The case of large college sports supporting scholars remains weak | College football

Riding a short distance from downtown to the University of Houston campus, Lightrail passengers arrived at an athletics district station behind a 40,000-seat soccer stadium that opened in 2014 at a cost of approximately $ 125 million. Arrive.

The adjacent $ 20 million, 100,000 sq ft indoor soccer practice center opened in 2017. A smart facility gives the impression that you have set foot in a large facility. The college soccer team will soon get a cashier that fits the brick and mortar. ..

Cougar will attend the Big 12 Conference earlier this month as the prestigious league replenishes after the two largest college football powers of Oklahoma and Texas decide to leave for the Southeast. The meeting was delighted when it was announced.

“I love big things. I love everything big,” said Houston President. Renu Khator, Told reporters.

Houston is widely regarded as having a bad relationship with the University of Texas at Austin, a well-known public university in Texas, and Texas A & M, and is often dismissed as a “commuting school.” Of the 47,090 students last year, 80% were in the Houston area. Therefore, soccer and basketball are central to efforts to enhance their profile, and the theory is.

Indeed, the college’s new television commercial debuted on ESPN and is based on football chants. No one would argue that a thrilling season like the Cougars Run to this year’s March Madness Final Four will get more media attention than, for example, the new library. Also, some studies have shown that successful teams can help increase student applications, at least in the short term.

Equal stadium

However, exercise excellence comes at a price. Since 2008, President Khator has overseen hundreds of millions of dollars in athletics spending. It adds value to educational institutions by spending a lot of money on football and basketball and improving academic offerings. A university spokesman declined to comment on this article.

Revenues increased, but Houston’s athletics costs surged from $ 39.5 million in 2014 to $ 73.7 million in 2019. That’s less than half of the top 10 schools, but it’s still expensive. Several athletics sectors are profitable, including Texas (a new refurbishment of a football stadium at a cost of $ 175 million). Many other people, like Houston, subsidize sports programs through funding from the university’s wider budget, mandatory student fees of hundreds or even thousands of dollars each year, and donations. ..

Large amounts of spending lead to philosophical and practical questions. Is a high-level sports team an investment or an indulgence? Do professionalism traps divorce athletics from the university’s core educational mission, or are sports like soccer and basketball so integrated into American university culture that they form the basis of the university’s identity? ?? And in the absence of strict regulations, rising tuition fees increase student debt burdens, so that income is used carefully and costs are curtailed, especially when many faculties face budget pressures. Need more to do?

There is a $ 10 million exit fee to leave the American Athletic Conference. This is a relatively good deal compared to the up to $ 80 million fines Longhorns and Snurs would face if they left the Big 12 by 2025. But Houston’s jump into the larger sector is a five- or six-fold increase in annual media rights revenue from the current $ 7 million.

Like the ranks of professionals, the pressure to win demands higher spending than ever, supported by the surge in media rights trading and the enthusiasm of rich donors. But in areas where players are unpaid “student athletes,” money isn’t being spent on star salaries. Instead, an arms race manifests itself in luxury facilities, recruitment costs, and coach wages. Texas has a $ 7 million locker room. Oregon has a $ 12 million video board and sound system.

Houston Men’s Basketball Head Coach Kelvin Sampson signed a $ 3 million annual contract in 2020 with a variety of performance-related bonuses (academic and sports results), two shuttle cars, and up to 40 hours. Private was included. Annual use of airplanes for recruitment purposes.

Houston football head coach Dana Holgosen signed more than $ 20 million in five-year contracts in 2019. This is more than double the contract of its predecessor and is a much more generous package than its peers outside the Elite Power Five Conference. Sampson and Holgosen, who won 10 games and lost 14 in Houston, are reported to have each earned a $ 1 million bonus now that Houston is in the Big 12. Holgosen is also ready to raise his salary.

“When the College Football Playoff was created, when the meeting began [broadcast] The network, billions of dollars in new revenues flowed into college sports, which was disproportionately spent on coach salaries, increasing athletics staff and facilities, “said the reform advocate between colleges. Amy Privet Perco, Chief of the Athletics Knights Commission, says. In college sports.

“Athletes’ benefits have increased, but [they were] Obviously, we still have tremendous unmet needs related to medical costs and additional educational benefits for athletes, not as much as money was spent in these other areas. I know. “

The Commission has released a report recommending changes to more than $ 3.5 billion in distributions and spending offered annually by the NCAA, College Football Playoffs, and Division I meetings. “At the highest levels, there is a continuous impetus for more income, but there is no educational link between where those additional incomes are spent,” she says.

NCAA figures tell a predictable story of costs that exceed income. In 2018-19, only 25 of the 351 Division I institutions were in the black. Of the approximately $ 19 billion spent on athletics at more than 1,100 NCAA schools in 2019, $ 3.6 billion was spent on financial assistance to student athletes and $ 3.7 billion was paid to coaches. Overall, the athletics sector generated 56% of its income, with the remaining 44% subsidized by other sources of funding, such as “institutional support” and student fees.

Rutgers University switched conferences and began playing at Big Ten in 2014. Scarlet Knights had the opportunity to confront giants such as Michigan and Ohio, and was touted at the time as a signal of a school’s financial plunge. But their balance sheets are as red as their uniforms. The Record found that the athletics sector’s debt was $ 265 million and that coach salaries and operating costs surged, including an internal loan worth $ 84 million to cover annual losses. ..

The University of Cincinnati has been promoted to Big 12 by another university with a heavily funded track and field club. Eliminating the men’s soccer team, which lost about $ 700,000 in 2019 last year, Cincinnati Enquirer increased his annual income by $ 1 million to $ 3.4 million due to a privately funded contract extension to head soccer coach. I did.

Dave Ridpath, an associate professor of sports management at Ohio University, said, “Trickle by feeling that a school needs to run some kind of premier football program or has to belong to a premier football company. We believe it has a down effect. University. “He is a member of the Drake Group, an advocacy network with the mission of” protecting academic integrity in higher education from the corrosive aspects of commercialized college sports. ” Former president.

As a large university with a strong sports tradition in a big city, Houston has greater potential than many ambitious small educational institutions. “I think it’s okay to try as much as you can, but if you’re trying to reach an impossible dream, you can throw yourself into oblivion. Many schools actually do that. You can’t break into that exclusive club. Even if you’re invited to that club, it’s not a panacea, “says Ridpath.

Given the pressure on amateur models and the rigorous demands on governance reform, the future of college sports is at a crossroads, and now may be the moment to refocus or perhaps break the relationship between sports and education. not. “It’s okay if you’re completely professional,” says Ridpath. “To be honest, don’t spend that money behind the students who are paying the tuition.”

The case of large college sports supporting scholars remains weak | College football

Source link The case of large college sports supporting scholars remains weak | College football

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