Op-ed: CEO Perko to On3 Sports regarding the state of college sports

graphic for On3 mediaOn3 Sports asked industry leaders to weigh in on the No. 1 issue in college sports and compiled the answers, which included the following response from Amy Privette Perko, CEO, Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics:

“The biggest issue in college sports right now is getting surprisingly little attention. The upcoming revenue distribution decisions of the governing board of the College Football Playoff will have an enormous impact on the future of FBS football and all sports in Division I. The CFP is expected to generate more than a billion dollars annually in new and uncommitted revenues from its expanded playoff – an amount that will dwarf the revenues from the NCAA’s March Madness tournaments.

“People are amazed to learn that the CFP board distributes all of its money to conferences with zero strings attached and that the NCAA receives no revenue from the CFP, even though the NCAA absorbs all the national costs to operate the sport of FBS football, including ever-increasing legal costs. The CFP board doesn’t earmark any money for specific purposes, like concussion research or football player safety.

“The Knight Commission has proposed common-sense changes to the CFP distribution policies that would require national football revenue to cover national operational costs for the sport. Our proposal also calls for earmarking at least half of the revenue to specifically advance FBS programs’ stated values of promoting athlete education, health and safety.

“A recent independent financial analysis for the Knight Commission found that if the CFP doesn’t change course, its multibillion-dollar windfall will dramatically accelerate the cost spiral of exorbitant football coaching salaries and ‘dead money’ severance payouts. Projections show that continuing ‘business-as-usual’ with new CFP revenue will lead to nearly half of all public institutions in ‘power’ conferences spending more just on their 11 football coaches’ compensation than total spending on all athletes’ tuition, housing, meals, cost of attendance stipends, medical expenses, and insurance coverage.

“That ‘crossover point’ – spending more on 11 football coaches’ compensation than on scholarship and medical benefits for all of their college athletes across all sports at their institution – is deeply at odds with the educational mission of taxpayer-supported public universities. It is troubling that institutionally reported data shows that nine public schools already have reached this problematic crossover point.

“A good start to reset spending priorities with new revenues would be to add independent directors to both the CFP and NCAA Division I governing boards. That reform is standard good practice for an obvious reason – having independent directors should help reduce the incentives for CFP and NCAA board members to follow their competitive and financial self-interests.”

The full On3 Sports article can be accessed here.