By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
To be blunt, the Sun Belt is so bad at scheduling
Primary SBC-Logo WEB

Due to an early deadline so that all Statesboro Herald employees can properly ring in the new year, this space in the sports section will not feature game stories from Georgia Southern’s men’s and women’s first Sun Belt basketball games of the season that were played Saturday at Hanner Fieldhouse.
    The info from those games - hopefully a pair of Georgia Southern wins - is available online at
    And while it would be great to have game recaps to bring you in this space, the scheduling conflict allows me to instead spend some quality time on another topic that needs to be addressed. Because a New Year’s Eve hoops doubleheader messes with our newspaper just a bit, but it messes with the bottom line of Georgia Southern athletics even more.
    Seriously, Sun Belt Conference. Just what the hell are you thinking?
    I’ve already pointed out some questionable thinking in the conference’s scheduling before. A little over a month ago, it became obvious that - all coaching and schematic complaints aside - the Georgia Southern football team was put between a rock and a hard place when the Sun Belt, which was fully aware of the Eagles’ non-conference commitments - scheduled the Eagles to have the nation’s only streak of four consecutive road games. And on top of that, two of the Eagles’ five home games were played on Thursday nights after a Saturday road game, hurting attendance and taking away most advantages of having a week at home to prepare for a game.
    Unfortunately for Georgia Southern, the scheduling woes have extended into another sport.
    Basketball - especially men’s basketball - is considered to be a ‘revenue’ sport in college athletics. For the most part, the enthusiastic fan bases and multi-billion dollar television contracts that exist for football and basketball are the lifeblood of athletic departments. For schools like Georgia Southern that can’t boast a nine-figure budget for athletics, it’s a few money games played on the road and a steady revenue stream from home games in these sports that keep the books balanced each year.
    In a conference like the Sun Belt, it could easily be argued that only football is a cash cow while a few select basketball games do just enough to be somewhat profitable and help each school’s athletic department.
    In many mid-major conferences, a down year or a few games’ worth of lower-than-expected attendance can be a major problem as far as finances are concerned.
    So, with all of that in mind, can the Sun Belt please explain why Georgia Southern and Georgia State are playing women’s and men’s games at 10 a.m. and 12:30 p.m., respectively, on New Year’s Eve?
    What could you guys have possibly been thinking? How many Bourbon Street bars were on the Sun Belt pub crawl before retreating back to the league’s New Orleans offices to make up the 2016-17 schedule?
    Georgia Southern has a decent amount of support and attendance for basketball games, but there is no doubt that a game against Georgia State in Hanner Fieldhouse will be the high water mark in terms of attendance and revenue for just about any season.
    With that information plain and obvious for any schedule maker to see, the Sun Belt somehow saw it fit to schedule that game in a spot that will almost assuredly cripple attendance and the overall financial benefit for Georgia Southern.
    There are no students in town to fill half of the lower bowl and buy concessions. There are New Year’s parties out of town that are likely on the minds of many would-be attendees. The college football national playoff is occupying the minds of most sports fans and another bowl game on one of the most high-profile football dates of the year will be in progress during parts of both of tomorrow’s basketball games.
    Georgia Southern has averaged an attendance of 4,185 in its last two home games against Georgia State. Both were normal evening start times on a date when classes were in session.
    With today’s circumstances, getting 1,500 into Hanner might be considered a small miracle.
    This isn’t a cry of unfairness. Georgia Southern has won with 100 in attendance as easily as it has won in front of a sellout crowd or on the road in front of a hostile fan base.
    This is a calling out of the Sun Belt’s downright stupidity in its scheduling department.
    There are no rich institutions in the Sun Belt Conference. Conferences like the SEC, ACC, Big Ten, etc. all have schools with absurdly large endowments and budgets. If a few schools get the short end of the stick in terms of revenue-earning opportunities brought about by an unfavorable schedule, it’s not a big deal. For many of these programs, getting a few thousand less than expected at a handful of games will barely qualify as a rounding error when the athletic department finalizes its books for the year.
    But that isn’t the position of the Sun Belt or any of its member schools.
    Every one of the institutions in the Sun Belt needs all the help it can get when it comes to ensuring profitability and future growth. Sure, no amount of planning or scheduling can make everything perfectly equitable for all parties concerned, but the Sun Belt needs to realize just how much damage can be done to a single school by even a few scheduling inconveniences.
    So, to the powers that be in the Sun Belt, I hope you watch the live stream of today’s games at Hanner Fieldhouse. I hope it’s painfully obvious just how much you’re hurting a good rivalry - and Georgia Southern’s bottom line - by scheduling two big games at such an unorthodox and inconvenient time.
    And I also hope you have a happy new year. Maybe try to get some of this right next time around? You’ve got all of 2017 to improve.
Mike Anthony may be reached at (912) 489-9408.