I was trying to see if I could find enough articles to pull together a Maryland Minute and stumbled across this piece that Heather Dinich did for ESPN, in which she investigated whether Maryland could afford to pay their student athletes. The answer is an overwhelming no, at least based on the 2009-2010 financial numbers from the athletic department that she references:
Maryland's revenue and expenses:
Football: (116 athletes) Revenue: $11,540,368 Expense: $9,863,748
Men's basketball: (14 athletes) Revenue: $10,739,282 Expense: $5,160,381
Men's other sports (cross country is included with track and field, and competitive cheerleading was not included): (eight sports / 274 athletes) Revenue: $2,185,847 Expense: $5,399,723
Women's other sports (cross country is included with track and field, and competitive cheerleading was not included): (12 sports / 359 athletes) Revenue: $4,599,703 (including women's basketball) Expense: $9,661,431 (also including women's basketball)
Grand total expenses: $51,418,347
Grand total revenue: $51,641,771
Um, wow. That's....not good. I don't know where things like paying back the loans for the expanded suites falls, but that could be one factor weighing down the revenue for the department. The lag in football season ticket sales, which Dinich notes is probably the biggest source of potential new income, also hurt. Now I see why the Athletic Department was willing to move the home games with WVU and Va Tech to Baltimore in 2013 and 2014, respectively. That additional revenue they received from doing so, some of which they got up front, appears to have been desperately needed.
Dinich also discusses Maryland's lack of support for football, noting that they make the smallest investment in football among all 12 ACC schools, including Duke.
No other school in the ACC spends less money on its football program than Maryland. The Terps’ overall expenses for football were $9.8 million, according to the most recent report. Boston College spent $17.9 million during that reporting period. Duke spent $14.3 million. Wake Forest $12.5. The only other school that even came close was NC State at $10.4 million.
The numbers show that Maryland isn't on the same playing field as the rest of the ACC when it comes to putting money into the football program.
I think we've discussed before that Maryland spends the least on football among schools in the ACC, although I don't know Duke spent more than us. From what I remember, Duke's numbers, as well as Wake and Miami's, weren't available because they were private schools who didn't have to release that information. I think that is changing and Maryland will slowly climb up that latter in the coming years, probably to the middle of the ACC pack, where they belong. But being #12, behind Duke, Wake, and BC is embarrassing, in my opinion.
Overall, I think these numbers reflect poorly on former AD Debbie Yow and probably help articulate why Maryland didn't have a problem giving Friedgen the boot. It was clear that many fans had grown tired of the big man and they were showing it by not putting their butts in the seats at Byrd, despite what was turning into a good season for Maryland. The revenue being lost by the lack of attendance for football games was probably more than what Friedgen's salary was for 2011, thus buying him out might end up making sense financially.
Dinich also makes one final point worth mentioning:
Overall, including competitive cheerleading, which wasn’t included in the DOE’s report, Maryland has 27 sports, and too many of them don’t have a prayer of making any money.
She's probably right. And when you factor in that competitive cheer wasn't included in those numbers above, you have to think that the athletic department's numbers are probably even worse than what they appear above. The game this year a FedEx against Notre Dame plus moving the two games to Baltimore will probably help pull the department out of this hole, but they're going to need football season ticket sales to continue to do well moving forward if they want to continue to climb the ladder of financial stability. If they're unable to do so, you'd have to think that Maryland might need to consider cutting back on some of the 27 teams they currently field, which would obviously stink. So, go buy football season tickets!