Glass banking on upgrades translating into success on field, in stands

Indiana athletic director Fred Glass spent a while going down a long list Wednesday, outlining each and every thing his department has done to enhance its football program.

First was where he stood, just outside the Hoosiers’ brand new locker room, part of a Memorial Stadium renovation project with a final bill of $8.5 million. That follows a years-old, $49-million project to construct the north end zone facility, and the more recent addition of an enclosed south end zone, costing $48 million.

But everything Glass listed — from the hydrotherapy center to the lounge area, with oversized leather couches and video game systems — comes back to what has already been constructed above.

That’s the stands.

Investment is paramount if the Hoosiers are going to be more than a middling football program. And wins are what IU needs to reverse a trend of lagging behind Big Ten foes in football ticket revenues.

“I think for football’s sake we have to do better,” Glass said. “It also drives revenue for the department. Most Big Ten schools, most of their money comes from football, basketball less. We’re the inversion of that.”

In the 2018 fiscal year, the Hoosier football team was the only program in the Big Ten to draw less from ticket revenues than their men’s basketball counterpart. (This assumes Northwestern, a private institution, does not differ from the trend; there is no publicly available information on its revenues.)

Granted, the flip for IU has a lot to do with its loyal basketball fanbase. The Hoosiers sat atop the conference in basketball ticket revenues at $10.3 million, significantly outpacing Michigan State ($6.9 million), Wisconsin ($6.8 million), Maryland ($6.7 million), and Ohio State ($6 million).

But IU football brought in the least of any Big Ten school at a little more than $6.7 million. Only four other Big Ten football programs failed to reach IU’s basketball benchmark: Rutgers ($8.4 million), Purdue ($7 million), Illinois ($6.9 million), and Maryland ($6.9 million).

There is good reason for the Hoosiers’ struggles at the gate: They haven’t won consistently. The last two years, they have finished 5-7. Historically, it’s worse. IU leads Division I football in all-time losses at 672.

That’s why Glass needs to shine a light on what is trending upward. He mentioned IU coach Tom Allen’s last two recruiting classes, the two best in program history. Each ranked in the national top 50.

“I didn’t go to Purdue, but I think I can follow the math,” Glass kidded.

Glass went as far as to say one of the department’s next big expenses should be a contract extension for Allen.

“I’m confident he’s going to be successful, I’m confident we are going to retain him, and I’m confident it’s going to cost a little bit of money,” Glass said. “I’ve got a little bit in my cookie jar for that.”

In making his case for IU’s investments in football, coaching salaries were one of Glass’ top items. Offensive coordinator Kalen DeBoer, who was brought over from Fresno State, will be the third-highest paid OC in the Big Ten at $800,000 a year. New defensive coordinator Kane Wommack, who was previously the linebackers coach, saw his salary double to $450,000.

Strength coaches David Ballou and Dr. Matt Rhea were given significant raises after multiple NFL teams tried to hire them away. Ballou’s salary jumped from $216,000 to $400,000, while Rhea’s increased from $150,000 to $375,000.

According to USA Today’s database for NCAA strength coaches, Ballou will be well compensated compared to his peers. Ballou’s previous salary ranked him at No. 46, one spot above Purdue’s Justin Lovett ($210,000). At the top of the database is Iowa’s Chris Doyle at $725,000. Ohio State’s Mickey Marotti ($613,060), Michigan’s Ben Herbert ($500,000), and Nebraska’s Zach Duval ($375,000) rank highly.

Ballou and Rhea’s compensation doubles down on the Hoosiers’ development strategy, which, they hope, pays off in wins.

Success in football is important for its own sake because, fairly or unfairly, it has an outsized effect on a university’s brand, Glass said. At the same time, wins can also direct significant revenues to an athletic department.

There is a magnitude of difference between basketball programs that draw well and their football counterparts. Seven Big Ten schools make at least $20 million in football ticket revenue: Ohio State ($59.4 million), Michigan ($39.8 million), Penn State ($34 million), Nebraska ($30.6 million), Michigan State ($28.2 million), Wisconsin ($22.7 million), and Iowa ($21.3 million).

IU football brought in another $30.7 million in media rights in the 2018 fiscal year, a jump from $13.3 million the year before. That helps. But the department’s unfulfilled potential at the gate isn’t lost on Glass.

“The good news about that is it’s a huge opportunity,” Glass said. “Those empty seats … if we just sold out our comparatively small stadium, it would add about $10 million or more to our bottom line.

“And $10 million on a $110-million budget moves the dot. And that money can be used, not only to reinvest in football but to help in other aspects of our program.”

Memorial Stadium (52,929 capacity) is nowhere near the size of Michigan’s Big House (107,601) or Penn State’s Beaver Stadium (106,572), but even proportional gains would offer IU significant cash flow. The program averaged just under 41,000 fans per game last football season, or 77.3 percent of tickets sold.

This isn’t a new issue, either. Dating back to 2005, there has only been one year where IU football ticket revenues have outpaced basketball. That was 2006 — when IU received $5.4 million from the gridiron and $5 million via the hardwood.

To have a shot at reversing the trend, the Hoosiers have to win. But with investment in facilities and coaches, Glass hopes the foundation is being laid for future success — and more excitement in the stands.

And not just in football.

“Success on the field, or on the court, or on the pitch, tends to trail (facility investments) a little bit, and it’s not a magic wand,” Glass said. “I don’t say ‘By god, (women’s volleyball coach) Steve Aird, you better make the NCAA (tournament) because you have that beautiful new Wilkinson Hall.’ It’s hard to make the NCAA when you are in the Big Ten in volleyball.

“We’ll take that as it goes, but I do think, certainly, the coaches and the players have higher expectations, and I do, as well.”

