The April 18 USA TODAY story, “College spending looks unsustainable” only touched the financial tip of athletic-spending issues. Economist Andrew Zimbalist was right: “Politically, it’s not sustainable. Legally, it’s not sustainable. Economically, it’s not sustainable.”
NCAA President Mark Emmert acknowledged “a very small number of the 1,100 (NCAA members) have a positive cash flow, but sluffed it off. Fact is, a recent study by David Suggs at the University of Georgia found only eight of the athletic budgets at the nation’s major programs made a profit – hats off to Georgia, Iowa, Louisiana State, Michigan, Nebraska, Penn State, Oklahoma, and Texas at Austin.
The rest of the universities lost millions of dollars that could have been used to support academic programs. The study also found the problem is getting worse — increases in athletic spending is growing at a rate double that of academic spending. That’s not good news for students nationally who combined have a $1.3 trillion debt.
While proponents justify athletic spending, studies find no link between winning teams and institutional success as measured by the number of applications, increases in fundraising dollars or state appropriations.
Universities should be required to annually disclose a detailed accounting of athletic spending and revenue.
Letter to the Editor, April 22, 2016 Asheville Citizen-Times, part of the USA Today Network
Les Cochran is former president of Youngstown State University, Youngstown, Ohio