The Program

In the new Gilded Age of college sports, no school has done more with its money--or learned more from painful scandal--than mighty Ohio State, the standard against which all other schools are judged
March 05, 2007

It's academic,really. Big money has changed college sports, transforming athletic departmentsinto mini-industrial complexes. The level of commerce is such that some inCongress are questioning the tax-exempt status of athletic programs. But amidcries that all this lucre is ruining college sports, what if in some waysnearly the opposite is true? What if there's now so much money at stake thatschools are policing themselves as never before? Though college athletics stillface myriad problems--from ethics (page 67), to a wealth gap (page 59), toongoing academic issues (page 62)--graduation rates are at an alltime high, andnot since 2001 have so few schools been on NCAA probation. The Duke Effect(colleges tightly monitoring athletes' behavior to avoid a repeat of the BlueDevils' lacrosse-party disaster) only underscores how fearful schools now areof the consequences of letting their sports programs run amuck.

SI went to Ohio State to look inside the nation's largest athletic department.In the spirit of facebook.com--which rivals Buckeyes teams as a unifying forceon campus--what follows are profiles of nine figures representative of anathletic department adapting to a new world. >>>>>

THE STAR | GregOden
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• Keeps a poster ofCharles Barkley on his dorm wall

• Eats mostly oncampus but goes to Champps sports bar to have the grilled salmon "with thatspecial sweet sauce on it"

• Partial to themusic of Ciara and Tyrese

DAMN IF GREG ODENisn't trying. Ohio State's freshman center has made every effort to lead theexistence of a conventional college kid. He straps on a backpack and walksacross the Oval, OSU's answer to a quad. He dresses with collegiateinsouciance, outfitting himself in a hoodie and jeans, carrying his I.D. andkeys on a lanyard around his neck. Surely he's not alone among OSU's nearly39,000 undergrads when he claims to be chronically short of cash--though hisfinances aren't helped by his habit of buying, he says, "a few DVDs"every Tuesday. Like most undergrads, he cherishes his sleep, betrays abottomless appetite for technology and, naturally, has his own facebook.compage.

Oden, 19, isundoubtedly the only freshman on campus to entertain questions from journalistswho have flown to Columbus from Beijing just to see him. But he is conscious ofintegrating himself into the college community. "I'm not just like, These[teammates] are my people, I'm not going to talk to anybody else oncampus," he says. "I'm always open to new friends." Asked if he'shaving a true college experience, he strokes his beard and says in athoughtful, measured cadence, "I think so."

Yet Oden's starstatus militates against his being just another member of the class of 2010.Just as sports are an essential thread in the university fabric but sometimesseem removed from the rest of the institution, Oden is the school's mostprominent student but inhabits a world unimaginable to most otherundergrads.

Start with hishousing. Unlike most freshmen, Oden, who is from Indianapolis, has no roommateand lives mostly among athletes on a special floor of a high-rise dorm. He hasa customized bed to accommodate his 7-foot frame. Then there's basketball. FromOctober through March he spends more time each week in practice (up to 20hours) than in the classroom (seven hours). If the Buckeyes, ranked No. 1 aftera 49--48 home win against previously top-ranked Wisconsin on Sunday, reach theFinal Four, he'll end up having spent almost a month on the road thisseason.

The perks, however,are abundant: charter flights to games, lavish pregame meals, a locker roomflush with cedar paneling and loofahs hanging in the showers. Players spend thenight before home games in a posh on-campus hotel, replete with turndownservice and high-thread-count linens.

Socially, Oden canscarcely walk to class without being badgered for an autograph or asked abouthis right wrist, which is still healing after surgery last June for a fracture.It's not much different when he leaves campus. Columbus might be home to thestate capital, five FORTUNE 500 company headquarters and three quarters of amillion residents, but Ohio State athletes are the city's princes. (Even beforehe won the Heisman Trophy, Buckeyes quarterback Troy Smith was named ColumbusMonthly magazine's 2006 Person of the Year.) Oden's facebook.com page? Soonafter he launched it, he had so many "friend requests" that an infinitysymbol blinked on his screen. Not all the messages on the page are fawning."A guy told me, 'I hope you have a career-ending injury againstWisconsin,'" says Oden. "Some guy told me to die, 'because youshould've gone to IU.'"

