Scarlet R's Obedient Tool
The myth that football programs "generate
money for academic purposes" has been exploded for so long
that nobody in the debate about college sports any longer takes
it seriously. Some 30 years ago, Murray Sperber wrote in College
Sports, Inc that
If profit and loss is defined according
to ordinary business practices, of the 802 members of the NCAA
(National Collegiate Athletic Association . . . only 10 to 20
programs make a consistent albeit small profit, and in any given
year another 20 to 30 programs break even or do better. The rest
lose anywhere from a few dollars to millions annually.
--Sperber, "Myths and
More recently, sports economists like Andrew Zimbalist -- author of Unpaid
Professionals (Princeton University Press) -- have shown
that, even in the tiny number of programs that do make a profit,
the money goes directly back into the program. Not a penny is
spent for academic purposes.
None of this, however, stopped the current
president of Rutgers from claiming that pouring $102 million
down the sink of stadium expansion would someday bring in money
for classrooms, solidly built dormitories, and other urgent academic
needs. As one member of RU1000 said, "It's like the man
is living on another planet." Here's the quote:
In a letter to the University community
in early 2008, University President Richard L. McCormick said
the project would not divert any funds away from academic programs,
faculty and staff salaries or student services.
Over time, in fact, additional revenue from the expanded
stadium will allow us to reduce the current subsidy of athletics
and invest more University funds in academics, student life and
other priorities, McCormick said in the letter. Why
arent we spending $102 million on fixing classrooms, restoring
class sections and hiring faculty instead? The fact is that we
dont and wont have this money unless
we add the stadium seating to generate it.
-- Daily Targum, 8 Sept
An alumnus on the RU1000 alumni council
suggested, however, a possible alternative: "How do you
know that McCormick is talking about direct profits? Couldn't
he be talking about making the legislature happy so that it will
give more money for classrooms and similar purposes?"
To which our answer is twofold:
1) It's the job of a strong university
president to educate the legislature about what an institution
of higher learning is and should be, not to capitulate to retrograde
demands that weaken it academically and drive top students and
faculty away; and
2) The university has already spent
an estimated $400 million dollars on its idiotic and useless
sports buildup. Nobody, not even McCormick, can deny that if
the same money had been used to give Rutgers a graceful and attractive
campus and decent facilities for real students -- as opposed
to hired semi-pro athletes -- we'd be closer to being a real
The $400 million has been spent.
So it must have been there to spend in the first place. The rest
was a matter of choosing what sort of institution Rutgers was
to be. How do you answer that, Mr. Lawren-- sorry, Mr. McCormick?