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So, Johnny Football gets in trouble with the NCAA for presumably autographing merchandise for pay and what is the response?  We need to pay those poor abused college football players.   With the exception of a few more level heads in the "sporting press", most vocally Colin Cowherd, that seems to be the consensus lesson learned from the recent episode involving Johnny Manziel.  One thing that is noticeably absent from the general conversation about the economics of college football is that with the exception of about 15 schools no one makes money and most schools can only balance the budget by taxing the students in the form of an athletic fee and subsidizing the physical facilities used for athletics from university money under the guise that these facilities are used by all of the students.  Yet football not only persists, but like a cancer which metastasizes even after you think you've surgically removed it, it grows even as it costs the patient valuable resources.  The case study below the design being a case in point.

About 10 years ago East Tennessee State made the decision to drop its FCS level football program because it was losing $1.5 million per year.  This decision held until a new president came on board.  The pro-football forces mounted an offensive and, guess what, IT'S BACK!  Of course ETSU doesn't have any football coaches, equipment or even a stadium and doesn't know where to put one.  No problem.  They hired Phil Fulmer to consult and he found them a head coach who is now hiring staff.  The university closed its 2012-2013fiscal year the end of June with a $3 million dollar deficit.  No problem. They'll have a hiring freeze (except as noted for football) and hit the students with an additional $125 in taxes (oops I meant to write fees).  The president feels good about that because the student senate approved it.  Of course when that fee went to the whole student body for a vote 6 years ago it lost.  So what if the program in Mass Communication just lost accreditation?  So what if the Masters in Elementary Teaching was ranked 163rd out of 163 program nationwide by the National Council on Teacher Quality and US News and World Report?  ETSU's going to have football and renew the glorious tradition of perpetual losing teams established from 1970 to the end of the program.  After all, in response to the Tennessee State Building Commission's approval of planning for a new football stadium  Lt. Governor and Senate leader Ron Ramsey (R-Kingsport) stated “The return of football to the ETSU campus will enrich university life in so many ways. But the first step to building a great football program is building a high-quality facility. I’m excited that the commission has approved this outstanding project.”  (Of course the fact that he chairs the SBC probably didn't have any influence.) So what if the cost will be north of $18 million and student taxes will only cover $7.5 million. Senator Ramsey has the solution.  “I’d say some of it’ll be through private fundraising and some through some state funds.  And that’ll be my next project; to make sure we can come up with that money to make sure this happens.”

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (12+ / 0-)

    Any Jackass can kick down a barn. It takes a carpenter to build one. - Sam Rayburn

    by Old Gray Dog on Fri Aug 16, 2013 at 10:15:20 AM PDT

  •  Kinda sick... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Kevskos, blueoasis, Mannie

    Students who are there supposedly to learn skills to make them contributing members of a new information economy are going into debt to finance a fucking football team.  Any bets that the coaches will suddenly become the highest paid people on the school's ledger?  

    As you point out, football is a waste for most programs.  Very few of them turn a profit at all.  Yet, colleges still throw good money after bad on these teams.  Meanwhile, their best faculty are lured away by colleges that have their priorities straight and the students are left with adjuncts and GTAs to teach them.  

    This is what they're going $40,000 in debt for?  A losing football team and to be taught by someone barely older than they are who is making poverty wages...  

    •  Most football programs turn a profit. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      lina, VClib, Mannie

      Most athletic programs do not.  

      Men's football -- and to a lesser extent, men's basketball -- usually generate more than they cost (at the big schools, millions and millions more) and often are the only two sports that are profitable at a school.  

      I agree that it's silly that so many universities  have become all about football.  But it's wrong to say that football programs lose money -- often, football programs make money that's used to fund other athletics.

      •  No they don't. 50% of them lose money. (4+ / 0-)

        And that's just football.  And how many of the ones that do supposedly make a profit include subsidies as revenue?

        Like I said below, if you gave me $50 Million and I could spend $48 Million and consider the leftover $2 Million as a profit, hell that would solve both our problems.  I'd get all my needs taken care of, and you wouldn't have to spend money on accountants to keep track of that $50 Million.  

