The Truth

Editors note: This fanpost article is best viewed in "wide" format (see right hand sidebar). We'll be tinkering with the figure display so if something disappears, it'll be back up soon.

Check part 1 out here.

By Ash Whit

1. What is wrong with Clemson?

  • Clemson receives more football revenue than all ACC schools (save VA. Tech, 500K more). How many ACC Championships do we have since 1991? 0
  • Clemson has the best attendance and fan base in the ACC. Click Here.
  • Clemson tuition has tripled since 2000.
  • Pretty much all of President Barker's goals (Top 20, Nat'l Champ, 2 Final Fours) have been a huge failures. Is he a demagogue? Click Here.
  • A lot of the USNWR academic rankings were manipulated. Click Here.
  • Better football programs = more applicants = more selective admissions Click Here.

a. About me. I love Clemson with the passion of a thousand suns. I was born in Clemson. I graduated from Clemson (Civil Engineering) in 2003. My uncles went to Clemson when it was a military school. My dad went to Clemson when they won the national championship in 1981. This is where my brainwashing started.

I remember as a kid getting all geeked up about watching Clemson on tv. I was 5 and would bring all my stuffed animals (mostly tigers) down and place them in front of the tv to watch. I started getting Athlon Preseason magazines when I was 6 (1987). I use to make my own ALL-ACC teams and predictions in my composition notebooks (age 6-12). I remember ordering a subscription to the Poop Sheet when I was 8 (now the ACC Sports Journal). The bottom line, I am a huge fan and lover of Clemson. It is that old cliché; there is something in these hills.

My intentions are to shine a light on the situation. I do not consider myself a dumper or a pumper. What I want:

  • Clemson to have the best recruiting class possible.
  • Clemson to win championships.
  • The Athletic Department to have the funds to win championships.
  • Facility upgrades (Training Table, Indoor facility, more staff, etc)
  • Standards equal to our competition.
  • Tuition lowered.
  • The "Top 20" agenda scrapped.
  • More tangible academic goals.

I also do not have any personal grudges with the Clemson administration. I have met President Barker once, and he appeared to be a nice guy. I have met his son a couple of times, and he is also very nice. I know President Barker is a Clemson man, but I believe he needs to step back and look at the big picture. His goals should not justify his means. A lot of this report is about Clemson football, but some of it is a critique on the current Administration and their agenda.

b. The Numbers: Revenues and Expenses are not adjusted for inflation.

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Table 1, Revenue and Championships


Table 2, ACC Rankings in Revenue and Winning

c. Summary. All the revenue data is from the Dept. of Education (avg. 03-09). The data shows that Clemson brings in way more revenue the past 7 years than every ACC schools (except VT about 500K more). However, Clemson ranks 5th in total football expenses (Coaches Salaries, Recruiting, Travel, Etc). Clemson ranks #1 in net revenue (take home). The bottom line, the Clemson football program is taxed around 50%. While the two NC private schools (Wake and Duke) get stimulus. The ACC teams that have the highest total expenses have the most championships (except GT and WF). GT and WF are also efficient (or frugal) with their operating expenses (7th and 12th respectively).

From the site:
Clemson reported $35.2 million in football revenue in 2008-09, followed by Virginia Tech ($27.7 million), Miami ($27.2 million) and Florida State ($24.9 million). The Hokies’ revenue also increased 12 percent to $31.1 million in 2009-10.

During the 2008-09 academic years, the most recent year with data available for all the schools, the programs that spent the most on football were Miami ($20.9 million), Boston College ($19.4 million), Clemson ($18.8 million) and Virginia Tech ($18.2 million).


Graph 1, Show Me The Money!

d. UVA wants more for their money. UVA is not getting what they paid for (2nd in total expenses and horrible). They average around 6 wins a year. They are also one of the top public universities in the nation. Are they hampered with ridiculous admission requirements? I don’t follow UVA, but if I were a fan I would demand an AD change. Almost all their money goes back into the program and they still cannot get it done. Thomas Jefferson would be rolling over in his grave. He went in debt, but he produced results.

e. Smart schools spend on football. The ACC’s four private schools (Miami, BC, Wake and Duke) almost spend their entire revenues back into the program. On a side note, maybe being private lets you get away with this. The 3 smartest public schools (according to the USNWR) also spend a considerable amount back into their program. UVA almost spends their entire revenue back into the program. The bottom line, the smart schools spend more per capita on their football programs. Maybe it is because they don’t have to worry about academic rankings, or they just do not care. They probably also read the Smart Journal.
Better football programs = more applicants = more selective admissions


Table 3, Being Smart?

f. Basic Economics. The schools that spent the most on their programs and are allowed to keep most of their profits typically have more wins and championships. The two private North Carolina schools (Duke and Wake) receive stimulus. They are typically the worst teams in the ACC. The bottom line, reward good behavior and you get good returns. When you reward bad behavior you get bad results. When you punish good behavior your results get worse (Clemson and FSU).

However, Wake’s case is a tad bit different. They made a huge capital investment (upgraded their stadium) after they won the ACC. This is probably a bad investment. You cannot expect a huge return when your competition can easily out spend you (Wake ranks 10th in Total Expenses). Wake’s student enrollment is the smallest in the ACC. How do they expect to increase revenues with such a small fan base? T. Boone Pickens did not go to Wake.

g. Clemson Economics. Clemson has a socialist economy with a football tax rate over 50%. (Spreading the wealth is great, if you are Cuba or North Korea). The football team profits around 14 million dollars a year. Only a moderate amount is kicked back to the other athletic teams, see tables 4 and 5 below.

