Staggering riches of college sports continue upward

2014-06-01T00:00:00Z Staggering riches of college sports continue upwardGreg Hansen Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

In 2014, the M in May also stood for Money in Pac-12 sports.

According to the San Jose Mercury News, the league’s tax returns for the 2013 fiscal year reported revenues of $329 million, which almost doubled the previous year’s $175 million.

Arizona and ASU each received $19.8 in media rights money, about triple what it was four years ago.

The UA then announced a $17.66 million retention plan in which a donor would pay Sean Miller and Rich Rodriguez both $6.19 million, and athletic director Greg Byrne $3.5 million, if they remain Wildcats long enough.

That was just a start: ASU offered naming rights to Sun Devil Stadium to a high bidder; UCLA said it would spend $35 million to build a basketball practice facility, matching the one Utah broke ground on a few weeks earlier; even Boise State from the Mountain West Conference said it would change the name of Bronco Stadium in a deal worth $12.5 million from Albertsons.

More? ASU confirmed it will pay new wrestling coach Zeke Jones $215,000 per year, which is more than the base salaries of Arizona’s NCAA championship coaches Mike Candrea and Andy Lopez.

The Sun Devils last week also boosted the pay of modestly successful football coach Todd Graham to $2.7 million, which is more than Arizona paid Miller this season; Miller was paid $2.64 million after bonuses.

The commas, decimal points and lucre of college sports have become a blur. The available wealth is no longer viewed as staggering (or sinful), but routine.

After scanning recent Pac-12 figures, I was struck not by the league’s $26 million cut of the NCAA basketball tournament, or any of the other bold profits, but by how far in arrears ASU is and has been.

According to figures posted last week by the Arizona Board of Regents, the Sun Devils ran a $9.1 million athletic deficit a year ago, and project an $8.9 million deficit this year. In total, ASU posted a cumulative athletic deficit of $33.2 million over the last five years.

The only written explanation to the regents was that ASU was forced to buy out contracts of Dennis Erickson’s old football staff and also the contract of ex-AD Lisa Love in 2011-12.

Breathtaking.

Meanwhile, in more old-school news, NAU extended the contract of basketball coach Jack Murphy, a former UA team manager, through 2019. It boosted Murphy’s salary to $185,400 and awarded him an $8,000 bonus for his team’s academic performance.

Murph’s contract is one of the last links to sanity in the new economics of college sports.

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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