        Harvard, Yale, Hopkins, Rice, Wash U, Cornell, Princeton...  These schools are lousy with money.  Wash U tears down buildings that are newer and nicer than most state universities HAVE.  Yet, they don't spend anywhere near the amount as state universities do on football.  Why?

        Put another way: If it's so damn profitable, why not turn it over to private financing?  Why not let investors dump private money into the teams rather than raiding the school's general funds and robbing students of what little money they have to pay for it?  Why, because no investor worth a shit will put up his money for smoke-and-mirrors profits that these teams claim.  

      •  Wrong (5+ / 0-)

        Where do you get this?

        FCS (old Division 1-AA), Division 2 and Division 3 football programs most certainly do not turn a profit.

        FCS - approximately 125 teams
        Division 2 - approximately 170 teams
        Division 3 - approximately 240 teams

        Looking at FBS Division 1 programs, there are 125 currently.  So, at best, only 20% of football programs turn a profit.

        However, many of these also do not turn a profit.  Oh, the university might say they do, but the reality is this:

        - Stadium:  the cost of the stadium is never factored in, because

        (1) why, since other sports use the stadium, it's not strictly a football expense.  Of course, this is bullshit because the other sports don't need a huge stadium and the university likely has other they can use.

        (2) another trick here is that the cost of the stadium is a capital expenditure, and so not counted as an expense, and then they don't count depreciation either as it's not a cash expense.

        (3) Similarly, the cost of training facilities, incremental housing and dining costs, etc. aren't counted because other groups use that facility.

        - Scholarships:  the cost of the scholarships is not fully factored in.

        (1) at state schools, the cost of the scholarships, if recognized, is usually only calculated at the state tuition level.  Of course, many if not most of the players on the team and the university's overall % of in state students is not 100%, so by doing this they are under-counting.

        - Fundraising / Booster Club:  I will concede that the football programs bring in incremental donations, but they also cost the university in other areas that some of those donations might have gone to.  Universities routinely overstate the importance of football to fundraising.

        Finally, of the 125 FBS programs, not all in fact even claim to turn a profit. You can look at teams in the smaller school conferences such as  Sunbelt, Conference USA and MAC conference and find teams that don't have big enough stadiums or donors to turn a profit.

        So no, it is only a money maker for maybe 10% of colleges that have a football program.

        Liberalism is trust of the people tempered by prudence. Conservatism is distrust of the people tempered by fear. ~William E. Gladstone, 1866

        by absdoggy on Fri Aug 16, 2013 at 11:34:37 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  I think you miss the point. (7+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    FG, dhonig, lina, pico, VClib, Roadbed Guy, Mannie

    For many universities, college football is a huge money-maker, and subsidizes the other college sports.  

    Athletic programs overall, on the other hand, often don't make money.  That's because sports other than football are often money drains.

    So, for many schools, it's not a matter of, "if we didn't have college football, we could spend that money on something else, like academic programs." For many schools, if you don't have college football, you don't have that money.   And, if you don't have college football, at many schools, that means you don't have as much in alumni donations, which are hugely important to many schools (ask any college alum about those yearly calls for donations).

    In many ways, I agree with the notion that it's crazy that for some people, a university is all about how good its football team performs.  I agree with the notion that it OUGHT to be about the academic programs.

    But from a purely money standpoint, a college football program is often a money-maker, and at least helps to support other college athletic programs.  So, the better question is whether colleges should have athletic programs, not whether they should have college football, because without football, the athletic program would be an even bigger drain on revenues.

    •  Correct. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      VClib, Mannie

      Mens basketball and football are usually the only revenue/profit generating sports programs on most campuses.

      Due to Title X, they are required to have an equal number of womens athletic schollys as men, so for those 85 football schollys, there is 85 full schollys given to women.

      I agree that the arms race is out of control,when it comes to building facilities to keep up with the Joneses, and I do agree that football players should not be paid, they should receive a reasonable stipend to try to make up the deficit between the scholly and true cost of school.

      Many of these schollys go to minority student-athletes that might not be able to afford college otherwise.
      Many schools have solid graduation rates for athletes, like Northwestern which was at 100% in a recent report.

