Tag Archives: hbcu athletics

The 2017-2018 SWAC/MEAC Athletic Financial Review


In the third report over the past five years since HBCU Money first began reporting the SWAC/MEAC Athletic Financial Review, there have been losses of $130 million, then $147 million, this year they continue their trend of the athletic black hole of almost $151 million loss through athletics with no correction in sight. Almost unfathomable is that nine of the twenty-one schools* in the SWAC/MEAC have athletic budgets higher than their research budgets. It is disheartening at best that these two HBCU conferences can justify their member institutions athletic spending increasing at a faster rate than college inflation for tuition is in America.

If there is a canary in the coal mine, it is that the amount of subsidies put on the back of students this year overall, median, and average decreased for the first time, albeit by a negligible amount. But that canary is barely seen when no matter how you cut it, students are bearing the brunt of generating HBCU athletic revenues. This year’s review shows that approximately 70 percent of HBCU athletic revenues are generated through subsidies. Something to consider when 90 percent of HBCU students graduate with student loan debt.

REVENUES (in millions)

Total: $202.9 (up 7.1% from 2015-2016)

Median: $10.8 (up 6.1% from 2015-2016)

Average: $10.1  (up 6.8% from 2015-2016)

Highest revenue: Prairie View A&M University  $18.6 million

Lowest revenue: Coppin State University  $3.6 million

EXPENSES (in millions)

Total: $212.0 (up 9.2% from 2015-2016)

Median: $10.8 (up 7.1% from 2015-2016)

Average: $10.6 (up 9.3% from 2015-2016)

Highest expenses: Prairie View A&M University  $18.6 million

Lowest expenses: Mississippi Valley State University  $4.1 million

SUBSIDY

Total: $141.5 (unchanged from 2015-2016)

Median: $6.4 (down 18.4% from 2015-2016)

Average: $7.1 (unchanged from 2015-2016)

Highest subsidy: Prairie View A&M University $15.5 million

Lowest subsidy: Mississippi Valley State University $2.0 million

Highest % of revenues: Prairie View A&M University: 83.7%

Lowest % of revenues: Florida A&M University: 34.2%

PROFIT/LOSS (W/ SUBSIDY)

Total: $-9.1 million (down 97.9% from 2015-2016)

Median: $-26,890 (down 1,244.5% from 2015-2016)

Average: $-455,318 (down 97.9% from 2015-2016)

Highest profit/loss: North Carolina A&T State University  $573,062

Lowest profit/loss: South Carolina State University  $-3,560,974

PROFIT/LOSS (W/O SUBSIDY)

Total: $-150.7 million (down 2.4% from 2015-2016)

Median: $-7.0 million (up 10.0% from 2015-2016)

Average: $-7.5 million (down 1.8% from 2015-2016)

Highest profit/loss: Mississippi Valley State University  $-2,041,761

Lowest profit/loss: Prairie View A&M University  $-15,586,904

CONCLUSION: Older alumni’s desire for athletic glory without assessing the cost to obtain it is going to set younger alumni back decades from becoming contributing alumni – if they are ever able to. This shortsighted vision may have ripple effects far beyond the athletic realm. At current, it would take approximately a $3 billion endowment dedicated to athletics to ween the SWAC/MEAC off of these subsidies onto a sustainable path. Steph Curry’s adoption of Howard’s golf team is clearly a step in the right direction of trying to solve this puzzle without burdening students of today and tomorrow. In fact, the top 10 paid NBA players salary for 2019 is a combined $372 million or $160 million above what all of the SWAC/MEAC expenses are combined. Of course these players by no means can or should fund all of HBCU athletics, but it does show that if we can begin to think outside of the box about how to solve this crisis we must do so before it spirals beyond our reach.

Editor’s Note: Howard and Bethune-Cookman are excluded in this report because they are private institutions and their athletic finances were not included in this report or the 2015-2016 review.

