It Takes Money To Make Money

When I was a much younger, strapping single lad, I learned an important lesson in the eternal quest to get lucky with the ladies on a Friday night; having a few of my platonic girlfriends along greatly increased my chances of success! Upon comparing notes with my buddies, we quickly figured out that a tried and true principle from the world of finance was at work in the bars of Hillsborough Street – it takes money to make money.

The more “money” you have around you, the more money you’ll attract and thus increase your chances of success. This principle not only works in finance and dating, it also works in college athletics and NC State AD Debbie Yow said as much in a presentation to the Board of Trustees last week.

StateFans Nation readers have mixed reactions to Yow’s stewardship of the men’s basketball coaching search, with the infamous email to Wolfpack Club members and then the Gary Williams incident taking center stage.  Regardless of how you feel about either of those incidents, Yow’s presentation to the Trustees was spot on in its assessment of where the NC State athletics budget stands in relation to the funding needed for an athletic program that is more successful overall. You can join the conversation about Yow’s presentation in this thread on our forums.

(If you are new to the topic of collegiate athletic funding, I highly recommend reading Part One, Two, Three, Four and Five of last summer’s StateFans Nation series.)

To recap, NC State currently ranks 11th out of the 12 ACC schools per sport expenditures with a budget of approximately $55 million for 2011-2012. According to data from the US Department of Education’s Equity in Athletics website, for the year ending June 30, 2010 NC State brought in $50,335,991 in total revenues against $47,180,081 in total expenses. This budget brought us an athletic program that ranked 89th in the Learfield Sports Directors’ Cup standings for 2009-2010, the lowest ranking of any ACC school. (For the sake of clarity, it should be noted that these figures are operating budget and do not include scholarship funding, which is what the Wolfpack Club provides.)

Contrast that with Stanford University, who has revenues and expenses of $81 million and has won the Director’s Cup for the most successful overall athletic program for umpteen years running.   And just because we all care about the comparison (whether we admit it or not) Dark Blue spent about $68 million and Light Blue spent $67 million. And both of those schools finished in the Top 10 of the Directors’ Cup rankings.

When you look at this data, you always want to compare apples to apples, so I used the Equity in Athletics website to pull the budget data for  public universities with an undergraduate enrollment of at least 20,000. Of those 36 institutions, I stopped counting when I got to 14 schools with a larger athletic budget than NC State. This athletic funding directly affects athletic competitiveness.  Just as a hypothetical example, more funding might allow the Wolfpack baseball team to charter a flight to somewhere like Clemson, that they may ride a bus to now, thus arriving more rested for the game. (Again, it’s a hypothetical, for all I know, the baseball team flies everywhere outside the Triangle.)

Of course, if you’re going to point out a problem and be willing to confront it, you also have to propose solutions.  Debbie Yow floated several potential ideas by the Board of Trustees to increase athletic revenues. These ideas range from increased parking fees, to a new apparel contract for all sports, to increased student fees, which are currently seventh out of eight public universities in the ACC.  Any one of Yow’s ideas will no doubt have detractors.  For example, I would not be nuts about an increase to the football parking fees. But that’s not the point, you must give Debbie Yow credit for confronting the problem in a public manner and coming up with ideas to fix it.  If my parking fees increase, but I see both improved results and accountability, that pill becomes much easier to swallow.

Clearly, there are more factors than money in having national athletic success. Butler has an athletic budget of approximately $12 million and has now been to two straight Final Fours in men’s basketball. By the same token, money will not guarantee success.  Indiana spent in the same neighborhood as both Dark Blue and Light Blue and ranked a whopping 43rd in the Directors’ Cup standings.

The financial investment MUST be met with a change in culture where mediocrity is not tolerated. As has been well documented on this website, previous persons in NC State athletic leadership with a distinct resemblance to Jed Clampett did tolerate mediocrity and worse. From what we’ve seen so far out of Debbie Yow, I think it’s safe to say that the culture of Wolfpack athletics is starting to change, and not a moment too soon.

College athletics is big business and I give Debbie Yow credit for publicly treating it as such. Hopefully, NC State can increase our athletic revenues and in turn, provide the funding for championship teams to match our championship hungry fanbase. Unless we get some more girls to go with us to Champions Bar and Grill, we’re going to keep on striking out.



