Chat with Darren Rovell
Rovell's recent blog entry on ESPN Insider explains how George Mason, by reaching the Final Four, will bring the Colonial Athletic Association a windfall of at least $983,886.
Rovell is also the author of First in Thirst: How Gatorade Turned The Science of Sweat Into A Cultural Phenomenon.
Send in your questions now and join Rovell for the answers on Thursday at 3:30 p.m. ET!
Buzzmaster (3:31 PM)
Helloooooooooo! Darren Rovell will be here shortly to answer all your sports biz questions!
Darren Rovell (3:31 PM)
Glad to be here. Let's answer some questions. Try to stick to sports biz and not game analysis!
Danimal (Chicago, IL)
Can you see the NCAA ever returning the Final Four to an arena setting, rather than a dome? I realize there's a about $2.7 million more in ticket revenue that comes with a 35,000 seat dome versus a 20,000 seat arena, but the viewing experience for the majority of the fans at a dome is pretty unappealing.
Darren Rovell (3:33 PM)
The experience might be unappealing, but it's appealing enough that people will still pay a pretty penny for it. You know when it goes back to the arena? When people stop paying. And that will never happen. It's like the only way to stop rising ticket prices is for a mass of people to say, "I'm not going to do this anymore." Why do sports teams keep raising prices? Because not enough people stick it to the teams.
Do you think the Hoosiers not hiring Wittman will cause us not to get a new stadium from Cuban or some other NBA/IU alums? Or do you think there will be enough backing by Hoosier Alums to build some new facilities?
Darren Rovell (3:34 PM)
I think more support will come with wins. I don't think a hire that Sampsion gets you immediately credibility with the donors and boosters. Winning does. Winning will put more money into the coffers. The actual hire doesn't.
Steve Dallas, TX
Darren, how big is George Mason's trip to the Final Four going to affect the Colonial Athletic Association?
Darren Rovell (3:36 PM)
Steve, it's huge. It's the most money the conference has ever seen. They'll get six total units for the five games George Mason played and the one game that UNC-Wilmington played. Each unit is paid out over six years. And it's going to be worth more than $1 million per unit.
Robbie (London, UK)
CBS is expected to distribute over $400 million to the NCAA this year for the men's tournament, which will go to the conferences based on the number of games played by their schools in the tournament over the past 6 seasons. Does this not reward the underperforming teams in the stronger conferences and punish strong teams for being in weak conferences?
Darren Rovell (3:38 PM)
Robbie, it depends on how the conferences do the split when they get the money. But most of the time, it's a straight split. This happens in football too with the bowl game money. Often it's more profitable for the teams in the conference who don't go to a bowl game. The bottom line is that winning ultimately pays off more than losing, even though in this case, that argument might not hold up as much.
Slightly off topic from the Final Four...but are all of us fans crazy for thinking that a 16 team tourney in football would workout just as well as the field of 64? Or, besides being money hungry jerks, are the schools presidents right?
Darren Rovell (3:39 PM)
The principle might be good, but the only company that I know of that ever really proposed the college football playoff offered a slew of money and then proceeded to file for bankruptcy soon after that. So the answer to this question is, it seems like it would make more money to do it, but I'd need to see a valid proposal.
Is the women's tourney fairly profitable? It's being held at the Garden here in Beantown, yes?
Darren Rovell (3:42 PM)
Yeah, it's at the Garden. I'd assume the women's final four is profitable, but i've never really looked into it.
John (Portland, ME)
How many more years does CBS have the rights to the tournament? What are the chances ABC/ESPN make a strong bid for it then?
Darren Rovell (3:43 PM)
CBS is in a 11-year, $6 billion deal that runs through the 2011 tournament. It's going to come down to dollars and cents as to who will make a run for it. I don't think CBS is profitable paying that kind of money, but they are not far off. They reportedly sold $500 million in ads this year for the tourney.
Hey Darren, Will their ever be a poker league like the PGA or will this fad die out?