The 5 Steps To HBCU Athletic Profitability


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“Growth and profit are a product of how people work together.” – Ricardo Semler

HBCU presidents, athletic directors, athletic commissioners, and stakeholders gather around the camp fire. We are going to tell you a story of problem solving using critical thinking. Do not worry, this is not a scary story like the one you are telling your students and alumni currently. Many of you want athletics to be your legacy and are willing to mortgage every current student and burgeoning alumni’s future in order to see it come to fruition. Many of you think so far inside the box that Carter G. Woodson would probably blush at just how far you have taken his quote of controlling a man’s mind and how that control will make a man build a back door if one is not present. We even lie to ourselves that the door we have been relegated too looks like our neighbors front door just to suffice our ego. Refusing to even use the assets at your disposal like HBCU business schools, computer science departments, etc. to solve some of our institutions most basic problems.

You know what is not a basic problem? The $147 million that the SWAC and MEAC conferences are hemorrhaging were it not for the $142.5 million in subsidies that come primarily on the backs of their students. Even with those subsidies, the two conferences still managed a $4.6 million loss in the 2014-15 school year. Yet, the same playbook is rolled out every year to makeup for shortfalls. The infamous money games that alumni argue over every year as good or bad for their programs. Ultimately, athletic departments have made them part of their funding model usually in an exchange for treatment that would make Ike Turner blush. However, there is no plan and has been no plan seemingly offered by these HBCU athletic departments that would strategically some day let the money games be icing on the cake if they chose to play them instead of a vital necessity. There is always this talk of the players on the team wanting to test themselves against the “best’. The reality is they have no choice. Players do not schedule these games nor are they consulted. These games are scheduled by those that know if they do not play them, then there may not be an athletic department next year. There are five steps though that can allow HBCU athletics to actually make every program profitable: 

  1. Form the HBCU Athletic Association. Also known as the HBCU version of the NCAA. This is about ownership and leverage. Advertisers pay for schools or conferences that have large alumni bases, strong geographic footprint, and affluent alumni. Although HBCUs lack the latter, the former two is strong leverage when you approach corporate sponsors who are looking to get their brand in front of as many potential consumers as possible. There are 100 HBCUs that comprise geography in the Midwest, Southeast, and even Northeast if you included schools like Roxbury Community College in Boston and Medgar Evers in New York. The NCAA is able to make over $1 billion per year from the March Madness Tournament because it owns the tournament. Again, ownership matters. Having the HAA gives it a powerful economic scale that could go in and do something like buy the old Morris Brown stadium and convert it to a stadium, arena, hotel, and conference center that could host all of the major HBCU sporting events. Now, instead of getting almost nothing of the pie, HBCUs would have an opportunity to share in the parking, ticket, concession, and entertainment revenue pies that ownership over these facilities brings. Again, ownership matters.
  2. Drones. Okay, not just drones, but drones, cameras affixed to athletic facilities, and a website and app that you can purchase a monthly subscription for $10 per month just like Netflix that gives access to every HBCU sporting event for your alma mater and a special up charge for Classics. All of the computer science and communication majors that HBCUs have this seems almost like spiking a beach ball for a score. Put a camera in every corner of the stadium, arena, and field so that it can be remotely operated during a game to show every team’s games. Use drones, they are $99 or build your own, to highlight special views during the games or matches. Get a website and app built that allows people to view it anywhere at anytime. For sports like football, there is an additional charge for professional scouts, which can be a whole other package – a more expensive package.
  3. Conference Endowments. This could be done tomorrow and the fact that it has not been done is sad, really. HBCUs are stronger together than apart. A lesson that Florida A&M University learned the hard way when they tried to make the jump out of the MEAC to FBS. Wherever we go we must go together. With that said, it would make so much more sense if an athletic endowment was set up for each conference that could be equitably split among all the schools. Instead of each department trying to raise money independently, they share the common expense of doing so in hopes of reaching a larger audience. Conservatively, the MEAC and SWAC need an athletic endowment of $3 billion to produce the amount needed to ween themselves off of subsidies from their student population. All those golf tournaments by HBCU boosters that each school puts on could certainly assist in the greater good more so than the robbing Peter to pay Paul model our athletic departments currently exist on. It also provides a real vision – like the church building fund – that there is a goal and this is the result of that goal.
  4. HBCU football and basketball playoffs. This ties back into number one and ownership. HBCUs are forever trying to be the Cinderella story. Moments like North Carolina A&T beating Kent State, Grambling almost beating Arizona, or Norfolk State’s run in the NCAA tournament in 2012 where they reached the Sweet 16. You know what is better than being Cinderella though, getting paid and being profitable. An HBCU football playoff and basketball tournament is an opportunity to have a postseason, hold recruitment and marketing of high school students in cities, and again, own more if not all of the revenue. An eight team playoff from the four major HBCU conferences (SIAC, CIAA, SWAC, & MEAC) that starts the week after Thanksgiving and conclude on New Year’s Day at the HAA owned Morris Brown Stadium, hotel, and conference center. The playoff games themselves could be held in major cities that are geographically and expense friendly to the conferences, but also allow for exposure and recruitment. This is true for the basketball tournament as well. A 16 team (or 32 if you want to invite HBCUs not in HBCU conferences) basketball tournament held in cities like Chicago, New York, and other major basketball hotbeds that give exposure to our schools for future recruitment and a chance to create events we own around them that generate revenue only helps the bottom line. This is not limited to just football and basketball, but every sport. Events bring us money and using HBCU playoffs extends our seasons and extends the ability for them to generate revenue from the populations the events are held in.
  5. Black Owned Company Sponsors. When one hears how much HBCUs get paid by non-black owned corporate sponsors or in their money games it is utterly insulting. How someone treats you is a clear sign of how they feel about you and it is clear that the companies we receive sponsorship from currently think very little of our alumni as potential customers. Have you ever heard of Aliko Dangonte? He is the wealthiest man in Nigeria and owner of the Dangonte Group, which has interest in cement, sugar, and flour. Ventures Africa reports, “In Zimbabwe, Strive Masiyiwa, the founder of telecommunications giant, Econet Wireless, spent a reported $6.4 million setting up a trust for African students at Morehouse College, a historically black institution in the United States.” A sign that HBCUs are on these African entrepreneurs map. Why not approach them and their companies? The Dangonte Stadium, Arena, or Athletic Complex has a nice ring to it. It gives them an opportunity to expand their brand globally and to expand into the holy grail that is America.

