Monday, July 23, 2012

Penn State Sanctions - Ice Hockey Impact

This wasn't necessarily a topic that I wanted to discuss, but the questions are beginning to come up.

Obviously in the college sports world there is one story dominating the headlines today. The NCAA handed down its own punishment on the entire situation sending a message throughout college athletics. A fair question to all of this how will this impact the other sports at the University?

Penn State is making the division 1 leap this October in ice hockey. As a result, starting in the 2013 - 2014 season, the Big 10 will be sponsoring hockey. If the football program is damaged beyond repair, will the other sports (hockey included) begin to feel the pain financially? Hockey isn't cheap.

One thought that some are having is if the Big 10 should consider throwing Penn State out of the conference. We can debate this all day and night, but the fact of the matter is such a move would probably hurt the chances of hockey succeeding at Penn State. Not only that, it would damage college hockey as well considering all the conference re-alignment that has gone on, and it would hurt the current Big 10 schools already set to leave their current conferences.

I'm not sure any of these other schools & new conferences would welcome back the Big 10 schools with open arms. Sure, they might find a home, because these teams still bring a lot of money to the table for some of these programs, but a lot of fans (and I'm sure some schools) probably felt burned by the Big 10 schools.

The other area where there might be an impact will be financially, but this exists at the school as a whole. If football program becomes less successful, will the revenue soon decline? If this happens, the pie just got smaller at Penn State.

Thank You Terry (PSU Hockey Blog) breaks this down a little further

The bottom line is this: we don't know. About any of that. The athletic department has been stashing away large surpluses for a while (including just south of $15 million 2010-2011), so it seems as if PSU is capable of taking what amounts to a direct hit of $14.6 million per year for five years without too much suffering. The longer-term concern, of course, is the continued profitability of the football program in light of the sanctions, which largely depends on their ability to remain competitive in spite of the scholarship limitations and possible coming transfers (I don't think the bowl ban will have a significant impact on whether people show up on Saturdays in October - the hard reality is that most bowls are meaningless, and I believe most people realize that). Football alone accounted for about $43 million of PSU's $116 million in revenue in 2010-2011, and that doesn't count items like Nittany Lion Club donations (the second biggest contributor at $18.5 million) that are largely based on football. A lot of non-revenue sports, if not in panic mode just yet, should at least be on notice.

Not all hockey programs are bottom line losers for their athletic departments though. Michigan State, for the most part, supports itself. If attendance continues to climb back up, then the program certainly can sustain itself financially.

The blog continues to talk about how the administration at PSU wants hockey to be self-sufficient. Attendance and advertising is going to drive that as much as anything, and I suspect that Penn State will not have trouble drawing in crowds during their first season at the division one level. I find it hard to believe that any advertisers would pull their funds as well considering I don't think the public is going to equate any other Penn State team with the Sandusky Scandal. The recruiting thing will sort itself out, but if Coach Gadowsky isn't concerned about it, then why would any other PSU hockey fan be?

It will be interesting to see how the fallout of these punishments begin to trickle down to the other sports (if anything does at all).

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