Outside of the major BCS bowls, a trip to a bowl game means a financial burden on many of the schools involved. Such is the case in the Holiday Bowl, where the Nebraska Cornhuskers are forecasting a loss while the Washington Huskies are simply hoping to break even. Bowl games can be great for a program and are a reward for the players involved, but it all comes at a price.
The Holiday bowl pays out $4.2 million in total, split down the middle and awarded to each team. The schools, however, won’t see that money in full, instead handing the check over to the Pac-10 and Big 12 to be shared amongst each conference’s members. All the bowl money earned goes into a pot, including the lucrative BCS money, and is spread across each conference according to a revenue sharing model. For the Pac-10, it means the six teams that failed to make a bowl will receive a financial windfall while sitting at home, free of the expenses that come along with a bowl appearance.
For Nebraska, the expenses involved with traveling the team, paying bonuses to the coaching staff and bringing the band along for the ride outweigh the revenue doled-out by the bowl itself. Nebraska is using the opportunity to reward all those involved in the program, even spending somewhere around $150,000 to bring the band.
“Right now, we’re going to probably lose money on this bowl,” the school’s athletic director said Tuesday, noting how Chancellor Harvey Perlman supported the approximate $150,000 cost of flying the band to the game.
The Washington Huskies, on the other hand, were given an expense allowance that totaled just over $1 million. Having a second BCS team — Oregon is in the BCS National Championship and Stanford in the Orange Bowl — means more money for each team in the conference, totaling between $250,000 and $400,000. Still, with the expenses involved in a trip to San Diego so high, the Huskies have a modest goal of simply breaking even this bowl season. While it may seem like just another road trip, playing in a bowl game means increased obligations and, with them, increased team expenses (via Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times).
The biggest expense, Woodward says, is housing. The team will travel to San Diego on Dec. 23 (the bowls require teams to arrive by a prearranged date).
Washington has to pay rent for the field at which it will practice (the University of San Diego), as well as meals for players.
The Huskies are bringing a traveling delegation of around 500 people. From players, coaches, support staff, athletic department employees and, like Nebraska, the band, Washington has a significant number of mouths to feed during its week-long stay in California. The experience and positive publicity that comes with playing in a bowl game could be a game-changer for Washington, but it does mean taking a short-term hit in the process.
The Huskies and Cornhuskers square-off again in San Diego on Dec. 30 in the Holiday Bowl. Unlike when they met in Sept., this game comes at a significantly higher cost to each team.