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SU BoT will consider request to save 11 sports - Mick - 04-07-2021

The Stanford University Board of Trustees will meet with 36SportsStrong, the alumni group working to restore the 11 teams slated for termination.  They are meeting with university president Marc Tessier Lavigne at his request.

Stanford has maintained that the decision is one of financial necessity.  The alumni group has created a detailed analysis that proves that the savings are limited, given that they're among the least expensive sports.  Through extensive fundraising, the group has raised more than $50 million so far towards saving the program, and they are asking for a five year runway to ensure that the sports remain endowed.

The decision to dump the sports have brought a rash of bad publicity.  Wrestler Shane Griffith won a national championship wearing a black singlet because he did not want to represent the Stanford name.

https://www.sfchronicle.com/sports/annkillion/article/Fight-to-save-Stanford-sports-gains-hope-School-16084676.php


RE: SU BoT will consider request to save 11 sports - Spiny_Norman - 04-07-2021

(04-07-2021, 04:31 PM)Mick Wrote:  Stanford has maintained that the decision is one of financial necessity.

Mick, when the 36 Sports Strong met with Provost Persis Drell, she said that it was not all about financial necessity. That other factors were involved. But she refused to engage in any discussion about them.

Quote:“It seems as if there was an answer other than finances,” Kathy Levinson says, “but she was not willing to give it to us.”

https://www.si.com/college/2021/02/12/stanford-save-cut-sports-movement-ncaa

I will be surprised if the meetings with the Board of Trustees and MTL produce anything other than more frustration.


RE: SU BoT will consider request to save 11 sports - 82lsju - 04-07-2021

(04-07-2021, 04:40 PM)Spiny_Norman Wrote:  I will be surprised if the meetings with the Board of Trustees and MTL produce anything other than more frustration.

I would too unless some very large donors have expressed their displeasure with the decision to the BoT...


RE: SU BoT will consider request to save 11 sports - Goose - 04-07-2021

(04-07-2021, 05:42 PM)82lsju Wrote:  
(04-07-2021, 04:40 PM)Spiny_Norman Wrote:  I will be surprised if the meetings with the Board of Trustees and MTL produce anything other than more frustration.

I would too unless some very large donors have expressed their displeasure with the decision to the BoT...

It is not impossible that the optics of this are so bad that the University "powers that be" are seriously considering walking this back. If they can figure a way to declare victory and not look "weak", I would give it a "possible" rating. The meeting with the BoT isn't going to allow "unstated double secret probation" reasons. It will have to be financial (which has been dealt with, more or less) or some other defined reason. That doesn't mean the "reason" will be one that others accept as a "good" one, but at least it will be known. Not holding my breath for a positive outcome.


RE: SU BoT will consider request to save 11 sports - BostonCard - 04-07-2021

I could be wrong, but I wouldn't hold my breath.  The worst of the publicity has passed, and the department now gets to bask in the glow of a women's basketball national championship.

Agree with Spiny that this is not financial.  My sense is that the meeting with the BoT and MTL is more about optics and making sure that people don't feel unheard than it is about changing their mind.

Very large donors making their displeasure apparent could move the needle, but I haven't heard of any movement among the donors who count.

I would mentally prepare for having 11 fewer sports next year.  Hope I'm wrong, though.

BC


RE: SU BoT will consider request to save 11 sports - chrisk - 04-07-2021

Stanford withdrew its land use plans for the next 15 years after the they could not come to an agreement with the county supervisors. That makes it virtually impossible to expand the student body, which removes a key lever in achieving DEI goals.


RE: SU BoT will consider request to save 11 sports - Phogge - 04-07-2021

If Stanford was to go on merit (success) then men’s hoops would be one of the eleven.


RE: SU BoT will consider request to save 11 sports - BobK - 04-08-2021

John A would never go public or give the slightest hint. Of course their are many others who might


RE: SU BoT will consider request to save 11 sports - 2006alum - 04-08-2021

(04-07-2021, 04:31 PM)Mick Wrote:  https://www.sfchronicle.com/sports/annkillion/article/Fight-to-save-Stanford-sports-gains-hope-School-16084676.php

Thanks for sharing this story, Mick. Has anyone seen the HBO doc referenced below? I had not yet heard that Muir was featured in it, let alone in this light:

Quote:A recent HBO documentary on the Varsity Blues scandal painted an unflattering picture of Muir as a leader who cared only about bringing in funds and a department quick to put all the blame on sailing coach John Vandemoer.