BIG TEN TICKET REVENUES

2O18 FISCAL YEAR, FOOTBALL

Ohio State: $59,353,054

Michigan: $39,819,041

Penn Sate: $34,048,527

Nebraska: $30,645,587

Michigan State: $28,213,375

Wisconsin: $22,670,951

Iowa: $21,345,744

Minnesota: $11,097,547

Rutgers: $8,387,569

Purdue: $7,051,792

Illinois: $6,954,960

Maryland: $6,912,041

Indiana: $6,734,676

2O18 FISCAL YEAR, BASKETBALL

Indiana: $10,319,525

Michigan State: $6,903,495

Wisconsin: $6,828,343

Maryland: $6,691,236

Ohio State: $6,037,055

Illinois: $5,460,324

Minnesota: $5,070,792

Purdue: $4,380,561

Michigan: $4,099,387

Nebraska: $3,335,755

Iowa: $2,881,362

Rutgers: $1,636,435

Penn State: $919,031

IU YEAR-TO-YEAR, BASKETBALL AND FOOTBALL

2005 FOOTBALL: $2,670,141

2005 BASKETBALL: $5,573,975

2006 FOOTBALL: $5,385,137

2006 BASKETBALL: $5,064,497

2007 FOOTBALL: $4,814,394

2007 BASKETBALL: $6,332,877

2008 FOOTBALL: $5,712,591

2008 BASKETBALL: $8,506,499

2009 FOOTBALL: $5,358,194

2009 BASKETBALL: $6,645,576

2010 FOOTBALL: $5,608,592

2010 BASKETBALL: $7,597,399

2011 FOOTBALL: $4,711,558

2011 BASKETBALL: $7,352,116

2012 FOOTBALL: $4,351,066

2012: BASKTBALL $8,333,648

2013 FOOTBALL: $4,930,838

2013 BASKETBALL: $9,211,838

2014 FOOTBALL: $6,585,484

2014 BASKETBALL: $9,765,047

2015 FOOTBALL: $5,138,702

2015 BASKETBALL: $10,382,582

2016 FOOTBALL: $6,977,636

2016 BASKETBALL: $10,018,279

2017 FOOTBALL: $6,583,370

2017 BASKETBALL: $10,942,844

2018 FOOTBALL: $6,734,676

2018 BASKETBALL: $10,319,525

8 comments

  1. Good article. Pretty straight forward to what Hoosier Nation already has an idea of in a general way. There is a great paradigm shift opportunity. That is IU football raises from the cellar into a winning program (6.5 to 7 game win average once in a while more wins and sometimes less wins for the next fifty years) and that would be historical transition to success and thus establish a winning tradition. Everything else would fall into place (excitement and enthusiasm, expectations, attendance, money going out and coming in). Glass and IU has laid out the facilities to accomplish these goals. Just have to win some.

  2. It really bothers me that IU’s FB ticket revenue is behind Maryland, IL, Rutgers and Purdue! I guess I should not be surprised, but it still bothers me.

    No more excuses Hoosier Nation! We have greatly improved facilities, beer available for purchase inside the stadium, two consecutive solid recruiting classes, low ticket prices, legitimate quarterbacks, excellent skill players, a head coach who is devoted to the state, a great college town and a beautiful campus. It’s time to throw that “wait and see” attitude into the dumpster, snap out of our collective malaise, have some emotional courage and display some optimism. It’s time to put our butts in the seats at Memorial Stadium. And no, it does not count if you just tailgate in the parking lot through the entire season.

    In conversation with other members of the Hoosier Nation, it’s time to spread the word and “encourage” the long dormant fans to demonstrate real support for our FB program.

  3. Right on t and Podunker!! I am convinced Tom Allen is a rising star. I’m predicting a real winning record of 7 wins or more.

    Being a PacNW native from the Seattle area, I recall hearing from the late, great coach Don James how hard it is to win a college football game. He said fans had no idea. Keep that in mind as the Hoosiers are poised to turn the corner.

  4. It is time for fans to come out and support the team as it takes many people to turn around a program like IU. IU is getting many things in place to have a winning football program and the winning on the field, in the B1G, needs to start happening.

  5. Home game attendance has a direct affect on recruiting. If we want winning football teams, we need to continue to improve the talent recruited. In order to improve the level of talent recruited, Hoosier Nation needs to do their part and fill Memorial Stadium for home games, stay in their seats through the game, and make a lot of noise in support of these outstanding young athletes.

    Took my wife’s brother-in-law to an IU home game a fews years back. He played at TN and is a life long UT season-ticket holder. IU was playing PSU on a beautiful fall day and the game was close through the third quarter. Then, during the time out before the fourth quarter started, and for no other apparent reason, IU fans started leaving Memorial Stadium in droves. My wife’s brother-in-law turned to me and said, “Where is everybody going?” I just shrugged in response. He then said, “Wow! That’s really embarrassing.”

    The following year he treated me to a UT – Alabama game in Knoxville. That dump of a stadium was packed. By half time, Alabama had the game well in hand. It was obvious that the undermanned UT team was going to lose badly. But at the start of the fourth quarter, even though the home team was getting hell kicked out of it, nobody had left the stadium. UT threw a beautiful TD pass against Alabama’s back-ups late in the game, and by the noise generated from UT fans, you’d have thought UT had just won the SEC Championship.

    1. They do pack them into that firetrap. My wife swam for UT and her parents were season ticket holders in football and basketball but it got to where we couldn’t stand to go in that dump. I don’t know how it hasn’t collapsed.

      The basketball arena (which was mainly a result of Pat Summit’s success) is nice.

  6. So the UT example proves you don’t need a nice stadium to draw a capacity crowd. You cannot have the most losses in a division and expect capacity until you start winning.

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