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.