The Big-Time Phoniness of Big-Time College Sports

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch published an editorial about the recent scandals plaguing college sports. The editorial referenced the recommendations in the 2010 Knight Commission report, Restoring the Balance, as a basis for the paper’s own perspective. The editorial stated:

“Last summer the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics — a largely powerless think-tank made up of academic administrators handicapped by consciences — released the results of an 18-month study of the finances in big-time college sports. Spending on sports had grown by 38 percent — nearly twice as much as spending on academics —from 2005 to 2008. The 10 public institutions that spent the most were on pace to spend more than $250 million a year on sports by 2020.

People like sports. Sports sells a lot of deodorant and pickup trucks, so television likes sports. Successful teams can generate higher enrollment and alumni financial support for university programs.

The commission recommended requiring greater financial transparency and rewarding practices that make academic values a priority. One suggestion: require teams that make post-season bowl games or tournaments to share the TV loot with academic departments.

This way the tail could truly wag the dog.

The commission further recommended “treating college athletes as students first and foremost — not as professionals.”

That should be turned around. The young men who play football (and, in some places, basketball) generate most of the money that pays their coaches’ million-dollar salaries, supports the rest of the athletic department and brings in those alumni dollars.

For this they get room and board and a college education, if they’re smart enough to take advantage of it.

Let’s drop the academic fraud. If schools are going to milk players like professionals, they should pay them like professionals, too.”

For the complete editorial, link here.