Athletics is certainly an important part of the social experience of college and HBCUs, but it is not worth the burden to a people who are already trying to close a wealth gap that is sixteen times greater than their counterparts and are graduating with higher student debt loads despite HBCUs being cheaper on average. Instead of eliminating sports though or just subsidizing ourselves to death, there has to be the question of how do we make them an asset. Not just socially, but financially. There has been talk that the Power 5 conferences will eventually break away from the NCAA and super conferences come up every year in conversation. HBCUs have the opportunity to be ahead of the change curve, lead the change curve, and shift the paradigm instead of being reactive to it or simply mimicking our counterparts behavior after the fact. If we are going to be in a box, at least let it be a box we own and control.

The 2015 SWAC/MEAC Athletic Financial Review


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Two years later, students continue to bear a heavy burden for the pursuit of athletics. Our report is a follow up to the 2014 article where the SWAC and MEAC, without student subsidies were losing $130 million annually in athletics in 2013. It is unfortunate to report that the situation has not improved and has in fact gotten worse. HBCUs, especially the SWAC and MEAC, do not have the luxury of boosters like oil tycoon T. Boone Pickens, Nike’s owner Phil Knight, or even Under Armour’s owner Kevin Plank who give millions annually. In the case of Phil Knight, he and his wife have plowed over $300 million into the University of Oregon’s athletic program to bring it to national prominence. An amount that would cover the student fee contributions by SWAC and MEAC students – twice.

Each year the SWAC and MEAC meet for the SWAC/MEAC Challenge sponsored by Disney and this year will meet in the second annual Celebration Bowl, a post-season game to determine the HBCU “national” champion. Sports are an integral part of the college experience this can not be argued, but at what cost? HBCU students, despite HBCUs in general being cheaper than their PWI counterparts, graduate with higher student debt loads. This often delays and/or prevents all together them from becoming future donors back to their schools or boosters to athletics. The lack of African American wealth, both in households and institutions, no doubt plays a huge role. However, the question remains are we sacrificing too much today and forever burdening ourselves tomorrow?

