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The University of Arizona in Tucson just opened its brand new facility for the football team.  Just the latest of these things a building on campus around the country.

And people wonder what the hell is wrong in higher education.

Originally posted to edr on Fri Aug 02, 2013 at 06:10 AM PDT.

Also republished by Baja Arizona Kossacks.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Who needs that fancy book-learnin' (5+ / 0-)

    When we got football, wrestling, ultimate fighting, and NASCAR? Bein dum and givin us fun stuff to watch makes us easier to control!

    If you call me immature one more time, I'm not letting you into my treehouse. - Ford Mandalay

    by Fordmandalay on Fri Aug 02, 2013 at 06:14:42 AM PDT

  •  Let them eat football. n/t (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    MartyM, blue jersey mom, Empty Vessel

    I'm not always political, but when I am I vote Democratic. Stay Democratic, my friends. -The Most Interesting Man in the World

    by boran2 on Fri Aug 02, 2013 at 06:16:16 AM PDT

  •  The priorities are set by what people want (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    erush1345, Bob Love, VClib

    and people come out for -- and pay lots of money for -- college football.  That's reality.  At LSU (I'm in New Orleans) you can't even get the right to buy season tickets unless you also donate to the school.  In addition, football draws out big donors and can generate millions in profits.  LSU football generates maybe $45 million in profit a year.

    Not as many people donate to a college based on the academics, unfortunately.  And the academics don't sell tickets, or college-branded football jerseys, or TV time.  

    Now, LSU at least lets Louisiana students with a decent ACT score and high school academic record attend tuition free, thanks in large part to the generosity of oilman Pat Taylor, who founded the TOPS program.   But like any university, decisions have to be made where to cut funding.  And, like any university, if they think that investing in the athletic program will bring in more revenue to the school, they are going to make those investments.  

    •  They can't hardly give season tickets away (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Empty Vessel

      at Arizona. Tucson is "southern" geographically, but not culturally.

      The free market is not the solution, the free market is the problem.

      by Azazello on Fri Aug 02, 2013 at 07:04:47 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  IMHO, big time college football and college (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Bob Love

      no longer fit.

      The reality is that the big time college programs serve as a minor league for the NFL.  Personally I think they should be spun off of the schools and a minor league created.  Lets separate education and entertainment, and obw, that should get rid of any public financing of these minor leagues (you will never convince me that these programs are 100% funded with tv, memorabilia and ticket sales.)

      About the only argument that works for me re revenue brought into schools is football (and/or basketball at some schools) helps fund non-revenue sports.  But the athletic department only needs to break even for that.  Here's an article on 2012  college football profits  

      Republicans: if they only had a heart.

      by leu2500 on Fri Aug 02, 2013 at 07:58:11 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  That would be a loss of millions of dollars (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Kvetchnrelease, VClib

        to a lot of universities, as you recognize, meaning that most of those universities would either no longer have athletic programs at all, or the other sports would be further drain on university budgets.  

        Without football, a lot of athletic departments would be operating at a loss -- in some cases, a big loss.  For many, it's not a question of whether to have all athletics other than football.  For many universities, it would be a question of whether to have college athletics at all.  

  •  Football, unlike say fine arts, produces revenue (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    And since when did football, other than lip service, become part of higher education? When the EA sports lawsuit gets resolved, these student-athletes will get the compensation they deserve over and above their schollies. Poetry recitals rarely command national television audiences, tens of thousand paying spectators, or extra millions in revenue for making a bowl game.

    "Mais n'enculons pas des mouches." (Let's not split hairs) Ian Fleming, Casino Royal.

    by Kvetchnrelease on Fri Aug 02, 2013 at 06:34:42 AM PDT

    •  There are only a handful of schools where that is (5+ / 0-)

      ...true.   Most schools lose money on their football teams.  And by most, I mean 81% of them according to the Wall Street Journal.  

      The "Football generates revenue" for the university line is mostly bullshit.  The people that say it are the ones that actually make their livings off of - you guessed it - football.  How university football coaches are the highest paid public employee in most states in the US?  Would they lie to keep that gravy train rolling?  

      You bet!

      School athletic departments are pretty famous for some fancy Enron-esque accounting tricks to "prove" they are making money when in reality, they're hemorrhaging it all over the place.