Bright, curious andwitty, Oden is the kind of kid professors relish having in class. He planned todeclare a finance major in his first semester and dig into a full course load.But because of basketball, his academic advisers counseled him to pullback--his major is now "undecided"--and he is taking only two coursesthis quarter: Sociology 101 and History of Rock and Roll. (He also receives twocredits for basketball, a benefit varsity athletes are able to claim twiceduring their academic career.) His 12 credits, the NCAA minimum, make for astrikingly light load compared with that of most freshmen.

Tipped before theseason as the likely No. 1 pick in the 2007 NBA draft, Oden has been widelyexpected to be a one-and-done collegian. His play--at week's end he wasaveraging 15.3 points, 9.5 rebounds and 3.5 blocked shots despite the badwrist--has done nothing to change his status. Though Oden holds an insurancepolicy through an NCAA program that protects him if he suffers a career-endinginjury in college, odds are good that he'll be an NBA millionaire bymidsummer.

Still, given howOden has embraced campus life, who knows? He is sufficiently self-aware to knowhe has it pretty good right now. "Shoot," says a teammate, "Greg'slike the king of Columbus." A generation ago they would have called Oden aBig Man on Campus. Now the term seems laughably inadequate.

THE ATHLETICDIRECTOR | Gene Smith
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•Played defensiveend at Notre Dame (class of '77)

•Named AD atEastern Michigan at age 29

•Teaches a mastersclass on the business of college sports with wife Sheila, a former CanadianOlympic basketball player

GENE SMITH IS REALLY¬†the CEO of a medium-sized corporation. According toU.S. Department of Education figures on college-sports spending (page 59),OSU‚Äôs athletic department made $2.9 million in profit on an NCAA-leading $104.7million in revenue last year. The football team alone brought in $60.7 millionand netted $28.4 million, figures that could increase significantly for fiscalyear 2007, which included a trip to the BCS championship game. Smith‚Äôsdepartment has more than 300 employees (up from 225 in 1997) and 25 computerservers. It oversees 377 acres, 16.9 million square feet of buildings, 926varsity athletes and 36 varsity sports—eight more sports than any other schooland nearly double the D-I average of 20. By virtually any measure, it is thenation‚Äôs largest athletic department.

The man in chargedoesn’t fit the classic stereotype of an athletic director: theput-out-to-pasture football coach long on good-ol’-boy charm but short onbusiness acumen. Though Smith, 51, can be folksy and avuncular, he worked atIBM for three years and loves to flip open his laptop and explain the nicetiesof his “org chart.” He is quick to point out that his department also defiesstereotypes. Rather than siphoning resources from the academic side, his fullyself-supporting operation gives back: For example, it is donating $5 millionfor Ohio State’s ongoing library renovation. “We have to be broad-based andbig-thinking,” says Smith, “and with that comes obligation.”

Though all schoolsdraw funds from similar sources—donations, conference revenue, television,licensing, ticket sales—Ohio State has massive advantages. Columbus not only islarge and thriving but also sits smack in the middle of Ohio, amid a nexus ofinterstates, enabling fans from all corners to come to games. The Buckeyes arein the well-heeled Big Ten, which will launch its own TV network in August.There isn‚Äôt a second major state school to divert dollars, fans or mediaattention. ‚ÄúIt‚Äôs a special situation,‚Äù says Smith, formerly the AD at ArizonaState. ‚ÄúI‚Äôm the first to admit that.‚Äù

One of Smith’schief duties is protecting the program’s integrity, a challenge he tackles withthe help of a nine-person NCAA-rules-compliance staff and an acute awareness ofOhio State’s past embarrassments. Smith assumed his job in 2005 after hispredecessor, Andy Geiger, retired following a string of scandals and bad press,including allegations by running back Maurice Clarett, a star on the Buckeyes’2002 national championship team, that he had received improper academic helpand thousands of dollars in special benefits from boosters. Nothing if not arealist, Smith knows the temptations that can lure in a player and ruin aprogram; even before the Duke case, his department had begun to focus onsteering athletes away from trouble. “When a student-athlete makes a baddecision,” he says, “it’s like we’ve provided bad customer service.”