REVENUES (in millions)

Total: $189.5 (up 7.1% from 2013)

Median: $10.2 (up 29.1% from 2013)

Average: $9.5  (up 18.8% from 2013)

Highest revenue: Norfolk State University  $16.1 million

Lowest revenue: Coppin State University  $3.4 million

EXPENSES (in millions)

Total: $194.1 (up 8.6% from 2013)

Median: $10.1 (up 27.8% from 2013)

Average: $9.7 (up 19.8% from 2013)

Highest expenses: Norfolk State University  $16.1 million

Lowest expenses: Coppin State University  $3.9 million

SUBSIDY

Total: $142.5 (up 12.3% from 2013)

Median: $7.9 (up 43.6% from 2013)

Average: $7.1 (up 22.4% from 2013)

Highest subsidy: Norfolk State University $13.5 million

Lowest subsidy: Mississippi Valley State University $2.3 million

PROFIT/LOSS (W/ SUBSIDY)

Total: $-4.6 million (down 142% from 2013)

Median: $-2 000 (in 2013 median was zero)

Average: $-230 071 (down 188% from 2013)

Highest profit/loss: Alabama A&M University  $215 207

Lowest profit/loss: Grambling State University  $-2 044 323

PROFIT/LOSS (W/O SUBSIDY)

Total: $-147.1 million (down 14.4% from 2013)

Median: $-7.8 million (down 34.5% from 2013)

Average: $-7.4 million (down 27.6% from 2013)

CONCLUSION: The SWAC and MEAC have a challenge, but its not on the fields or hardwoods. It is, however, on the income statements and balance sheets of their athletic departments. HBCU b-schools need to be desperately tasked with the assignment of scribing a new business model for HBCU athletics that takes into account alumni wealth (or lack thereof), minuscule payouts by corporations (Celebration Bowl provides roughly $87 000 to each school), and other factors unique to HBCU sports if they are going to lessen the burden on their students who are currently providing 75 percent of the revenues. At current student loan interest rates and traditional investment return rates, the debt burden for just these athletic fees is $1.1 billion over the next 30 years and an investment loss of $4.5 billion over the same period, respectively. These have long-term consequences to families, HBCU endowments, HBCU athletics, ultimately could become cancerous to the very survival of the institutions themselves.

Editor’s Note: Howard and Hampton are excluded in this report because they are private institutions and their athletic finances were not included in this report or the 2013 report. Chicago State, which was included in the 2013 report was excluded in this report.

Without Subsidies, FCS Public HBCU Athletics Losing $130 Million Annually


Humility is a virtue all preach, none practice, and yet everybody is content to hear.  — John Selden

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I needed a word to describe this internal report. The word I ended up settling on was hypovolemic. Healthline.com defines the condition as “Hypovolemic shock, also called hemorrhagic shock, is a life-threatening condition that results when you lose more than 20 percent (one-fifth) of your body’s blood or fluid supply. This severe fluid loss makes it impossible for the heart to pump sufficient blood to your body. Hypovolemic shock can cause many of your organs to fail. The condition requires immediate emergency medical attention in order to survive.” There might not be a better description of the findings of our internal HBCU Money study using NCAA provided data, we were able to get a startling and disturbing look at the athletic departments of public HBCUs athletic departments and their dependency on subsidies. Subsidies reported are a mixture of institutional support, government support, and student fees. Hopefully, this will spark some real conversation and give new light to the debate about whether or not HBCUs as a whole have the means to be athletically competitive long-term or is this a case of poor use of resources that is impairing the overall health of these universities and its students financial health long after they have left their hallowed grounds.

