It is time for colleges and universities to resist the never-ending pressure to increase spending on intercollegiate athletics. Even as this report goes to press, high-profile athletic conferences are expanding their memberships in an effort to boost television market share and revenues they hope will follow. Such changes will likely make it harder than ever for the vast majority of colleges to keep up with continued escalation in spending on coaches’ salaries, facilities, and other trappings of athletic prestige.
The predictable result: increased subsidy of athletics programs at the cost of academic programs, higher mandatory athletics fees for all students at many institutions, and a reduction in sports offerings—including dropping of teams that are not generating revenues. Such outcomes are indefensible for an enterprise that exists for the benefit of student participants and should serve to strengthen the academic mission of the university.
We recognize the value of intercollegiate athletics, including “big-time” college sports, to student-athletes and to their universities. But to maintain the health of the system we have built over the past 150 years, we believe that a renewed commitment to sustained financial reform is necessary. The reforms outlined in this report provide a foundation upon which to build. We look forward to helping individual institutions, their conferences, and the NCAA make this commitment. Never before have the stakes been so high.
To maintain the health of the system we have built over the past 150 years, we believe that a renewed commitment to sustained financial reform is necessary.