public servant making an hourly wage, so I'll accept that there is some different economies of scale here. But that's inflation, baby! For example:

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- It turns out there was a price tag on the storied rivalry between Ohio State and Michigan. SBC Communications has agreed to pay $1.06 million for the naming rights to the Ohio State-Michigan football game for the next two years. [...]

Each university will receive $530,000 from SBC for the two-year deal.


“The Ohio State Athletics Department is excited to extend our existing relationship with SBC companies with a program that provides support to the University campus wide,” said Ohio State Director of Athletics Andy Geiger. “Once this agreement is finalized, this rivalry’s sponsorship will result in new scholarship revenue for student-athletes in all 36 sports [...]"

A million bucks was the going rate for naming rights to The Game all the way back in 2004, and while public outcry to this proposal was immediate and furious (leading Geiger and his counterpart at Michigan to walk that whole thing back a few weeks later, saying "it became apparent that this agreement could detract from the great tradition of the game itself"), I just want to point out that after a week of running calculations through my homebrewed copy of ENIAC I built in my basement, I discovered that $1.06 million 2004 dollars is the equivalent to $1.76 million 2024 dollars.

da shoe

Which is not that different, right? Fans might've stopped SBC Communications from enacting a psychic stranglehold on an incredibly important cultural touchstone all the way back in 2004, but in 2024 athletic departments have a powerful financial incentive to tell fans to go to hell if it bothers them that much. Namely, walking a very narrow path between paying players for generating profit for the university while refusing to call them employees.

That's an extremely expensive contradiction, which necessitates alternative revenue streams like selling tickets to practices or... wait, shit, are we doing the naming rights thing again?

The Big 12 Conference and Allstate are in discussions about selling the league's naming rights to the insurance giant, sources told Action Network.

The "Allstate 12 Conference" is the leading candidate for the new name, sources said, while the "Big Allstate Conference" has also been discussed. The multi-year deal could earn the league between $30-$50 million annually to be divided among its 16 league members, sources said.

About a thousand dumb jokes have already been made about this, but I haven't seen this one yet so I want to add that it'll be trivially easy to add a capital "B" in front of "Allstate" on whatever goofy logo they come up with.

Lost in the shuffle here (I tried to workshop a Ro-Tel gag in my head and couldn't make it work) is that the Big 12 is also courting private equity investors, much in the way that Florida State already has for their athletic department. FSU, of course, is trying to get out from under an onerous deal with the ACC, and if that involves college administrators being forced to have six-hour lunches with the most obnoxious Wall Street bros on the planet (redundant), so be it.

Where I think this is all headed is an eventual financial collapse of most college athletic departments.

I say "most" because there are a lot of colleges with athletic departments, and one more than half is "most," not because I think the likes of Ohio State are at risk or anything. But smaller athletic departments that have relied on doling out a pittance to revenue-generating athletes while also leaning heavily on student and university subsidies (sidenote: do college athletes have to pay the student sports fee at colleges that collect it?) are going to quickly find out that there are only so many things that you can monetize and sell to literal oil barons.

Schools like Stony Brook University, which collected four and a half times more money from students than it did from licensing in 2022, and relies on subsidies for over 85% of its budget, are probably in bad shape.

My guess is that the way the narrative will evolve is one of greedy college athletes milking these poor, bedraggled places of learning for every cent they're worth, leaving them with no choice but to replace Buckeye leaves on helmets with Wendy's logos. In truth, what's really happened here is that far too many athletic departments have become bloated, fiscally irresponsible disasters propped up by the assumption that student athletes would be eternally fine receiving an unchanging recompense (the value of their degree) for the exponentially increasing revenue they're generating.

You'd think that it'd be less of a pain in the ass to just call athletes employees and deal with that instead of praying for a venture capitalist buried neck-deep in cocaine to start handing out burlap bags with dollar signs printed on the front, but hey: I'm just a humble sports opinion-haver asking for a handout.

Which brings me back to the $150,000. And I just want to thank you, the reader, for making it all the way through this article, especially because reading this sentence is a biding legal contract that puts you on the hook for at least a portion of that.

Please immediately send 750 checks or money orders in 50 dollar amounts to this location, or risk a weekly column about the wonders of various shaving creams and salsas. We're all counting on you.

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