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Miami Today:

… When [Florida International University] got into big-time football in 2003 it charged all students $30 a year in athletic fees to help shoulder the load. By this year, an FIU student taking 15 credit hours per semester is paying more than $435 a year in athletic fees.

For all of that sports zeal, FIU’s conference ranks near bottom on sports — and academic — spending. The Sun Belt Conference was spending $41,895 per athlete per year in 2008, but just $9,691 for all students for academics…

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7 Responses to “Win – Win”

  1. Mr Punch Says:

    It’s really pretty hopeless. The only way to offset the costs of athletic programs is to pump up football revenues, but that never works except at the highest (IA/FBS) level – and not usually there. Women’s sports are the big money-losers overall, and Title IX in effect doubles the cost of football.

    But universities try anyway. (There is an academic equivalent, actually, in the maintenance of small, undistinguished PhD programs that – from an administrative viewpoint – promote inefficiency the the deployment of senior faculty).

    The more it goes, the more I think that the regulation of athletic scholarships is the only lever that might work to change the situation. That’s because it could achieve the usually irreconcilable twin goals of athletic reform: raising standards/reducing abuses while saving money. Elimination would be a big step forward; so would a return to a four-year funding commitment, although it’s all too easy for opponents to argue that that would add costs.

    One salutary effect of either change would be to reduce the influence of coaches and restore some academic control.

  2. david foster Says:

    In case you missed it: administrators, breeding like rabbits

  3. GTWMA Says:

    And yet, the lie that these athletic programs are profitable often goes unchallenged. In this article today: http://www.cbssports.com/collegefootball/story/13782714/wisconsin-pushing-for-money-to-build-new-athletic-facility/cbsnews

    a WKU sports economist is quoted: “Any time you see places that have 80,000, 90,000 or 100,000 paying all sorts of money to come [to games] and have conference and local TV and radio contracts, those programs are making loads of money,” Western Kentucky University sports economist Brian Goff said. “It makes some sense over some time frame to reinvest your capital and keep yourself competitive against the people you’re trying to recruit against.”

    In fact, the number of programs that even showed a paper profit (ignoring all the accounting shenanigans) has dropped in half:
    http://californiawatch.org/watchblog/ncaa-report-shows-more-college-athletic-programs-losing-money-1-234

  4. david foster Says:

    It’s easy to “make money” if you use sufficiently-elastic accounting. There are quite a few CEOs and CFOs in prison for long terms for doing just that. I don’t understand what possible reason there could be for accepting less-rigorous accounting in the case of “nonprofit” institutions enjoying special tax treatment, and especially in the case of taxpayer-funded institutions, than in the case of those where shareholders are the ones suffering the effects of bad information.

  5. theprofessor Says:

    Our AD is very fond of using the word “intangibles” when it comes to discerning the institutional benefits of bleeding millions annually to play unsuccessfully in D-I.

  6. MattF Says:

    My impression is that even most professional teams don’t make money on a day-to-day basis– the really big profits come when a team is sold. This suggests that the sports business is really a sort of pyramid scheme– which suggests, in turn, that the college sports mess will be fixed for good on the day that the scheme collapses.

  7. GTWMA Says:

    Actually, Matt, I think that’s not the case for professional teams. The accounting incentives run the other direction, so they typically try to hide profit, which reduces their taxes and allows them to plead poverty and the need for publicly financed stadiums. They often are a lot more profitable than they appear to be, something that the independent estimate made by Forbes usually shows. The big profits that are seen when the teams are sold are simply reflective of the underlying true value of the franchise, rather than the phony value often claimed by owners.

    Of course, that profit is often achieved through a government supported monopoly for most sports.

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