In a letter dated Aug. 4, the coaches -- including a few prominent names such as Ohio State football coach Jim Tressel and Mississippi State football coach Sylvester Croom -- said they are "troubled by the prominence of alcohol advertising in televised college sports" and offer a new proposal to phase out the alcohol ads over three years.
"We strongly urge you to take actions against all alcohol advertising -- including beer advertising -- on NCAA sports telecasts," said the letter. "We believe that this could be done gradually and relatively painlessly."
The action was also supported by 59 college presidents and 239 athletic directors, who urged the question be turned over to the executive committee, which last reviewed its alcohol-advertising standards in 2005.
Currently the NCAA limits alcohol advertising to products that don't exceed alcohol levels of 6%, meaning beer and some wine coolers. It also allows only one minute per hour of any telecast to be devoted to alcohol ads.
Anheuser-Busch and SABMiller were among the top five advertisers in the CBS telecasts of the "March Madness" college basketball tournament. A decision to eliminate alcohol advertising could affect the rights fees the NCAA receives for media telecasts. (Noticeably absent from the most recent letter were the signatures of coaches of major Division 1 basketball programs.)
Speaking out against 'hypocrisy'
The Center for Science in the Public Interest has also called on the NCAA to act.
"It's refreshing to see so many college presidents, athletic directors and coaches standing up for what's best for their institutions, sports programs and student athletes," said George A. Hacker, director of the Campaign for Alcohol-Free Sports TV at the Center for Science in the Public Interest. "Even officials at many major sports powerhouses, which derive some revenue from beer advertising, recognize the hypocrisy and illogic of the NCAA's sell-out to beer peddlers."
Sports Business Journal estimates A-B spent $218.2 million on advertising across all sports on TV in 2007, Miller $82.7 million and Coors $89.5 million.