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September 24, 2004

Just One More Can’t Hurt

FROM AN INVENTIVENESS BORNE OF ACUTE FINANCIAL PRESSURES comes a proposal to allow major colleges a regular football season of 12 games.

Major college athletics programs have been squeezed substantially in the past few years, what with escalating coaches’ salaries, arms race Keep-up-with-the-Joneses facilities expenditures and red-carpet recruiting “investments” (e.g.- Oregon’s $145,000 recruiting welcome in just one weekend).

Meanwhile, many state schools have suffered budget cuts (read: California), plus Title IX expenditures march steadily on.

What to do?

Look to the goose that lays the golden egg of course. Figure out how to make more money off football.

Penn State is a case in point. PSU’s overall athletics budget has grown to more than $50 million. Football pays the freight for all the other varsity sports at Penn State except men's basketball. Football made $33.5 million and basketball made $2.6 million.

For a big school like PSU an extra home game can yield more than a million dollars.

Penn State coach Joe Paterno has voiced his opposition to the notion of a 12th regular season game. "I think the athletic directors and the people who are on the management council have to decide whether we're in this to educate kids or whether we're in the business that these kids are going to be used to make money." Paterno said.

However, there are many others who claim that the 12 game season is an idea whose time has come.

Oklahoma coach Joe Castiglione is in the forefront of the initiative. Castiglione says a 12th game would balance home and away schedules, improve attendance, and (most importantly) generate much-needed revenues.

The NCAA Championships and Competition Cabinet has endorsed the proposal, which would go into effect in 2006. The NCAA's Division I Management Council and Division I board of directors will consider the revision during separate meetings next month.

Sometimes you don’t know when you’ve had too much of a good thing until you’ve already had too much of a good thing.

Stay tuned . . . .

(this 335 word excerpt—with accompanying commentary—was distilled from a 1285 word article in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette of 9-22-04 and a 450 word article in the Harrisburg Patriot-News of 9-21-04)