Emily Attwood
Emily (emily@athleticbusiness.com) joined the Athletic Business team in 2011, a natural transition from her previous work at PFP (Personal Fitness Professional), a B2B fitness industry brand, and Inside Wisconsin Sports, a consumer sports publication. A graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Emily continues to enjoy living in the city with her husband Derek, making cheese, drinking beer and biking to work, except during winter, when she doesn't enjoy much of anything.
  • Tuesday, September, 13, 2016
    New Projects: Virginia Tech Baseball | Lehman YMCA | Exposition Park

    This article appeared in the October issue of Athletic Business. Athletic Business is a free magazine for professionals in the athletic, fitness and recreation industry. Click here to subscribe.


  • Wednesday, September, 07, 2016
    New Projects: Anderson Area YMCA | Lancaster Athletic Facility | Sporting KC Training Center

    This article appeared in the September issue of Athletic Business. Athletic Business is a free magazine for professionals in the athletic, fitness and recreation industry. Click here to subscribe.


  • Thursday, September, 01, 2016
    Letter from the Editor: Facilities Worth Talking About

    This article appeared in the October issue of Athletic Business. Athletic Business is a free magazine for professionals in the athletic, fitness and recreation industry. Click here to subscribe.


  • Thursday, September, 01, 2016
    Air, Water Quality Key Drivers of IU Natatorium Renovation

    This article appeared in the September issue of Athletic Business. Athletic Business is a free magazine for professionals in the athletic, fitness and recreation industry. Click here to subscribe.


  • Tuesday, August, 30, 2016
    Letter from the Editor: Preparing for the Year to Come

    This article appeared in the September issue of Athletic Business. Athletic Business is a free magazine for professionals in the athletic, fitness and recreation industry. Click here to subscribe.


  • Thursday, August, 25, 2016
    Maximizing the Benefits of a Fabric Structure Investment

    This article appeared in the September issue of Athletic Business. Athletic Business is a free magazine for professionals in the athletic, fitness and recreation industry. Click here to subscribe.


  • Tuesday, August, 23, 2016
    Why Are More Communities Investing in Outdoor Fitness?

    This article appeared in the July/August issue of Athletic Business. Athletic Business is a free magazine for professionals in the athletic, fitness and recreation industry. Click here to subscribe.


  • Monday, August, 08, 2016
    AB Reader Perspectives: Professional Misconceptions

    AB wants to know what you wish people understood better about your job..

    Your answer may appear in an upcoming issue of Athletic Business!

    Create your own user feedback survey


  • Tuesday, August, 02, 2016
    Understanding the Dept. of Labor’s New Overtime Rules

    This article appeared in the July/August issue of Athletic Business. Athletic Business is a free magazine for professionals in the athletic, fitness and recreation industry. Click here to subscribe.


    In May, the Department of Labor announced updates to the Fair Labor Standards Act. One change in particular is generating a lot of discussion — and headaches — among employers and employees alike: the minimum salary for exempt white-collar employees more than doubled, from $23,660 to $47,476.

    What does that mean? "Before, if you were at least $23,660, you were considered exempt and an employer could make you work as much overtime as possible," says Susan Brown Foster, professor of sport business at Saint Leo University in Florida. Now, anyone making below $47,476 would need to be compensated at time and a half for working in excess of 40 hours during a workweek. "As you can imagine, college athletic and recreation departments have a lot of people who make between $23,660 and $47,476," Foster says.

    Between now and Dec. 1, employers will have to determine what to do with salaried employees falling into that range — the sooner the better, given the careful planning required to evaluate all employees' workloads and determine what the best course of action will be and how to transition employees smoothly. "You might find that you have to change your workforce and operations to meet these new standards," Alex Passantino, a partner with law firm Seyforth Shaw, told listeners of a webinar conducted in May in partnership with NIRSA and the College and University Professional Association for Human Resources. "There will be all kinds of issues related to keeping track of time. Those things need to be factored in on the front end. It's not necessarily as simple as flipping a switch."

     

    UNDERSTAND WHAT EMPLOYEES DO
    The first problem employers might encounter is understanding exactly what their employees do and how much time they spend doing it. "You have exempt employees who have not been keeping track of their hours," Passantino says, recommending employers use email records or building access information to begin to understand when employees are working. Time spent traveling should also be considered.

