Football season is nearly here, which means it is time to start planning tailgates and road trips. Slowly but surely, college football administrators starting to look outside into the parking lots, and are discovering that many college football fans also enjoy some adult beverages with their football. Texas recently announced it will sell beer and wine at games, as will Maryland, and now it appears that Ohio State will more seriously study selling beer at Ohio Stadium.
I'm not here to spend too much time talking about whether Ohio State should sell beer at their home games. I'm a practicing Mormon who doesn't drink anything stronger than the ginger ale at the office and even I think this is a no-brainer. Of course they should sell beer. Selling beer doesn't lead to negative public safety outcomes (West Virginia found it actually led to a decrease in public drunkenness), tons of fans want it, and it will make Ohio State money. It's rare that a school has the chance to do something that will actually improve the fan experience and also make money, so that chance shouldn't be wasted.
But how much money could Ohio State make? It's not hard to imagine the school easily taking in more than a million dollars over the course of the season (20,000 people spending eight bucks on beer over seven games = 1.12 million), but they'll also have to share that windfall with the concessions vendors, and also potentially spend more on insurance, licenses or security, depending on how everything shakes out.
For the sake of argument though, let's estimate Ohio State's booze money take at $750,000. That may not seem like a lot to a department that took in over 145 Million last year, but it's still a lot of money. In more practical terms, here are some of the things Ohio State could buy with that booze money:
Cost of attendance awards for roughly 280 student athletes
Soon schools will be able to give out cash awards to make up for the gap between their scholarships and living expenses, called Cost of Attendance. Per this estimation, Ohio State values that award at $2,680 per student, so $750,000 could cover roughly 280 student athletes. To put it another way, $750,000 would be about half of what Ohio State athletic Director Gene Smith has said to have budgeted to cover COA for the entire athletic department ($1.68 Million)
The base salary for any Ohio State assistant football coach
Per the USA TODAY coaching database, Ohio State's most expensive assistant coach, Luke Fickell, made a base salary of $600,00 last year. A beer money fund of $750,000 could have paid the base salaries of Kerry Coombs ($300,000) and Stan Drayton ($295,000) from last year. Just think of the recruiting ROI on that beer money. Pretty outstanding, if you ask me. If you're curious, that money could have also paid the base salary for Alabama OC and internet punching bag Lane Kiffin ($680,000)
The base salaries of Ohio State's head coaches for baseball and wrestling
Ohio State baseball coach Greg Beals made $381,558 last season. National champion winning coach Tom Ryan of the wrestling team made $264,159, although now that he recently signed a new contract extension, it's fair to assume he's making a little more money now. You can add those two together and still have a hundred grand left over. You could swap out Beals with men's lacrosse coach Nick Myers, one of the other highly successful programs at Ohio State ($334,920), and this would still be true.
Most of a guarantee for a football non-conference game
Ohio State paid Florida A&M $850,000 to get clubbed by the Buckeyes in 2013, and is paying Northern Illinois $900,000 to travel to Columbus this season. Those games are getting much more expensive in the future, with Ohio State paying out north of $1 million to Hawaii, UNLV and Oregon State in the future, but $750,000 would go a long way towards paying that hefty fee.
About 8 guaranteed non-conference home basketball games
The guarantees for basketball games are much cheaper than football games, but Ohio State has to pay for more of them. Over the last two seasons, based on contracts obtained by Land-Grant Holy Land, the Buckeyes pay out an average of around $95,000 for a guarantee game, against an opponent like Mount Saint Mary's, or Northern Illinois. That pays for almost eight games, or roughly a regular season's worth of home bodybag type games.
Perhaps the Buckeyes could stretch that money out more, as perhaps more people will want to buy beer to make that Thursday night November tip off against Grambling go down a little bit smoother.
Approximately 948,366 donuts from Buckeye Donuts
Sure, they might be nutritionally bankrupt, but nothing says morning around the Ohio State campus (or, who are we kidding, 3 a.m.), like a warm, soft, delicious donut from Buckeye Donuts. A dozen regular donuts goes for $9.49, which means you could buy roughly 79,000 dozen, or more precisely, 948,366 regular donuts. I bet if Ohio State asked really nicely though, they could get a bulk discount. Maybe they'd throw in some coffee, too.
The folks at Ohio State are smart administrators and canny business professionals, and I'm confident they could find other productive ways to spend or invest that money for the good of the athletic department. Hopefully, it's enough of an incentive to figure out a way to safely give the people what they want, the chance to legally buy adult beverages and watch Ohio State sports.