By Zack Peñalva, Sports Editor
The Eagles’ basketball game against the University of Kentucky at Rupp Arena is over, but athletes and fans will be enjoying the benefits of the game for much, much longer. In the Eagles 156-63 defeat, Asbury made $20,000 for the school’s athletic department, money that has been quickly put to good use.
“It was good timing. It was great timing for us,” said Asbury Athletic Director Mark Perdue. Not long since the game against the Wildcats, Asbury has been able to install brand new scoreboards in the Luce Center gym, replacing older models that had hung in the gym since 1995.
It’s an investment in the building that Perdue thinks goes beyond just the men’s team. The new scoreboards will be used by women’s basketball and volleyball, as well as other groups like intramurals that sometimes use the main gym floor. “We’re going to reap from [the new scoreboards] for years,” Perdue said. “You’re probably looking at 10 to 15 year lifespan.”
For the men’s basketball program, their share of that $20,000 will allow them a lot more comfort as they budget out the next season. Perdue said that many years it comes “down to the penny” quite often when drawing up the budget, but that this new infusion of money will allow for some breathing room.
“They’re not going to go out and spend like crazy,” Perdue said, adding that the money will largely go towards new uniforms and gear, as well as a team trip to Chicago. “They’ll do some educational things and some sightseeing…and play some teams up there,” he said.
Getting paid to get beat might seem like an odd concept, but these types of exhibition games are not uncommon. Before playing Asbury, UK played a friendly game against Clarion University, coach John Calipari’s alma mater. In that game, Clarion also received a $20,000 check at the end of the night despite losing 108-51.
They’re not going to go out and spend like crazy, the money will largely go towards new uniforms and gear, as well as a team trip to Chicago.
For small schools like Asbury and Clarion, these checks can be massive windfalls for programs that don’t often receive outside revenue. For UK, the Lexington Herald-Leader reported that Wildcats basketball made $2.5 million off ticket sales alone, not to mention an $11.6 million deal for media rights from the Southeastern Conference.
But for the real big money, look to college football. The University of North Carolina-Charlotte received $600,000 in a 70-14 blowout loss to the University of Louisville. Western Kentucky University made $1.3 million in their loss against Alabama.
While there may have been big losses on the scoreboard, the money from these games can come back to help out their respective schools. A memorable loss against one of college basketball’s great teams has provided the Luce Center with some much-needed upgrades. “It’s something they can see up for years and years,” Perdue said. “It benefits not only this class, but it benefits future classes, future teams.”