    Employers also need to determine whether the duties the employee conducts fall under the white-collar classification, or whether some other exemption may apply. "When you're looking at coaches, you're looking at a variety of different potentially applicable exemptions," Passantino says. Coaches, for example, may qualify as teachers, who do not fall under the same minimum salary rules. Other classifications that may apply to different employees include academic administrator or outside sales employee.

    Also important is understanding seasonal employees, or those who work only a portion of the year. In such cases, the weekly paycheck may be less than the $913 minimum but not an accurate reflection of salary. "A nine-month employee who earns $45,000 over nine months meets the requirement even though the weekly paycheck, because it's spread out over 12 months, falls under," Passantino says. "You can pay the salary over a longer period of time and still meet the test even though it falls under the weekly requirement. What is very important is that employee cannot perform work outside of that period of time."

    Once employers have a clear understanding of who in the organization or department will be affected, they then need to consider what to do with those positions.
     


    Want to know more? Make sure to check out Susan Brown Foster's session at the Athletic Business Show, this Nov. 17-19 in Orlando, Fla. For more information, visit www.abshow.com.


    ADJUST SALARIES
    The most straightforward option would be to raise salaries to the minimum required for exemption, a potentially expensive move, especially when looking beyond the scope of those employees immediately impacted. "Consider the ripple effect on upstream employees — if you raise someone from $42,600 to $47,476, and their supervisor made $48,000, do you have to raise the supervisor?" Passantino asks.

    Then, there's the issue of contracted positions. "That's going to be interesting, since the rule takes effect mid-year," Foster says. "But a lot of athletic departments are redoing contracts right now. They may have to do it based on, 'Here's your salary through December, and you'll get more in January.' I think everybody's going to handle it differently."

    The new rule does allow some flexibility as applied to salaried positions, Passantino adds. "For the first time ever the Department of Labor is allowing employers to satisfy up to 10 percent of an employee's salary with non-discretionary bonuses, incentive pay or commissions, if paid on a quarterly basis at least." The bonuses don't allow an employer to skirt the minimum salary requirements, but it does offer some flexibility on how employees are paid.

    Just raising all salaries to the minimum required is also a short-term solution. After remaining at $23,660 for 40 years, the new minimum will be adjusted every three years.
     

    RECLASSIFY EMPLOYEES
    Employers may choose to keep employees' salaries and duties the same but treat them as hourly employees and work to minimize overtime — or adjust employees' hourly pay to account for expected overtime. "If they're making $23,660, there's no way employers are going to be able to double their salary," Foster says. "So a lot of jobs will be switched to hourly and benefits will drop." Even if benefits don't change, going from salaried to hourly may feel like a demotion to some employees and affect morale.

    Switching from salaried to hourly comes with a lot of adjustments for the employer. Things like checking email or returning texts after normal work hours would now need to be tracked as hours worked. "You have to remember that these employees are non-exempt," Passantino says. "You have to track all their hours, even if there's no overtime worked. You have to pay attention to off-the-clock work, you have to deal with meal and rest breaks, you have to deal with the headache of travel."
     

    RESTRUCTURE JOBS
    Once administrators understand the duties each of their employees performs and what hours each employee works, they might opt to reallocate duties and redefine positions — or create new ones. "Take two positions paid $42,000 and change the job duties," Passantino says. "Take some of the more exempt functions and roll those into one job, raise the salary over the threshold, and then you'll have the other job, which has less of an exempt status, and convert that to hourly."

    Duties might be shifted so that an employee's primary responsibilities put him or her under a different exemption class. In some cases, says Passantino, phasing in changes might be appropriate. "Maybe for the time being, you're going to pay salary plus overtime but manage overtime," he posits. "What will happen is the next person who comes in will come in at a lower level to accommodate the overtime. You've got to be thinking not just in terms of short-term ramifications, but you can plan further down the line to make up for some of these consequences."
     

    CREATE AN ACTION PLAN
    Assessing employees' roles and determining what changes need to be made is only the beginning. Employers will need to plan carefully to educate employees on the changes and minimize any resentment or confusion. Passantino recommends putting together a team of stakeholders to define the ultimate goals of the transition and then develop a plan for communicating those goals. "You do need to have real explanations in place as to why certain positions were reclassified, who got a raise and why. You're going to get all of those questions."