Smith also believesthat, far from being used by colleges, athletes benefit in extraordinary waysfrom their time in big-time sports. Having grown up in a poor Clevelandneighborhood and earned his way to Notre Dame on a football scholarship, Smithspeaks with authenticity when he invokes the “teachable moments” and “characterbuilding” of athletics. “I’m a strong believer that sports participation andcompetition challenge you,” he says. “You’re the field goal kicker, and thescore’s 31–30 with a few seconds on the clock. There are 105,000 fans. That’spressure. Once that kicker graduates and interviews with IBM, and they say,‘Here’s your territory and sales quota, can you handle it?’ what’s he going tosay?

“My goal is to giveas many kids as possible that experience. Not just the football and basketballplayers.”

THE STUDENT FAN |Megan Conroy
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•Native ofGaithersburg, Md.

•Majoring inbiomedical sciences (premed)

• A regular atOSU's Recreation & Physical Activities Center (RPAC), the largest studentworkout facility in the country, replete with a virtual driving range, 10racquetball courts and a massage service

WHEN MEGAN CONROYapplied to Ohio State, athletics had no bearing on her plans. "My decisionwas totally about college life and academics," she says. "I wasn't thatinto sports."

It didn't takelong for Conroy, now a sophomore, to feel the rapture. A member of Block O, theofficial student cheering section, she attends 15 to 25 athletic events a year.(She gets in free at nonrevenue sports; she pays $13 per game for men'sbasketball and $120 for a football season pass.) She also is active in the OSUSportsmanship Council and Ohio Staters, Inc., a student organization that helpspreserve campus traditions and build school spirit. "You can't not be asports fan here," she says. "It's hard to describe if you're not oncampus, but there's an amazing pride in being a Buckeye."

One of theSportsmanship Council's aims is to foster support for Buckeyes athleticswithout discrediting the school. With an eye toward preventing a repeat of thedrunken on-campus riots that marred the celebration of OSU's 2002 BCS title,Conroy spent the night of this year's game against Florida helping coordinate a"viewing party" at the swanky Jerome Schottenstein Arena, home to theBuckeyes' basketball teams. Students were admitted for free and given vouchersfor drinks, popcorn and hot dogs, but alcohol was prohibited. More than 3,000came.

Conroy is alsoinvolved in a program titled Best Fans in the Land. When students attend anathletic event they swipe their I.D.'s and are awarded points. (Women's hockey,for instance, is worth five points, while men's basketball and football areworth nothing.) Students with the most points at the end of a term win prizesranging from an iPod to dinner with a Buckeyes coach.

By her ownadmission, Conroy is still not as sports-crazed as many on campus: When GregOden added her as a facebook.com friend last August, she says, she didn't knowwho he was.

THE TUTOR | DavidGraham
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• Played tight endat Savannah State

• M.S. in SportsAdministration/Education from Georgia Southern

• Came to OSU fromMiami (Ohio) in January 2006

IT'S BEEN MOREthan four years since Maurice Clarett played his last down for the Buckeyes.Yet the mere mention of his name still provokes visceral reactions on campus.Most hold him in the lowest possible esteem and blame him for singlehandedlybringing the athletic department into disrepute. Another faction sees Clarettas an exploited athlete, used and then summarily cast aside, triggering histragic descent. (He's now serving at least 3 1/2 years in prison in Toledo,having pleaded guilty to charges stemming from a January 2006 armedrobbery.)

But, inarguably,some good has come from L'Affaire Clarett. The sad saga--particularly hisallegations, largely unproven, that he received preferential treatment in theclassroom and that tutors wrote his papers--led OSU to take greater efforts toemphasize the "student" component of student-athlete. Says DavidGraham, director of Student-Athlete Support Services Office (SASSO), theathletic department's tutoring and academic counseling division, "We referto these as the post-Clarett years."

