It’s a relatively quiet week for Ohio State sports (*knocks on wood*); coaches are recruiting, hoops is preparing for an attempt to sweep That State Up North, and all the students are above average. So, let’s dig around the ol’ interwebs and see what we can find to chat about today, shall we? Oh, and I’m enjoying this at the moment.
Yeah, he’s pretty freaking good. Be sure to stay tuned to tBBC for the latest updates and coverage of the 2013 recruiting process and beyond.
Commentary- Carts and horses
Interesting data this week from the Delta Cost Project, furthering my concern at the financial impact and mission drift that “big time” athletics is having on institutions of higher education, including Ohio State. In a brief released today, the Project identifies the vast gulf between institutional expenditures on student athletes as compared to the “general”, full time student- $92K at FBS schools versus $14K for the traditional student. Oh, and the SEC has the largest disparity between funding per capita for athletes and other students; the B1G is in the middle of the pack.
Granted, much of this is funding that the athletic teams and department generate themselves, but it’s still crucial to acknowledge a couple of facts. First, there are still a number of institutions who rely heavily on institutional subsidies to balance their athletic budgets- only a few are able to stand alone without state funding or student fees (one in four). Second, smaller FBS programs are a financially closer to being FCS, in terms of how money is allocated and spent across the board. Third, and most interestingly, the top tier of schools (those who have stand alone athletic departments), continue to spend and spend and widen the gap between themselves and those in the remaining tiers. As someone who’s expecting that this type of issue to facilitate a split in FBS schools, the pattern is something to monitor.
The study, which is also highlighted in USA today, also has some interesting things to say about the “positive impact” that having high profile sports programs can have on an institution-
Participation—and particularly success—in Division I college athletics often results in priceless “advertising” for colleges and universities, reaching potential students, donors, and politicians. But evidence of the ancillary benefits of college sports is mixed. Successful athletic performance appears to boost applications at winning colleges and universities, but aside from a few isolated examples—such as the often cited but largely exaggerated “Flutie factor”—the effects are typically quite modest. The applications advantage is primarily associated with success in football (winning championships in particular), and the bump generally lasts only a year or two. It is less clear whether these larger application pools result in admitting a higher quality class, but again the positive effects appear modest and are typically confined to football success.
And even then, it’s often about visibility rather than success… which is yet another reason that the television contracts are a significant part of college sports’ future.
Take a look at that from the perspective of a college student, not at Ohio State or Texas, but at one of the schools who cannot afford the competition of the “arms race” of big time athletics without relying on your contribution (fees or tax funds), Is it possible that you might feel frustrated that your college experience, while enhanced by the school spirit and pride that comes with following winning programs, is significantly different that those who are directly benefiting from your finances. While you receive aid or do work study to be able to eat like a college student, it certainly can feel unjust to know that there’s even discussion for student athletes to receive an even larger stipend- we’ve certainly heard that as a part of that debate.
And that’s not even the larger question that we’ve had here before, the one about the “purpose” of athletics and how it fits into the mission of higher education- whatever the institution. It’s been said that where someone’s treasure is, there their heart is also… and it certainly seems as if, at many larger learning communities, the treasure is not actually in the teaching and developing of the majority of the participants.
Case in point: UNLV’s new on campus football stadium is rumored to cost more than that institution’s endowment, and is aimed both at helping the Rebels “keep up with the Joneses”, but also possibly lure a Super Bowl and/or a BCS game to the city that’s home for much of the nation’s sports gambling. I’m sure there’ll be a lot of great research and teaching done there as well. Totally.
Around The NCAA
The institutional decline of Southern Cal, as business consultant and educator Jim Collins would put it, came like a staged disease; an initially unknown cancer that ate away silently at USC fed by its own gluttony for success. At first, it was almost impossible to detect but easily correctable. If the powers that be could have saw the writing on the wall and slowed the bleeding, the program might have been saved. Yet USC sunk deeper and deeper into the quicksand of its own arrogance, until it realized that all it had accomplished had only come about because of broken rules and scorched earth.
In case you missed it this weekend, those NFL Films parabolic microphones are really REALLY sensitive: