Want a free car? Become a college sports coach.
SHOWCASE | April 26, 2012
Kent State student reporters find one school where coaches are advised to give car dealers tickets to games or other events, learn about their families, invite them to play golf, and so on. Works for the athletic department; not advised for science or history professors, or others.
By Karl Idsvoog
Check out the parking lot for the athletic department at Kent State University and you'll spot what no other department on campus can afford: free cars for lots of employees. And it's not because the athletic department at Kent State makes money; the majority of its budget comes from fees charged to the academic students. With universities facing major budget challenges, with tenured faculty numbers going down while adjunct faculty numbers go up, with every academic department being challenged to save money, the athletic department parking lot filled with 4-wheeled perks provided the idea for a reporting project that examined one basic question.
How many cars are university athletic departments providing to their coaches?
As it turns out, for Division I schools a free car seems to be standard issue for head coaches and for lots of assistant coaches.
Student journalists in Kent State's computer-assisted reporting class went after the relevant public records, like the car policy at one Mid-American Conference university that provides a list of tips on what the coaches should do to keep their car dealers happy.
They're the investment bankers, the true royalty of academia – the coaches. What no chemistry or computer science or history professor would ever dream of requesting – a free car – is standard issue for Division I coaches. And at some universities, one free car isn't enough. Some coaches get two.
The car policy at Central Michigan University provides a calendar and the following list of tips to coaches on what they should do to keep their car dealers happy.
Ideas to build a strong relationship with your dealer:
• Personal visit to the dealership
• Invite them to lunch or dinner
• Invite them to join you for a CMU sporting event or a community event
• Provide them tickets to an event they are interested in
• Invite them to play golf
• Learn about their family and provide their wife and kids with gear (within the NCAA rules)
• Invite their children and relatives to a sport camp or clinic
• Send them periodic notes
• Call or email them on a regular basis
• Purchase a vehicle from them or recommend business
• Get your CMU vehicle and personal vehicles serviced at their dealership – if applicable. Service appointments are a great chance to provide them with business combined with a personal visit.
See the full student reporting project here
Karl Idsvoog, a 1983 Nieman Fellow, teaches a range of multimedia journalism courses at Kent State University.
04/30/2012, 05:19 PM
It appears from the articles written by Prof. Idsvoog's students that auto dealers are more than willing to support the athletic department, but apparently not very willing to support any of the academic departments of the university.
What a sad commentary about our contemporary society.