      It is not smart for every school to invest millions in sports facilities, as it will not pay off.

    •  ns (3+ / 0-)

      I don't support college athletic programs. Let them be affiliated, but run separately.

      Back in The Day, universities were funded almost entirely by state and federal grants. These days it's mostly tuition and alumni payments. We need to go back to yesteryear and start heavily subsidizing universities.

    •  It's not a huge money maker. (4+ / 0-)

      Just looking at college football teams (not the entire athletic department) HALF of the teams in the NCAA LOSE MONEY.  They can't even support themselves, let alone all the other sports.  The top football teams may be very profitable, but the vast majority either lose money or don't make much at all.  

      This is not a sound investment, especially when education suffers because of it.  That's why your powerhouse academic institutions don't fall for this line.  They know it loses money, and throwing another truckload of it at the football team won't help.  

      It's a pipe dream, sold to colleges by people that make tons of money off college football, people like the media and merchandisers.  Not to mention the biggest corporate welfare whores of them all: the professional team owners who get a four-year training camp they don't have to pay for (just like their taxpayer funded stadium, their tax subsidies and everything else we give them).

      They tell them that if they just dump more money into football, that one of these days, it'll pay off!  

      IT HARDLY EVER DOES. Yet, the people who push these teams make money off them - money that should be funding professors, laboratories, science and engineering buildings, new dorms, campus rape centers, counselors and tutors.  

      But nobody gives a fuck about that.  As long as the handful of people who make money off of football are making money off of football, colleges will still keep stupidly dumping truckloads of student and taxpayer money into it.  Fuck the students and their unsustainable student debt.  Fuck the taxpayers who pay for these universities and one day will have to bail out the student loan system.  Fuck teaching, let's watch Football!  It's fun for the whole family, and once you factor in all the billions of dollars per year that is being dumped into it, it only loses money 50% of the time!  yay!

      •  Not to mention that even among the "profitable" (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        blueoasis, Tonedevil, BigAlinWashSt

        ...programs, many of them count subsidies from the state and university as "profit."  

        I wish I could find someone stupid enough to give me $50 million so I could piss away $48 million of it and still claim a $2 million "profit" at the end of the year.  

      •  except the alums then give to other programs (0+ / 0-)

        If you can catch the interest of the alumni you will then find them making contributions to the general fund, student scholarships, professor chairs and entire buildings. at least that happened at my university.

        •  They still do that.... (0+ / 0-)

          ...even at schools where the athletic teams are a joke.  

          Harvard's endowment is larger than the GNP of many countries.  The idea that Alumni won't give without a top ranked team is nonsense. My Wife's undergraduate university didn't even have football, and people still give.  They just built a massive, state-of-the-art science building a couple years ago.  

          •  I on the other hand don't give jack shit... (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Free Jazz at High Noon

   my alma mater because I know they're robbing their students to pay for their stupid fucking football team which still has never accomplished anything of note since before I went there.  They don't even have enough dorms for all the incoming freshmen this year, meaning mom and dad and junior are gonna have to pony up $1200 per month to rent an off-campus apartment at one of these new "resort-style" student apartment complexes that are springing up all over that town.

            Personally, I'd rather setup a private scholarship than let those those thieving bastards decide how to appropriate my money.  Just my luck, it would go for solid gold hot tubs in the football locker room or some other stupid nonsense.  


    •  the football program draws in the alums (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      And in some schools a substantial sum of money is received from alum donations. Just look at the medical schools and law schools named after donors. Most dorms have an affiliation with donors. And donors like that college spirit which is present in the "big game". So a football program or a basketball program is important in the receipt of alumni contributions

  •  The proper response is to remove athletics (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    from school systems, grade school on up.  Create a different approach to athletics such as a Club System like they use in Europe.  

    "America is the Terror State. The Global War OF Terror is a diabolical instrument of Worldwide conquest."

    by BigAlinWashSt on Fri Aug 16, 2013 at 10:45:56 AM PDT

    •  You need athletics for the entire body (2+ / 0-)

      We need healthy minds and bodies. A club system usually works well with some sports like rugby. But a swim team will need outside competition and expensive training facilities to really make any achievement and despite the anit-football theme, the game can be a lot of fun. There is sprint football that had a weight limit of 150 pounds and it is pretty popular on the East coast.

