Knight Commission Database: Clemson

When looking at the data for the ACC, the top three schools for greatest percentage of change from 2005-2011 in athletic spending per athlete may be a bit surprising. Those three schools are UNC at Chapel Hill (56%), Virginia Tech (44%) and Clemson (42%). Of those three programs, the least surprising for most fans would be Clemson, as the Tigers’ football team is touted as one of the more successful programs within the conference.

For the Tigers, there is some correlation between level of success and the spending the team saw the following year. In 2006, Clemson went 8-5, and saw only a slight increase in spending the following year, football spending per football player increasing by a mere 3% (Clemson was 9-3 in 2007). the Tigers increased their spending per player by 10% going into 2008, but produced a lackluster 7-6 2008 season and lost to Nebraska in the Gator Bowl, 26-21. In the hopes of improving the program the following year Clemson increased spending by a whopping 23% in just one year and followed up with a 9-5 2009 season. But Clemson learned that funding is important the following year. To possibly curb the spending increase from 2008-2009, the program decreased spending going into 2010 by 7% and saw its first losing season in several years, going 6-7. The slightest of increases the following year (1%) brought the Tigers a 10-4 2011 season.


Athletic & Academic Spending

It may be obvious to some that most large conference athletic associations operate on large budgets. However, what might not be as obvious are the total athletic operating expenses (including scholarship) in comparison to the full time student costs at larger institutions.

Academic spending is defined as the direct and indirect costs of educating students. The spending related to other university services and activities is not included. Athletic operating costs are defined as all athletic operating costs including scholarship, per unduplicated athlete.

At Georgia the academic spending has risen 23 percent in just six years. In 2005 the median average full time student cost was $8,891 and rose to $10,980 in 2011. Seems steep, right? Well, the athletic operating expenses at this state university rose 78 percent from $84,302 in 2005 to nearly $150,000 ($149,832, to be exact) in 2011. The most interesting portion of Georgia’s athletic and academic spending may be the fact that the institution allocates and spends 4 percent of the general fund, state or government support, student fees, or indirect facilities and administrative support. The four percent that is spent is divided and spent per unduplicated athlete.

It may also be obvious to assume that a smaller school in say, the Sun Belt conference, lacks the large spending that Georgia, or a larger school may have. That would also be a correct assumption.

Middle Tennessee State University, a school in the Sun Belt, does in deed lack the funds, but more so in athletics rather than academics.

At Middle Tennesse the academic spending has risen a mere 3 percent in six years, from $8,844 in 2005 to $9,138 in 2011. Athletics did see a larger 44 percent rise in athletics, but the rise was only from $43,072 in 2005 to $62,062 in 2013. In comparison the the 4 percent that Georgia allocates from the general fund, Middle Tennessee allocates 47 percent. This 47 percent that Middle Tennessee allocates is clearly a much larger amount than Georgia’s 4 percent. Middle Tennessee may allocate more money because they are a smaller school that relies less heavily on private donations.

Institutional Focus on Spending Align with the Rise of Oregon Football

Contrary to popular belief, team pride and loyalty does have a price. 

In the past decade, Oregon has continued to secured some of the nation’s top recruits and coaching staff. Not because the Oregon Ducks are known as a historically significant program and have a legacy of die-hard fans. In fact, most football based arguments from Oregon fans usually start around the year 1994. 

The football program has risen to prominence because Oregon’s institutional monetary focus on its football program is nearly unmatched in its division.

The Oregon Ducks record is currently at 8-1. The program is coming off four straight BCS appearances, including wins in the latter two, and fans have had the pleasure of watching players like LaMichael James, De’Anthony Thomas and Heisman contender and quarterback Marcus Mariota.

However, before the turn of the century, the Ducks were less than stellar. The team garnered a string of awful seasons throughout the ’70s and ’80s.

Many players, games, coaches, fans and boosters have played a prominent role in Oregon’s recent rise to the top, and it’s all in response to the increased institutional funding of the program and resources.

Since 2005, Oregon has seen a 175 percent increase in football spending per football player while the Pacific-12 Conference has seen only a 43 percent increase in football spending per football player. The percentages account for all total football operating expenses including the cost of scholarships per football player and includes scholarship and non-scholarship player costs. The advantage of high spending and incentives for players has enabled the Ducks to attract top recruits.

Oregon has secured some of the best coaches in the Pac-12. Not because of a outstanding football legacy but because of outstanding salary offers. The total compensation reported for all Oregon football coaches, including salaries, benefits and bonuses paid by the university, and contractually-guaranteed amounts paid by third parties, calculated on a per football player (scholarship and non-scholarship) basis has increased 348 percent more than the conference’s overall percentage. Oregon’s replacement of Rich Brooks with Mike Bellotti and bringing Chip Kelly to serve as offensive coordinator in 2007 undoubtedly were key to the success of the football program.


AFC Profiles

Although Steelers’ linebacker Jarvis Jones is no longer playing for the University of Georgia, this ESPN profile reveals the obstacles Jones went through just to get an opportunity to play football again.  It’s a great story to a year later because it shows how hard he worked and overcame adversity to get drafted 17th overall in last year’s draft.

Another great, inspirational profile is on Titan’s Tommie Campbell.  It was a great read about how he struggled in academics and let his dreams of playing in the NFL slip away but got back on his feet after being a janitor to support his two children.

Good Profiles on the MAC/Big Ten Beat

I feel like this is a cop-out because Suggs sent us this link, but I really enjoyed this profile on Urban Meyer.  I like how he opened with a specific scene who’s theme resonated throughout the entire article:  Meyer’s struggle to balance coaching and home life.  The language Thompson uses is very descriptive and paints a clear picture (though I will criticize one thing….Ashtabula is not “right up the road” from Columbus.  Its about 3 hours away.)  Sometimes I think Thompson can be overly flowerly, but I think he is right on point in this one.

I read this article a few years ago on Denard Robinson and thought it was a great piece.  The structure is perfect; the story alternates between the snapshot of Robinson’s family watching him from from their garage to a chronological account of his football career.  Also, you really get a sense of how important his success is not only to his family, but the entire community.  (You might need to click on the pictures of the actual magazine story…for some reason, it cuts off on the last page.)

Profile Homework Posts

Jarvis Jones profile: I’ve posted this before, because it is one of my favorite articles. A bit on the shorter side, I enjoyed this article because it showed the turmoil that Jones had sustained. It showed what he’s accomplished in contrast. Although, Jones’ neck injury was a big deal going into the draft this took the injury and placed among all the other turmoil he dealt with and made a profile.

Ray Drew profile: I read this profile before I even knew what profiles were. My history teacher who was also the football coach passed out an article about Ray Drew and the fact that he was a pastor the week we played Thomas County Central in the playoffs. It was interesting because it took a look at his life outside of football in another area where he is passionate, ministering.


The first piece I’m linking to is written by Lou Somogyi for Blue and Gold Illustrated about a little-known record now held by Notre Dame receiver TJ Jones. It’s not a typical profile in that it doesn’t see Jones through a story. Instead, it just focuses on his stats and the context of their importance. But I chose it because I thought it was a different way to do a profile on your beat, something other than the typical “from hero to zero” idea.

I chose a more standard profile by the Fresno Bee’s Bryant-Jon Anteola, this one about Fresno State’s freshman Jamal Ellis. It’s very typical in that it is the story of a player growing up on the field, but it stands out to me because Anteola uses game action in the text, which is something I guess I hadn’t considered doing before. He describes what Ellis did against San Diego State on a very deep level and how he improved for the game against Nevada.