BREAKDOWN BY THE NUMBERS*:

REVENUES

Total: $177.0 million

Median: $7.9 million

Average: $8.0 million

EXPENSES

Total: $178.7 million

Median: $7.9 million

Average: $8.1 million

PROFIT/LOSS

Total: $-1.9 million

Median: $0

Average: $-79 827

SUBSIDY

Total: $126.9 million

Median: $5.5 million

Average: $5.8 million

WITHOUT SUBSIDY PROFIT/LOSS

Total: $-128.6 million

Median:$-5.8 million

Average: $-5.8 million

SUBSIDY % OF REVENUE

Total: 71.7%

Median: 75.0%

Average: 70.9%

*Chicago State University was included in our report of FCS public HBCUs. Considered an HBCU by HBCU Endowment Foundation, the school is a member of WAC, but athletic budget in line with its HBCU brethren.

According to USA Today, “Just 23 of 228 athletics departments at NCAA Division I public schools generated enough money on their own to cover their expenses in 2012. All 23 of the self-sufficient schools are from conferences whose champions automatically qualify for the Bowl Championship Series, which makes sense because that’s where the money is.” That is where the money is. Again, that is where the money is. The FCS public HBCU doing the “best” without a subsidy is Mississippi Valley State University, with a deficit of $2.4 million. In last place, Delaware State University with an egregious $10.5 million deficit without subsidies. With subsidies the most profitable team is Morgan State University at almost $475 000 in the profit column. Florida A&M, as has been reported recently, even with subsidies still manages to run an almost $1.1 million deficit. The report shows that in order for FCS public HBCUs to be able to operate without a subsidy and still produce the $177 million in revenue annually, they would need to set up an endowment of $3 billion. Greater than the sum all HBCUs, public and private, have in their endowment coffers combined. If alumni wanted a number that it would take to make HBCUs athletically competitive this would be it. However, remember this is only for public FCS HBCUs.

I continue to question the strategic investment many HBCUs on this list are currently putting into athletics and not research development or general scholarship. It is not hard to imagine that had FCS private HBCUs been included in the report, these numbers are even more frightening. The FCS public HBCU athletic budgets to research budget ratio approaches 80 percent. Essentially, we are spending $0.80 on athletics for every $1.00 we spend on research. This is unfortunate since all HBCUs do not even breach $500 million combined annually in research. For perspective since we always love to say “well the HWCUs are doing it”, we took a basket of 9 flagship HWCUs in their state and compared their ratio. The schools were University of Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, Michigan, Mississippi, Texas, LSU, and Ohio State. Combined their athletic budgets are $963.2 million, but their research budgets are a combined $6.8 billion or athletics gets $0.14 for every $1.00 research gets.

Too often HBCU alum and students are being sold a fairy tale of the investment in athletics without actually ever seeing numbers and data to support it. We are asked to just have “faith” that our leadership is doing the right thing. This while schools like Jackson State University and Prairie View A&M University are pining to spend $200 million and $60 million, respectively, on athletic complexes. I have been impressed with Paul Quinn and Spelman College’s decision making to use the athletic funds more strategically, which in the long run will have a major benefit on their institutions health. I love athletics as much as the next HBCUer, but I do not love seeing 90 percent of HBCU graduates finishing with debt to subsidize programs that are nowhere near capable of sustaining themselves. Especially when African Americans are struggling to close the wealth gap. If HBCUs believe they are part of the African American ecosystem and not independent of it, then there will be stronger considerations of how we use resources to maximize our ability to close gaps. Remember, the blood loss from hypovolemic shock eventually will cause ALL organs to fail.

 

 

Prairie View A&M University Costing Students $90,000 With Athletic And Scholarship Fee


It is easy to be generous with other people’s money. — Latin proverb

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The numbers do not lie. The African American median net worth is $2,170. European and Asian America’s median net worth is approximately $100,000 as reported by the Economic Policy Institute and Pew Research, respectively. The unemployment rate for African America is 14 percent while European and Asian America’s unemployment rates are 6.9 and 6.6 percent respectively.  At Prairie View A&M University 69 percent of their students are graduating with debt while Texas A&M University, its most prominent HWCU competitor, is graduating only 46 percent of its students with debt. Yet, the leadership at Prairie View seems to believe that it can operate largely and should chase the same objectives that its competitor has. In an article recently written by Nelson Bowman, Prairie View A&M University’s Executive Director of Development, admits that 95 percent of the student body is financial aid dependent. That most of financial aid for African Americans ends up as some form of student loan debt seems to be missed on the university’s leadership.