About SMD

SMD graduated from NC State at a time when beating UNC-CH in both major revenue sports was a regular occurrence. This was well before a time when I could express my frustrated attempts at being a writer on the "internets." When I'm not talking about the Pack, I'm probably arguing politics.

Athletics Directors General

22 Responses to It Takes Money To Make Money

  1. FuquayWolf 04/24/2011 at 9:36 PM #

    Great article! One of my biggest pet peeves about our previous AD was his failure to increase our revenue streams. Be it our multimedia deal, our apparel contracts, or our advertising and sponsorship streams, we never seemed to grow our revenue.

    I’m very glad to now have an AD who understands that “running the department in the black” doesn’t mean you have to underfund everything to keep the budget balanced. Yes, Yow’s email was and remains quizzical to me. But she’s a pro, and this presentation just further shows it. It may take a few years, but she’s going to completely remake our entire athletics department. We definitely need it.

  2. Lumpy 04/25/2011 at 12:03 AM #

    I agree with everything she said. However, I feel Joe Q. Statefan is about at the end of his charitable streak until he sees some results. In the last decade, we’ve shelled out for new stadium, new scoreboards, that godawful fake ass stone that’s supposed to be a Wolves Den, the Murphy Center, and more. Again, I totally agree with her point, but I think this is getting the cart before the horse. Let TOB show he can put together back to back winning seasons. Let’s see Gottfried get our basketball program off life support. I guarantee you that every school getting those big donations has, at least, a modicum of tradition and recent success in one or both of their revenue sports. Convince Statefan that the football and basketball programs are truly on the right track and you’ll see the donation floodgates open.

  3. Hamlet 04/25/2011 at 6:28 AM #

    Win a few games, hire quality coaches, give the fans something to get excited about, and the money will come in. Frankly, It’s astonishing we are able to field programs and bring in the money we do considering how LOUSY our revenue sports have performed on a national level. That seems to be missed in all of this.

    As much as I love N.C. State, it is difficult to justify further outlays in this economy when you factor in our last 20 years of poor performance. What incentive have we had to give? Honestly, I think LTR and the patience and supporting of terrible leadership with no direction or vision for success has caused way more harm than any lack of money we might be spending.

    Is lack of funds the reason we are not winning, or is the lack of winning the reason we don’t have the funds? Twenty years of losing and simply not caring tends to make you small time. Make smart hires, get us back in the top 25, and I’ll gladly donate more.

  4. coach13 04/25/2011 at 6:37 AM #

    Our marketing is horrible. I’m of larger stature and get shirts from casual male. Until recently I could not get a State shirt however light blue was always available….and even then had to go to the one on Glenwood as the one in Smithfield only has light and dark blue.

    Any apparel store in the State of NC should have State apparel if it has the others…period.

  5. Hungwolf 04/25/2011 at 7:39 AM #

    Agreed takes money to make money, money helps gets dates. But beware, marry a Meredith girl and she will take all your money.

    This isn’t Yow’s first rodeo and she showing her experience and wisdom.

  6. SMD 04/25/2011 at 9:10 AM #

    I think there may be some confusion between the need for more revenues and more donations to the WPC. While the WPC would always like as much money as possible, Yow did not list those donations as a source of revenue that needs to be increased.

    I certainly agree with the sentiment that John Q. Wolfpacker has been tapped out over the last decade for facilities improvements, but with a few exceptions such as the indoor football practice facility, the vast majority of those are done. Booster clubs typically fund scholarships and facility improvements. What Yow is talking about is direct revenue to the athletic department.

    Could we all end up paying more for various pieces of the Pack with increased parking fees or higher clothing costs? Sure. But that’s a different type of cost than direct donations.

  7. Wolfy__79 04/25/2011 at 9:48 AM #

    i think our apparel line could use just as much of an overhaul as the athletics themselves.. i’m not saying i want nike, i want to have the highest quality out there in every store and add some variety. i could print better shirts than some of what we have to choose from!..

  8. packalum44 04/25/2011 at 10:13 AM #

    Our football team just had a nine win season, tied for the second highest tally ever. How is that not evidence of improvement? No one felt the slightest bit of pride or inclination to donate an extra…20, 50, 500…whatever amount you can flick around and not really miss? I did.

    It is clear to me that Yow has a vision and a strategy in place to become a top 25 athletic program. I like her attitude and passion. I like her fiery public comments and demeanor. I like her commitment to candidacy and competency. I can’t wait ten years for her to achieve her strategic goals. I believe in her, not blind faith but she talks the talk and walks the walk – her actions are more than compelling.

