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Archive for February, 2010

When $17 million just isn’t enough

February 27, 2010 Comments off

What would you do with $18.3 million?

That sum is the amount of money expected from football ticket sales by the University of Wisconsin Athletic Board in its 2010-11 budget approved last Friday. It also accounts for more than 22 percent of the $83.088 million budget request approved by the board.

Along with the budget, the board approved a $3 per ticket increase for general public and student season football tickets, increasing the prices to $42 and $22 per game, respectively.

Working with the board’s figure of $18.3 million, the ticket increase would bring in $1.3 million for the season. If that were the case, a 7.14 percent price increase would generate a similar percentage of the expected football ticket revenue for the department.

But is an additional $21 out of every season ticket holder’s pocket necessary for just a 7.1 percent increase when state unemployment rates reached 8.7 percent in December 2009?

The answer, in short, is yes.

A $3 per ticket hike represents a 7.14 percent increase, which is greater than the average ticket price increase (5.3 percent) in 2010 for the Milwaukee Brewers but less than the increase (up to 15 percent) announced by the Green Bay Packers last month.

Likewise, the University of Wisconsin remains sixth in the Big Ten in terms of ticket prices and the $42 price tag is less than the conference average of $44 per ticket.

Ticket prices for the university’s other two revenue-generating sports — men’s basketball and men’s hockey — remain unchanged, as they have since 2006 and 2005, respectively.

The board’s decisions were expected and the ticket increase for football was the first by the UW in any major sport since increasing football ticket prices in 2007.

Based on rising costs for team travel, scholarships, and equipment (among other things) it’s clear a $3 increase was necessary for the financial sustainability of the Athletic Department. Since the last ticket price hike in 2007, tuition alone at the university has gone up $1,125.36 (15.6 percent) from $7,188.40 to $8,313.76.

Considering tuition makes up a significant portion of the full and partial scholarships awarded to approximately 350 athletes annually, the rising costs of tuition have certainly had a significant impact on the Athletic Department. According to the department’s 2008-09 annual report, UW scholarship costs are expected to reach $10 million per year by 2011.

Of its $83 million budget, only 30 percent is “guaranteed” money according to what John Jentz, the associate athletic director for business operations told the finance, facilities and operations committee last week.

The other 70 percent comes from fans, including (but not limited to) ticket revenues.

Though the UW has 23 Division I sports, the Athletic Department relies on football to generate more than two-thirds of its ticket revenue. Through that revenue, and a five percent budget cut for 22 of 23 sports next year, the Athletic Department expects a surplus of just over $100,000.

Since the sizes of Camp Randall Stadium and the Kohl Center cannot easily be increased, the only logical way to increase revenue is through raising ticket prices.

Furthermore, based on the average time between raising ticket prices, the board easily could have increased prices by $3 in men’s basketball as well, generating another $900,000 in revenue based on the team’s average attendance over 18 home games last season.

Doing so would give the Athletic Department a generous surplus of more than $1 million, as opposed to a slim positive margin of a little more than $100,000. Such a surplus could even negate the need to make five percent budget cuts for the second of three consecutive years.

But by choosing to forego raising basketball (and hockey) ticket prices for another year, as well as cutting the budget by five percent for all but one sport, the board showed concern for the current economic climate while also addressing its own financial needs.

There was simply no other way for the department to remain financially self-sufficient and support 23 Division I sports without making more significant budget cuts.

For that, the UW Athletic Board should be commended for the $3 ticket increase.

Point-Counterpoint 2/25

February 25, 2010 Comments off

PCP: It’s a trap! Or is it?
By Jordan Schelling & Adam Holt
The Badger Herald

Maragos Q&A 2/24

February 24, 2010 Comments off

By Jordan Schelling
The Badger Herald

Leuer’s return to court underwhelming

February 23, 2010 Comments off

When junior forward Jon Leuer emerged from the locker room in uniform Thursday for the first time in 40 days, the question was when, not if, he would see his first action since Jan. 9.

There he sat, for the first 2:22 of the contest, watching his teammates from the bench, a familiar spot for Leuer, who had missed the team’s last nine games. What happened next was something relatively new for the native of Orono, Minn.

