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The financial effects of a collegiate football scandal

Coach+of+the+Ohio+State+Buckeyes%2C+Urban+Meyer%2C+seen+in+court+after+the+scandal+that+occurred+with+his+team
Coach of the Ohio State Buckeyes, Urban Meyer, seen in court after the scandal that occurred with his team

Coach of the Ohio State Buckeyes, Urban Meyer, seen in court after the scandal that occurred with his team

Coach of the Ohio State Buckeyes, Urban Meyer, seen in court after the scandal that occurred with his team

Justin Hunter Orriola

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Urban Meyer, the Ohio State Buckeyes football coach, was placed on paid administrative leave about four weeks ago. The school announced it is further investigating Courtney Smith’s claims that several people close to the coach knew of a 2015 allegation of domestic violence against her ex-husband, former Ohio State assistant football coach Zach Smith, who was fired in July.

Zach Smith, the former wide receiver coach for Ohio State, allegedly abused his wife Courtney Smith. Courtney then later claimed that Zach’s actions were well-known with the entire coaching staff and most importantly Urban Meyer. No one had said anything, which turned out to hurt Urban Meyer’s reputation and had him feeling a little weary about his job security at the time.

And for good reason. A court case later proved that he knew of these allegations against Zach. If he knew of these allegations and didn’t say anything, he probably should have served a more severe penalty than he did.

Some of you may argue that Urban Meyer did nothing wrong, and Courtney should have just told someone. There is no right way or time to tell someone your story. Believing the abuser will stop and somehow realize their actions doesn’t mean that the victim should remain silent

To any of you who are fans of Urban Meyer and Ohio state, and think this isn’t a big deal, would you still feel that way if Urban Meyer had a record of, say 44-43 instead of 78-9.

This is just the latest scandal to occur in the world of college football. The Ohio State coach ended up just missing four games to begin the 2018 college football season, which didn’t have much of a real impact on the team, since they are undefeated after playing those first four games. But what did have an impact on the team and the NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) were the ticket sales, but not in the way you would think. After the news released that the head coach was involved in allegations of domestic violence, ticket sales skyrocketed.

Scandals in college and professional football are increasing every year. As a result, ticket prices go up and more fans are eager to see the game and get a feel for that kind of entertainment.

Average ticket prices before and after a scandal occurs for popular schools

It is no secret that the word gets out quickly when a school is involved in some kind of scandal. People hear about it by watching the news on TV, via papers or magazines, and most importantly social media. With social media, the word gets out quicker than ever and with new scandals on the horizon every week, it seems like more and more people are aware of these scandals. It shows that this is a good thing for all parties that are involved.

A study from seatgeek, a ticket selling company, showed ticket prices increasing rapidly after a scandal with Aburn’s University recruitment process with star quarterback Cam Newton. At the start of the season, Auburn tickets averaged $118. After this scandal occurred, Auburn ticket prices averaged $310. Similarly, Ohio State ticket prices were $108 higher than the previous season after manifold players were seen selling sports memorabilia 

from the school. So, it turns out that an NCAA scandal can actually benefit a guilty team by increasing the demand for their tickets. Undoubtedly, this is a result of the increased press coverage and publicity that com

es with an NCAA investigation. In an industry that is becoming numb to illegal practices, it seems that not even fans can be phased by these embarrassing scandals.

Wyatt Hill, a junior at the iSchool, talked about whether or not he would still watch his favorite team knowing they are involved in a scandal. He stated that “[e]ven though I won’t have as much respect for the organization as I had before, I would still watch sports and go to games knowing they were in a scandal just because I like to watch sports and it is very entertaining.” This is just one example of how someone would still watch their favorite team even if they’re in the midst of a scandal.

Senior Andre Eisenberg spoke on a similar topic: “Scandals are very popular especially within college sports. I would still watch my favorite team, but I believe whoever commits the scandal should be penalized in some way.” Again, it is said that while scandals do have an affect on the team, they don’t have a huge effect on the viewer.

Some of the most popular scandals happen at the bigger colleges. According to “The Biggest College Sports Scandals”, the Penn State and Ohio State allegations are atop of the list. That’s mostly because they transcended college football completely and according to Bleacher Report, these scandals “shocked the nation” and “shone an ugly, ugly light on the culture of college football.”

The Penn State scandal occurred in late 2011 and early 2012, when former head coach Jerry Sandusky was arrested and charged with sexually abusing eight boys who attended the school. The case then went to court and he was then found guilty.

The Washington Post later stated “this wasn’t a scandal it was a tragedy.”

A tragedy is most likely an understatement. The aftermath of the whole scandal had everyone lost, and the NCAA scrambling on what the next steps to take were. Years after this occurred, the NCAA finally penalized Penn State and Jerry Sandusky. They finalized a 60 million dollar fine and took all of Sandusky’s wins away. The Washington Post stated that “[it’s] a complex, complicated, emotional situation … and it’s not going to go away anytime soon.”

There have been so many scandals that have happened in recent years in bigger schools that affected them financially in the long run.

University of Miami football coach Mark Richt used funds from incoming freshman students in order to bolster its athletic program. This was according to Bleacher Report, a website that focuses on sport and sport culture.

Recruitment has been a big scandal in many schools, but most particularly at University of Arizona. As we all are aware, collegiate athletes do not get paid (that’s a topic for another time) so, it is big news when a coach gives a player a deal they can’t resist. The coach of the Arizona Wildcats paid Deandre Ayton, now star of the Phoenix Suns, to come play basketball for their school in hopes of finally turning into a championship caliber team. This did not go unnoticed by the NCAA who suspended coach Sean Miller for recruiting players to play for their program illegally.

