Doug Robinson: Colleges should focus on education, not sports

Published: Thursday, July 5 2012 7:00 p.m. MDT

Now universities are engaging in an arms race, building new facilities to compete with their rivals and woo recruits. Since 2009, Indiana has made annual improvements in football facilities at a cost of $50 million. "It's a little bit like [the amusement park] Kings Island," Indiana athletic director Fred Glass told ESPN. "Every year, you've got to have a new ride to show people you're serious." According to the ESPN report, several Big Ten schools are spending lavishly on updating stadiums and/or other football facilities — Nebraska $63.5 million, Wisconsin $86 million, Iowa $57 million (Michigan State and Ohio State are building new multi-million scoreboards, as well).

Where did it all go wrong? Probably when American schools decided to field their own teams rather than leave that business to clubs, as the Europeans do. Then TV got hold of college sports with its billions of dollars and things escalated from there.

Why don't universities get back to basics and return to the business of educating students?

Turn sports over to a club system and let universities get on with the business of education. Why make athletes be student-athletes who only want to be athletes? That's like telling the math major he has to play football. Given the many NCAA scandals that have been uncovered recently at universities, the school system isn't working anyway.

Or: Why not force the NBA and NFL to provide financial support to their college farm system? Either that, or the NFL can form its own minor league, like Major League Baseball and the NBA. Professional football and, to a lesser extent, professional basketball, would starve without universities to develop their talent.

For now, it's only the students who are starving.

email: drob@desnews.com

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