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Table 4, 2009 Clemson Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR)


Table 5, 2009 Dept. of Education (DOE) Survey

h. Where does the money go? That is the million dollar question. Also, the above tables do not match. 52.7 million (table 4) in total expenses do not match 56.1 million in table 5. On table 4, what is the NonProgram specific category? The net cost was 9 million. On table 5 (line 10), what is the "not allocated" expenses? That cost 22.7 million. The bottom line, something smells fishy. If I am wrong, please let me know. I am not an accountant. I could be missing something. I’ve emailed the Comptroller and AD office for answers. Don’t hold your breath.

i. Death and Taxes.

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Table 6, Death and Taxes (Revenue transfers equal a tax).


Graph 2, ACC Football Tax Rate

There was some debate if I should consider the "wealth transfer within the Athletic Department based on the political nature of demanders of that transfer", a tax. To make things simple I am considering it a tax.

From the data, the Clemson football program is taxed over 50%. They have the highest tax rate in the ACC (save NC ST). One of President Barker’s ten year goals was to win another National Championship. Was he serious? How can the football team compete when they are taxed like this? The table below shows what the Clemson program could afford if they were taxed at the average ACC rate.

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Table 7, What could Clemson buy?

Yes, the Clemson program could buy over 16 million Big Macs if they were taxed at the ACC average. They could also buy 5 Indoor Practice Facilities.

j. Conclusion. Money is being diverted away from the program at a rate greater than every ACC team (except NC State). Clemson has arguably the largest fan base in the ACC. We bring in more football revenue than all the ACC (except VA Tech, they avg. 500K more). However, we are 5th in average wins and have no championships. For this program to be competitive and win championships, more money needs invested back into the program. We the fans put in the funds, but they are not invested back. We deserve better.

Does giving a football program more money equal more wins and championships. Does giving a company more money to compete typically hurt revenues? No. This is logical, more money in facilities, coaching, training table, etc, increases productions. A better product increases revenues. More revenues = more taxable income. A better product means more donations and more people in the stands. Git’er done already.

More great articles:

2. The Top 20 Agenda. Is Barker a Demagogue? In 2001, President Barker laid out his plan for Clemson becoming a US News & World Report’s (USNWR) Top 20 public university. I personally think magazine rankings are a silly thing to go after, but let us just look at what has happened since his plans were implemented.

a. Tuition Tripled.

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Table 8, The Budget

From: Clemson-Top-20-FitsNews.pdf

Clemson typically blames the State legislature for increased tuition, but if you look at the numbers you will see the budget and revenues have increased also, see below.

Clemson University

FY 2004-05 – $471.6 million
FY 2005-06 – $501.5 million
FY 2006-07 – $532.8 million
FY 2007-08 – $562.7 million
FY 2008-09 – $583.3 million

Clemson University (Public Service Activities)

FY 2004-05 – $54.6 million
FY 2005-06 – $59.5 million
FY 2006-07 – $67.1 million
FY 2007-08 – $74.1 million
FY 2008-09 – $76.5 million


The table below compares similar university tuitions.

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Table 9, Comparing Tuitions from Clemson’s 2009 CAFR.

Clemson’s tuition is higher than every school listed. Clemson tuition is almost twice as much as Georgia Tech, Iowa State, Auburn, NC State, and Mississippi State.

One of Thomas Green Clemson goals was to provide an education to the unfortunate people of South Carolina. However, his goals of affordability do not go well with the USNWR ranking system.

b. Graduation Statistics. In 2003, the ‘Top 20" task force recommended a reduction in credit hours needed to graduate. They were reduced from 133 to 120. How does this improve education? It does improve USNWR rankings. Click here for more info.

c. Alumni Giving. One of the USNWR measurements involves percentage of alumni that give back to their alma mater. At the 2006 graduation, Clemson gave the students two-dollar bills. After the ceremony they were asked to donate them back to the Alumni Association. If that is not manipulative, I do not know what is.

d. You other universities are not that good. "Clemson officials, in filling out the reputational survey form for presidents, rate ‘all programs other than Clemson below average,’ to make the university look better." Click Here.

e. Other Rankings and Rants. According to the Center for College Affordability and Productivity report dated August 2008, entitled "Clemson: Why Spending Does Not Equal Quality." The author says, "over half of the ranking criteria [per US News] involve facts that may not actually improve educational effectiveness."

On June 4, 2009, after the revelation that President Barker rated Clemson higher than Harvard, Princeton and Yale in a peer survey. Robert Morse, director of data research at US News and veteran of the magazine’s "Best Colleges in America" survey." He wrote, "It’s up to the Clemson University community to decide whether rising in the college rankings is a goal it ought to pursue." Morse explained, "…the rankings are not meant to drive the mission or any other strategic goals that a university may be trying to attain."

According to a article:

"I also think that, while yield rate and graduation are positive steps, these changes do not make up for the fact that, in the end, the U.S. News rankings focus too much on prestige and standardized testing, and too little on what the school has to offer to its students." Click Here.

d. Conclusion. We deserve better. I want a better Clemson in both athletics and academics. I want a pragmatic Clemson president. I do not want an ideologue focused on magazine rankings.

We need some real tangible goals. Critical research and innovation in agriculture, engineering, medicine and sustainable energy, etc, etc. Not by improving our magazine ranking. The tuition has to come down too. However, I will give Barker credit for increased research funding and some other academic improvements.

The bottom line, scrap the "Top 20" agenda.

Update, a practice facility

These opinions are not necessarily those of the Proprietors of Shakin' The Southland.

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