Wednesday, February 18

The answer: value education more.

The USA Today cover story, Athletic spending grows as academic funds dry up, is about what you'd think.

Average athletic budgets rose at a pace more than double the increases in average university spending at Division I schools between 1995 and 2001, according to an analysis by USA TODAY and The Des Moines Register of the most recently available NCAA and U.S. Department of Education data.

Spending on Division I intercollegiate athletics has increased on average about 25%, while university spending has increased on average 10%, after inflation.

(Go Des Moines Register. Go Iowa!)

Only about 40 schools claim their athletic departments are self-sufficient.

The numbers don't include expenditures on capital improvements -- athletic or non-athletic -- or compensation paid to coaches beyond their base salaries.

As much as I like athletics, college athletic programs are out of control.

''Education and athletics are linked in this country. That's the way our society is organized,'' says David Larimore, an education professor and former athletics director at Tennessee Tech. ''It projects an image, and people come to expect that if a school has a major sports franchise, they also have a major institution attached. So if you want to become invisible, downgrade (athletics) or get out of it.''

I disagree with Larimore. It depends on what your goals are. Some pretty good schools (the Ivy League, MIT, Swarthmore, etc.) aren't know for their athletics.

It seems the driving interest in education these days is money. And a lot of times we go looking to athletics to help with the money. But we shouldn't lose sight of the educational aspects, which so often happens.

For example, in my short time working at the U of S Carolina, I'd say our two highest priorities are athletics and becoming a major research university. I think both of those goals have major financial implications (though that's not all). Those goals are alright, provided educating students doesn't get lost along the way. The university should exist to educate students.

''On one hand, we're telling athletic directors we don't want them to cost (the academic side) so much money, but at the same time we're telling them not to accept too much commercial money,'' says Joel Cohen, a University of Maryland math professor and a coalition member. ''I admit it's a mixed message.''

What about, 'C - none of the above'? ie, smaller athletic programs.

There's a smaller article on the U of N Iowa (where Jason went) that sounds about right to me.
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