April 11, 2014
By JACK BOGACZYK
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – The 2013 Military Bowl numbers that most will be remember at Marshall are 31 and 20 – the final score in the Thundering Herd’s victory over Maryland at Navy Marine Corps Stadium.
However, another important number for the Herd from the game is 61,400 – as in dollars.
That’s the amount of profit Marshall made on the bowl, the second straight postseason trip on which the Herd has finished well in the black.
“It was a great experience for our student-athletes and coaches, and we got a victory over a power conference team to cap a 10-win season,” Marshall Athletic Director Mike Hamrick said. “It was a great event for our fans, and the impact we made in the Washington, D.C., area – which is important to us – was tremendous.
“We received the kind of TV exposure you can’t buy and had a lot of support in the stadium. On top of that, we made money on the trip.”
The Military Bowl was headquartered in the nation’s capital before the scene moved to Annapolis, Md., on game day. The Herd left Huntington on Dec. 23 for the Dec. 27 game, and returned immediately after beating the Terps, who played their last football game as an ACC member that afternoon before heading to the Big Ten.
David Steele, Marshall’s associate AD for finance and administration, said the Conference USA financial plan for bowl teams helps league members prosper. However, it is up to each institution to manage its budget.
Marshall’s profit of $61,400 -- $61,399.96 to be exact -- includes all of the school’s expenses, including coaches’ bonuses ($112,592) and bowl championship rings for the team ($23,540). It also includes expenses for bowl travel and housing for 280 members of the Marching Thunder and MU cheerleaders.
The last time the Herd reached the postseason – a 2011 Beef ‘O’ Brady’s Bowl victory over FIU in St. Petersburg, Fla. – Marshall showed a profit of $54,477.
In 2009, the Herd downed rival Ohio in the Little Caesar’s Pizza Bowl in Detroit. From that one, Marshall made a game-trip profit of $66,727. With three straight bowl wins, the Herd has a total football postseason game profit of $182,604 since Hamrick became the AD in July 2009.
“Conference USA has a formula that allows schools to cover expenses and also provides an incentive to schools to sell tickets, because of the amount of revenue that institution gets to keep,” Steele said.
The formula allows a C-USA school to retain the first $100,000 in revenue on tickets sold by the school, then 50 percent of the remainder of school sales.
Marshall sold 2,773 Military Bowl tickets through the school, for $183,925. Of that figure, Marshall retained $141,962.50.
Bowl officials estimated the Herd had more than 6,000 fans in the seats at Navy Marine Corps Stadium. Hamrick and Steele pointed out that Marshall’s revenue could have been greater, but it was obvious a large number of Herd fans bought tickets through the bowl and outside ticket services, rather than the MU box office.
The game attendance was 30,163, a 69 percent increase from the 2012 bowl.
Including the ticket-revenue retention figure, Marshall’s bowl allowance from C-USA was $522,396.98. Steele said that included a standard $125,000 “up front,” $10,000 per day for meals and per diem, 115 hotel rooms for four nights and bus travel for the team and band.
The C-USA bowl travel guidelines required the Herd and its band to bus to the bowl to meet requirements. Steele said C-USA’s “team drive” guideline was a one-way trip of approximately 400 miles or less. The mileage from Huntington to Washington, D.C., is 408 miles.
Marshall’s bowl expenses were $460,997.02.
The $61,400 profit isn’t the total revenue Marshall will receive from its postseason experience. Steele said Conference USA’s bowl distribution figures to the membership are not yet available. In that plan, the six C-USA bowl teams (Marshall, Rice, East Carolina, Middle Tennessee, North Texas, Tulane) will receive a larger piece of the pie than the other 10 members for 2013-14.
Steele said preliminary estimates from the conference have the 10 non-bowl teams receiving in the $30,000 range, while the Herd and its five fellow bowl teams could get an additional $80,000 apiece.
Steel said the exact dollar figures should be available “sometime in May.”
The TV exposure was another plus for the Herd, which was one of only two non-BCS conference teams to win a bowl game over a team from a BCS automatic qualification league (the other was Colorado State over Washington State in the New Mexico Bowl).
A 1.7 rating represented $1.975 million households tuned in, with 2.575 million viewers – a 35 percent increase from the 2012 Military Bowl.
Hamrick and Steele also complimented the game’s operations by Military Bowl Executive Director Steve Beck and the bowl’s director of finance and operations, Lauren Schweitzer.
“It was a great experience for us,” Hamrick said. “We didn’t just win a football game. It was an educational trip for our team, too, with the tours of the (U.S.) Capitol and the monuments in Washington.
“We don’t shortchange our student-athletes in the opportunity, or in the awards they receive. The message is to make sure we have a positive experience for our players and coaches, but at the same time, it’s important to manage expenses.
“It was a winning experience for us in a lot of ways.”