I grew up at Prairie View A&M University. My father’s family legacy runs deep with purple and gold. Many of the important first in my life even happen on that campus. I earned my master’s there in community development so there is a strong emotional investment to see this school improve in every way possible. That being said it can not do so on the back of its students because it can not find creative ways to raise funds for projects. Ultimately, if a college or university can not raise the money from alumni, outside sources, and endowment returns then it just simply does not need to engage the project. Asking students who are going to graduate playing catch up in terms of wealth and income or asking HBCU faculty and staff who are already underpaid and overworked in comparison to their peers is simply an apathetic way to show improvement without actually having to put much thought into actual achieving any.

It was during my time in graduate school that the current administration proposed building a $50 million athletic complex (it only has a $10.8 million research budget) as well as proposed to implement a $10 per credit hour fee onto student to help build the athletic department’s scholarships and improve their facilities. Some would argue a guise to help the university raise money for its proposed $50 million proposed athletic complex for which it could not use any state funds it had received to do so. Either way students were asked to bear the burden essentially by adding to the amount they already would need to borrow in student loans. Even more recent I had lunch with my cousin, an engineering major at Prairie View A&M University, who told me of a new $10 fee that was being added. He said it was being used to build the endowment as he understood it and provide a permanent endowed scholarship. Wait, what? You are asking students to borrow more money to fund a scholarship that they themselves actually need. A scholarships purpose is to decrease student debt but instead they are increasing their student debt. I guess standing outside in the rain when you have a house will keep you dry. There was something sad, unimaginative, comical, and paradoxical in all of it. Students of course approved the athletic and scholarship fee believing they were doing something to help their school. Somehow this is being sold to students as “giving” and not adding to their debt which will already have them at a wealth disadvantage upon graduation. A disadvantage they have to try and close with an income gap that currently has African Americans earning $0.65 for every $1.00 European Americans earn, wealth almost 50 times less than European and Asian Americans, and unemployment twice as high as their counterparts.

Just how much is this $150 athletic fee and $10 scholarship fee costing students? Federal statistics show that only approximately 40 percent of African Americans will graduate from undergraduate within six years. If one considers that a majority of Prairie View A&M University students will take six years to graduate it means they paid $960 over their six year academic career. What happens if they had been able to put that $960 into a Roth IRA or other investment account and just bought a standard S&P 500 Index? Over the next forty years at the historical average return of 12 percent that $960 would be worth $89 328.93 at retirement. What else is that $960 equal?

  • It would be equivalent to 5 months worth of savings at the current African American monthly savings rate. Something the majority of African American families did not have in the recent financial crisis.
  • As a percentage of the African American median net worth it is 44.2 percent.
  • Equal to 36 percent of the monthly median income for African Americans

The goal HBCUs should be working toward is decreasing their student debt burdens. By doing this it allows students to reach a point of wealth faster that they can be contributing alumni without sacrificing the financial health of their families. A complicated matter for African Americans who earn less and have higher student loan debt burdens while starting off with a wealth gap. Having less student loan debt also allows for the pursuit of home ownership faster and more importantly the ability to save money for the creation of businesses. Those businesses then can generate the kind of wealth that could provide seven and eight figure donations, employment faster for graduating students, and garner political influence for the HBCU. The logic that somehow burdening the students of today who will be the parents of tomorrow’s HBCU student makes little to no sense. It in fact endangers the possibility that the HBCU student of today and the parent of tomorrow will be forced to send their child elsewhere. Especially, if they are still paying off debt and must send their child to the school offering the most non-debt financial aid. Prairie View A&M University prides itself on saying it produces productive people. It must move beyond productive and do all it can so that it can produce powerful people. Ignoring the reality of its core demographic in its strategic planning to achieve that goal and mimicking HWCU behavior is something that far too many HBCUs are guilty of and it will be at the peril of our future if such behavior continues.

EDITOR’S CORRECTION: The fees are by semester. Therefore the $960 is actually $1,920 over six years. The cost to students is approximately $180,000.