Show Me the Money

Paul Steinbach Headshot

Among a number of first-time exhibitors at the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics conference in Anaheim, Calif., this week was a company marketing the type of product that makes you wonder, "Why didn't this already exist?"

Last fall, Winthrop Intelligence launched Win AD™, what it calls "on-demand database solutions for ADs." It's a suite of searchable, sortable tools that can help decision-makers negotiate deals by providing them with the current contract of every collegiate head and assistant coach in the nation (more than 17,000 coach profiles and pdf files of corresponding contracts have been assembled after months of Freedom of Information Act requests), as well as non-conference game contracts (covering such specifics as payouts and cancellation fees). That way, athletic directors can better judge - without having to rely on dated conference survey data or their own phone networking (the database is updated daily) - what to pay a coaching prospect based on what peer institutions are paying coaches with similar qualifications (everything from the coach's performance history to his or her alma mater is accessible), or they can ensure they're not paying a visiting opponent more than the going rate. According to Kevin Barefoot, Winthrop's director of sales and marketing, one Pac-10 school realized after consulting the database that it was about to pay a prospective football opponent $50,000 more than the rate established in recent deals between the teams' respective conferences. "Everybody's negotiating with their cards face up," Barefoot says.

In a report released last week called "Restoring the Balance: Dollars, Values and the Future of College Sports," the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics made three recommendations. Topping the list: "Requiring greater transparency and the reporting of better measures to compare athletics spending to academic spending." Says Barefoot, "That's the number-one recommendation, and this tool lines right up with it."

I can't tell you what the tool costs, and Winthrop reps are only willing to divulge that at least one institution from every major conference is currently a client, and that the company is adding roughly one client per week. "Whoever sees it, wants it," I'm told. Coaches and their agents may wish to sneak a peak at Win AD, too, but it's not being marketed to them. "We only sell it to the ADs," says Barefoot, "because we want them to have the leverage."

Still in the works at Winthrop, separate databases dedicated to athletics administrators (set for a Labor Day launch) and revenue streams such as media rights and apparel agreements.

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