The revelation that the athletic department gave out bonuses to some staff members traveling with football and basketball undercut its claims of financial strife.

Any folks more familiar with the AD have thoughts on this?


RE: SU BoT will consider request to save 11 sports - martyup - 04-08-2021

At the behest of 36SportsStrong, I sent emails to the top officials at Stanford urging them to reconsider their decision to cancel 11 sports.  Here is the response I received from Howard Wolf:

Quote:As the university's Vice President for Alumni Affairs and the President of the Stanford Alumni Association, I have been asked by Stanford President Marc Tessier-Lavigne, Provost Persis Drell, Athletics Director Bernard Muir and the Office of the Board of Trustees to respond to your email below. 
 
Thanks for taking the time and effort to share your thoughts and feelings with us. I very much appreciate you doing so and wish more Stanford alumni would do the same when they are disappointed with decisions the university makes and actions it takes. Thanks for being a part of this important feedback loop.
 
Most importantly, I thank you for expressing your deep sadness over the painful decision we made to discontinue 11 varsity sports at Stanford. As a Stanford alum myself (and a former student-athlete in a so-called “Olympic Sport”), this decision has similarly saddened me deeply for all the reasons you and others have shared about the importance of Stanford’s intercollegiate, varsity athletics program. 
 
As the announcement shared, the Athletics Department, in concert with others in leadership roles at Stanford, evaluated numerous solutions to address the large-scale, systemic financial problems that have faced the Athletics Department for years. At the end of the day, the discontinuation of these 11 sports was deemed the most viable solution to right the budget. 

We are very aware of the recommendations proposed by 36 Sports Strong and the gifts pledged to date for various sports.  At the same time, we are also faced with the reality that the actual amount to permanently endow the 11 discontinued varsity sports is more than $200 million. And this does not include the $380 million in funding needed for the remaining 25 varsity programs to ensure their competitiveness on a national level. Despite Stanford’s tremendous success in past fundraising campaigns, this combined goal of $580 million for Athletics was deemed infeasible based on extensive analysis of the university’s fundraising prospects.

Please know that I will be sharing your sentiments with the president and provost as representative of what we have been hearing from some of our alumni. Thanks, again, for sharing your thoughts and concerns with us. I very much appreciate your engagement and welcome any further questions you may have.

It seems that they are still contending that this was a financial decision.  It also seems that they are moving the goal posts here, claiming that $580 million must be raised to save the 11 sports.  If they make it just about money, I like 36SportsStrong's chances of prevailing.


RE: SU BoT will consider request to save 11 sports - 82lsju - 04-08-2021

Quote:“We are encouraged that President Tessier-Lavigne has asked for this meeting and are looking forward to having a detailed conversation about reinstating our sports,” wrote Jeremy Jacobs ’06, a 36 Sports Strong representative and men’s volleyball alum, in an email to The Daily. “Doing so would send an incredible message to alumni, boosting enthusiasm and generating momentum Stanford needs to come out of the pandemic on strong footing.”

According to documents provided to The Daily, Tessier-Lavigne requested that “the Athletics Committee and full board consider the petition and provide advice to management.”

“President Tessier-Lavigne looks forward to meeting with the leaders behind the petition to ensure their perspectives are thoroughly heard,” wrote Stanford Athletics spokesperson Carter Henderson in an email to The Daily.

The 36 Stanford Sports petition includes “a runway for the 11 sports to self-endow their programs in perpetuity and build a model for other sports and other schools to fix the broken NCAA financial model.” So far, the group has raised more than $30 million in pledges, putting the total amount of money to support the discontinued sports at more than $50 million when combined with existing endowments.


https://www.stanforddaily.com/2021/04/07/president-tessier-lavigne-to-meet-with-36-sports-strong/?fbclid=IwAR03eQ0fEKYInMjLHkHOvYylXh539f0NTenyPK9yn770cYecAs0Znr-nAzg


RE: SU BoT will consider request to save 11 sports - martyup - 04-08-2021

Stanford may just come out of this with their athletics department primarily funded from outside sources (alums).  I can see a situation where a separate foundation is formed that funds all sports programs.  If it goes this direction, I sure hope the foundational documents prevent the university from siphoning sports revenues away from sports and into other departments.  If they are not willing to pay for it, they should not reap the benefits.


