Meet Kyle Brotzman, Boise State’s senior placekicker and punter.
The former walk-on is the NCAA’s active career scoring leader. Many would have remembered him as the player who faked a punt and threw a 30-yard, momentum-shifting pass that led the Broncos to a Fiesta Bowl victory last season.
After Nov. 26, Brotzman will be remembered for what may have been the two most costly missed field goals in college football history.
Through this moment, and the consequences of it, we’ve been able to see that money plays too large of a role in collegiate athletics.
Brotzman trotted out to try a game-winning, 26-yard field goal amidst the hounding and heckling of thousands of Nevada fans.
Coupled with the frigid temperatures, it was a high-pressure kick that had then-No. 4 Boise State’s undefeated season and hopes of a Rose Bowl berth weighing down on his right foot.
The pressure proved too much for the four-year starter, and with one second remaining in regulation, his would-be game winner sailed just outside the right upright.
Brotzman’s second attempt to move the game winner sailed just outside the right upright.
Brotzman had a second attempt to move the Broncos ahead in overtime, but he overcompensated and booted the 29-yard field goal wide left, opening the door for a 34-31 Nevada victory.
Suddenly, Brotzman’s world was turned upside down. What had been a dream season for the Broncos came crashing down. No longer would Boise State be considered for a spot in the national championship—or even the Rose Bowl.
Instead, the Broncos are now slated to play against Utah in the Las Vegas Bowl on Dec. 22.
Annually, the Rose Bowl pays $18 million per team, while the Las Vegas Bowl pays $1 million. After that money is split between five other conferences who were not promised bids in the Bowl Championship Series, Boise State expects to make between $3 and 5 million less than it would have if Brotzman’s kicks had been true.
The Western Athletic Conference is hurting even more. Boise State’s conference would have received around $16 million in bowl-game payouts had the Broncos gone undefeated and clinched a spot in a BCS bowl.
These staggering figures verify an inconvenient truth that many purists of collegiate athletics choose to sweep under the rug.
An old adage goes, “Money makes the world go round,” and money is the common driving force behind nearly all decisions regarding college sports, particularly men’s basketball and football.
Don’t believe me? See for yourself.
Just this past spring, our Butler Bulldogs’ men’s basketball team enjoyed an improbable run and near-storybook ending by finishing as the national runner-up to the Duke Blue Devils.
Amid their success on the court, many NCAA officials were deliberating whether to shake up the NCAA tournament, one of the most successful and tradition-rich postseason tournaments in all of sports. The proposal was to move from a 65-team field to a 96-team field.
Why would the NCAA propose to make such a drastic change to a tournament that hadn’t seen major expansion since 1985? Dan Dakich, host of an Indianapolis sports radio show and former collegiate basketball coach was willing to guess.
“It is 100 percent about money,” Dakich said. “The NCAA Tournament is one of the biggest money makers there is in college sports.”
Lately, it is commonplace for collegiate officials and administrators to make dollars a priority over textbooks.
Last week, Texas Christian University announced its plans to change athletic conferences, moving from the Mountain West Conference to the Big East. That isn’t a typo. A team from Texas will be competing in the Big East.
What would fuel a move that would put TCU approximately 1,200 miles away from the other Big East schools? The chance to move to a BCS automatic qualifying conference was too much to pass up for the Horned Frogs.
Each of the five BCS bowls, including the national championship, pays out nearly $88 million to its participants. The non-BCS bowls, all 27 of them, collectively pay out around $70 million.
Conference realignment has become an appealing option for some universities and the trend is running rampant nationwide.
Consider the following: TCU is headed to the Big East; Nebraska will join the Big Ten and its national television market next season; Colorado and Utah have accepted invitations to join the Pacific-10; Brotzman’s Boise State Broncos will move to the Mountain West Conference’s greener pastures.
Altering postseason tournaments and bolting to another conference merely for fiscal reasons is a contradiction of the mission of collegiate athletics. Universities are there to provide solid educations for their athletes while instilling principles and viewpoints that prepare them for life after college—the real world.
Considering that less than one percent of all college athletes go on to play at a professional level, institutions should be weighing other factors besides revenue when making decisions regarding sports.
Not all schools look solely at how much money they’re making off of various ventures. There are universities that find it important to preserve the original ideals of college athletics, place an emphasis on academics and care about athletes and their futures.
Sadly though, the aforementioned “some” are a minority and in collegiate athletics, in which money talks.