Most notably, theuniversity has become increasingly selective about admitting borderlinerecruits and has shifted SASSO out of the athletic department's control. Grahamreports directly to a vice provost as well as to the AD. The tutoring operationhas been relocated from the athletic complex to the gleaming Younkin SuccessCenter ("Get to the Younkin or you'll be flunkin'") in the middle ofcampus.

With a full-timestaff of 17 and a roster of nearly 100 tutors, SASSO exists, says the37-year-old Graham, "to give student-athletes everything they need tosucceed academically." The services range from on-demand tutoring to helpcoordinating a course schedule that will accommodate practice times. SASSOemploys a tutor to travel on the road with the men's basketball team. It alsoseeks feedback from the 1,200 faculty members who have athletes in theirclasses, in hopes of preempting academic problems.

Psychology andneuroscience professor John Bruno, the faculty athletic representative, pointsto the TV-driven scheduling of games as one major concern. "Presidentscan't beat their chests and say 'academic reform, scholar-athletes, blah blahblah' and then agree to the BCS schedule that made our kids lose a week ofclass," he says. The problem is worst for men's basketball, the sport withthe most academic casualties. "Missing class is a way of life for kids whocan't afford for it to be a way of life," Bruno says.

Graham will go toextreme lengths to minimize the damage. January's BCS title game coincided withthe first week of the winter quarter. Commandeering conference rooms at theteam hotel in Scottsdale, Ariz., SASSO set up a remote operation, stocked withcomputers, course syllabi and textbooks. Eight SASSO staffers made the trip.Based on their academic standing, 29 of the 121 football players were requiredto attend the study tables. The rest of the team was merely encouraged."Especially when you're on a 10-week quarter system, missing the first weekof classes is a big deal," says Graham. "We tried to make the best of asituation that was not ideal."

According toGraham's in-house figures, Ohio State's football graduation rate from 2001 to'06 was 52%--a figure diminished, he says, by the large number of players whojumped to the NFL in that span. Under the NCAA's new academic-progress rules,which have raised questions on some campuses (page 61), the Buckeyes have shownprogress: During the '06 fall quarter more than half the football team had agrade-point average of 3.0 or better. Since Jim Tressel took over for JohnCooper as football coach in '01, the cumulative GPA for football players hasimproved from 2.45 to 2.9. "There's no question it can be hard dancing totwo different beats," says Graham of the conflict between athletics andacademics, "but once you find a rhythm, you can succeed."

THE NONREVENUEATHLETE | Teresa Meyer
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• Will compete in2007 Pan Am Games in Brazil; harbors Olympic ambitions

•Academic All--BigTen

•Fires off 250rounds of ammo a week

YOU KNOW THOSEsilver-dollar-sized decals that adorn the helmets of Buckeyes football players?Teresa Meyer has scads of them too. Except that hers are arrayed on the case ofher .22. They recognize the shooting prowess of Meyer, an ambitious,irrepressible junior and captain of the pistol team, a coed consortium thatrivals synchronized swimming as the most obscure of OSU's 36 varsitysquads.

Though pistol isnot an official NCAA sport--it's governed by the NRA--Ohio State has conferredfull varsity status upon it since the 1940s. The chance to be on the team wasthe decisive factor in the college choice of Meyer, who began shooting as a10-year-old in her hometown of Dearborn, Mich. "Some people here might noteven know we exist," she says, "but we get the same benefits as othervarsity athletes."

That includeseverything from Nike swag like polos and sweatshirts (under a deal worth $11.9million over seven years, most of it in free product, Nike outfits the entireathletic department) to preference in course scheduling, to full access totraining facilities, such as the hypoxic altitude chamber. Taking advantage ofa top-flight conditioning staff (the "speed coach" is 1996 Olympic goldmedal sprinter Butch Reynolds, class of '91), the 5'8", 180-pound Meyersays she's lost 60 pounds since freshman year.

