Sign in / Join

Beer money & the NCAA

From the Orlando Sentinel (registration):

After Ohio State defeated Michigan on its way to a national football championship in 2002, the folks on campus in Columbus, Ohio, marked the occasion with a riot. Fans overturned cars, uprooted light posts and set looted furniture on fire, and cops had to respond with tear gas.

'And it was almost entirely fueled by alcohol,' Ohio State Athletic Director Andy Geiger said. 'As a community, it was a public embarrassment -- a national embarrassment -- over something that should have been a great celebration.'

Still wincing from the memory, Geiger has been trying to sever the connection between alcohol and rowdy sports fans around an organization -- a university athletic department -- that's supposed to promote higher education and responsible behavior.

But even with the help of a Washington advocacy group, more than 200 other NCAA institutions and a roster of college sports heavyweights, he faces a Herculean struggle in his primary quest: to remove alcohol advertising from televised college sports. .....

Since the 2002 riots, Geiger has demanded that Columbus TV and radio stations broadcasting Buckeyes games not accept beer advertising. The local radio affiliate agreed -- then told the school it would cut its contract by $270,000 over the course of this football and basketball season.

Geiger winced at the hit, then vowed to find ways to generate the money. He will fill up that airtime with PSAs for his less lucrative women's teams if he can't find other advertisers.

My hunch is that most of the beer money shows up as quasi-rent in the form of coaches' salaries. To the extent there are cross-subsidies between revenue and non-revenue sports, an NCAA ban would have small allocative effects on sports programs. But would eliminating beer ads stop post-championship riots? No way. This has all the earmarks of a "CYA policy."