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Bemidji State: Cinderella or Pinocchio?

Wednesday, 8 Apr 2009 | 9:52 AM ET
Bemidji State Beavers
Bemidji State Beavers
Bemidji State Beavers

Over the past week, you might have read about the Cinderella story of Bemidji State.

The small school based in Minnesota only finished its season three games over .500, but the team got into the NCAA ice hockey championship and beat Notre Dame and Cornell to get into the Frozen Four.

With the Beavers facing Miami University tomorrow for the rights to play for the championship, the media is loving this story (See front page of the New York Times sports section today.)

Bemidji State might be a longshot, after all its conference is closing up shop after next season, but it is NOT a Cinderella.

In defining a Cinderella, I always consider budget.

How much did this school spend on this sport compared to the school it is playing?

In the NCAA men's basketball tournament, top seeds typically spend ten times more funding its teams than the lowest seeds. That's part of what makes an upset so great.

A Wall Street Journalstory last week mentioned Bemidji State's endowment of $12 million as a sign of how much of a longshot this team was. But a look at its budget actually reveals that the school might have spent more on its hockey team than each of the other Frozen Four competitors — Miami University, Boston University and the University of Vermont.

It certainly did last year.

Here is what each school spent on its men's ice hockey program, according to Equity in Athletics filings:

  • Bemidji State: $359,238
  • Miami University: $327,723
  • Boston University: $310,630
  • Vermont: $254,162

I'm rooting for the Beavers because it's still a great story, but because they are on the same financial playing field, or ice in this case, this isn't close to a team like George Mason making the Final Four.

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