Barack Obama and the International Education Bowl

Insider Higher Ed published a commentary today, written by Tom Palaima and Nathan Tublitz, members of the Coalition on Intercollegiate Athletics. Palaima and Tublitz call on the incoming Obama administration to close loopholes that they believe have “perverted our higher educational priorities” resulting in greater investment in college sports entertainment rather than academic resources. They cite financial statistics at their respective universities, The University of Texas and the University of Oregon, to support their position that “big-time sports spending carries an educational cost.”

The NCAA’s 2008 report on the financial health of college athletics was cited in their commentary. The report stated that only 17 of the 1,200+ NCAA athletic programs earned a net profit between 2004 and 2006, and that in 2006, 99 Division 1-Football Bowl Subdivision programs ran deficits averaging $8.9 million. The two conclude that the money to make up the deficit comes from institutional academic budgets, thus eroding financing to education.

Barack Obama and the International Education Bowl

By Tom Palaima and Nathan Tublitz

President-elect Barack Obama has proposed replacing the Bowl Championship Series games with an eight-team playoff to determine the national college football champion in Division I-A. If his administration really has the time and inclination to deal with crises other than the national economic picture and our health care system, we would encourage him to focus on something more important than football: how American institutions of higher education are faring in the international education bowl.

Our national education game plan is in fact linked to our economic future. One crucial factor is how our colleges and universities raise and spend their money, for academics and for sports.

As two concerned members of the Coalition on Intercollegiate Athletics, a consortium of university faculty senates concerned about sports issues, we offer here our opinions drawn from our long up-close and personal perspectives on how big-time sports has affected the academic missions at our two universities: the University of Oregon and the University of Texas at Austin. U.T.’s athletics director is (in)famous for declaring its program the “Joneses” of NCAA athletics, with which all others must keep up. Longhorns Inc, as Texas Monthly called Texas athletics in its November issue, outspends all but a few competitors. It is one of the few college sports programs to make a profit. The University of Oregon has also moved into the top 25 in Division I-A football. We discuss the costs to both institutions below.

For the complete article, link here.