Several weeks ago, the Alabama Crimson Tide steamrolled the upstart Georgia State Panthers 63-7.
It's a widely regarded fact that most football programs lose money. The less spoken-of reality here? Just how much money is lost via football programs, and just how many schools end up burning cash as a result.
In 2001, 40 universities with Division I-A football teams turned an average net profit of approximately $5.26 million.
The other 77 posted average net losses at about $3.8 million per school.
Of the 124 Division I-AA schools, only nine proved profitable in 2001.
The other 115 posted average net losses of approximately $3.4 million.
Of the 84 Division I-AA schools, just six of them made a profit, while the other 78 posted average net losses to the tune of $2.8 million.
Remember, we're talking 2001 numbers here, which means pre-recession and pre-inflation figures. The more recent statistics, if you dare imagine them, are even more damning.
The statewide numbers are particularly distressing. Since adopting football programs, Georgia Southern University and West Georgia have continually posted revenue losses, and fairly successful football programs at Valdosta State University and Albany State University haven't kept those schools from suffering financial hardships.
Obviously, this raises the question: What's going to keep KSU from losing money on its proposed football program?
The answer, in short, is nothing.
It's going to be a long time before KSU reaps a profit from its football program, if ever. In the interim, the program is going to cost the school several million dollars a year, and to patch up such fiscal wounds, it's quite apparent that KSU students and faculty will be the ones settled with the dividends of football debt.
This means higher fees and tuition costs for students, major budgeting and funding cutbacks for academic programs, and certainly a number of staff and faculty layoffs.
Still, plans for the program move forward, at full velocity. Even though the numbers are clearly against the university and local community, it seems like nothing short of divine intervention is going to keep KSU from fielding a football team. For whatever reason, KSU President Daniel Papp believes his plan for college football success will beat the odds and prove a lucrative business when empirical wisdom and numerical fact state otherwise.
Then again, if you had financial backers like Papp, maybe you'd be a little confident with your vision, as well.
The Kennesaw State University Foundation, a virtual conglomerate of real estate developers and local business leaders, is the $350 million-plus heart of Kennesaw State's expansion plans.
Led by New York real estate mogul (and former Lehman Brothers associate) Norman J. Radow, the KSU Foundation has provided majority funding for almost all of KSU's developmental plans since 2007. In 2008, the KSU Foundation (which is listed as a nonprofit organization) financed both the University Village Suites and Commons Dining Hall. In 2009, the organization purchased 88 acres of land and funded the development of the KSU Soccer Stadium, which more than likely will be rechristened as a football field in a matter of months.
Papp and Radow do seem awfully chummy for guys who, technically, aren't business partners under the Georgia statutes of law.
At a 2009 board of trustees dinner, Radow said: "The growth that this university has experienced both in national reputation and physical infrastructure is a true testament of what can be accomplished when you combine a dedicated group of business leaders with an administration who shares a vision for excellence."
Papp, during his 2009 State of the University address, clearly felt an affinity toward his nonprofit benefactors, proclaiming, "Clearly, we owe a large debt of gratitude to the KSU Foundation. ... Without the foundation, we would not be the university we are."
According to 2008 records, almost 75 percent of the foundation's net value stemmed from rental property, direct-financing leases and outside property investments.
When Daniel Papp became president of Kennesaw State University, the estimated asset value for the KSU Foundation was $194 million. Two years later (and one year after Radow was appointed chairman of the KSU Foundation's executive committee), the asset value of the organization skyrocketed to approximately $306 million.
Considering the deep pockets of the KSU Foundation, perhaps it isn't too surprising that Papp continues to bang the drum for Kennesaw State football. Really, how could you have concerns about business expenditures when you're being backed by a man who claimed to "salvage" more than $2 billion in property across the United States in a 2009 New York Times article?
Ultimately, KSU football will prove lucrative, just not for the students, staff, faculty or businesses surrounding Kennesaw State.
See you at Radow Stadium in 2014.
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