Wednesday, January 23, 2013

what's important

Education is important. We all agree with that. And, we all want healthy bodies to go along with healthy minds. But doesn't it seem like we've made college athletics a much bigger deal than what colleges and universities are supposed to be there for?

A few times now, I've mentioned to M.A.L. that I wouldn't mind if intercollegiate sports were significantly de-emphasized -- or even eliminated -- in favor of campus activities offered for students to stay in good physical shape. Intramural athletics are more valuable to the general student body than athletic programs that focus on competing at a high level on the national scene, seems to me.

Food for thought? Consider the following from today's Albuquerque Journal:

Editorial: Sports Spending Leaves Academics in the Dust

By Albuquerque Journal Editorial Board on Wed, Jan 23, 2013

University officials across the country talk a good game — emphasizing the student in student athlete and proclaiming that academics take priority. But a new study shows many fail to put their money where their mouths are.

Instead, they put their money where their athletes are, spending six to 12 times as much per athlete as they spend per student on academics. In the NCAA’s Southeast Conference that translates into $164,000 per athlete when the average student gets just $13,390 in academic resources. It’s a disparity that helps explain why many campuses have new stadiums, refurbished arenas and chemistry buildings that are falling down in disrepair.

The data compiled for the pro-reform Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics highlights what many try to justify as a cost-of-doing-business but in fact represents out-of-control spending on intercollegiate athletics. That spending threatens to bust university budgets, tap-out alumni organizations, raid academic coffers and inflate tuition and fees.

The study found that in addition to the Southeast conference, the schools of the Pac 12, Atlantic Coast Conference, Big Ten and Big East also averaged sixfigure spending per student athlete in 2010. And across Division I, athletic spending rose twice as fast as academic spending between 2005 and 2010.

Yes, sports and school spirit are important to campus life. And yes, everybody loves a winner. But when taxpayers, parents and university officials bemoan high remedial coursework and low four-year graduation rates, they need to acknowledge what they put out front in terms of resources and priorities.

And what they leave in the dust.

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