    This article originally appeared in the July/August 2016 issue of Athletic Business with the title "Ready for the new Overtime Rules"

     


  • Wednesday, July, 27, 2016
    Integrated Locking Systems Benefit Facility Users, Owners

    This article appeared in the July/August issue of Athletic Business. Athletic Business is a free magazine for professionals in the athletic, fitness and recreation industry. Click here to subscribe.


  • Thursday, September, 01, 2016
    Letter from the Editor: Facilities Worth Talking About

    This article appeared in the October issue of Athletic Business. Athletic Business is a free magazine for professionals in the athletic, fitness and recreation industry. Click here to subscribe.


  • Tuesday, August, 30, 2016
    Letter from the Editor: Preparing for the Year to Come

    This article appeared in the September issue of Athletic Business. Athletic Business is a free magazine for professionals in the athletic, fitness and recreation industry. Click here to subscribe.


  • Thursday, July, 07, 2016
    Letter from the Editor: Eat Your Veggies

    This article appeared in the July/August issue of Athletic Business. Athletic Business is a free magazine for professionals in the athletic, fitness and recreation industry. Click here to subscribe.


  • Monday, June, 06, 2016
    Passing the Torch in Facility Design

    This article appeared in the June issue of Athletic Business. Athletic Business is a free magazine for professionals in the athletic, fitness and recreation industry. Click here to subscribe.


  • Thursday, May, 05, 2016
    At the moment...

    I can't think of a recent issue of Athletic Business that captures the feel of our industry quite as comprehensively as this one. No, we don't have any momentous, industry-changing topics this month, but what we do have speaks to the current environment of athletic, fitness and recreation professionals.


  • Thursday, March, 31, 2016
    Our Common Ground

    This article appeared in the April issue of Athletic Business. Athletic Business is a free magazine for professionals in the athletic, fitness and recreation industry. Click here to subscribe.


  • Wednesday, September, 16, 2015
    Blog: Quantifying the Impact of Parks and Rec

    The National Park and Recreation Association's annual convention is underway this week in Las Vegas, Nev. After arriving Monday afternoon and getting my first taste of life in the City of Lights, I caught a brief glimpse of the sun and the strip before steeling myself for a day of windowless sessions in overly air-conditioned rooms.


  • Wednesday, July, 08, 2015
    Blog: Women’s Soccer and Return on Investment

    In the days after the U.S. Women’s soccer team’s World Cup win, we’ve heard a lot of back and forth over the issue of how much the players were paid. The women’s team received a record-setting $2 million for their win… record-setting for women, that is. Last year, the German men’s team earned $35 million for its World Cup win.

    “But it’s all about the revenue!” claim those who justify the discrepancy. The women’s tournament brought in a mere $17 million in sponsorship revenue compared to $529 million for last year’s men’s World Cup. Thus, because the men bring in more revenue, it only makes sense that they get paid more.

    Right?

    When I was in college, I interned for an editor at a book publishing company. I recall, among the editor’s many tales of the publishing world, the story of how he signed one particular new author and set her up for success. Her work was good, he said, but she was relatively unknown and still new.

    For those more familiar with coaching contracts than book contracts, book contracts typically pay an advance, anything as low as a couple thousand dollars (J.K. Rowling was given a £1500 advance on the first Harry Potter book) to upwards of $100,000, if you’re an established name. If a new author doesn't go over well with the audience, the publisher hasn't lost much. If they're good, the publisher simply ups the advance on the next book.

    Rather than offering this new author something at the lower end of the spectrum as would befit the situation, the editor swung big. I don’t recall the exact dollar amount, but I think it was at least $20,000 (chump change for a pro athlete, but a big deal for a struggling writer).

    His reasoning? The more the publisher invested in an author, the harder it would work to ensure her success, giving her a preferred launch date, better marketing and visibility. Part of this was about recouping the investment — book advances are paid against royalties, which means a larger advance needs to be offset by greater book sales if the publisher wants to come out ahead.  

    What does this have to do with soccer?

    I’m not in the sports marketing business. I’m not even in the book marketing business. But I do know that a product’s success is as much about the effort that goes into marketing it as the quality of the product itself. 