Similarly, the North Carolina Tar Heels were busted for charges that gave athletes certain benefits such as agents according to the article entitled The 25 Biggest Scandals in NCAA History, It is clear that many colleges put a big emphasis on their athletic program and for good reason. They bring in the majority of money for that school.

The NCAA does not normally deal with criminal matters at universities like these. Rather, they mostly focus on sports related issues within college sports. When asked why this changed according to the Washington Post they said, “If a university is involved in a cover up . . . that constitutes to that kind of behavior we . . . want to be involved in it.”

Most people who know about scandals that have occurred in the past believe that there should be bigger consequences than what the NCAA is enforcing.

Harly Johnson, age 18, from San Francisco International High School, stated that “a scandal as bad as the Penn State one, the prosecutor should be fired immediately and jailed for 50 years.”

Jacob Gorelick, age 23, from George Washington University, stated that it depends on the severity of the scandal. “Illegal things should result in going to court and facing whatever charges the court gives you. More simple scandals such as deflate-gate should result in some kind of a fine and suspension.”

17 year old Ethan Permuttler from Demarest, New Jersey, strongly believed that the penalty that Jerry Sandusky received for his crimes was justified. He said, “The NCAA should do something to limit these scandals because there are so many that can be prevented.”

If the NCAA gets their hands on cases earlier, they can most likely to prevent them from getting out of hand which they haven’t been able to do in the past.

Almost everyone believed that the NCAA had to do something more to limit these scandals. There are so many that are happening in the world of college sports that are taking away from the game. But these scandals are not taking away from the ticket sales. As  mentioned earlier, ticket sales skyrocket when these kind of scandals occur.

According to Forbes, a global media company who primarily focuses on business, entrepreneurship and sports news, scandals that emerge within an institution are always shared through social media. With social media, comes more press which ultimately brings in more money for that college.

While these scandals do not affect ticket sales negatively, applications to such a school dramatically decrease when they are involved in a scandal. According to The New York Times, “a scandal mentioned once in The New York Times led to a 5 percent dip in applications the following year. Meanwhile, a scandal mentioned in more than five New York Times articles led to a 9 percent dip.”

The increase of ticket sales has also been the case for professional sports as well. While former New York Knicks head coach Isiah Thomas lost a sexual harassment lawsuit against a former front office member, the basketball team renewed 91% of season ticket subscriptions for 2007-2008. This was better than that of the previous year. Was the increase in sales a direct result of the scandal, or was it just because Madison Square Garden is the mecca of basketball and people were eager to see their rising stars in person?

Mercedes-Benz dome ready for a Falcons home game

This idea of ticket sales increasing when a scandal occurs is really not that far fetched. According to Forbes, agrees with the statement of how sales increase when teams are involved in a scandal which ultimately help them out financially. They gave examples such as how the Los Angeles Lakers continued selling out the Staples Center after a rape allegation against franchise star Kobe Bryant.

In addition, when Major League Baseball was in the midst of the steroid era, attendance at ballparks set records for four straight years. After the scandal that occurred with former Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick, social media and animal rights activists barked at Vick for his illegal dog fighting. Yet, fans of the Falcons kept on rooting for their team and coming back to the Mercedes-Benz Dome despite the Falcons’ dismal 1-6 record to begin the season that year. Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks, stated that “People consume entertainment like movies and sports so they don’t have to care about other people’s problems.”

Do people just gravitate towards entertainment even if is is viewed at bad press?

John Tillman, a junior at the iSchool, talked about some forms of entertainment that he enjoys, such as video games, movies, TV, and sports. He later stated that “watching teams that are involved in problems is not a form of entertainment for me.”

Junior Rachel Lieberman said that her phone and TV are her most popular forms of entertainment. She then stated, “I don’t believe watching scandals that happen in football is that enjoyable.”

Patrick Kline, age 29, who is a graduate from Louisiana State University, stated that “I would always love to go to LSU games whenever I’m available, and when the team or school is involved in a scandal, believe it or not, the players are more eager to play. When that happens, the energy of the crowd intensifies and it’s very exciting to watch.”

That defines what Mark Cuban was talking about. Maybe it had something to do with the age difference and someone who experienced what it was like to be at a big college as opposed to someone who hasn’t. While all of the reasons before are ways scandals increase revenue for college football teams, there are also many negative aspects to everyone involved. If you’ve ever tuned into a college football game or any sports game in general, there is a ton of advertising, celebrity endorsements, and big sponsors. When a school is involved in a scandal, the sponsors, advertisements and celebrity appearances suddenly go away, and as a result, the college loses a substantial amount of money.

Most big name schools spends more money on their athletic programs, according to the article entitled “The Surprising Economics of College Football.” This is solely due to the reason of exposure. Not only does a stellar college football program make recruitment of athletes easier for them, it often leads to a more successful athletic program. At the end of the day, that’s what keeps the university competitive and attractive to future generations. Having a scandal affects all of this recruitment and revenue that they make in a negative way.

Senior Anthony Acuna stated, “I wouldn’t think a scandal would have any positive effects on the team. First off, players and coaches can get suspended which hurt the teams. This also may affect the competition because if certain players aren’t playing due to suspension, then the game won’t be as enjoyable to watch.”

Matt Bajor, a senior at the iSchool said something very similar. He believes that a scandal does more harm than good. “It gives the team and college a bad look,” he stated.

There have been so many college football scandals, such as rape allegations and stealing memorabilia, that have occurred over the years in the U.S. Urban Meyer, coach of the Ohio State Buckeyes, is back and faced all of his penalties for not letting the team or the NCAA know about the assault allegations that were happening within his coaching staff. He is currently coaching his 7-1 team after missing the first four games. They’re on their way to the college football playoffs, which is most definitely helping ticket prices. But that is not the only thing that helps ticket prices.

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The financial effects of a collegiate football scandal