I heard a story on NPR the other morning that I found interesting. It was about the rising costs of travel for college sports teams.
The story was about the women’s soccer team at the University of Wyoming. They were going to charter a plane for their first game of the year, a road trip to Kalamazoo, Michigan to play Western Michigan. We, from last year to this year the price has gone up as you can imagine by some 50%.
The athletic department use to have a travel relationship with Frontier Airlines. But the airline has gone bankrupt. Add on baggage fees with other airlines and that road trip just cost a whole lot more.
Some schools are adapting by cutting road games, taking less players on the road, etc. However, this may not be enough for mid tier schools like Wyoming. They talked in the story about sending the football team off to play some more of those sacrificial lamb games like the one they’ll play against Tennessee in November.
Granted those could be useful in recruiting but on the other hand fuel prices are eating into recruiting budgets as well.
It’ll be interesting to see how the NCAA reacts. There are already some issues that have come before it such as where do SMS related to actual phone calls and how does IM and web cams apply to rules about contact?
In the aftermath of high gas the NCAA and the conferences are going to have to look closely at how this affects the balance of collegiate athletics. From road games to recruiting this is an issue that isn’t going to go away any time soon.