Darren Rovell (3:44 PM)
I think there's a potential for a poker league. I guess the World Poker Tour is as close as we have. I'm not sure what to think of poker. Fads in the sports world have lasted 3-5 years and we're still in that period, so I'm not sure what the lasting power is going to be.
If the scandal at Duke involved the basketball team instead of the lacrosse team do you think they would still go with suspending the season? There is a big difference financially between the two sports.
Darren Rovell (3:48 PM)
Wow. Great question. Let's look at how much Duke spends on it's lacrosse players vs. basketball players. In 2004-05, Duke spent $5,217 on each lacrosse player, according to the department of education. They spent $141,481 on each basketball player. Duke made $5 million off basketball. As for lacrosse, we don't know but let's just say nowhere close. It's a good question and when money is involved it definitely complicates things.
Kerry - Raleigh NC
How do you think high schoolers not being able to go staight to the NBA will impact the strength of the power conferences versus the mid majors and smaller conferences?
Darren Rovell (3:50 PM)
Well, i think most of the guys will probably either go to a prep school or high profile school. The only way the mid majors win out of this is if some of the top coaches somehow think it's bad to get a player for one year. I think that thinking is out the window now. Coaches are dumb and it is a what have you done for me lately career.
Oleg (Washington, DC)
I saw over the summer that the NIT was trying to break the NCAA's grip on getting the best teams for the postseason, and that they were even preparing to go to court. Please tell me this effort either is dead already or is certain to fail...
Darren Rovell (3:51 PM)
This was settled. The NCAA now owns the NIT.
Mat (Scottsdale, AZ)
If CBS is in the red from the tourney, has their viewiership on the programs they incessantly promote gone up which would increase revenue there in turn creating a profit?
Darren Rovell (3:52 PM)
Well, that's the idea. That the ancillary programming gets a boost. I haven't looked at the numbers, but that's how networks normally make sense of losses.
Eric (Laguna Niguel, Ca)
Knowing that George Mason is getting $983,886 dollars for reaching the final four, what do you think George Mason should do with that money?
Darren Rovell (3:55 PM)
That's what the six units will be worth, but you can times that by six and you'll get close to $6 million for the CAA over the next six years. That's split, so George Mason doesn't get all the money. How do they use that money? Facilities and recruiting are the great equalizers that can help them in the future.
Do you expect a Flutie effect for George Mason, where applications skyrocket next year because of their success?
Darren Rovell (3:56 PM)
Well, we've seen it with Gonzaga for sure. But that's a smaller school. I wonder if it will still skyrocket given that George Mason is a fairly large school. I believe they have more than 16,000 undergraduates.
Jamie (Auburn, IN)
Hey Darren, Who would be the 4 best draws in the Final Four dollar-wise?
Darren Rovell (3:57 PM)
From a TV ratings standpoint, cinderellas aren't the greatest. So if we're talking final four, I'd say Duke, Connecticut, UNC and Kentucky.
Darren, off topic, but what are the ramifications of sponsors saying they won't celebrate Bonds passing The Babe. I guess I don't understand what this means for baseball...
Darren Rovell (3:59 PM)
It's not that much of a deal actually. It probably means $25 million won't be invested in Bonds related programs, but MLB sponsors spent $250 million last year around their baseball programs and it's not like these companies are going to lose faith in baseball. Baseball is as healthy as ever in attendance, broadcast rights fees and merchandise licensing revenues.
Hannah (NYC via Blitzburgh)
If you go to the Niketown homepage, you cannot buy George Mason final four apparel, but the other 3 were readily available within minutes after their victories. Im not sure that the Patriots would be too pleased about this....or....can they even have Nike as a sponsor?
Darren Rovell (4:00 PM)
Put it this way. Nike clearly wasn't ready for this and I guess they can't mobilize as fast as they would have liked to. As I wrote in my blog, I believe the Final Four shirt of George Mason isn't even made by Nike. As a sponsor, that's just embarassing.
Darren Rovell (4:00 PM)
I have to go. Rick Spielman is coming up. If you have any more questions, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I'll try to get to them.