      At most schools, it's just another cash cow for the people involved and for the media and merchandise companies.  Everyone else (including students and taxpayers) get to foot the bill.  And students can't park their cars at their own fucking dorm buildings on Saturday for the privilege.    

      •  Here is a link. (3+ / 0-)

        Most college sports programs lose money: Link

        And most of the universities with the biggest endowments are not sports powerhouses.

        •  Excellent point. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          blue jersey mom, Empty Vessel

          If football was so lucrative, then Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Cornell, Columbia, NYU, Rice, Wash U, Chicago, Hopkins and all the other top flight schools that actually can afford the programs would dump billions into them, too.  But they don't.  Cause they know it's a net liability.

          Instead, most of these schools are low rated teams that don't even play in the top league in their area.  Most of the time, they have a big rivalry with some local competitor that gets the students out to cheer once a year.  But the rest of the year, nobody cares.

          Take a look at Wash U.  That place is filthy fucking rich.  The campus is pretty much being rebuilt every 10 years (they tear down and rebuild facilities nicer than most state universities have).  They are a medical research powerhouse.  They run one of the ten largest hospitals in the world, and it's a damn good one.  They have more money to piss away than anyone I've ever seen.  

          And I bet you've never even heard of their football team.    

        •  Funny thing (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          blue jersey mom, leu2500

          At UA they can't even pretend the football team makes money for the school.  I mean, it's not even close and we aren't very good.

          The argument for this stadium upgrade is that it's all donated money, so it isn't costing education anything.  There are about ten reasons that isn't true, but more than I can write on an iPad.

          "Empty vessels make the loudest sound, they have the least wit and are the greatest blabbers" Plato

          by Empty Vessel on Fri Aug 02, 2013 at 07:29:52 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  I think you need to read the source again. (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          unfangus, coffeetalk, dhonig

          The key phrase, "Of the 227 public schools that compete at the Division I level, only 22 have athletic programs that bring in more money than they spend.".  The term "Athletic Programs" includes  all sports, specifically non-revenue producing sports like Baseball, Track & Field, and all Women's sports.  Unless you propose repealing Title IX, this trend will continue.  

          Football and Men's Basketball are the only two revenue producing sports, and usually provide the support for all other sports.  There are even instances where non-scholarship football programs are producing revenue to provide athletic scholarships for non-revenue sports such as Swimming and Track & Field.  The picture is a little more complicated than suggested.

          "Because I am a river to my people."

          by lordcopper on Fri Aug 02, 2013 at 08:16:10 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Your link is ALL sports programs together, not (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          just football programs.  

          At most universities, the vast majority of sports (swimming, volleyball, tennis, archery, wrestling, track, soccer, rugby, lacrosse, golf, softball, etc.) lose money.  

          Football, basketball, and sometimes baseball are generally the only sports that MAKE any money. At some universities, the football programs generate millions in profit. And at most universities, these sports help to fund all the other sports.  College football programs, by themselves, are often hugely valuable.

          •  My contention is.... (0+ / 0-)

            ...that dumping millions of dollars into athletics to the point where education is being harmed is a scam against students who pay tuition, and taxpayers that fund these schools.  

            When broken down by individual sports, half of the football teams in the NCAA are not profitable either.  And that's before you factor in the costs to subsidize the rest of the athletic programs, of which only 19% are profitable (and even there, there might be some accounting sleight-of-hand at play).    

            It's a lot like gambling as I see it.  If you walk into a casino, you tell yourself, "Self, I can afford to lose $X without putting myself in financial jeopardy.  Once I spend $X in here, I stop and go home."  Likewise, if a school has ten million to piss away on sports without cutting into the general budget or increasing tuition, fine.  I don't give a fuck.  

            But when they start dumping money by the tens of millions into these programs hoping that this year it's actually going to turn a profit, that's pretty stupid.  Taxpayers fund universities to teach residents of their state skills that will benefit the economy in the future.  Sacrificing that on the pipe-dream of profitable athletics is borderline reckless use of taxpayer funds.  And the students who are taking out loans to pay ever- ballooning tuition are getting fucked.  Students who lose their schools' academic superstars to universities that keep their priorities straight are getting fucked.  Taxpayers are getting fucked.  

      •  As noted below, you miss a serious point (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        by conflating "athletic department" with "football," you fail to recognize that football (and to a lesser degree, basketball) fund the rest of the school's athletics programs, the ones that offer scholarships to the true scholar athletes, the volleyball players, swimmers, tennis players, etc. Most important of all, the fund the Title IX programs.

