Think About It: The Broken UH Sports Model - KFVE, K5-Hawaii News Now, Local Programming

June 7, 2012

Think About It: The Broken UH Sports Model

In about a month, the University of Hawaii Athletics' Department will release its annual financial statement, and you can be sure the balance sheet will show a loss. Cries will go out about running the department more like a business, etc., but the reality is that this department is doing everything it can under some extenuating and abnormal circumstances. We all know now that UH is at the bottom end when it comes to receiving state or school subsidies, compared to its counterparts in the Mountain West and the Big West. And UH has the unique drain of having to pay travel subsidies just to play in its newly chosen conferences. On the revenue opportunity side, UH does a fine job of marketing all of its teams to numerous sponsors and loyal fans with activities, e-mail blasts and special promotions every week. Attendance, unfortunately, seems directly correlated to winning percentages, the economy and casual fans with other plans now so more than ever.

And then, of course, we have the facts related to an off-campus football stadium (which is trying to help but has its own budgetary constraints), the lack of revenue that the athletics department derives from the parking structure in lower campus when attendees are obviously only on campus for UH sporting events, and the mediocre revenue split that the department gets from its concessions and merchandise deals. The reality is, if you're going to put up roadblocks and burdens on this department and compare it to a private business rather than vs. how other schools run their sports departments, then stop expecting miracles.

Despite raking in billions of dollars in television, ticket, and licensing revenues, all but 14 of the 120 schools in the NCAA's top athletic division lost money on sports in 2009.   The median loss was over $10-million. That's a reality check some people can't seem to accept or don't understand. Either we change the expectations, change the funding, ruin the program, or stop complaining. Think about it…


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