UT Athletics: A successful business model
Eleven months after quarterback Vince Young dashed to his right and ran into immortality as the Longhorns claimed the 2005 NCAA National Championship in the Rose Bowl, Ed Goble, the Associate Athletics Director for Business, still speaks exactly to what that moment meant to the University of Texas athletic program.
“Naturally, it was a very good year because of the national championship,” he began. “But, it was a much greater year in other aspects (of the UT athletic program). In football, when you are in a sellout situation (in DKR Texas Memorial Stadium) as we are it is harder to capitalize on the team’s success.
“We sold a few more season tickets, but we saw its impact in the licensing revenues.”
That said, Goble quickly noted the licensing revenue wasn’t an open spigot of money for the university. Last year, he noted that $700,000 of licensing money came directly to athletics for operations.
“The public has a deep-pocket mentality,” Goble said, referring to the UT Athletic Department. “People have an idea that it is some kind of a huge cash cow.”
Goble, who is in his 14th season at Texas, has been in his current position for nine years. He had been a football coach before becoming a CPA.
“The last 10, 11, 12 years . . . college athletics has changed from a business perspective,” he said.
An example of an impact change at Texas was the merging of the women’s and men’s athletic departments. Goble said that it was the intention of UT Athletics Director DeLoss Dodds to make the Athletic Department a self-supporting entity.
“The merger of the women’s and men’s athletic departments in the mid-90s made it (the athletic department) fully self-supporting,” Goble said.
He stated that in 1997, prior to the merger of the women’s and men’s athletic departments, the budget was in the $ 28 to $29 million range.
In 2006, the athletic department budget was between $93 and $94 million.
The folding of the Southwest Conference and the birth of the Big 12 Conference was significant for Texas, according to Goble.
“It made a difference for us in the national perspective,” he explained. “Going from a conference with all (but one) school in Texas to schools throughout the Midwest and into the Mountain West was important. The North Division schools brought a lot to the table.
“The Big 12 raised our profile.”
Goble also stated that the hiring of Mack Brown as head football coach created a significant impact.
“With Mack’s drive,” Goble began, “he improved the quality of our program. Our attendance in football, our annual giving, the fan interest in the program . . . all of those things came with Mack’s arrival.
“Then came our building phase, with the improvements to DKR Texas Memorial Stadium, the track stadium, the soccer stadium, the bubble, the renovation to Disch-Falk. We were able to generate significant revenues to be able to do these things.”
Goble noted that the business side of the Athletic Department got progressive and aggressive. The broadcasting network agreement with Host Communications is example of such.
“The Athletic Department taking over the Frank Erwin Center, likewise, was significant,” said Goble, noting the move that took place in the 2003-04 school year.
“That put us in a different entertainment business. Concerts and other shows provided us more bang for our buck.”
And speaking of bang for the buck . . .
The new VideoBoard -- the 55-feet tall and 134-feet wide structure in the South end zone is the most visible highlight of the DKR Texas Memorial Stadium renovation.
The 7,340-square foot structure, as of this writing, is the largest such scoreboard in the world. However, there have been reports with regard to a larger edifice in Asia coming by year’s end.
The VideoBoard, which was manufactured by South Dakota-based Daktronics, Inc., cost $8 million.
“It was a significant expense,” Goble admitted. “But, we felt it was worth it. In addition to what it provides the fans in the stadium on game day, the board provides business opportunities for us. You have to spend money to make money.”
Aggressive . . . progressive . . .
That business model has proven to be a success for Texas.