The Daily Tar Heel

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Wednesday February 8th

A B C: Athletics, Business, & Carolina

It Takes $34 Million to Operate UNC Sports. But Money Doesn't Quiet Critics

The raise, which takes effect July 1, was met with protest by some students and faculty because it came while the state and University faced down the barrel of a staggering financial crisis.

The BOT approved a $400 tuition increase that same meeting.

Bunting, who went 8-5 in his first season as UNC's head coach, led the Tar Heels to a Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl victory. His base salary of $160,000 went to $260,000, which will make him the only coach in the Department of Athletics who makes more from the University than Chancellor James Moeser.

But Bunting's University salary is just the tip of the iceberg. He has multimedia contracts and gets $150,000 from Nike. His total compensation package went from $550,000 to $650,000.

"I know the timing was unfortunate, but his salary was significantly lower than other coaches'," Baddour said recently. "We had a man undervalued that we wanted to keep."

Football is a high-profile sport; the money involved demands it. Baddour points out that although the BOT had to approve Bunting's raise, the money didn't come from the state.

Baddour said much of the $34 million athletic department budget doesn't come from the state. A healthy chunk -- $10,648,004 -- is from men's basketball and football ticket sales, the only sports that can financially support themselves. Student fees add $1,966,000 into the department's coffers, and the ACC contributes $7,574,293. The Education Foundation throws in $6.5 million for scholarships, multimedia contracts give $1.6 million, and concessions give the department nearly $600,000. Among the other revenue sources is 25 percent of the money from the UNC trademark; the University gets the other 75 percent.

The only money from the state is the $800,000 to $1 million used to help pay utilities for the Smith Center, which is a multiuse facility, Baddour said. The men's basketball venue is the rain site for the May 19 graduation, which is just an example of why the state gives the athletic department money.

Baddour's department is charged with living up to one of the most prestigious names in all of college sports. UNC has produced hundreds of professional athletes, including ones at the top of their sports: Michael Jordan, Mia Hamm, Marion Jones.

The price of fame is criticism, which the UNC athletic department can't avoid. The $28.4 million contract with Nike makes people uncomfortable about the University's integrity. The way its money is doled out leaves some student-athletes bitterly jealous of their peers. Money, as the saying goes, is the root of all evil. The athletic department's money, and its spending of it, is very visible.

This piece examines four areas of the business of sports at North Carolina: how the budget is allocated, the University contract with Nike, the importance of venues and the natural philosophy conflicts that arise between athlete and academic.

The Budget

"They all make too much," said Sue Estroff, head of the Faculty Council, of coaches' salaries.

The 22 coaches of UNC's 28 varsity sports teams make a total of $1,467,103 for the 2001-02 fiscal year. Only three coaches' salaries are more than their programs receive each year: The men's and women's golf teams are allocated $42,600 and $42,935, while gymnastics receives $44,611.

Although men's golf gets the least amount of money for a varsity sport, there are only 13 athletes on the roster, so in theory, UNC coach John Inman has $3,276.92 per athlete. Of the olympic sports, women's basketball gets $30,064.31 and men's tennis $7,617.44 per athlete for the year.

Naturally, money isn't spent like that. The football team doesn't spend $23,365.47 a year on each of its 85 roster players nor does Matt Doherty spend $65,938.43 per player. Football's and men's basketball's portions of the budget, at $2,009,430 and $923,138, respectively, go to operations, recruiting and game expenses. Doherty and his assistants travel frequently in the offseason visiting potential recruits, and outfitting a single football player properly can cost more than $1,000.

The athletic department spent a total of $4,694,618 on its varsity sports this year. For the largest sports, like swimming, fencing and rowing, the sheer number of athletes in the program means less money for everyone. Fencing is by far the most victimized sport by this. The men's and women's programs receive $55,872 a year, but with 68 athletes, all walk-ons, there is only $821.64 per athlete, about $600 less than the amount UNC coach Frank Comfort has per athlete for his men's and women's swimming teams.

Fencing generates its own money by fund-raising efforts. One of two sports at UNC that does not compete in the ACC, fencing is also a male student's best chance to walk on to a varsity program. Miller does not have scholarships to give, so both of his teams are a collection of former high school fencers and newcomers to the sport. The budget constraints mean travel is difficult for team members, but they supplement it with working football concessions. "We have a pretty small budget, so we have to take vans for all the trips," said senior fencer Chad Haynes. "In the past two years we have gotten a bus for the drive to Chicago, but on others such as to Boston, we are in a van for 12 to 13 hours."

Rowing is in a similar situation. Having just completed its fifth year, the women's sport will make another push in September for students to try out. Rowing is the University's newest sport, added just two years after women's lacrosse to help the athletic department make Title IX guidelines. Unlike other schools, North Carolina has tried hard never to kill a program. Baddour said when he began his job five years ago, the department was in the red. But he never considered cutting a program, instead cutting the budget in other ways. Each year of his tenure, the budget has been designed for the department to build a rainy day fund, which he said could provide money if bad weather impacted football attendance and, by extension, concessions, which would hurt revenue.

