College athletes, specifically men’s football and basketball players, can’t be paid just because. They’re “student-atheletes,” thus making them merely grateful beneficiaries of scholarships and education.
But among the labyrinthine thought committee that is the NCAA there is one wrinkle to the college athlete compensation issue, at least when it concerns football players: bowl game gifts.
SportsBusiness Journal recently published an illuminating article that explains how bowl games reward their participants. Here’s the skinny on the $5.4 million that’ll be spent on college football postseason swag:
The NCAA allows each bowl to award up to $550 worth of gifts to 125 participants per school. Schools can, and usually do, buy additional gifts that they can distribute to participants beyond that 125 limit. In addition, participants can receive awards worth up to $400 from the school and up to $400 from the conference for postseason play, covering both conference title games and any bowl game.
Typically, bowl games settle for something called “gift suites” when offering participants the ability to redeem that allotted amount. Gift suites are simply private events that feature order forms where people receiving money from the bowl can order a specific items. Jon Cooperstein was the man behind the gift suite idea when he created one for the 2008 Orange Bowl.
Beats By Dre headphones were popular last year, and Best Buy gift card/shopping sprees seem to be all the rage this year, but this item was randomly the most popular last year:
Cooperstein said the most-ordered item in last year’s suites was Southern Motion’s powered home theater recliner that has two USB ports that can charge mobile devices. Beth Loden, Southern Motion’s strategic accounts director, said the company shipped 1,500 recliners via last year’s gift suites. Last year was the company’s first appearance in the bowl gift genre, and it’s returning this year.
And a sampling of what some bowls are giving out this year.
■ Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl
Dec. 31, 12:30 p.m. (ESPN); Atlanta
$300 Vanilla Visa gift card; Chick-fil-A gift card; Apple TV; Fossil watch; football
■ Vizio Fiesta Bowl
Dec. 31, 4 p.m. (ESPN); Glendale, Ariz.
Gift suite; Fossil watch; Ogio Rogue backpack
■ Capital One Orange Bowl
Dec. 31, 8 p.m. (ESPN); Miami Gardens, Fla.
Gift suite; Tourneau watch
■ Outback Bowl
Jan. 1, Noon (ESPN2); Tampa
$150 Best Buy gift card; Outback Steakhouse gift card; Fossil watch; Jostens ring; cap
■ Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic
Jan. 1, 12:30 p.m. (ESPN); Arlington, Texas
Information not available; bowl committee would not disclose
■ Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl
Jan. 1, 1 p.m. (ABC); Orlando
$447 Best Buy gift card and shopping trip^; watch; athletic performance shirt
■ Rose Bowl Game presented by Northwestern Mutual
Jan. 1, 5 p.m. (ESPN); Pasadena, Calif.
Gift suite; Fossil watch; Oakley Works backpack; New Era 59Fifty cap
■ Allstate Sugar Bowl
Jan. 1, 8:30 p.m. (ESPN); New Orleans
Gift suite; Fossil watch; New Era cap
Read the whole article for the full list (sans the national title game, which declined to reveal its offerings).