It's hard to believe, but UCONN won the right to lose money by being the Big East's BCS participant. According to the New Haven Register, the school is now set to lose at least $2.5 million on the deal.
The main reason is the bowl ticket guarantees that participating schools have to make. UCONN will probably have to eat some 10,000+ tickets at face value prices that start at $111. Unless it's for the BCS national championship game, those prices are ridiculous as proven by the secondary market. Let's take a lower level corner seat for the Fiesta Bowl. The face value of the ticket is $235. I can buy that ticket right now on StubHub for $50, plus service fee. Ironically, the Fiesta Bowltakes StubHub's money to be the most prominent advertiser of its official bowl Web site.
How about the TicketCity bowl between Northwestern and Texas Tech? With the bowl being sponsored by a secondary ticketing site, tickets there were cheaper than what the schools were selling from the second the teams were announced. How much do I love my school to buy a ticket I can get for $30 for $75, when I'm already taking on huge travel costs by traveling around the holiday season?
Something has to change. Schools have to say enough is enough. This system is broken and we can't do it anymore. But while athletic directors complain and complain, no one has stepped up.
Unlike professional sports teams, which have a ton of games to test if where they set their ticket price is egregiously off, bowl games only do this once a year. And although most of their prices are always too high, they rely on schools to bail them out.
Schools push to buy through them instead of the secondary sites. But the problem is most don't want to spend more money when they don't have to.
It's why Virginia Tech lost $1.7 million in unsold tickets when they went to the Orange Bowl two years ago—selling just 19 percent of their allotment. It wasn't that Hokies fans didn't show up, it's that they bought cheaper tickets somewhere else, leaving the school to foot the bill.
Schools can't complain now. They have to step up directly after the game, win or lose, and tell the NCAA that the formula needs to be changed. I don't know what the solution is. I just know no solution has been proposed. Until then, schools need to stop the whining. In the meantime, the bowl games will continue to take the guaranteed cash from them.
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