As an out-of-stateresident, Meyer pays upward of $30,000 a year in tuition, room and board. Tocut costs, she lives off campus. Her financial situation soon should improve.Starting next fall, the pistol team will be armed with 3.6 scholarships. (Thecoaches can slice and dice as they see fit; in theory 10 team members couldeach get .36 of a scholarship.) In compliance with Title IX, 274 of the 621athletic scholarships OSU confers go to females.

The shooters--andother nonrevenue athletes--recognize that their boat is lifted by the risingtide of football and men's basketball. As one nonrevenue coach puts it,"The more Nike OHIO STATE FOOTBALL sweatshirts I see people wearing,the fewer bus trips my team is going to have to take." The baseball teamwill go to Florida by charter flight four times in March, and the pistol teamrecently flew to Utah for a competition.

More money meansmore opportunity, be it competing against top-level opposition, travelingfarther or training in state-of-the-art facilities. More opportunity luresbetter recruits. Better recruits spawn better programs. "We probablywouldn't be here without football and, to a lesser extent, basketball,"says Layne Dreven, a senior on the volleyball team. "We all knowthat."

The finances havecreated a caste system. The football and basketball teams share a trainingtable separate from the other teams. Only those two programs have a designatedfull-time tutor. Their locker rooms are appreciably more lavish. Therefurbished football wing of the Woody Hayes Athletic Center will featureamenities on the order of a juice bar, an indoor basketball court and dozens offlat-screen televisions.

The nonrevenuesports are no less intense than football and basketball, however. Almostuniformly, the nonrevenue athletes interviewed by SI likened their commitmentto a full-time job. Take men's volleyball, which held preseason practices andconditioning drills from eight to noon each morning last fall. Its seasoncommenced in November and most likely will end in May. Because of thescheduling demands, it can be hard for the players to integrate into thestudent population. "It's like [we're in] a floating bubble," sayssenior captain Sam Stevens.

Though almostconstantly busy with sports and studies (she's a human resources major), Meyermakes time to serve as a campus Bible-study leader. "For me, it's importantto have stuff out of the sport--if not, the stress gets to you," she says."But at the same time the pistol team is like my family here. It's all abalance."

THE COACH | ThadMatta
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• Played guard atButler

• His 2006--07freshmen--the Thad Five--may be the best recruiting class in a decade

• Nickname of hishigh school team in Hoopestown, Ill., was the Cornjerkers

THAD MATTA enteredcoaching to emulate his father, a bench boss at a small high school. But it'shard to imagine that Jim Matta's job much resembled the one his son holds.Shortly after a road loss to Wisconsin last month, for example, Matta watchedgame video and worked aboard a team charter flight. The plane landed at 2 a.m.,and when Matta arrived home, he returned voice mails, e-mails and textmessages. (Pointedly, he avoided the chat rooms, blogs and message boards thatcritique everything from his playing rotation to his choice of ties.) When hefinally went to bed, it was 7 a.m. "And I don't brag about that," Mattasays. "I like to sleep."

Bleary-eyed thoughhe may be, Matta has helped restore honor to the program. He arrived inColumbus from Xavier in 2004 and was handed broom-and-dustpan duty afterpredecessor Jim O'Brien was fired for having given money to a recruit. (O'Brienfiled a wrongful-termination suit and won a $2.4 million judgment, which theschool is appealing.) At week's end, Ohio State had gone 72--21 under Matta,and the program appears to have made academic progress: Last spring, for thefirst time since the mid-1980s, four basketball players graduated.

Typical for acollege coach these days, the 39-year-old Matta spends only a fraction of hisday on the court. Even in-season, recruiting chews up blocks of time. (Earlierthis year Matta took a private plane provided by a booster to watch a potentialrecruit play a night game in California and was back in Columbus by morning.)Then there are the fund-raisers, the speeches, the interviews, his weekly TVand radio shows. "When I came here, I had no idea of the power andmagnitude of the Ohio State University," he says, adhering to auniversitywide branding directive to refer to the school with the word the.

