Kimmel-Gate: playing out the season, dollars and cents


Bob Berghaus has a column in the Citizen-Times today which demonstrates to me that Kimmel-Gate isn’t going away.  Berghaus calls Janet Cone, Chancellor Ponder, and Big South Commissioner Kyle Kallander “clueless,” and states that the people most impacted by this saga are the players.  From what I can gather, the Bulldogs have used the actions of Cone, etc. as an excuse to go into full-fledged “eff you, nobody believes in us” mode, which as far as I’m concerned bodes well for the rest of the season.

Two more items to note:

In order for the much-ballyhooed scenario to take place, the Bulldogs have to win the Big South regular season championship.  Asheville is currently 7-0.  There are 11 games left in the regular season: 7 at home, 4 away.

  • Of those 11 games, 6 are against teams with with a .500 record or below, while 5 are against teams with records above .500.
  • 7 of the 10 teams Asheville plays have RPIs above 200, while 3 (Coastal, CSU, Campbell) have RPIs below 200.
  • A realistic prediction: Asheville wins out at home, loses at Coastal, and beats VMI and Liberty on the road.  Asheville ends the season 17-1 in conference and wins the regular season championship.  This is completely plausible given Asheville’s performance so far in addition to the records and strengths of the teams Asheville has left to play.

One of the big unanswered questions surrounding Kimmel-Gate is the question of dollars and cents.  Namely: how much money does Asheville stand to gain/lose in hosting the Southern Conference women’s basketball tournament versus hosting the Big South Conference men’s basketball tournament?  It’s an interesting study in opportunity cost.  One must also consider the potential revenue to be gained by participating in the NCAA tournament.

  • First, let’s assume that Asheville plays three tournament games at home.  Given the team’s performance this year, it’s a reasonable assumption to make, and it’s also the scenario that the University administration should plan for each year.
  • Last time Asheville hosted a Big South tournament (in 2008), it sold out the Justice Center.  Asheville should expect at least that amount of attendance for this year’s games, and probably more (2,000+).  Asheville would also gain revenue from concessions and memorabilia purchased at the game.  While concessions would not vary much from the regular season, one could reasonably expect merchandise sales to increase since many people would want to commemorate Asheville’s hosting of the tournament.  Finally, the game would be broadcast on national television (ESPN or ESPN 2) with potential revenue from advertising as well as non-monetary value coming from showcasing the campus and the University on national tv for two hours.
  • If Asheville wins the Big South tournament (something that home-court advantage can certainly affect), then the financial scenario gets even rosier.  The NCAA distributes revenue from the men’s basketball tournament to conferences based on the amount of games that a team played in over the past five seasons (2007-2011).  Last year, according to the NCAA, the Big South Conference received $1,937,632 dollars.  Each conference divides this amount of money between individual teams at its own discretion.  The University also receives money from the NCAA for travel expenses (around $82,000) and much-needed exposure (that “one shining moment” last year epitomized by Asheville’s victory over Arkansas-Little Rock).

A lot has been written and said about the principles at stake in this debate: how Ms. Cone and Chancellor Ponder have put another conference ahead of their own student-athletes.  But aside from that legitimate debate, the UNC Asheville community must consider the potential financial consequences of Ms. Cone and Chancellor Ponder’s actions, specifically the opportunity cost of giving up the right to host the final game of the Big South men’s basketball tournament (and possibly going to the NCAA tournament) in favor of hosting the opening round of the Southern Conference women’s basketball tournament.


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