Tuesday, January 19, 2010

“…it's not clear this is a sustainable path.”

I have written before about my disgust with college athletics spending. It is inconceivable that in a world where money in college athletics has increased exponentially, athletic directors can shrug their shoulders and act like they just can’t afford to maintain a swimming program. Anyone who tries to argue that football brings in millions that “support the other sports and academic programs” oughtta have a football shoved down their throat. Very few athletic departments are self-sustaining, and they sure aren‘t pumping money into the education departments of their schools. Just look at Washington. They are self-sustaining. A couple of bad football seasons and they cut Men’s and Women’s swimming to help bail them out.

Piss on them.

Come on… if the NCAA were more about educational opportunities through athletics and less about marketing, Michigan wouldn’t be hiring the CEO of Domino’s Pizza as their next AD.

Modern sports marketing is a disease. I don’t blame title IX for men’s swim teams being cut. Title IX only serves to protect female opportunities from the same fate and is sometimes unfortunately abused and used as a scapegoat. I blame the morons in charge at Universities. It is a current trend in the NCAA to cut down to the bare-minimum number of teams the NCAA allows so that more money can be spent on football and basketball. It is disgusting, but true. I don’t think it is coincidence that my alma mater cut five Olympic sports within a year of buying out the contract of their basketball coach and hiring another one with a bigger contract.

The only hope that we non-revenue sports have is that legislators get involved and force some common sense action within the NCAA to return it to the ideals it was founded upon.

Bob Button at the Texas Swimming Blog recently posted about football roster sizes, and I think that is a good place to start. If the NFL can make it with a roster of 60 or less, why can’t University teams compete that way as well? I once got into an argument with a football coach about it. He said that teams just can’t compete without that many practice players. He then tried to reassure me that the scholarship limits were once even higher and that now that the Division 1 is down to a reasonable 85 full rides it prevented teams from “hoarding” players. Right… there’s some logic. I have known Olympic swimmers on half-tuition scholarship, while Jocko the JV superstar who will never play a minute on the field gets his way paid. 9.9 scholarships for D1 men’s swimming is the max to fill a 24 man conference roster. How many football players are actually on the field during a game? No hoarding going on here!

USA Today seems to have a recent vendetta against major university football programs and their black hole of excess spending. They have posted several articles in the last few months that point out some of the excesses of football and basketball teams and the damage they have done. Here’s some great reading from USA Today and other sources:

“Amid Funding Crisis, College Athletics Soak Up Subsidies, Fees”

“Big Time College Athletics. Are They Worth the Big Time Cost?"
“Missouri Shows How Schools Pay a Price for Football Success.”
“Faculty Group Wants Cal to End Subsidies for Athletic Departments.”
“College Football Coaches See Salaries Rise in Down Economy.”
“Well-Paid Assistants”
“Curbing Athletic Spending”

In my humble opinion, legislators should have a say in NCAA team spending and should have the right to set spending caps to promote fair play. Limit football rosters to 60 scholarships. Eliminate hotel stays the night before home games. Put limits on coaches contracts, assistant coaches contracts, and number of coaches. Limit contract buy-outs. Common sense would dictate that firing a lousy football coach should not cost your school the same amount of money it would cost to fund a men’s swim team for five years!

I feel that the minimum number of sports teams at a school should increase based on the budget of the major sports. The major conferences should have to carry 24 sports instead of 16. They claim that football is paying for all the other sports… I say, prove it! If that were the case, the Big XII could afford to have 12 men’s swim teams, right? If football makes so much money and supports everyone else, we wouldn’t see Olympic sports being cut all over the nation. Any money made apparently goes nowhere outside of football.

We are on a path that is not sustainable in college athletics. Someone needs to slow down this train before it derails.

1 comment:

  1. Great post on a sore subject. I have a kid looking ahead to college baseball. If he keeps his nose clean, his grades up, and manages to get ranked in the top 20 or 30 players in his state as a junior, he might be looking at 1/3rd of a scholarship. In BASEBALL! One of the supposed big 3. Oh well. He has his goals at least and it keeps him motivated now. We'll see about college later.