With 17:38 remaining in the first half of the contest between Wisconsin and Minnesota, Leuer entered the lineup in place of guard Tim Jarmusz, seeing his first action in nearly six weeks. According to Leuer, though, nothing had really changed in his time off.

“When you’re out there, you’ve got to be ready to go,” he said. “The game doesn’t change at all, you just have to really start picking up on things when you get back in there.”

Leuer played 26 minutes in his return, which was down only 1.2 minutes from what the 6-foot-10 forward had averaged before his Jan. 9 injury. In those 26 minutes, though, Leuer was decidedly less effective than usual.

Several of Leuer’s 12 shot attempts in the game were well off the mark, while a few of them were questionable to begin with in terms of shot selection.

Out of 12 shot attempts, Leuer converted on only two for four points, far less than the 15.4 points he had averaged before his injury. He also grabbed one defensive rebound and added one block, both of which were down — albeit only slightly for his number of blocks — from his averages of 6.2 rebounds and 1.2 blocks per game.

After saying he felt “game ready” earlier in the week, Leuer was less than satisfied with his performance.

“It’s not what I expected,” he said. “I would have liked to have played better and helped the team more, obviously. But you know, that’s just what it is. I’ve just got to learn from that and hopefully get better.”

On the defensive end, Leuer did not do much to slow down the Gophers’ pair of 6-foot-11 forwards. Both Damian Johnson and Ralph Sampson III reached double digits in scoring, contributing 11 and 10 points, respectively.

Johnson and Sampson also combined for 12 rebounds in the game.

Minnesota’s strong inside presence, combined with the lack of one for Wisconsin against the Gophers’ 2-3 zone despite Leuer’s return was one of the deciding factors in the Badgers’ 68-52 loss Thursday.

In his postgame press conference, head coach Bo Ryan thought Leuer’s performance was about what could have been expected for his first game back. Ryan was not worried about Leuer’s inaccuracy during his return from injury.

He also noted lineup changes due to foul trouble for starting forward Keaton Nankivil resulted in a change from the original game plan regarding Leuer’s return.

“I thought 20 to 25 minutes max was what he could get,” Ryan said. “He’ll find his mark. That wasn’t Jon’s fault or anything. … He’s still a good player; he still means a lot to us.”

According to assistant head coach Greg Gard, Leuer’s 2-for-12 performance may have had more to do with shot selection than an inability to make open shots.

That, Gard said, is something Leuer has to readjust to after an extended time off.

“I think maybe some of the shots Jon would like to have back, or maybe take a different shot at different times,” Gard said. “It’s going to take him a little while. Everybody’s expecting him to start where he left off — you step away from something for five to six weeks, it’s not going to be back.

“It’s like not golfing for five to six weeks,” Gard continued. “You’re not going to hit it down the middle — maybe Andy (North) can, but the rest of us can’t.”

Leuer echoed his coach’s comments, adding that he thought he had gotten tentative at times and perhaps his timing was off after so much time away from the game.

On a more positive note, Leuer’s left wrist — the one in which he fractured a bone in the Badgers’ Jan. 9 win over Purdue — felt no adverse effects during Thursday’s game.

“It felt pretty good,” Leuer said of his wrist. “Obviously, I’m not used to playing with something on it, so that’s kind of been an adjustment. But for the most part, it felt pretty good. It was pretty much pain free.”

A day later, Leuer said it felt no differently than it had on the days leading up to Wisconsin’s game against Minnesota at Williams Arena.

Ryan, Leuer and Gard all remained optimistic that the junior forward would continue to improve on a game-by-game basis.

According to Ryan, it’s just a matter of getting the chemistry and timing back between Leuer and his teammates; and that’s something that he said can only come with time.

“Our players need to have Jon in practice more,” Ryan said. “And Jon needs to get more reps in practice.”

MBB grades 2/23

February 23, 2010 Comments off

By Jordan Schelling
The Badger Herald

MBB recap 2/22

February 21, 2010 2 comments

UW survives scare, downs Northwestern
By Jordan Schelling
The Badger Herald

Column 2/22

February 21, 2010 Comments off

It was hockey night in Canada, not U.S.
A Schelling For Your Thoughts
The Badger Herald