RE: SU BoT will consider request to save 11 sports - BostonCard - 04-08-2021

(04-08-2021, 07:29 AM)BobK Wrote:  John A would never go public or give the slightest hint.  Of course their are many others who might

John A is only somewhat relevant.  For it to really sting, you need some of the people who donate mostly to non-athletic fundraising to discuss changes in their donation patterns.

BC


RE: SU BoT will consider request to save 11 sports - Spiny_Norman - 04-08-2021

(04-08-2021, 10:53 AM)BostonCard Wrote:  
(04-08-2021, 07:29 AM)BobK Wrote:  John A would never go public or give the slightest hint.  Of course their are many others who might

John A is only somewhat relevant.  For it to really sting, you need some of the people who donate mostly to non-athletic fundraising to discuss changes in their donation patterns.

BC

Do you mean for example the donors for the Arrillaga Alumni Center building? Or the Arrillaga Family Dining Commons?


RE: SU BoT will consider request to save 11 sports - BostonCard - 04-08-2021

Quote:It seems that they are still contending that this was a financial decision.  It also seems that they are moving the goal posts here, claiming that $580 million must be raised to save the 11 sports.  If they make it just about money, I like 36SportsStrong's chances of prevailing.

I read this a little bit differently than you, though I am still skeptical about the "financial decision" aspect of this.  Basically, as I read it, and consistent with points that other people have made on this board, the AD is about to embark on a fundraising drive.  In order to meet its goals of the drive, it needs to raise $380 million.  Were the 11 sports to continue, it would need to raise an additional $580 million, which the department doesn't think it can do.  So, I interpret the quote as saying that they would need to raise the $200 million for the other 11 sports without it impacting the ability to raise the other $380 million, for which the department is skeptical.

I don't know how the math works out. Certainly there are some people who will give only to support the 11 discontinued sports, and there are others who will give to support the AD's fundraising drive, but could be convinced to give more to save the other 11 sports.  And there will be some people who are pissed about dropping the 11 sports and as a result will not give at all.  But surely there are people who will give a fixed amount regardless of whether the 11 sports are continued or dropped, and others whose donations might have gone to the 11 sports but which can be redirected to support the $380 million AD endowment.

I think to win the argument, the 36sportstrong group is going to have to convince the powers that be that they can raise $200 million or something like that to support the 11 sports being cut and that the AD will still be able to fulfill its $380 million fundraising goal (not that they will be able to raise it).

PS. Re-reading my earlier post, it probably came as too dismissive of what John A can do.  Obviously, he is very relevant, but if donors who the school counts on for other fundraising drives start speaking out, it will carry more heft

BC


RE: SU BoT will consider request to save 11 sports - winflop - 04-08-2021

I'm struggling to understand why they need to raise $200M. A typical endowment will throw off 4% per year, which enables growth of the amount in good years to deal with rising costs over time. Do these 11 sports have a budget of $8M? I thought it was closer to $3-4M, which would indicate a $60-80M endowment needed.

The financial issues are primarily due to Muir's mismanagement of the department's budget. He didn't take sufficient account of the declining revenues from the conference as the P12 Network imploded, and continued to spend like a dunken sailor. Regardless of how this turns out, Drell & Tessier-Lavigne should be looking for a new and more fiscally responsible AD.

Also, be careful about designating funds to specific programs if you donate to the University. The University just plays shell games with much if not all of this kind of money. They reduce the contribution those programs get from general funds by the amount of specified donations. I was told this directly by golf coaches who preceded the current coaches.


RE: SU BoT will consider request to save 11 sports - BostonCard - 04-08-2021

(04-08-2021, 12:29 PM)winflop Wrote:  The financial issues are primarily due to Muir's mismanagement of the department's budget. He didn't take sufficient account of the declining revenues from the conference as the P12 Network imploded, and continued to spend like a dunken sailor. Regardless of how this turns out, Drell & Tessier-Lavigne should be looking for a new and more fiscally responsible AD.

I don't think the Pac-12's revenues have declined, unless you mean specifically about 2020:

https://pac-12.com/article/2020/07/10/pac-12-announces-2018-19-financial-results

Quote:For the six-year period since 2012-2013 when the Pac-12 began its media rights agreements with ESPN and Fox and launched the first and only member-owned conference network, annual member distributions have increased by 70% ($228M to $387M) and annual total revenues have increased by 59% ($334M to $530M).  The compounded annual growth rate for member distributions and total revenues over the six-year period was 9% and 8%, respectively.  The ESPN and Fox partnerships that began in 2012 resulted in more than four times the annual revenue of the prior Pac-12 media rights agreements.