    Don’t justify lower pay for female athletes by pointing to the lower revenue they generate — they’re not the ones negotiating sponsorship contracts or selling commercial slots. In the case of women’s soccer, FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke attributes the lower revenues to women’s soccer being a newer sport than men’s.

    “We played the [20th] men’s World Cup in 2014, when we are now playing the seventh women’s World Cup,” Valcke said in December press conference. “We have still another [13] World Cups before potentially women should receive the same amount as men. The men waited until 2014 to receive as much money as they received.”

    Or, how about this: Pay the players what they’re worth, and then put in the effort to back that investment up.


  • Friday, June, 19, 2015
    A Response to Critics of Soaring College Rec Spending

    “LSU Faces Dramatic Budget Cuts While It Builds An Expensive Lounging Pool” This was the headline of an article that appeared in The Huffington Post this past May criticizing Louisiana State University’s spending of $84.75 million on an overhaul of its recreation facilities despite a threatened $55.5 million funding cut from the state.

    Last week New Jersey governor Chris Christie admonished what he considers wasteful spending in the higher education system, denouncing “extras” such as lazy rivers and climbing walls.

    "Some colleges are drunk on cash and embarking on crazy spending binges,” he said.

    If you work in college recreation, the incidents made you cringe.

    The cost of higher education is going to get a lot of attention leading up to the 2016 election, and unfortunately, that’s going to come with a lot of misguided scrutiny of campus recreation programs.

    What both incidents overlook — as anyone working in college recreation will immediately recognize — is that a university’s education budget and recreation budget are two entirely different things. Campus recreation centers are not built at the expense of science labs or classrooms. For most universities, such projects are funded (and maintained) from students fees.

    "The funds for the project come directly from the student fee and can only be used for the project," LSU spokesman Ernie Ballard told The Huffington Post. "Similar to donations to the university or funds from the state for capital projects, these types of funds can't be shifted to fill in budget holes or be used in another way. They can only be used for what they were originally designated for."

    The impact of such facilities on the price of a college education is actually minimal, according to David Feldman, economics professor at College of William & Mary.

    “Lazy rivers are only a tiny piece of the costs,” he told Inside Higher Ed. “These lazy rivers are not the reason why student debt is soaring seemingly out of control. The big problem that higher education faces today, at the public side, is cuts in state spending.”

    Some argue that cuts in spending are actually driving the construction of bigger and better recreation amenities, as universities look draw in more out of state students. According to research from the University of Michigan, “wealthier students [are] much more willing to pay for consumption amenities.”

    Despite its negative headline, The Huffington Post article went on to admit as much, quoting a 2013 article in which former Miami University president James Garland explains, “We took advantage of low interest rates for municipal bonds and invested in rehabilitating our residence halls and eating facilities and putting in more recreation -- workout rooms and lounges, and the kinds of accouterments that really dressed up a campus and made it a much more comfortable and familiar place for upper-middle class students. So those students started applying to us in droves. Application numbers went up, we became more selective, and the SAT scores of the entering class became higher."

    So, in the face of a $55.5 million budget cut (avoided, thankfully) LSU would need to rely more heavily on the appeal of its non-academic offerings to bring in more students and more revenue. As Jane Wellman, a finance expert with College Futures Foundation, told Inside Higher Ed, the issue is not of how colleges spend money, but the priorities of schools.

    “The sense is that college costs are going up too rapidly, and institutions aren’t doing enough to control them,” she says. “The critique underneath that is the critique of the decision-making culture in higher education.”

    Rather than ask why LSU would spend $85 million on a recreation center, maybe politicians should be asking why the state of Louisiana was mulling a $55 million cut to education.

    We won’t get into the other complexities of campus recreation facilities, such as the positive economic impact of construction (According to NIRSA, $1.7B was spent on 157 recreation construction projects in 2012), the employment opportunities afforded to students, the educational programming opportunities, the importance of recreation to students' quality of life (and GPA), the role in building a schools’ reputation, or any number of issues.

    Unfortunately, neither will the politicians pinning the climbing costs of higher education on climbing walls.

     


  • Monday, June, 16, 2014
    AB's Architectural Showcase a Yearlong Affair

    The Architectural Showcase in June is the one issue of Athletic Business I look forward to most each year. It's also the issue I spend most of each year working on.