Journalism Showcase

ESPN’s “Journalism Showcase” – September 2, 2016

Preview of the new  Clemson football complex.
Here’s a preview of the Clemson football complex.
Paula Lavigne
Paula Lavigne

Thanks to college athletics, the ACC, Big 12, Pac-12, Big Ten and SEC combined revenue is now billions of dollars.

Reporter Paula Lavigne investigates the effect this increased revenue has on colleges racing to keep up on this Sunday’s Outside the Lines (9 a.m. ET on ESPN2).

“It’s been pretty amazing what some schools have done with their money,” said Lavigne. “They spend a ton on salaries and on adding staff to their athletic departments, but it’s the amenities for student athletes that get the most attention.”

In order to see how the other colleges and universities were being affected, Lavigne talked to athletic directors and financial analysts.

“I sought out people who had studied college athletic department finances in the past and who were familiar with the data on revenues and expenses over time,” she said. “I interviewed a few athletic directors at a group of five schools who talked about the challenges of trying to keep up amid the college sports arms race. They defended how much money they received from the university, student fees, etc., because they felt the school got a lot in return. Some of their programs fared better than others financially.”

There were a lot of anecdotes out there about the divide between the haves and have-nots in the FBS, but until we analyzed the data we didn’t realize how big the gulf had grown and which programs were really relying heavily on subsidized revenue.
– Paula Lavigne

The analysis wasn’t something completed overnight.

“This story was based on years of data we collected on revenues and expenses at Division I Football Bowl Subdivision schools,” she said. “We requested the records, entered a lot of data and then crunched the numbers to find out what was happening over time. There were a lot of anecdotes out there about the divide between the haves and have-nots in the FBS, but until we analyzed the data we didn’t realize how big the gulf had grown and which programs were really relying heavily on subsidized revenue.”

Lavigne said the programs relying on subsidized revenues are obtaining it from student pockets and she hopes this story will raise even more concerns about the issue.

“I think students – and parents – are caring more and more about this issue because they’re the ones paying for it through higher student fees. And it’s a double whammy for them now because they’re also facing higher tuition,” said Lavigne.

She compares the overspending to the “housing bubble” of a few years ago:

“You have all these people spending beyond their means on their own homes to keep up with the Joneses. Then one day, they can’t borrow anymore and they can’t make their house payments, so they lose their home. The bubble bursts, and they’re forced to rein it in. There are a lot of colleges trying to keep up with the Joneses when it comes to athletics, and the pattern is very similar.”

Bill Madaras at the Kick for Nick soccer ball collection net.
Bill Madaras at the Kick for Nick soccer ball collection net.

Sunday’s SC Featured on SportsCenter goes back to an award-winning ESPN feature from seven years ago to tell a new story about a father carrying on his son’s memory.

Army PFC Nick Madaras died in Iraq 10 years ago, but his legacy lives on through the 45,000 soccer balls his father Bill and mother Shalini have collected and shipped to 28 war-torn countries. They are honoring a request Bill’s son made to him after watching children play soccer with makeshift balls in Iraq.

In 2009, “Kick for Nick,” produced by Jose Morales and Victor Vitarelli and narrated by Tom Rinaldi for the ESPN Features Unit, earned a national Edward R. Murrow Award. The new version was produced by Michael O’Connor in collaboration with the original three.

“It’s an update but we tried to do it from a different view,” O’Connor said. “We decided to tell the story through the father’s voice only. He’s telling you about his son and, as a result of his death, what’s happened since and really how big it’s gotten.”

Bill Madaras personally writes his son’s name on nearly every ball before it is shipped.

“It’s a pretty powerful thing that he does to honor his son,” O’Connor said.

The feature will debut in the 10 a.m. ET edition of SportsCenter and will re-air in other editions throughout the day.

By Andy Hall

Journalism on Display

  • For Les Miles and LSU, football means a return to normalcy. ESPN.com writer Mark Schlabach takes readers through the roller coaster of events from racial violence to the devastating storms in Baton Rouge and how Coach Miles almost lost his job. Now entering the 2016 season with arguably the nation’s best player, Miles has the opportunity to turn things around.
  • Before Colin Kaepernick there was Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf. In 1996, Abdul-Rauf refused to stand during the national anthem at an NBA game. He was suspended for one game but by 1998 he couldn’t get so much as a tryout with an NBA team. Jesse Washington tells Abdul-Rauf’s story on TheUndefeated.com.
  • South Carolina’s Will Muschamp has the rare opportunity to be a head coach again after his four-year tenure at Florida came to an end in 2014. And although he might not have been the Gamecocks’ first choice, he’s out to prove he was the right one, senior writer Mark Schlabach writes on ESPN.com. Muschamp made his coaching debut versus Vanderbilt Thursday night with a 13-10 victory.
  • After leaving Maryland and going unselected in the 1982 NFL draft, former Terps star Charlie Wysocki was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. He would spend the next 27 years in and out of hospitals and living in the streets. Dan Russo tells Wysocki’s story on TheUndefeated.com.
  • Panelists on Sunday morning’s The Sports Reporters (9:30 a.m., ESPN; 10:30 a.m., ESPN2) will be Mike Lupica (host), Manish Mehta, William C. Rhoden, and Bob Ryan.

By Molly Mita

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