Monday, June 21, 2010

Knight Commission Report Bad For Indiana, Big Ten, College Sports

Are they serious? Have Knight Commission members spent too much time sniffing the ivy covering their academic building walls and not enough time dealing with reality.

This group wants to funnel athletic money into academics. They suggest schools take 20 percent of the postseason money generated by BCS bowls and give it to the academic side of their universities. They want to do this because they believe financial pressures are hurting college sports.

Given that most schools’ athletic programs lose money (although the report confusingly suggests otherwise), this seems a unique approach designed for disaster. Of course, it’s university presidents and campus leaders saying this. In other words, athletics is all out of whack so let’s fix it by giving us some of the money.

This would be like the athletic department saying, hey, the school of music has lost perspective because of all the money its concerts are generating, so give us 20 percent of the gate and all the problems will go away.

To be blunt, this is very bad for Indiana, the Big Ten, college sports and probably world peace.

For this we can thank the Knight Commission’s report, "Restoring the Balance: Dollars, Values and the Future of College Sports."

As justification they point to the expansion movement that nearly destroyed the Big 12 Conference and threatens to create 16-team super-conferences that will alter the college sports world forever.

Hey, this could finally force a national playoff, so how bad could it be?

Anyway, the Knight Commission has 22 members that include current and former presidents and chancellors from Michigan, UCLA, Georgia, Southern Methodist, Florida, Georgetown and Bowling Green. They believe athletic programs have all this extra money floating around and are using it in bad ways -- like paying coaches millions of dollars a year and building ever bigger facilities.

The report said that from 2005 to 2008, spending on sports increased twice as fast as spending on academics for the 103 Football Bowl Subdivision schools. It said those schools spend six times as much on athletics per student than on academics. It also said most schools use general university funds to balance their athletic budgets.

If athletic programs have all this extra cash, then why are they using university funds? It’s because they don’t have extra cash. They’re trying to get more money to pay for all their sports and still remain competitive. They don’t have 20 percent to give to, oh, the chemistry department.

Sure, schools such as Texas and Notre Dame probably have surpluses, but that’s not the norm. Most schools are hurting, which is why many have cut sports, dropped media guides, frozen salaries and more.

So let the Knight Commission write reports and make headlines. Just keep them far, far away from the power to actually make those reports come true.


  1. Here's a thought. How about requiring schools to transfer any funds over a certain amount to academics. It should be a high enough amount to avoid hurting programs that aren't bringing in a lot, but low enough to curtail the "super programs" emerging at places where football makes so much that $ that they're gaining a ridiculous advantage in facilities, salaries, etc. (like Ohio State, Texas, etc.)

  2. I usually agree with your posts, but you are off base with this one. I love college sports, and I think it plays a positive role in the lives of college kids. But the profits generated by college sports should contribute to the benefit of the university they represent.

    Why shouldn't some of the funds generated by the addition of Nebraska and thus a championship game be funneled to the Chemistry department? Or fixing up the union? Or helping educate the non-student athletes that the football team represents?

    If not, change the name from IU Athletics to Adidas Athletics-Bloomington, and tax them accordingly for the for-profit entity they are.

  3. Hey Pete the Knight Commission are on the right track. Off hand I do not know of any coach or sport that has contributed to the health and welfare of the human race like the academic side of college institutions. Everyone needs to have a some fun in life whether you are a spectator or a participant;however, it is academica that enables us to better living and knowledge. I'm a college basketball and football fan and IU supporter and I am here to tell you lets go back to the days of 50's and 60's when it come to spending. Todays dollars have corrupted the NCAA, media, players, and coaches. No one seems to have a conscious on what a fair price is. There is only one pie. I'd like to give the bigest slice to whom will help make the next one even better.

  4. I bet the two previous commentors voted for our "Illustrius Annointed One" in the last Presidential election. College Sports already bring in amazing amounts of money for the academic side. Mostly it is in the "good feelings" that many alumni have when the "old alma mater"is winning in sports that convinces them to give. While some money goes to athletics most donations go to academic programs. Much of this "good feeling" about their alm maters is generated by their sports programs as it was intended. Whether it is nostalgia for their years long ago or whatever, most individuals that are in a position to contribute huge funds do so based on feelings they personnaly have for the schools they went to. Other corporate contributors usually give based on research and business relationships. While many Ivy League Schools recieve donations based on their "percieved" prowess as academic institutions, most schools recieve dontations proportional to their ATHLETIC PROWESS! Cut into that and you eventually CUT INTO REVENUE! Talk about trying to kill the goose that laid the golden egg, go ahead and kill college sports as those on the Knight Commission wish to do and this will be a happy memory. Having gone to college over three decades and three degrees, I can attest to the desire for the academic side wanting to get rid of college athletics for good. These types (and this includes most professors and administration people) only put up with athletics and have a huge distain for them and the people involved. If they say otherwise they are simply lying for the public's sake.

  5. Wait here's a thought … every tub on it's own bottom. No redistribution. Athletics enhance universities. Festivity and exposure are wonderfully enriching additions. See Gonzaga. And besides, chemisty and literature shouldn't be dependent on basketball. You really wants cuts to your biology curriculum when football attendance is down?

  6. What are all these universities doing with the tens of thousands of dollars they are charging in tuition?

  7. I'm not sure anyone is looking to make academic departments "dependent" on athletic revenues. And, if redistribution is inherently wrong and were banned, then IU athletics would be seriously hurting right now (yes, even more than they already are). The Big Ten's bowl game and tournament dollars have come in awfully handy for us of late.

    The big football schools are fast approaching becoming something entirely different from places like Indiana. At this rate it soon won't be feasible to even pretend to compete with the Nebraskas and Ohio States. They need a new basketball coach? No problem, they just pull out that fat football bankroll and peel off whatever it takes to get whoever's the best man available. New facilities? Not a heavy lift! They'll have the funds to run us out of "our" sport while doing it as a side attraction. Where does the sports money arms race end? Is it actually good for collegiate competition?