Tonight as I was heading home from work, there was a pretty interesting story on NPR. Part of it was talking about Ohio State but the other part was talking about the general direction of college sports. One of the people they talked to said it was basically time for us to answer a basic question. Do we really want student-athletes or just athletes?
NPR Story About College Sports
I love NPR, but I'm not sure they are best qualified to discuss college athletics.
But I think that there is every good chance that someone could learn more from a 3-minute Tom Goldman story on NPR, than a 3-hour program with Valenti and Foster on 97.1. This wasn't even the best example of sports on NPR. Stefan Fatsis, Tom Goldman and Bill Littlefield all do a generally good job.
Every moment that I have spent listening to 97.1 has actually made me feel dumber than before I started listening.
I love NPR and listen to it every day. However, they have as much pressure to get ratings as anyone, and this is timed to get attention.
Of course it was timed to get attention but it brings up valid points.
Of course they do. What would all the truck drivers listen to?
I'm pretty sure that truck drivers don't listen to NPR. Ever...
Not sure if this was the same story on NPR, but PBS just ran a show about college sports on their Need to Know program. It showed the cost of sports for a small school (Ohio University) and how the students have additional fees to pay for the loss the sports show every year. It wasn't the best example of sports at a college but it brought up good points of smaller level schools and how much their regular student body pick up the costs of the athletes. The only real issue I had with the show was when they showed Cal's stadium being upgraded and implied that the State was budget cutting and Cal was expending sports facilities. I wish they had confirmed that the State was paying for any upgrades before implying such. I thought Michigan paid for a lot of their upgrades with surplus from athletics (I realize UM is one the few with positive cash flow from sports) and/or donors. It just didn't seem like PBS went out and gave a complete view of the sports programs they were discussing.
I think Eastern added an athletic fee when I was a Junior or Senior there (I forget which) but it didn't go over too well. There was the bone that students could get into athletic events for "Free". There was the article not too long ago on annarbor.com about how EMU is losing money on their athletic programs (in other news, the sky is blue and water is wet). There was even the post here about whether EMU could remain viable as a Division 1A team (while their football program sucks, they are pretty competitive in other sports).
Anyways, I think it is a valid question about whether athletes are there for sports or an education. Sometimes I think it is the former and not the latter. If it is the former, then I think the idea was floated here about separating the sports from the University but retaining the trademarks....
They also took out a huge loan to pay for it. Obviously the only way they could get a $150m (or whatever it was, I don't have the numbers) is because of the cash flow, but they're in big time debt at the moment.
OTOH the suites are selling for more than the debt service cost, so it's been profitable so far.