Matta is, ofcourse, handsomely compensated. His contract, which runs through the 2014--15season, pays him $1.89 million this year. (The figure includes a base salary,endorsements, radio and TV deals, annuity contributions and payments forrunning a basketball camp.) He is the highest-paid OSU coach after football'sJim Tressel, who earned nearly $2.5 million last season, including a $200,000bonus for getting his team to the BCS title game. (University president KarenHolbrook, by comparison, is making $600,527 this year.)

Coaching inColumbus pays off in other ways that coaches in smaller programs can only dreamof. "It allows you to be more of a risk-taker in recruiting," saysMatta. "With OSU's name, I can go and recruit kids I couldn't when I was atXavier or Butler. 'Xavier? Where is Xavier?' 'Butler? Where are youlocated?'" He happily would have continued speaking on this topic, but hehad another function to attend. He slipped out the back of the $116 millionbasketball arena and peeled off in a BMW. Naturally, it was gray with a marooninterior.

THE SPONSOR |Huntington Bank
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•141 years old

• Columbus-based,with 380 branches in Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and West Virginia

•Holds more than$36 billion in assets

THE WHIFF ofsports commerce is strong on basketball game days. The name of a departmentstore--Value City--is splayed on the court at the Schottenstein Center.Marquees for 22 other arena sponsors ring the perimeter. On the concourse,players' images are featured on billboards for Donato's pizza. During timeouts,the scoreboard displays SCORES FROM AROUND THE COUNTRY SPONSORED BY GREATCLIPS, a chain of hair salons.

Under amultimillion-dollar deal that includes signage and in-arena ATMs, HuntingtonBank, one of the athletic department's biggest corporate partners, has affixedits name to suite levels at both the Horseshoe and the Schottenstein Center.The bank wants not only to reach the attractive demographic of college studentsbut also to tap into the positive feelings that Ohio State sports provide fansof all ages. "At the end of the day," says Jim Kunk (class of '75),Huntington's president for the Central Ohio market, "they have a greatbrand and a great following."

In 2000 Huntingtonlaunched the Buckeye Banking premium, whereby customers receive checks and ATMcards emblazoned with the Buckeyes logo. Cardholders can show their fealty tothe scarlet and gray and receive perks such as discounts at the Buckeyes' giftshop. In what could form the basis for a psychology major's senior thesis, whenOhio State teams win--the football team, in particular--not only do more fansjoin the program, but the bank also sees a spike in existing members'spending.

These rivers ofrevenue are not lost on Buckeyes football and basketball players. "In allhonesty, one of the most exploited groups of people in the country is collegeathletes," wide receiver Anthony Gonzalez, an Academic All-America, saidduring the week of the BCS championship game. "We basically have a job thatgenerates millions and millions and millions of dollars, and, at the end of theday, we don't really see any of it." A few days later he announced that hewas forgoing his final season of eligibility to enter this year's NFLdraft.

THE BOOSTER |Steve Milligan
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• CFO,California-based Western Digital, one of the world's largest suppliers of harddrives

• Graduated fromthe same high school (Upper Arlington, Ohio) as Jack Nicklaus

• Histhree-year-old daughter, Megan, can sing Across the Field, the Ohio State fightsong

EARLIER THISDECADE Steve Milligan (class of '85), then a fast-rising executive at Dell, waslooking for a way to honor his alma mater--and if it came with tax advantages,so much the better. He made a onetime gift of $50,000 to a general fund at OhioState. A year or so later an athletic department fund-raiser contacted Milliganwith a proposition: For a contribution of $100,000 he could permanently endow ascholarship for an OSU athlete. The idea appealed to Milligan, and he createdthe Stephen D. Milligan Family Scholarship, to be awarded in perpetuity. "Iwasn't an athlete, just a normal Joe," says Milligan. "But I loveBuckeyes football and feel such loyalty, I figured this was a way topersonalize a gift."

