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FCS Playoffs a ‘Break Even’ Proposition for EWU

By Riley Baker, Staff Reporter

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EWU football finished with an overall record of 12-2 on the year they advanced to the semifinals of the FCS playoffs and had two finalists for the Walter Payton award, along with six All-Americans.

With the accolades and three extra home games in the playoffs, one would think that the athletic department would make a little extra money. But, believe it or not, they do not.

When a team hosts a playoff game in the FCS, they have to go through a bid process in order to play the game at their venue. In order for the NCAA to keep the game as neutral as possible, it is not considered a home game but an NCAA event.

In the three playoff games at Roos Field, EWU could only use the NCAA game day graphics. They were not allowed to do the first down ‘caw’ or even the team’s pregame video.

“All the things that we put up on the video board are done through the NCAA in conjunction with our office,” said Chad Karthauser, associate athletic director for Business and Finance. “So, it really is about as neutral sided game as you can make it, it just happens to be on our home turf which is our home field advantage.”

The NCAA does not compensate FCS teams for having playoff success either. In fact, the only NCAA sport that compensates for playoff success is men’s basketball, Karthauser said. Because of the nature of the television deals NCAA has during March Madness, they have the budget to allow for compensation. For football, the NCAA does not reward for success because the marketability does not have the same effect.

Most of the revenue that comes in from the event has to go back to the NCAA via the bid process because there is a certain dollar amount that EWU has to send back to them. This year it was $40,000 for the second round, $50,000 for the quarter finals and $60,000 for the semifinals, Karthauser said.

“[That] means you have to have ticket revenue that comes in, and then all the expenses that go out, whatever the profit is from that, we need to guarantee them at least $60,000 to be able to do that,” Karthauser said.

Additional to the bid, 85 percent of ticket revenue has to go back to the NCAA.

“It really is setup to be a break even proposition,” Athletic Director Bill Chaves said.

From a monetary perspective, the EWU Athletic Department typically does not profit from it and may even take a little bit of a loss. The trade off is that it is important for EWU to have three extra home games so the fans do not have to travel, Karthauser said.

From the standpoint of recruiting, it does not hurt to have potential recruits seeing the team advance in the playoffs through the Inferno.

“It adds three more Saturdays where crowds come in and businesses prosper in Cheney,” said Chaves. “It puts us on a national stage, and it gives Eastern an opportunity to be nationally visible.”

EWU has hosted playoff games in five of the last seven years. During those games, everyone sees the red turf while other teams, their fans, officials and announcers can experience EWU football and Cheney. The playoffs have helped the team’s fan base grow as well, Chaves said.

“If you look at true dollars and cents, we might lose a little bit of money on it but at the end of the day, I don’t know how much you can buy that national exposure you get from it,” Karthauser said.

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The independent, student-run news site of Eastern Washington University.
FCS Playoffs a ‘Break Even’ Proposition for EWU