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Notre Dames Bowl money

Guest SirJohn

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Guest SirJohn



Irish start sharing of the green


Credit due here – Notre Dame caps bowl profits.



I’ve lost track over the years how many times critics have lambasted Notre Dame for having too much green. And I’m not talking about the sometimes-lucky jerseys.


What critics love to denigrate is Notre Dame’s financial green in general, and that of its football program in particular.


Pick your cash flow, whether it’s the coast-to-coast support of real and subway alumni, the $9 million per year contract with NBC or the $6 million per year deal with adidas. Notre Dame’s assets remain ample in ways other colleges can only fantasize about.


With its $14.5 million check on the way from the Fiesta Bowl, Irish finances are a hot topic again.


The perception, often skewed by the green eyes of jealousy, is that Notre Dame Football makes too much (insert “colorful” adjective here) money.


So where was the praise when it gave up $10 million?


Somehow, I don’t remember reading the headline “Notre Dame takes pay cut” when the Bowl Championship Series deal was reworked last spring. Where was the praise for Notre Dame agreeing to a deal with the BCS to put a cap on its bowl profits? I believe I heard the sound of one hand clapping back then.


Here’s what went down, if you’ve forgotten or missed it entirely. The Irish and the BCS reached a new agreement that would cut $10 million out of every future Notre Dame appearance in the BCS. Instead of raking in $14.5 million – which the Irish will receive for this year’s Fiesta Bowl appearance in the final year of the previous BCS deal – Notre Dame’s take when it earns a BCS bowl bid will be $4.5 million. Not bad. But not greedy, either.


I know what you’re thinking. There’s a catch.


Of course, there’s a catch. In years when it doesn’t make the BCS, Notre Dame still receives a guaranteed payment of $1.3 million.


Aha, you say. Money for nothing, checks for free.


To an extent, that’s true. Notre Dame will still make $1.3 million from the BCS every year even if it only beats Navy. But it would take nearly eight seasons of losing to equal one $14.5-million payout. Think of how much money would be spent during that time in coaching searches alone. (Minimum: three hires.) So it’s not like Notre Dame will make out in this scenario. Plus, $1.3 million is about what programs such as Indiana, Wake Forest or Baylor get for helping conference rivals go bowling every year.


Another common misconception involves what Notre Dame does with its football money. Most uninformed skeptics figure it goes straight into the athletic coffers, to be used to build new statues and pay Charlie Weis more money for one good season than Knute Rockne, Ara Parseghian and Frank Leahy made in a lifetime.


The football program is not hurting, by any means. It has a brand-new meeting facility, a pristine Touchdown Mahal.


But the BCS money, minus bowl trip expenses, still goes where it should in any university – for the benefit of students. The top three recipients this time are financial aid, library acquisitions and scientific instruments for a new science hall under construction.


While some football players may benefit from the library and science upgrades — I’m granting some benefit of the doubt here — most users will be everyday Notre Dame students. Football’s importance may be exaggerated, but it has a tangible positive impact on other students.


“Notre Dame takes pay cut” didn’t make many, if any, headlines last spring. Talking about it now won’t drown out the clamor about whether the Irish received what should have belonged to Oregon in reaching this year’s Fiesta Bowl.


But any college that takes advantage of sports windfalls to benefit all students deserves respect, even if admiration is too much to expect from most outsiders.




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