Milligan joinedmore than 100 other donors--including former Buckeyes athletes such as JackNicklaus, NFL receiver Joey Galloway and NBA swingman Jim Jackson--inunderwriting scholarships for athletes. Athletic director Gene Smith assertsthat without the $36 million in endowed scholarships, his department would notbe self-supporting. "I might have to cut travel and recruiting andequipment," he says.

After Milliganwrote his check, he was told that the inaugural recipient would be a lightlyregarded football recruit named Troy Smith. "It was fine with me," hesays. "I didn't want to be a pain-in-the-ass donor, but I've heard of guysrequesting only running backs." (Ohio State permits scholarship endowers tohandpick the recipient.) For the next four years Milligan watched proudly asSmith started, starred and then won the 2006 Heisman Trophy, quarterbacking theBuckeyes to an undefeated regular season. But he never met the player whoseeducation he was underwriting. "I got a few thank-you notes and a pictureof him getting his diploma," says Milligan. "Knowing he took advantageof this opportunity was [thanks] enough. I never did this to meet a footballplayer."

This is not auniform sentiment among boosters. Like all big-time programs, Ohio State mustfend off those seeking to insinuate themselves into the program. Securityofficers patrol the parking lots of the football and basketball teams' practicefacilities on the prowl for "boosters and agent types," as a guard putsit. School sources claim that the athletic department even compiles a"most-wanted" list of boosters whom student-athletes are firmly advisedto avoid.

Still, it's notalways enough. In 2004 an OSU booster handed Troy Smith an envelope containing$500, an advance for "work" Smith was never required to perform. Foundby the school to be in violation of the NCAA's extra-benefits rule, Smith wassuspended for two games, including the Alamo Bowl. Resourceful Buckeyes fansunearthed the fact that Milligan was endowing Smith's scholarship and assumedhe was the booster in question. "People gave me a hard time over that,"says Milligan. "I kept saying, 'I've never even met Troy Smith.'" (Infact, the culprit, Robert Q. Baker, a Springfield, Ohio, businessman, wasbanned indefinitely from having any association with the athleticdepartment.)

OSU operates apoints system for donors, not unlike a frequent-flier program. The size ofMilligan's gift enabled him to upgrade his football season tickets. He now sits10 rows up, near the 45-yard-line. Though he lives in Newport Beach, Calif.,Milligan flies to Columbus at least five times each fall, crashing with aboyhood friend and tailgating outside the Horseshoe and then indulging hispassion for watching the Buckeyes play. "My son was born a few weeks beforethe Michigan game last fall," he says. "A couple more days and I wasgoing to call the doctor to induce."

THE VENDOR | ClydeSullivan
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• Nicknamed Clydethe Glide from the Southside

• Claims to haveonce taken then Buckeyes star (and future NBA player) Clark Kellogg to the holein a pickup basketball game

• "I can'trap, but I can dance"

MORE THAN 30 yearsago Clyde Sullivan was working the concessions stand at Columbus Clippers minorleague baseball games when a friend suggested he could make extra money doingthe same job for Ohio State basketball. Stationed on the ground level of St.John Arena, a classic throwback field house, Sullivan scooped bags of popcorn,mostly for students. As he recalls it, the price was a quarter per bag.

Today, at age 78,he is still a concessionaire for Buckeyes basketball games. But his employernow is Sodexho, a French-headquartered multinational that holds the OSUconcessions contract. Working on the suite level of the Schottenstein Center,Sullivan serves panini and quesadillas ($8) and microbrews ($6.75).

"What can Itell you, buddy," he says. "Times sure have changed, haven'tthey?"

The Haves andHave-Nots

The wealth gapbetween Division I powers and paupers has never been larger
[This article contains tables. Please see hardcopy of magazine or PDF.]

