News Article

Are You Feeling the Squeeze?

Published on: 2017-05-23 16:18:22

If you’ve been coaching for at least a few years, you know it’s a whole new ballgame out there. Your challenges are not just on the scoreboard anymore. You also need to be focused on your brand and your bucks, too.

It may be hard to remember, but there was a time when: 

- winning mattered, but it wasn’t  the be all, end all of your mission;

- parents respected you as a mentor and role model to their sons and daughters; 

- complaining to the AD or administration was a last resort, not a first choice;

- not every student athlete thought they were scholarship-caliber competitors;

- your budget covered what you needed for the team’s core costs.

We can debate whether the new dynamics among coaches, athletes, parents and administrators are net positives or negatives.But there’s no question in which direction the budget compass is pointing: south.

In fact, coaches nationwide have seen their budgets decline by billions (yes, with a B!) since the Great Recession of ‘07. Meanwhile, costs for equipment, travel and supplies keep climbing.

Are we at a breaking point? A special research team of graduate students at the University of Texas’ McCombs Business School just polled over 100,000 college and high school coaches across the country to learn more about the dollars and cents around managing teams.

Here’s what they discovered: over 80% of the coaches reported that their budget declined or stayed flat this year versus last year. 80% of the coaches said that they have to fundraise a quarter or more of their annual spending.  75% report having to fundraise multiple times per year.

Google “cuts in college and high schools athletics” and you’ll see what’s going on. Phoenix-area colleges may drop football … University of North Dakota eliminated four sports, including Women’s Hockey … University of Buffalo shut down four sports, too, including Men’s Soccer … St. Cloud State dropped six teams and cut roster sizes on two more, etc. And those are just college examples. At high schools, it’s much worse.

Why should you care? Because if you haven’t experienced cuts or the mission creep of year-round fundraising, chances are you will soon.

That’s why it’s good news that the fundraising industry is evolving, too. There are some new techniques for raising money that more and more coaches are taking a look at.  One of them is “crowdfunding” or online donation campaigns.

More research from the UT survey: while just 12% of polled coaches have employed crowdfunding so far, over 50% say they intend to or are seriously considering it.  So, something’s going on.

Rather than sending parents a bigger bill every year for gear and equipment or asking overscheduled student athletes to spend days canvassing neighborhoods selling stuff, maybe it’s time to rethink fundraising.

Do you want to start a campaign?

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