Sunday December 3, 2023

The Emerging Arms Race in Collegiate Athletics

Copy Link
Link Copied
Link Copied
John McKay Center, University of Southern California

By: Sam Shields, @samshieldss

As the 2016–2017 school calendar year begins, collegiate athletics are ramping back up with much of the focus geared towards college football, entering it’s third year using the college football playoffs format. While college football is often the centerpiece of a Division I athletics program here in the United States, bringing in most, if not all of a program’s revenue in one form or another, there are dozens of other sports for both men and women to participate in. With universities often comprised of hundreds of student athletes and anywhere between a few sports to 35 sports, recruiting has become as competitive as ever.

It’s seen across different sports that often times the same teams will be on top at the end of the year, with the exception of a few Cinderella stories here and there. In basketball, you have a loaded ACC with schools such as Duke, UNC and Syracuse laden with talent. In football, the SEC is always a powerhouse with Alabama, LSU and Florida often leading the way. The list goes on and on and by no coincidence. When it comes to recruiting, it can be seen as a triple edged sword with coaching being a decisive factor, followed by education and facilities. These three characteristics of a university often sway student-athletes one way or another with their long term vision in mind. The better the overall package a university offers, the easier recruiting appears to be.

Casanova Center, University of Oregon

Coaching and education, while noticeably essential, are time stamped characteristics that will not change too much with time. Athletic facilities and university perks, however, are part of an ever evolving arms race. Step onto any Division I Power Five conference school and their athletic accommodations will likely astonish you. If renovations have not been made recently to the facilities that student-athletes use on a daily basis, they are sure to come soon. Universities do not want to fall behind in recruiting simply because they cannot offer buildings and fields that compare.

Clemson recently completed a $63.5 million face-lift to its basketball stadium while beginning a $55 million upgrade to its football operations complex. USC announced a $275 million restoration to the Coliseum which comes after completing a $70 million upgrade to its John McKay Center. Tennessee is upgrading its Anderson Training Center for a cool $45 million. The list goes on and on as the arms race in collegiate athletic facilities continues. Companies such as Advent and 49 (Degrees) are often used in helping modernize the look and feel inside the new facilities, while also keeping the history aspect of the athletics program in the spotlight.

Clemson's Proposed Football Operations Complex (clemsontigers/ 

In addition to athletic venues, the arms race continues in other forms that also benefit student-athletes of all sports such as new apparel deals and upgraded fueling programs. As I have discussed before, there is heavy competition between Under Armour, Nike and Adidas who continue to ink record breaking deals with college programs. Just this past year Under Armour signed with UCLA, formerly an Adidas school, for 15 years worth $280 million. There will surely be some newly decked out Under Armour student-athletes on the UCLA campus.

As a prized student-athlete in high school, it is easy to picture yourself utilizing some of the best facilities in college athletics across the country, sporting the nicest sports apparel and benefitting from national exposure. It will be fascinating to follow the collegiate athletics arms race that continues to see unprecedented levels and perceive how it affects recruiting as the 2016–2017 calendar year gets underway.

Copy Link
Link Copied
Link Copied

What to Read

A rendering of the front of San Diego FC's proposed training center and youth academy.

San Diego FC Breaks Ground on $150M Training Facility, Academy

San Diego FC's academy will be the first of its kind in MLS.

One Of World’s Largest Pickleball Facilities to Open in Arizona

PURE Pickleball will be the largest pickleball facility in Arizona.
A rendering of the Phoenix Suns and Mercury's new shared business headquarters and Mercury practice facility.

Phoenix Suns, Mercury Invest $100M In New Downtown Headquarters

“It was a huge priority,” owner Mat Ishbia told FOS.
“Some teams are with NBA teams, some are not,” Copper says regarding WNBA facility disparities.

WNBA Star Kahleah Copper Wants Action on Chicago Sky Practice Facility

The three-time All-Star will be a free agent this winter.
podcast thumbnail mobile
Front Office Sports Today

CFP Looking to Super Bowl for Media Rights Plan


Featured Today

The College Football Playoff is considering rotating TV networks for the national championship game.

CFP Considers Super Bowl-Like Rotation For National Championship Game

Multiple networks could share rights to the championship game, sources told FOS.
Brett Favre
November 27, 2023

Favre Welfare Case Hold-Up? "AG’s Office Has Not Expressed Interest In Pursuing"

The DOJ interviewed Brett Favre in early 2020.
The future of the Pac-12 rests on a court decision.
November 24, 2023

The Pac-12 Plays Its Final Regular-Season Game. Then A Court Decides Its Fate.

The conference's future rests with a court decision.
Lane Kiffin
November 9, 2023

Ole Miss, Lane Kiffin Lawyers Argue for Dismissal of Player Lawsuit

FOS obtained audio of Lane Kiffin's interaction with the player behind lawsuit.


Powered By

Careers in Sports

Looking for a new job? Check out these featured listings and search for openings all over the world.
Multiple - USA Careers
Live Nation
Multiple - USA Careers
Saco Bay PT
Multiple - USA Careers

MLS’ Chris Schlosser on Pioneering the Digital-First Sports League with AI

Chris Schlosser discusses MLS's growth and digital transformation.
Titans stadium.
April 19, 2023

Titans' Historic New $2.1B Stadium One Step Closer to Reality

About $1.26B in public money would go toward the new stadium.
April 25, 2023

Oakland A’s Could Share Stadium with Triple-A Team

The Oakland A's could be searching for a place to play.

NHL’s Chris Foster on Amplifying Content Distribution With Automation

Learn how the NHL is using WSC Sports to increase fan engagement.
May 20, 2022

Crypto Crash Impact on Sports Sponsorships

Prior to the last two weeks, cryptocurrencies, NFTs, exchanges, and a host…
March 11, 2022

The Evolution of Consumer Wearables

The wearables market has seen incredible amounts of growth since the onset of the pandemic. Trends like telemedicine and remote patient monitoring have helped spur adoption and inspired new consumer products that allow for the tracking and collection of biometric data.
February 11, 2022

The Role of Live Sports in Streaming

The streaming wars have intensified as the field is as competitive as ever. One way to retain customers? The answer might be live sports.
February 4, 2022

Super Bowl Ad Market Examined

The Super Bowl is now only one week away and the stakes…