FOOTBALL

THE RICH REVENUE* PROFIT (LOSS)
Notre Dame $61.4 $43.5
Texas $60.9 $42.5
Ohio State $60.8 $28.5
Georgia $58.7 $44.1
Auburn $51.6 $31.5

 

THE POOR REVENUE* PROFIT (LOSS)
SUNY-Buffalo $0.67 ($3.4)
Akron $0.74 ($3.3)
Kent State $0.82 ($2.6)
San Jose State $0.95 ($3.6)
Utah State $1.15 ($1.7)


For all its success on the field, Boise State ranked only 70th in revenue ($8.5million) and spent just $4.5 million, one fourth as much as Notre Dame. Houstonlost almost $3.9 million on football, the most of any school.

BASKETBALL

THE RICH REVENUE* PROFIT (LOSS)
Louisville $21.5 $14.9
North Carolina $17.2 $12.5
Oklahoma State $16.9 $13.1
Arizona $14.9 $11.3
Syracuse $14.3 $7.5

 

THE POOR REVENUE* PROFIT (LOSS)
San Jose State $0.16 ($0.85)
North Texas $0.18 ($0.85)
SUNY-Buffalo $0.26 ($0.74)
Army $0.30 ($0.37)
Kent State $0.35 ($1.09)


Louisville's basketball program showed more profit than the football programsat Clemson, Nebraska, Florida State--and Louisville. In women's hoops onlyseven schools showed a profit, led by UConn at $975,379.

ATHLETICSOVERALL†

THE RICH REVENUE* PROFIT (LOSS)
Ohio State $104.7 $2.9
Texas $97.8 $14.2
Virginia $92.7 $0.0
Michigan $85.5 $17.5
Florida $82.4 $4.2


THE POOR REVENUE* PROFIT (LOSS)
VMI $5.5 $0.03
Louisiana-Monroe $7.2 $0.03
Louisiana-Lafayette $8.0 $0.00
Louisiana Tech $10.1 $0.00
Arkansas State $10.1 $0.00


With $19.5 million in profit (on $44.8 million in revenue), Central Floridaranked a surprising third in the nation in profitability, behind Notre Dame($22.7 million) and Georgia ($20.5 million).

*Figures inmillions
†Schools with football and basketball
• SOURCE: U.S. DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION, BASED ON YEAR ENDING JUNE 30, 2006

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PHOTOJOHN BIEVER (BUTLER)O,YES
Before a packed house in OSU's $116 million hoops palace, guard Jamar Butlerhelped the Buckeyes beat Wisconsin on Sunday and rise to No. 1 for the firsttime in 45 years.
PHOTOPhotographs by Al TielemansTHESTUDENT FAN PHOTOPhotographs by Al TielemansTHESTAR PHOTOPhotographs by Al TielemansTHECOACH PHOTOPhotographs by Al TielemansTHEA.D. PHOTOPhotographs by Al Tielemans PHOTODAVID E. KLUTHOGOODBYE,COLUMBUS? Oden must choose between a cozy campus life and NBAriches. PHOTOPhotographs by Al Tielemans PHOTOPETER TURNLEY (STADIUM)BUCKSSTART HERE
Smith is responsible for disbursing the revenue generated at theHorseshoe.
PHOTOPhotographs by Al Tielemans PHOTOPhotographs by Al TielemansCUM LAUDE
Graham has overseen a GPA rise in the wake of charges by Clarett (right).
PHOTOKIICHIRO SATO/AP[SeeCaption Above.] PHOTOPhotographs by Al TielemansHAVEGUN, WILL TRAVEL
Meyer's team gets many major-sport perks.
PHOTOPhotographs by Al Tielemans[See Caption Above.] PHOTOPhotographs by Al Tielemans PHOTOPhotographs by Al Tielemans PHOTOPhotographs by Al TielemansBANK ON IT
Huntington's local rivals also try to associate themselves with OSU.
PHOTOPhotographs by Al TielemansDADDY BUCKEYE Milligan (with Megan)endowed a scholarship for Smith (10, with Tressel). PHOTOJOHN BIEVER [SeeCaption Above.]  PHOTOPhotographs by Al Tielemans PHOTODAVID BERGMAN JoePa PHOTOBILL FRAKES Coach K PHOTODAMIAN STROHMEYERNCAA champ Northwestern (front)

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)