Financial aid will benefit from Fiesta Bowl earnings
By TIM LOGAN
Senior Staff Writer
$13 million is a lot of money.
That is approximately what Notre Dame will receive for playing in the Fiesta Bowl on Jan. 1 against Oregon State. And that money — the University's biggest bowl payoff ever — will be put into the University's financial aid endowment.
Notre Dame has been using its bowl game earnings for financial aid every year since 1987, according to Dennis Moore, director of Public Relations and Information. That year, the Irish went to the Cotton Bowl and received a $2.2 million payoff. At the time, Notre Dame was trying to build up its financial aid resources, so the University officers decided to use the Cotton Bowl money to do that, Moore said.
They made the same decision each of the next eight years, through 1995, when Notre Dame played in a major bowl game at the end of every season. Now, back in a top-tier bowl for the first time since that streak, Notre Dame is continuing its policy.
"[This year's decision] is consistent with what we do," Moore said.
In 1995, a portion of the payoff from the Orange Bowl was used to fund financial aid directly, instead of through the endowment, because Notre Dame needed the money right away.
"Now, of course, we're in a different situation," Moore said.
1995 was the last time the Irish played in a major bowl game — the Fiesta, Orange, Rose or Sugar Bowls — which attract the top teams and pay more money than the other games. Three times since 1987, Notre Dame played in the Cotton Bowl, which until 1997 was also a major bowl.
Twice since 1995 Notre Dame has received smaller, but not insignificant, bowl earnings.
In 1997, the Irish went to the $850,000 Independence Bowl, and in 1998, they played in the $1.3 million Gator Bowl. The money from those games also went into financial aid endowment.
It is still unclear exactly how much money Notre Dame will receive for its trip to the Fiesta Bowl, but bowl organizers promise between $12 and $13 million. Regardless of the exact size of the payment, it is nice to have that kind of cash.
"How could it not be," Moore said. "This is our first time going in several years."
And the revenue a school gets for making a bowl game has gone up significantly in those years. Notre Dame received millions for the 1995 Orange Bowl, but that was a lot even for a major bowl game. Moore estimated that the University received about $27 million total for its nine bowl games from 1987 until 1995.
It will get nearly half that amount for one game in January, 2001.
Television revenues, particularly the lucrative contract with NBC to televise all football home games, are also used to fund financial aid. The total sum of the NBC contract is not disclosed, but approximately $50 million of it has been used to endow financial aid since the deal was first struck in 1992, according to Scott Malpass, vice president for Finance.
The combined revenue from bowl games and television for Notre Dame football has meant that the University as a whole, and especially financial aid, has benefited mightily.
"We spend [that money] on general University uses," Moore said, "Which has overwhelmingly in recent years been financial aid."
As an independent, Notre Dame is almost unique among bowl teams in that it gets to keep its entire bowl payoff. Teams from the major conferences split bowl revenue with their entire conference — so Oregon State's $13.5 million will be spread out among the 10 teams in the Pac 10. Oregon State, however, will also benefit from the good fortune of the other Pac 10 teams, Washington, Oregon, UCLA and Arizona State, who are also playing in the postseason.
Many schools put some, if not all, of their bowl money back into the athletic department.
"Virtually anyplace else the television money and the bowl money would go into athletics," Moore said.
But unlike most schools, Notre Dame football makes a profit even without television. Ticket sales, concessions and other sources of income from football, and Notre Dame's other major sports — men's and women's basketball and ice hockey — produce enough revenue to help support Olympic sports programs such as swimming, soccer and volleyball.
And unlike most other schools, Notre Dame's athletic department does not have a separate budget. That is a big reason why the lucrative pot of television and bowl revenue gets spread around.
"It's something that's allocated in the whole University budget process," Moore said.
The University endowment topped $2 billion, in total, last year.
It is a large fund which is invested, and its interest is used to pay for various University needs. Last year, $42.25 million — 9 percent of Notre Dame's total budget — came from interest on the endowment.
All Sports Stories for Tuesday, December 12, 2000