As the lyrics in the popular Broadway show “Cabaret” state: “Money makes the world go around, the world go around, the world go around. Money makes the world go around; it makes the world go ’round.
“A mark, a yen, a buck or a pound, a buck or a pound, a buck or a pound. Is all that makes the world go around, that clinking clanking sound can make the world go ’round.”
This also applies these days to efforts to achieve success in NCAA Division I university athletic programs.
Kansas University officials recently announced a new seven-year deal with sports television giant ESPN that will significantly expand the number of KU sports events available on national television.
These officials tout the new contract, saying it was done in the spirit of “doing what’s best for KU’s student-athletes and the University of Kansas … this is an incredible deal for KU’s student athletes.”
This may, indeed, be the case, but the primary reason for the deal is for KU Athletics to receive millions more dollars. It is interesting that in the KU news release about the new TV deal, nothing was said about how much KU athletics will receive or what it will cost KU sports fans who want to watch all the new programming. KU officials say all the details have not been worked out, but some markets or areas will be blacked out or those wanting to see the events will have to subscribe to various cable outlets.
It’s a good money deal for KU Athletics and it is a good deal for the department’s recruiting efforts because more high school athletic prospects will be able to watch KU teams in action.
But, in the end, money is what sealed the deal because KU Athletics has to find a way to increase revenues to keep pace in the arms race among Division I schools to offer up-to-date and competitive facilities. For example, how long will it be before KU Athletics officials announce they will have to improve and/or enlarge the KU press box at Memorial Stadium and increase the number of suites to measure up to the massive and elaborate new press box and suites at Kansas State’s Snyder Field?
The expanded TV coverage will be well received by many loyal, dyed-in-the-wool Jayhawk fans, but it is a big mistake for anyone to think they are getting this increased viewing for free. The costs of this and the cost of the added revenue flowing to KU Athletics will be passed along to viewers.
Money is the name of the game. Some may call it a game — but it is all big business.