    We need money. Plain and simple. If you trust Yow to achieve her goals, you give now. Don’t wait until the bandwagon is full or you will have to sit on my lap.

  9. albunde6 04/25/2011 at 10:24 AM #

    One of my big conerns has been the sports radio network. We need to have a consistent network in the major markets in NC. The Greensboro,WinstonSalem,HighPoint market coverage has been inconsistent for the last 10 years.

    Second I would start a high school coaches college. Provide grants for coaches to send jr high and high school athletes to our summer programs. Provide summer programs for the high school coaches. I know some of this has been done, but needs to be bigger.

  10. old13 04/25/2011 at 10:44 AM #

    “I think there may be some confusion between the need for more revenues and more donations to the WPC. While the WPC would always like as much money as possible, Yow did not list those donations as a source of revenue that needs to be increased.”

    Exactly. If she had wanted to address increasing alumni/fan donations, she would have been addressing the Wolfpack Club. She talking about increasing revenue streams from department operations, i.e., SALES!

  11. Lock 04/25/2011 at 11:25 AM #

    I too think women and money are directly comparable and do not think that is at all objectifying.

    Great point to the article; embarassingly prefaced.

  12. backnine 04/25/2011 at 11:32 AM #

    Donations should be treated as just that. I don’t plan my yearly household budget inclusive of what I hope to get in a bonus. A bonus is “found money”. I also think Yow is referring to finding ways to rev up the departments revenue generation itself. As a business, they’ve got to stoke the fires from lots of different perspectives to increase the output. Donations should be over and above that, but its not prudent to count on them. To do so means the enterprise is not operating properly, which has probably been the case for the last decade to some degree.

  13. packalum44 04/25/2011 at 11:45 AM #

    I realize that Yow is directly referencing operational revenue streams. But money is money. Doesn’t friggin matter if it is a donation or not. If you like her vision and think she has the right strategy to get us there, don’t wait to give.

    The fact she is attempting to grow operational revenue streams is part of her strategy to bridge the gap between mediocrity and success. That is all the more reason I will give more next time I cut a check. The more the WPC receives, the better funded our athletes are and the better our facilities are maintained. This frees up operational cash Yow has at her disposal.

    It goes without saying that it is all connected.

  14. wardncsu 04/25/2011 at 12:11 PM #

    As a State fan living in Texas. I can tell you that we are still far behind the power teams in terms of revenue and until we increase that we will continue to lag. I agree with her assessment and while success won’t be guaranteed with more money. It will certainly have us going in the right direction.

    Apparel we lag in the quality and availability of branded products in the market. Surely room for improvement

    Stadium- some people have made the comment about the amount we have spent over the past years on Carter findley and how can we spend more. Currently with all the improvements, kenan stadium still seats more and they are adding on with more seats and boxes. Sure to increase their revenue stream even more. I would say that all the improvements only got us up to par and we need to be planning how to get better not just keeping pace. We should always have more seats in our football stadium than UNC

    Of course winning helps everything but money is a strong driver behind that

    A&M is a similar school to State in Texas (overshadowed by UT). They still bring in 70mill in revenue an are a force in recruiting. We need the same kind of focus

  15. GAWolf 04/25/2011 at 12:54 PM #

    I agree with Lumpy.

    Where she can help her own cause is using her energy to focus on a the smallest portion of alumni with the deepest pockets. Average-Statefan is already doing all he/she can do. That’s why there’s really no need to preach to Average-Statefan.

    She needs to be out there chumming up the big dogs… or rather one big dog. That dog immediately changes the entire scope of Wolfpack Athletics as we know it. See: Oregon/Nike.

    She’s right about one thing today: we need more money flowing through our athletic department to be consistently competitive. The ball is in your court, Yow, to ultimately share with us, the very giving Wolfpack faithful (aka “Average-Statefan”), a good night.

    How about that for dropping the punny?

  16. GAWolf 04/25/2011 at 1:00 PM #

    One last thing… our apparel SUCKS. I go to the book store and out of the entire stock there might be two things I would be caught dead in. That’s a shame. We don’t have to Alexander-damned-Julian pressing out our designs to have something other than hunting club workday gear. Whoever is making those choices needs to either put down the Bourbon-and-Sundrop and look around at what the rest of the world is wearing. It’s the 90’s for crying out loud. Oh, wait. That was twenty years ago? Sorry, I just left the campus bookstore. It’s 2011!!!! Say no to Zubaz. We don’t need hats with wrap-around emblems. Stop printing shit in every color but red… we’re not the Redsox. Give us some timeless and conservative college apparel.

