[VIDEO] Bahn: There's A Price To Pay For Razorbacks Losing To ULM, How Big Is It?

by Chris Bahn  on Tuesday, Sep. 11, 2012 3:00 pm  

Arkansas is still collecting on donations for its $40-plus million football ops project. Will a loss to ULM jeopardize the fundraising? (Photo by Trent Ogle)


Construction and bond prices are low today, so it’s seen as a good time to build. But somebody eventually has to foot the bill for it all.

Pledges have been made, but donations for the full, $40 million-plus football ops project aren’t in hand yet and already steps are being made for another $50 million in construction. Certainly, that’s not unusual for a project of this size. You get commitments and the cash usually comes in in installments.

As anybody who has ever sold wrapping paper and peanut brittle for a school fundraiser knows, somebody promising to give you $50 to help fund your field trip, doesn’t always end up with somebody giving you $50 for your field trip.

Sometimes you wind up eating the cost — and that crummy peanut brittle — on your own.

It isn’t time for Arkansas to panic. But the potential financial implications are something to keep an eye on following the Razorbacks gagging up a 28-7 lead and losing to 30-point underdogs.

RSVP, the seat licensing program launched in 2011, pumped about $6 million into the athletic department. That’s a great revenue stream, but it’s tied — as most of the business of college athletics is — directly into the football program being good.

Record numbers of folks were Razorback Foundation members last year. Donations went up at Arkansas.

That’s what makes this football season and the impending football coaching hire so critical for Long. Keeping that momentum going is crucial.

Arkansas needs someone who can sell hope and market the program. The last guy to have the job — for all his on- and off-field shortcomings — was able to communicate his vision to the fans. He gave them reason to buy in, even as his best bowl victory in four seasons was in the Cotton Bowl.  

People believed more was coming.

Folks inside and outside the state bought into the program. They saw the Razorbacks, who finished third in the SEC West last season, as a Top 10 program and a real SEC/BCS contender.

In that climate, getting a donor to pledge $1 million comes a bit easier (though fundraising is an underappreciated art and rarely easy). Having somebody write that first $250,000 installment is much harder when faith in the program has been shaken by an awful loss, a disappointing season or a hire that’s perceived to be a bad one.

Losing to a team like Louisiana-Monroe comes with a cost. Arkansas’ hope here is that the losses are limited to dropping out of the AP Top 25 poll and failing to reap the benefits that come with college football’s most popular pregame show.



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