Crunching some U of L numbers

The cost of Kragthorpe

A couple of sets of numbers have come out in the past two days that shouldn’t pass without some comment.

While the eye-popping number is that U of L expects at least an $11 million revenue jump in its first season in an expanded football stadium and the new KFC Yum! Center, my attention jumped to something else.

And while many accused me of hitting Steve Kragthorpe while he was down during his U of L coaching tenure, I guess I’m going to have to hit him one more time now that he is out. Call it the cost of Kragthorpe.

Going into last season, U of L projected it would make $8.3 million off football ticket sales. When the budget was released this week, the actual number U of L took in from football ticket sales: $6.9 million.

Now yes, it was a down year with one fewer home game and UK not on the schedule, but those are beside the point. U of L took those into account when it put that $8.3 million on the line, so to come in at $1.4 million below that shows you just how deeply the attendance drop cut into the football bottom line.

Overall, U of L’s total football revenue came in at $12.8 million, or $1.2 million under projections.

How big a difference is the expanded stadium expected to make? Football revenue for the coming season is expected to be just a shade under $20 million.

A look at U of L football revenue in recent seasons:

2010 projected: $19.88 million
2009: $12.8 million
2008: $18.96 million
2007: $16.08 million
2006: $19.0 million

— LOUISVILLE FOOTBALL APR. Another set of numbers came out from the NCAA today, the annual Academic Progress Report (APR) numbers, and while U of L is not on notice for this set of numbers, it still shows that the football program’s academic profile was weakened through defections in recent years.

U of L’s football APR multi-year score of 926 ranked last among the Big East’s football members and, in fact, only three schools in BCS conferences ranked lower than U of L in that football multi-year rating (Ole Miss, Colorado, Washington State). This is not just a score for a single year, but a cumulative score combining the past four years.

More worrisome, the number is just two points above the threshold for receiving sanctions. The report released today covers the academic years from 2005-06 to 2008-09.

U of L football APR score by year:

2003-04 — 950 (70-80th percentile nationally among football programs)
2004-05 — 952 (70-80th percentile nationally)
2005-06 — 947 (70-80th percentile nationally)
2006-07 — 943 (60-70th percentile nationally)
2007-08 — 930 (30-40th percentile nationally)
2008-09 — 912 (20-30th percentile nationally)

— As you can see, new coach Charlie Strong has some work to do to lift this academic profile, and he came down hard as soon as he took over in doing just that. To show how total the new disciplinary mindset has taken over in the football complex, a little story. My daughter sometimes goes out to the U of L campus to sell what Girl Scout cookies she may have left at the end of the sales period. They went into the Schnellenberger Complex and sold to a few coaches, but when they stopped a player in the complex (and I’m not sure which player it was), he politely said, “No, I can’t. Coach has us all on a diet.) Every time Tom Jurich speaks lately, he is stressing the importance of continuing to improve the department’s academic profile — which has risen drastically in his time there and continues to improve in most sports. But with its high profile, football has to turn its fortunes on more than just the field. This number has been more of a reflection of player departures than poor academic performance by those who stayed, so the need for Strong to stabilize things is great.

Look for a more complete APR overview from The C-J in tomorrow’s paper.

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