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The real reason the postseason ban matters for Mizzou

It stinks that Missouri’s football team won’t be able to play for a bowl, and it’s unfortunate for both the baseball & softball teams, but there are much bigger picture consequences for a program like Mizzou.

NCAA Football: Tennessee at Missouri Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

I hate that no matter the result on Friday against Arkansas, Missouri’s football team won’t be able to play in a bowl game.

It’s unfortunate that the softball and baseball seasons are over before they begin. Those kids didn’t sign up for this, and they don’t deserve what I believe to be an unjust punishment.

But you’re a Missouri fan. You knew all of that. And I would be willing to bet you feel the same way.

You know the NCAA was supposed to #MakeItRight. You know the NCAA made a mistake in its decision Tuesday to uphold Missouri’s sanctions.

But I’m here to tell you that this was bigger than just some postseason ban. It’s more wide-ranging than recruiting restrictions.

This is college athletics. And when you’re talking about college athletics, you’re talking about money.

This is about the money.

Let’s be honest, it’s always about the money.

Missouri’s athletic director Jim Sterk and Chancellor Alexander Cartwright held a joint press conference Tuesday in Kansas City where a sheet of paper was handed out comparing the sanctions handed down by the NCAA to Mississippi State and MU for similar infractions.

There is simply no comparison. What the NCAA imposed on Missouri is completely out of line for what a rogue tutor is alleged to have done. There’s one line in the comparison that stands out to me among the rest.

It’s the line about the money.

According to what I assume to be internal estimates, Missouri is projecting it will lose $9-10 million in revenue because of the football team’s bowl ban. According to ESPN, the SEC distributed approximately $43 million to each member school for the 2017-2018 fiscal year.

That revenue includes the bowl earnings.

If we are to assume Missouri’s estimates are accurate, that means MU will have to forfeit roughly one-quarter of its conference affiliation revenue from the 2019-2020 calendar year.

That hurts. A lot.

To put in perspective just how much $10 million means to Missouri, according to Dave Matter, the entire budget for athletic student aid at MU in 2017-2018 was $11.5 million. Expenses for travel and equipment/uniforms were almost exactly $10 million.

Missouri’s entire operating revenue in 2017-2018 was $107 million.

That was “good” for 12th among the 13 SEC programs that publicly disclose finances. Vanderbilt, as a private school, is the only SEC school not required to do so. The only program behind Missouri in revenue for 2017-2018 was Mississippi State at $103 million.

Dock Missouri the $10 million, and you will likely see the Tigers fall to last among public SEC programs in total revenue for this fiscal year.

A program like Mizzou is already at a massive disadvantage in the SEC when it comes to revenue relative to the rest of the conference. Losing $10 million in bowl revenue for this is not insignificant.

In fact, it’s the single most important penalty to come from the NCAA’s sanctions.

It’s too bad that Mizzou’s seniors won’t be able to take the field one last time together. It’s unfortunate the Tigers won’t get the extra few weeks of practice prior to the bowl. The recruiting restrictions for football, baseball and softball are going to hurt. The postseason ban on baseball and softball are completely nonsensical.

But the sanction that will hurt the athletic department most is the loss of that $10 million. I don’t know where they’ll have to cut costs. But that revenue is going to have to be made up somehow. Either by cost-cutting or by begging donors with some really deep pockets to cut a check unlike anything they’ve ever done in the past.

That money is going to come from somewhere. Missouri hoped it would never have to find out where. Now it’s Jim Sterk’s job to make it happen.

I, for one, do not envy that job.