        Done with politics for the night? Have a nice glass of wine with Palate Press: The online wine magazine.

        by dhonig on Fri Aug 02, 2013 at 08:26:28 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  That notwithstanding, when you break it out (0+ / 0-)

          by program, over half of the 120 top football programs still lose money individually.  And that's before they subsidize all of the other sports, which as you point out increases the losses.  

          So where does that money come from to support these money losing programs year after year after year?  Students, taxpayers and the University's general fund, of course.

          Again, that's why the richest colleges in the country don't invest that kind of money in football: they know in the end, it's a money loser.  They may throw together a fourth-tier team for the fun of it and eat the loss for the sake of tradition or whatnot, but they're not going to dump dozens of millions of dollars a year into something just for the sake of doing it.  

          So what happens at the schools that do?  Tuition goes up.  Student fees go up (many schools these days are disguising tuition cost increases by calling them student fees or "activity fees").  Colleges lose staff either due to budget cuts or their top academic talents get poached by academically driven schools.

          So is it still OK that half the football programs actually make a profit, but that this profit is lost by subsidizing other sports to the point that only 19% of athletic departments end the year in black, and that this nonsense affects the quality of education that students are supposed to be receiving?  

          Yeah, I don't think so.  If a school has money to piss away on a team without cutting into academics, fine.  That's what Harvard and other top academic institutions do.  But they don't throw tens of millions of dollars down the rabbit hole hoping and praying that this year it's gonna finally make them money.  They know it won't.  I think state universities that do this year after year are fleecing the students and the taxpayers of their states.  

    •  Produces Revenue? At Arizona? Maybe from the pac (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Empty Vessel

      ten shares.  Meanwhile, academically the U goes to hell in a handbasket.

  •  The stadium that SNAP bought....... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Empty Vessel, leu2500

    People are staving and the best "we" can do is build a football stadium that not one of the poor could ever afford a ticket to let alone a hot dog.


    Politics is the entertainment branch of industry. Frank Zappa

    by Da Rock on Fri Aug 02, 2013 at 06:48:01 AM PDT

  •  And at a school that generally has a piss poor (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Azazello, Empty Vessel, a2nite

    football team.

    One failed attempt at a shoe bomb and we all take off our shoes at the airport. Thirty-one school shootings since Columbine and no change in our regulation of guns. --- John Oliver

    by voroki on Fri Aug 02, 2013 at 06:50:23 AM PDT

  •  Meh, that's not that much for a university (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Empty Vessel, VClib

    considering that there are high schools in Texas that spend $60 million for a football stadium . . .

  •  Might as well stop pretending they're amateurs (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Empty Vessel, Lowgun, leu2500, unfangus

    and start paying the players. College football is nothing more than big business.

    If the pilot's good, see, I mean if he's reeeally sharp, he can barrel that baby in so low... oh you oughta see it sometime. It's a sight. A big plane like a '52... varrrooom! Its jet exhaust... frying chickens in the barnyard!

    by Major Kong on Fri Aug 02, 2013 at 07:14:14 AM PDT

  •  $135 million for Berkeley's (0+ / 0-)

    So much for "higher education" . . .

    Fake Left, Drive Right . . . not my idea of a Democrat . . .

    by Deward Hastings on Fri Aug 02, 2013 at 08:08:38 AM PDT

  •  College football: parasite is now bigger than host (0+ / 0-)

    That's really what has happened here.

    College athletics circa 1900 were touted as a mechanism for reinforcing selfless discipline, teamwork, and the subordination of the individual to something bigger than one's self. Oh, and a means of diverting raging male hormones away from sexytime.

    Today the entire dynamic has become completely inverted. College football programs have become massive parasitic empires, sucking tens of millions of dollars out of academic programs and supporting giant teams of highly paid coaches, scouts and trainers, huge stadiums and bogus 'remedial academics' to keep marginally literate athletes eligible to play. And the raging hormones resulting from macho swaggering sports culture and widespread anabolic steroid use has facilitated a ghastly culture of predatory sex/rape that is tolerated with a wink and a nod.

    Yes, a handful of schools rake in millions from gate receipts and television revenues. But for most colleges the athletics department drains money away from academics like a slashed jugular vein.

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