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Dollars & Sense or is it Cents?

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Dollars & Sense or is it Cents?

Article from the Palm Beach Post


Dollars and sense: College sports media guides starting to vanish

By JORGE MILIAN
Palm Beach Post Staff Writer

Thursday, June 04, 2009

CORAL GABLES — Bill Fisse awaits his University of Miami football media guide every year like a kid does Christmas.

"It comes every August and it gets you psyched up for the next season," said Fisse, a human resources professional in New York City who earned bachelor's and master's degrees at UM. "It's become a habit."

But one that Fisse and other college football fans around the country may need to break cold turkey.

A trend is afoot in college football to do away with printed media guides, which feature information about a team's players, coaches and history and have been published for decades by the publicity wing of each school's athletics department.

But cost-cutting measures and the Internet have made media guides an expendable relic in the eyes of some.

Michigan, Ohio State and Wisconsin announced last week they will stop printing media guides immediately. The information will be available on each university's Web site.

Media guides have also become extinct in the ACC and Southern Conference, which will no longer print guides for individual sports.

Locally, the idea of doing away with media guides is "under consideration" at Miami, according to school officials.

If Miami does publish a football guide for 2009, it could be for the last time.

The Pac-10 is forwarding a series of cost-cutting proposals to the NCAA that includes eliminating all printed media guides. The conference is pushing for legislation to be approved in time for the 2010 football season.

"This is something that's going to become a reality across the country," said Dan Wallenberg, Ohio State's assistant athletics director for communications. "It's a cost-cutting measure, a green initiative; there's just a number of reasons why posting media guides on the Web site is a more reasonable thing to do in this day and age."

Schools print thousands of media guides every year. Despite its label, most of the guides go to donors and recruits. Tennessee, for instance, publishes 31,000 football guides a year with about half that amount sent to boosters and high school players, according to Tennessee spokesman Bud Ford.

Over the past decade, an increasing number of media guides have been sold to the public. Ford said Tennessee expects to recoup $50,000 of the $89,000 budgeted for media guides in sales to fans.

But for the majority of schools, media guides - which include no advertising - are money drains. Miami budgets around $100,000 for its guides, but returns only a fraction of that in sales to fans.

FAU plans on producing a 2009 football media guide, but is discussing eliminating the guide for all other sports, including basketball. Florida State is reducing its media guide production, but will not eliminate it. Florida is considering its options, but "we're planning on printing them" beyond 2009, according to Associate Athletics Director Steve McClain.

The NCAA tried to reign in media guides once before. In an effort to eliminate recruiting advantages, the NCAA mandated in 2005 that media guides could not exceed 208 pages.

That cut out the practice of producing media guides that made War and Peace seem like a Twitter message. In 2004, Missouri unveiled a 614-page tome.

But whether media guides stay or go, the effect on recruiting will be miniscule, said UM recruiting coordinator Clint Hurtt.

"It's a good savings on money," Hurtt said. "Most kids don't use it, they just collect them. You want your school publicized, but you can do other things that are better and a lot cheaper. It's not going to hurt us and I can't imagine it's going to hurt anyone else."

Not that everyone thinks it's a good idea. Fans who don't own computers will be left out and those reporters who still fondly recall the manual typewriter may not be happy. Some also believe that the money saved will be transferred into Web sites.

"People who have been in this business or see the media guide as an important tool will fight for it," SEC associate commissioner Charles Bloom told the Chattanooga Times Free Press. "The younger people, those who think that the Web is it, will tell you that this is where we need to go. There is going to be a divide, no doubt."

Count Fisse, the UM fan, among those who think media guides remain useful. Fisse said he cracks open his media guide, purchased for $20 to $25, four or five times a season to look up information "or reminisce about the good old days."

In may not be long before media guides are a part of those good old days.

Staff writer Ben Volin and correspondent Derek Redd contributed to this story.
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Re: Dollars & Sense or is it Cents?

Bytor said

Over the past decade, an increasing number of media guides have been sold to the public. Ford said Tennessee expects to recoup $50,000 of the $89,000 budgeted for media guides in sales to fans.

But for the majority of schools, media guides - which include no advertising - are money drains. Miami budgets around $100,000 for its guides, but returns only a fraction of that in sales to fans.

FAU plans on producing a 2009 football media guide, but is discussing eliminating the guide for all other sports, including basketball.

Honestly, with our budget situation it makes a lot of sense to put it online and use that money (whatever it is, especially if it's the same cost as the Miami budget) on other things like advertising the games on billboards, buses, etc

Why schools with oodles of money like Ohio State are ceasing production on it is lost on me. The only thing I can think of is that they're doing it as a favor to the fans since printing up the guide at home (off a PDF file) is likely cheaper than the money spent on purchasing printed guides from Athletics. Print it up for $5 at home instead of buying it for $25. Makes sense.

P.S. I don't respond to guest posts. All guests are encouraged to register with the site.
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Re: Dollars & Sense or is it Cents?

owlcountry said


The only thing I can think of is that they're doing it as a favor to the fans since printing up the guide at home (off a PDF file) is likely cheaper than the money spent on purchasing printed guides from Athletics. Print it up for $5 at home instead of buying it for $25. Makes sense.

I think not many people would take the time to actually print these out.  Plus, I don't know about you but I would much rather have a nice copy professionally done rather than a DIY version
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Re: Dollars & Sense or is it Cents?

I use both versions and usually use the print version first - easier to access most of the time.

It seems like the norm these days - all printed material is accessible through the web.

Starting to look like it will be part of the "good old days".
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