Earlier this week, Pittsburgh freshman guard Damon Wilson received his academic clearance from the NCAA Eligibility Center. Wilson, a 6-foot-5 guard from Powder Springs, Ga., could compete for immediate playing time under Pitt coach Jamie Dixon.
This is the weekly KU Mailbag, so why are we starting with an agate note about Pitt basketball? Because the Wilson news, first reported by ESPN’s Jeff Goodman, could be important in answering the most important KU basketball question of the offseason:
Will Cheick Diallo be cleared by the NCAA Eligibility Center?
Wilson was teammates with Diallo at Our Savior New American, a private high school school in Centereach, N.Y. that is under scrutiny from the NCAA. Wilson is now the second former teammate of Diallo — the other was Oklahoma State’s Davon Dillard — to be ruled eligible. And you can be sure that KU coach Bill Self paid attention to Thursday’s news. Self said in late August that the cases of Diallo’s teammates could play a factor in Diallo’s own eligibility issue.
“I think it’s nice to see how things play out with other kids that went to that school,” Self said on August 31. “So we (will) have a better angle of what we’re trying to address, (rather) than just going in there cold and saying, ‘Here’s your stuff and make a determination.’”
So how close are we to a resolution? In late August, Self said a determination on Diallo could be a month away. On Aug. 31, he said he remained “confident” that Diallo would eventually ruled eligible. But for now, the question still looms over the final month of Kansas’ offseason.
“Other kids are getting cleared from that school, too,” Self said on Aug. 31. “But they just haven’t made a determination on Cheick, because they haven’t had his stuff as long as other kids.”
Anyway, the KU Mailbag is back for its second edition. The Kansas football team faces Memphis at 6 p.m. Saturday. Self is back on the recruiting trail. Late Night in the Phog is set for Oct. 9, less than a month away. So what’s on the minds of Kansas fans?
OK. Some Late Night chatter. What else?
OK, Steve, we hear you.
Indeed. The Kansas volleyball team is 6-0 and ranked No. 22 in the country entering a weekend event in Wyoming. KU volleyball coach Ray Bechard picked up his 300th win at KU last weekend, in a home victory over Duke. The women’s soccer team, meanwhile, is 2-3-1 after consecutive home losses against Santa Clara and Oregon State.
This is an interesting question — and a lot depends on the framing. Each year, The Star tracks the financial numbers of KU, K-State and Missouri — the numbers the schools publicly report to the NCAA.
For instance: during the 2014 fiscal year — which included the 2013 football season — the KU athletic department reported a record in revenues ($97.7 million) and expenses ($90 million). Here’s the story from last February. Going deeper into the numbers, KU actually reported an increase in football-related revenue from the 2013 fiscal year to 2014 ($20.9 million to $23.1 million) while football-related expenses held steady (from $14.3 million to $14.8 million). In that sense, KU football as an entity is profitable, according to those numbers.
But the real question, of course, is this: How much money is KU leaving on the table by fielding a lackluster football program?
It’s impossible to know for sure. At least, it’s impossible to know more than estimates. But here are a couple numbers to consider, beginning with ticket sales. Here are KU’s reported revenues for football ticket sales, dating back to 2006: (The numbers for the 2015 fiscal year, which include the 2014 football season, have not been released yet.)
2006 football season: $5.9 million
2007 football season: $6.8 million
2008 football season: $9.5 million
2009 football season: $9.3 million
2010 football season: $9.2 million
2011 football season: $6.6 million
2012 football season: $5.5 million
2013 football season: $5.2 million
You can see the obvious trend, the ticket revenue spiking after the Orange Bowl season in 2007. How does this compare to, say, K-State? Well, K-State reported more than $44 million in football revenues in 2014 after reporting $42 million in 2013. Here’s a look at K-State’s ticket revenues during the same time period. K-State’s stadium capacity during that time (53,000) was just slightly larger than KU’s (50,000).
2006 football season: $11.0 million
2007 football season: $10.6 million
2008 football season: $10.4 million
2009 football season: $10.0 million
2010 football season: $10.3 million
2011 football season: $10.4 million
2012 football season: $10.6 million
2013 football season: $11.8 million
Once again, it’s impossible to know exactly how much money Kansas is leaving on the table by losing football games. Tickets are just one piece of the pie. And the lucrative nature of operating a blue blood basketball program keeps Kansas competitive nationally, in terms of athletic department revenues. But just by looking at ticket sales alone, you can begin to see the disparity between winning and losing.
The Daily Kansan story referenced this tweet from Arizona State, which came last weekend during the Sun Devils’ loss to Texas A&M.
Hey, it’s a noble tactic. College athletes aren’t professionals. People can be horrible on Twitter. And in general, it’s sort of weird to say crazy things on Twitter to any college athlete for throwing an interception, missing a tackle, blowing an assignment, etc.
On the other hand, though, lots of stuff gets tweeted at high-profile college athletes, including loads and loads of praise and compliments. And some of that good stuff may or may not be totally healthy to see, either. Which is to say: Athletic departments should educate their athletes on social media (most all do) and begin with this: Twitter isn’t real life. You’re going to hear some good. You’re going to hear some bad. And don’t worry about the crazy people.
If a true freshman played on Saturday, they are no longer eligible to redshirt — unless they suffer some sort of injury before playing in more than 30 percent of the season. Then a medical redshirt option comes into play.
Here is a list of KU true freshmen who played against South Dakota State:
Steven Sims*, receiver
Tyrone Miller, Jr.*, cornerback
Dorance Armstrong, Jr., defensive end
Ryan Willis, quarterback
Osaze Ogbebor, linebacker