Men's Sports, Sports

State of the Union: LBSU Athletics

Newly appointed athletic director Bobby Smitheran has not come into an ideal situation at Long Beach State compared to athletics programs around the country, but he looks to make the best of it.

Football is the main source of revenue in college athletics and without football at The Beach, it is hard to create enough revenue to offer scholarships to all athletes.

“We have about 395 total student-athletes this year, 65% are on some form of athletic aid,” Smitheran said to the Journalism 318 class. “The majority receive less than 50% of what the NCAA would define as the full cost of attendance award.”

Not having a football team is a hindrance for Long Beach because it is hard to keep up with other universities in terms of the quality of products like nutrition and facilities for student-athletes.

Smitheran said he visited the University of Oregon and it had a barber shop for its athletes and without a football team, luxuries like that are not attainable.

The Beach is not allowed to offer recruits a NIL package, which the school would allow the student-athletes to profit from their name, image and likeness.

Athletes are allowed to receive money, but they have to work for it through things like brand deals. LBSU is currently using a web-based platform called Influencer that allows athletes to be accessed by brands to promote their products.

“Yes I want to get to a more proactive approach because if you don’t address it [NIL] and if you don’t jump both feet in, you’re just going to get left behind,” Smitheran said.

LBSU is a non-Power Five school, whose athletic department has been operating at a loss. Smitheran is focusing on running a fiscally responsible department, cutting costs without impacting competitiveness and investing in facilities.

As soon as Smitheran arrived on campus, a $55 million estimation of repairs for the Walter Pyramid was dumped on his desk. The Pyramid at Long Beach State is an icon and has recently been reported leaking from the roof.

He does not want to have to tear it down but he says that $55 million is not a smart financial investment for the university, so alternative measures may have to be taken.

Another issue Smitheran adopted was the decision on the future of men’s basketball head coach Dan Monson who is in the last year of his contract. “As I said to coach Monson, I’m rooting for him,” he said. “That’s a conversation between coach Monson and myself at an appropriate time.”

Smitheran’s focus is on competing for championships in all sports to help boost the profile of the institution. “It’s not just a banner in the gym, all boats float when we have success,” he said.

Smitheran described the business of college sports as have versus have not. This is true in many aspects but especially as it pertains to money.

Teams in the Big West Conference have TV deals worth one to three million dollars while teams in the Southeastern Conference have deals up to $50 million and with a lack of funding, it is hard to grow as a program to strive for those large TV deals.

With all the obstacles that The Beach has to endure, things are still looking up for LBSU athletics.

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