      •  Plus, an all-club system means (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        that only kids whose parents can afford the fees can play. There are plenty of kids out there whose parents cannot afford to subsidize their kids to play club sports, which can be quite expensive.

        •  No different from the system we have now altho (1+ / 0-)

          in the European countries I played the Club system was supported by the government, i.e., taxpayers.  There's that socialism thing again.  
          I've seen too many people that quit playing simply because they weren't good enough, big enough, fast enough.  By junior high.  the system sucks and I can say I benefited greatly from it.  

          "America is the Terror State. The Global War OF Terror is a diabolical instrument of Worldwide conquest."

          by BigAlinWashSt on Fri Aug 16, 2013 at 11:51:41 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  If it is offered (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            BigAlinWashSt, VClib

            in public school, then any student there can play and it is generally free. That is the part I like about it. I agree though that you do start running into sports where kids will be cut if they are not good enough, particularly in high school (our junior highs do not cut). That is why it's nice there are sports even in high school that in most places are non-cut, like track, cross country, and often other sports like swimming. If a kid wants to play a sport but can't make the basketball team, they can do another sport that is non-cut.

            I agree with you in general about the benefit of having different levels of play, though. My 13 year old is playing travel baseball, which is fairly competitive, but there is also Little League / Juniors, which is less expensive, less of a time commitment and is geared toward kids who want to play on a more recreational level. Similarly, in my town we have AYSO soccer which is more recreational, and club soccer for the higher level players. In the more recreational leagues everybody generally gets equal playing time.

            •  I'm disgusted with it all and like I said, I (1+ / 0-)

              wasn't one of those who got cut.  I was the star athlete in high school and college, free agent with Golden State, then played in Germany.  But I saw my brother quit and many friends, my daughter also, because they were cut and deemed not good enough.  Even though they were.  Too many coaches are discriminatory and they profile kids.  Then I played in the club system in W. Germany and found it to be great, everyone could play at all levels.  If you got better you could move up a level, etc.
              Basketball is particularly nasty in this country relative to opportunity. If you don't get on the AAU teams or the traveling teams, etc., you're out of luck.  
              The system is far from all inclusive and it hurts a lot of kids.

              "America is the Terror State. The Global War OF Terror is a diabolical instrument of Worldwide conquest."

              by BigAlinWashSt on Fri Aug 16, 2013 at 12:11:28 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Yeah (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                Coaching decisions can be very arbitrary. I actually have found that even more so in the recreational leagues than at the club level, because generally in rec sports the coaches are parent volunteers. They may not know a whole lot about the sport, and also may be more likely than a paid nonparent coach to favor or dislike certain kids.

                Basketball is tough partly just because it requires so few players relative to a lot of other sports. There just isn't a lot of room out there for a big team if there aren't recreational leagues. Our city runs a rec league in elementary school but by junior high it is either club or school teams.

      •  I disagree. There are plenty of swim clubs, (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        and other clubs.  I played pro basketball in the club system in West Germany for five years in the 80's.  The clubs had every kind of sport there was and there were levels for everyone, everyone could play.  I know from experience a lot of people who want to play some sports simply can't by junior high school because they're not good enough.  Club systems allow everyone to play and go all the way to the pro level as in Europe.   It works well there it can work well here.  The main thing is to improve our entire education system and to allow more people to participate in athletics.  And get rid of the corruption and the big money.

        "America is the Terror State. The Global War OF Terror is a diabolical instrument of Worldwide conquest."

        by BigAlinWashSt on Fri Aug 16, 2013 at 11:49:03 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Football players should be paid. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Roadbed Guy, Catte Nappe, bepanda

    Or at least the NCAA restrictions against them profiting off their work - like Manziel signing photographs - should be lifted.  I understand the reason they're there (to prevent exploitation on the one hand, and bribery on the other), but the fact is, for nearly every college football player, the impossibility of making any money while playing is incredibly unjust.  I see the dynamics of this firsthand, and it's pure exploitation.  There's no better word for it.