The issues are:
1) Expenditures have increased faster than revenues
2) Revenues have stayed behind those of other Power 5 conferences, leaving the Pac-12 behind in the arms race
3) Revenue growth probably will grow more slowly going forward due to demographic and media consumption activities, and may at some point peak and decline

But I haven't seen anywhere that says that the revenues from the conference are declining (other than in 2020, but I don't think those results will be announced until the summer, and there is a good reason for that).

Wilner (who for all his faults has done some good reporting on the Pac-12 finances) reports the following based on Colorado's projections (link):

FY20: $33.7 million (per school)
FY21: $20 million
FY22: $37.2 million
FY23: $38.7 million
FY24: $40.6 million


So, yes, revenue cratered in 2020 because of COVID-19, but it is expected to recover and there is no evidence that revenue imploded due to the Pac-12 network.  By my calculation, going forward there's a projected compound growth rate of 4.8% per year through 2024 in the league's distribution.

BC


RE: SU BoT will consider request to save 11 sports - 82lsju - 04-08-2021

(04-08-2021, 12:29 PM)winflop Wrote:  I'm struggling to understand why they need to raise $200M. A typical endowment will throw off 4% per year, which enables growth of the amount in good years to deal with rising costs over time. Do these 11 sports have a budget of $8M? I thought it was closer to $3-4M, which would indicate a $60-80M endowment needed.

The financial issues are primarily due to Muir's mismanagement of the department's budget. He didn't take sufficient account of the declining revenues from the conference as the P12 Network imploded, and continued to spend like a dunken sailor. Regardless of how this turns out, Drell & Tessier-Lavigne should be looking for a new and more fiscally responsible AD.

Also, be careful about designating funds to specific programs if you donate to the University. The University just plays shell games with much if not all of this kind of money. They reduce the contribution those programs get from general funds by the amount of specified donations. I was told this directly by golf coaches who preceded the current coaches.

from the original AD release

Quote:We have calculated that the total incremental funding needed to permanently sustain these 11 sports at a nationally competitive varsity level exceeds $200 million. 

https://news.stanford.edu/2020/07/08/athletics/?utm_source=athletics&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=an

which at a 4% payout "exceeds $8m/year", at 5% "exceeds $10m/year"

On costs I'll SWAG two likely big buckets

Scholarships

I don't know how many "full time equivalent scholarships" are taken by the ~240 student athletes in the 11 sports but I'll SWAG 30 which would be $2.4m in costs (assuming $80k/full time equivalent scholarship).  If some of those are already endowed then the amount would be less.

Coaches/trainers

I'll SWAG $200K/team for coaches and trainers so that would be $2.2m


RE: SU BoT will consider request to save 11 sports - Goose - 04-08-2021

The Athletic Department is undoubtedly engaging in the "creative" accounting used by organizations that have a desired result and want to use financial  reasons as justification for their preferred actions. The department can allocate many fixed costs in crazy ways into which nobody outside the department has any visibility. If a group of donors comes up with funds to cover that number, they will rejigger things so that X is now 2X. AMTRAK does this all the time when it wants to cancel a long-distance train in the West. It moves costs around and "proves" that route loses money, all the while subsidizing the Northeast Corridor to make it look like less of a money sink. When asked for detailed cost breakdowns they in effect say "It is too complicated for you to understand". It is easy to prove something when you can alter the "facts" at will. The only thing that will save these sports is the University abandoning their agenda, whatever that may actually be. Money won't, by itself, do it.


RE: SU BoT will consider request to save 11 sports - paloalto - 04-08-2021

From a common sense perspective about human nature, would an Athletic Director voluntarily propose slashing a number of sports?  Most heads of bureaucracies want to increase the size of their empire.  A smaller organization means less power and in the future possibly a corresponding cut in salary.

I heard a fourth-hand rumor some time ago there are admissions officers who don't like Olympic sports athletes from well-off families getting admitted to Stanford.  The story I heard they would prefer to give those positions to students from disadvantaged and challenged backgrounds.   I have doubts about the rumor and only bring it up to ask the question; Could there be forces at Stanford outside the athletic department who were advocating for the university going away from being a sports school?  After a decision was made the AD would have no choice other than to jump on board or resign.