Smart fiscal planning is a way that the department can protect its 28 sports. Baddour said he wanted to continue being able to have programs like fencing, where any student can take the class, fall in love and join the varsity squad. "I think that's pretty neat," he said. "I like that. I want to protect that."

Just Do It

At UNC, the swoosh is ubiquitous.

Tiny Carolina blue swooshes mark swimming caps, field hockey shirts, volleyball knee pads. The men's and women's basketball teams have the Jumpman logo on their shorts.

Jumpman is Jordan's Nike clothing line. Jordan and Nike have forged a mutually beneficial relationship for his entire professional career. The idea of a pro athlete signing exclusively with an apparel company isn't a new concept, and for North Carolina, it's good business.

UNC and Nike extended their agreement on Oct. 15 with a eight-year, $28.3 million contract. Sixty-four percent of the Nike contract is apparel, equipment and shoes. "The major benefit is the product," Baddour said. "It simply ensures that our men's and women's sports can get the apparel and the shoes that they need."

Haynes said Nike gave the team new warm-ups and shoes, but Nike doesn't provide fencing equipment. He said good competition gear costs $500 and that there's no way the program can afford it. "We just recently got all new practice jackets -- fencing jackets, not warm-up jackets -- but the practice masks are in pretty bad condition," Haynes said. "The blades we use in general are average, but every now and then we get really nice blades for the starters. Equipment in general is a problem because it breaks a lot and we need a lot of stuff over the course of the season."

The contract also gives UNC 10 percent of Nike's North Carolina merchandise sales. The merchandise has been a major bone of contention between administrators and students, who held a sit-in at interim Chancellor Bill McCoy's South Building office in 1999 to demand that certain labor standards be met by the factories that produced UNC apparel. The new contract has those provisions written in, and Nike, which drew fire in the late 1990s when sweatshop conditions were discovered in its Southeast Asia factory, agreed to give a tour of its factories to students and faculty. "I think it's an improvement over what we've had in the past," Estroff said.

Building a Better Tomorrow

Carmichael Auditorium is, in a word, old. It has been in use for more than 30 years, but unlike its elder brother, Kenan Stadium, Carmichael hasn't had a face-lift. The building is home to four sports: women's basketball, volleyball, gymnastics and wrestling. Most of the olympic sports coaches have offices in it. Joe Sagula's volleyball offices are in a converted box office; the men's lacrosse offices are tucked underneath bleachers.

A new venue is the best chance most coaches get to move out of their Carmichael abodes. The plans for the UNC Softball Complex include an office for Coach Donna Papa. The complex, a $2 million project, has yet to find a name because a large enough donation hasn't been secured. The fund raising is the job of the Educational Foundation, the organization that hunts for support for the athletic department.

Sue Walsh, a former star swimmer and Educational Foundation vice president for endowment, said raising money for the complex has been difficult because it doesn't have the same donor base as a sport like football. "Even though softball has been a varsity sport for 20-plus years, its affluent giving base hasn't matured," Walsh said. She added the complex's donors tend to be former athletes, fans of the sport and donors who want to be truly philanthropic.

Venues can be huge recruiting tools, and the Educational Foundation has raised money to build new venues or improve on existing ones. Finley Golf Course, Kenan Football Center, the McCaskill Soccer Center, Henry Stadium and the Eddie Smith Fieldhouse are just a few of the recent projects that have drastically improved venues.

With the exception of Kenan, all of these venues have corporate signage -- the banners hung off of Carmichael bleachers during basketball games, for example. Kenan and the Smith Center are the only venues at UNC where signage isn't allowed. "There is no policy," Baddour said. "It's what has evolved. It's part of the culture of the University."

Phil Knight or Knight Commission?

"Student-athlete" is the NCAA's chosen term to refer its charges. For some, like Estroff, North Carolina isn't putting the emphasis on student, but rather athlete.

She points to parking as an example of athletics trumping academics. During the year, the metered parking spaces on South Road get blocked off for women's basketball games and other sporting events. She said students can't get to the library or even to class because of the games.

Estroff is a big fan of the Knight Commission, a group composed of college presidents, business and sports leaders. Former UNC-system President Bill Friday is the chairman of the committee. The Knight Commission recommends that universities put their focus back on the student, less on the athlete. "I think there should be more of a balance between research, academics and athletics," Estroff said.

Baddour said the athletic department does balance academics with athletics. "We tell our new coaches, 'You got to understand where we fit in,'" he said.

Baddour said the athletic department is an ambassador for the University, which, in a way, it is. The ACC's contract with ESPN guarantees that people all over the country will see Carolina blue and the interlocking N and C.

Those ESPN games, perhaps the culmination of "Rivalry Week" between Duke and North Carolina, are big business sports at its finest and worse.

The Knight Commission wants the NCAA to ban games during the week. Baddour said men's basketball couldn't survive if the Knight Commission got its way.

Then, there wouldn't be enough money.

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