    Of course the better idea would be to destroy the choke hold that universities have over the professional-bound by creating another route to the pros, but big infrastructure solutions like that never work, and there's no way universities are giving up that golden cow.  

    Saint, n. A dead sinner revised and edited. - Ambrose Bierce

    by pico on Fri Aug 16, 2013 at 11:36:21 AM PDT

    •  The beginning of the end? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Several professional players, angry that their earning-power was crimped during some of their most productive years, have brought a series of lawsuits. The suits have been combined into a class action against the association, in the name of Ed O’Bannon, a former college-basketball star (pictured). This accuses the NCAA of breaking antitrust law. In the latest hearing, on July 19th, six current players from college-football teams joined the case.
      Last year the NCAA’s revenues were $872m, but the athletics departments of its member colleges together raked in an estimated $11.4 billion, including grants and subsidies of various sorts and fees charged to students. The University of Texas had the highest athletics revenues, at $163m, but most institutions do not earn enough to cover the costs of their sports programmes. All would stand to lose large amounts if they had to pay star athletes according to their pulling power.
      History does not seem to be on the NCAA’s side. Players of professional Major League Baseball gained the right to be free agents in the 1970s. In the same decade the Olympics began to phase out amateurism: now only boxing and wrestling are all-amateur. But the NCAA is not giving up easily. It argues that paying athletes would corrupt the spirit of college games, and that the players are students first, athletes second—despite the fact that few star players finish their degrees.

      “Texas is a so-called red state, but you’ve got 10 million Democrats here in Texas. And …, there are a whole lot of people here in Texas who need us, and who need us to fight for them.” President Obama

      by Catte Nappe on Fri Aug 16, 2013 at 01:00:34 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Antioch, o Antioch (0+ / 0-)

    no one there wears shoe or sock

    no interscholastic sports teams ever. That was part of its appeal to me, even though I was a pretty good soccer player.

    My solution, which is totally unworkable, is not to pay players but to do away with the big money. Stop televising all of these games. It's corrupting!

    Dear NSA: I am only joking.

    by Shahryar on Fri Aug 16, 2013 at 11:49:22 AM PDT

  •  College Athletes MUST be paid. Period. (0+ / 0-)

    I disagree with this diary. I think College Athletes MUST be paid. Here are the main reasons:
    1. College Sport is a multi billion dollars business from which, Coaches, Schools, TV Networks and TV Anchors profit the most. Look at the salaries of coaches. Look how much ESPN, Fox, NBC make on college sport. The main actors of this are Johnny Manziel and others. Some of them have even gone hungry and can't feed their families. Yes, some college students are bread winners. As weird as it sounds, there was a story during the College Basket ball season about some of these players.
    2. College Athletes don't seat on the table like the Football Players association. Their scolarships are year to year. These players are expected to perform at professional level but are also expected to perform in school.
    3. NCAA has been using them as free slave labor, really. Please don't tell me they are getting an education ... what education, when most are leaving before they even graduate? And when they graduate ... what do they graduate in?
    4. This is the perfect system for greedy capitalism. Kids who are asked to play and shut up.
    5. What happens when these kids get injured? Not all of them make it to the NFL. Many get concussions, which prevent them from making a living in the next 50 years of their lives. Who cares about them? NOBODY.

    College Sports is modern slavery with a twist.

  •  I'm all for paying college athletes as long as (0+ / 0-)

    they pay income tax on the income and all  the freebees.
    Maid service
    three big meals a day seven days a week,
    medical care way better then any student gets at the infirmary
    hotel room
    etc. etc. etc.

    My guess is they would be lucky to have any of the income left after all the taxes were paid on it plus the "benefits."

    I had an apartment suite mate who dated a lineman from the University of Texas practice team.  He was on full scholarship and stayed in the jock dorm,  Three meals X 7 and free laundry and maid service for sheets and towels.

    He used to come eat with us Friday evenings because he got so tired of eating stake three times a day.  
    And no I am not kidding.
    We cooked planned meals four nights a week, then had left overs or went out for all the other meals.  He though the home made left overs were great after the stakes.

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