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College athletics arms race


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#1 Oriole85

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Posted 21 February 2013 - 01:52 PM

ESPN: Colorado unveils $170M upgrade plan

http://espn.go.com/c...ball-facilities

I try to limit my CU posts here since I don't think too many care about what's going in the Rockies besides me. This one though I wanted to talk about because it didn't just pertain to Colorado athletics, but really all major college sports.

It's no secret that CU football is probably suffering more than it ever has before. Any college president will tell you (and Wallace Loh among others has specifically referenced it) whether you like it or not, athletics is very important to the school reputation. He went so far to call it the "front porch" and believe CU President used that exact term.

So yesterday when this plan was revealed, many people went to Facebook (and I'm sure other social media outlets) to voice their opposition. It was the usual, "isn't it supposed to be about education." But more suprisingly (and maybe naively), why spend $$$ on a floundering program -- CU does after all have successful teams such as cross country, skiing, women's basketball has traditionally been strong, and they have some great club teams, why can't the $$$ go there? Some people seem to forget that all these programs make the school, no $$$. A successful football program can do a tremendous deal for the university and to a lesser extent, a good men's basketball program can as well. I was reading earlier this was after all, the first year CU men's basketball was expected to turn a profit. I've seen the talk about turning it into a basketball school, which is really unrealistic IMO, football has been a traditionally strong program and I doubt the culture would allow for it to be that competitive in basketball year in/year out (I would love to be wrong on that). If anything, more than ever, they need to to build these faciltiies so they can be competitive in football.

Of the $170 million needed, $50 million is from private donors. The comments on FB, many misinterpreted this to be that the rest of the $$$ and/or $$$ not raised would come from tutition and other state funds. The rest would actually come from other athletic sources, such as TV $$$. Just not true. I'm skeptical if it will even be built, there's no Boone Pickens or Phil Knight at Colorado. And I don't get the sense there's even enough to collectively get to this total.

And the usaul suggestions came in about the $$$ should be spent on academics. College sports has become too big, I'll be the first one to say that. The truth of the matter is it's very unlikely an award-winning professor could have the same impact as a winning football team. It's just how it is, fair or unfair. Other, even more prestigious schools recognize this such as Cal, Stanford, and Duke, where they have upgraded their programs in recent years.

The truth of the matter is this, many of those opposed to spending this kind of $$$ on athletics are unlikely to attend athletic events. They are also free to donate for academic buildings. It's also funny how some will criticize others on how they spend their $$$.
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#2 DJ MC

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Posted 21 February 2013 - 03:20 PM

A major part of the reason I originally went to Maryland (and wanted to go, to the point of being my only application), in addition to them having certain programs and activities I wanted to participate in, was the athletics programs. Not necessarily the quality--the basketball team was coming off of the Final Four, but the football team was just going into Friedgen's first year--but just from having been a fan growing up.

It probably shouldn't be as important as it is, but even with the money being put in if a college does succeed at building quality football and basketball programs they not only pay for themselves directly through rights fees and alumni donations and ticket sales, but through the completely cost- and effort-free advertising by the media.

#3 Oriole85

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Posted 21 February 2013 - 03:33 PM

A major part of the reason I originally went to Maryland (and wanted to go, to the point of being my only application), in addition to them having certain programs and activities I wanted to participate in, was the athletics programs. Not necessarily the quality--the basketball team was coming off of the Final Four, but the football team was just going into Friedgen's first year--but just from having been a fan growing up.

It probably shouldn't be as important as it is, but even with the money being put in if a college does succeed at building quality football and basketball programs they not only pay for themselves directly through rights fees and alumni donations and ticket sales, but through the completely cost- and effort-free advertising by the media.

I agree with almost everything if not all of what you are saying.

I didn't go to Maryland but I've always been a Terps fan until probably high school, I thought of them mostly through the prism of athletics. All my experiences until I went to Maryland Day was for football and basketball games.

Good football and/or basketball programs=more donations, high number of applications (can be selective), more school pride. My cousin applied to Northwestern the year they went to the Rose Bowl, was either wait-listed or rejected (he graduated from Wharton at Penn). People do, fairly or unfairly, associate success or failure with a school. Being pretty sports minded, it's always a good icebreaker to talk about their sports teams when I meet someone and find out where they are from. And the more casual fan, usually will identify with their alma matter moreso than a pro team. The 60 Minutes piece stated that 3/4 of the donations at Michigan were during football season.
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#4 DJ MC

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Posted 21 February 2013 - 03:51 PM

I agree with almost everything if not all of what you are saying.

I didn't go to Maryland but I've always been a Terps fan until probably high school, I thought of them mostly through the prism of athletics. All my experiences until I went to Maryland Day was for football and basketball games.

Good football and/or basketball programs=more donations, high number of applications (can be selective), more school pride. My cousin applied to Northwestern the year they went to the Rose Bowl, was either wait-listed or rejected (he graduated from Wharton at Penn). People do, fairly or unfairly, associate success or failure with a school. Being pretty sports minded, it's always a good icebreaker to talk about their sports teams when I meet someone and find out where they are from. And the more casual fan, usually will identify with their alma matter moreso than a pro team. The 60 Minutes piece stated that 3/4 of the donations at Michigan were during football season.

In the early '90s Maryland had to close completely several of the high-rise dorms on-campus due to under-enrollment. Over that decade, the school worked hard to raise the academic standards and reputation, and saw a renaissance of the basketball program up to that Final Four (and the National Championship that followed). My class in the fall of 2001 was OVER-enrolled by about 4,000 students (they had yet to adjust their assumption of the number of acceptances).




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