  17. SMD 04/25/2011 at 1:59 PM #

    GAWolf – I wholeheartedly agree. My perception is that the problem lies in whatever NC State office handles licensing requests. I remember a few years ago, I saw some vendor’s website that was producing cool collegiate shirts, and of course, they had nearly everyone in the ACC except us.

    I emailed the guy asking about adding State and he said he’d love to, but that he never heard back from the licensing office after contacting them many times. Now, there could be any number of reasons for that snafu, but it speaks to the fact that we desperately need to up our game in the licensing department and be proactive about contacting the best vendors.

    We may never have the gangs wearing our stuff the way Chapel Hell does, but I guarantee you that if we proactively pitched a prospective vendor with the demographics and purchasing power of our fanbase, they’d be all over it like white on rice.

    As much as I hate Chapel Hell, there’s some really good looking gear they have out there.

  18. PoppaJohn 04/25/2011 at 3:23 PM #

    I like Yow. I am on board with her.
    I don’t care if she let her passion get away from her and called out Gary W in the presser. How many times had she been asked about him or read about how he hated her during the previous three weeks and she just bit her tongue? Enough was enough, and she called a spade a spade. It caught me by surprise, but the more I think about it, the more I liked it. I want passion in my AD.
    As to the letter, I believe her that she didn’t know that MG was coming on board. She’d just watched three coaches publicly “reject” NC State in the national media and she felt she had to say something to us. She was trying to reach out to us – as we wanted her to. But it backfired when MG called her back and said yes the next day. Then it looked foolish.

    And now she’s not afraid to come out and say, “Put your money where your mouth is if you want to be a significant player in atheletics.”

    I think she’s doing great!

  19. ncsu96 04/25/2011 at 4:11 PM #

    You want revenue???? Just win!!!

    I doubt football or basketball have underfunded budgets so I assume Yow is talking about funding of our non-revenue sports. I hope Yow can find a way to fund them better but I only care a limited amount about non-revenue sports.

    In the press conference following Lowe’s resignation Yow talked about filling RBC Arena so she could fund all athletics. This is exactly right, so she is now 100% responsible for revenue from basketball. Gottfried’s name won’t fill seats so he better win some games relatively quick.
    Yow accomplished a lot at Maryland in terms of budget and non-revenue sports but ironically she owes a lot of that to Gary Williams and his National Championship.

    I applaud Yow for her honesty and straightforward approach but I believe almost everything she points out is 100% in her control.

  20. Hamlet 04/25/2011 at 4:55 PM #

    Many excellent points made in this thread. Thankfully, TOB is making us relevant again in football, but how long can that last? Once he leaves, who is taking his place and what happens to the football program? Who has confidence that we will make the right choices in hiring? Herein lays the crux of the problem.

    There is no confidence in this university’s athletics decision-making. Until that changes and a sustained level of competence is displayed, I don’t see how revenues are going to increase significantly without getting the money from the very top donors. And this is coming from a fan, so you can imagine how low our stock has fallen regionally and nationally.

    Yes, our merchandising is embarrassing. Our marketing is pathetic. But short of painting our basketball court purple and our football field orange, we’re going to need sustained success in our revenue sports to substantially increase our revenue streams.

  21. Wolfy__79 04/25/2011 at 5:14 PM #

    concerning football:
    the support is there… we suffered through some pretty miserable play during TOB’s first few years.. that brand of defense was absolutely killing me.. all we have to do in football is win.. the money is there..

    basketball: hell, we’ve supported that as well.. the missing ingredient there is also wins.. the money is there too… so to excite the fans, recruit well, don’t make a stink of our school and WIN!

    ^i don’t have any concern about when TOB retires.. he hasn’t lit the world on fire since being in raleigh but he has built a very solid foundation for whomever will fill his shoes when he retires.. and judging from his recent comments, he’s in no hurry. there will be a good replacement when he is ready to move on.

  22. john of sparta 04/25/2011 at 9:46 PM #

    from my perspective:
    go to demand-based ticket pricing. link:

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