Comments about ‘Utah colleges spending more on sports, even as state education funding drops’

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Published: Tuesday, July 27 2010 12:00 a.m. MDT

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History Nut

Someone explain to me what athletics has to do with the purpose of a university?


There’s more spending on sports while educational spending goes down? I guess that shows Utah values.

I think the Knight commission says it well:

“Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics recommended greater transparency nationwide in athletic budgets compared to academic spending, making academic values more of a priority and treating college athletes as students first.”


If a collegiate sport cannot pay it own way and steals from the overall benefit of the studentbody, cut it lose.

BYU-Idaho got it right. They cut athletic spending for the elite few. Instead, the funds are spread around promoting active lifestyles for all students. Didn't hurt their enrollment--indeed it as skyrocketed.

Administrators posit that elite athletics is about prestige. It's more likely about pride.

What's up?

At USU, (and most schools that charge a Athletic Fee to all students), while only a small percent of students enjoy and attend events, ALL STUDENTS pay the very large fee. That includes students in Moab, Toole, Vernal, Blanding, Price and anywhere students pay USU tuition even though they never attend a game or event.. There is no way to justify this.


I'm still disappointed that USU passed the fee increase. Oh well...


History nut: "Someone explain to me what athletics has to do with the purpose of a university?"

Sports do a lot for a school.

1. They are the single biggest form of advertising for a school. Look at Florida. You would no nothing about this school if it wasn't for their sports programs. When schools do well in sports, their enrollment and student application goes way up. Look at Boise state. You wouldn't have even thought of that as a school worth while. Their football team becomes a national contender and now we all think it's a great school.

2. It's a source of revenue. Private schools keep sports around ... even the best. Stanford, Harvard, Duke, Yale etc ... they all have very large and expensive sport programs. If done with some efficiency they are assets to schools.

3. Schools are about people and making them better. Sports can educate people often times better than many majors (ie poli sci). Why are their so many athletes that go on to be extremely successful. Could it be because they benefited from sports?

4. History nuts are educated, not ignorant


sports pay for costs of schools, its the same thing at the high school level. football, mens and womens basketball, volleyball, and wrestling all pay for the spring sports that aren't really able to charge admission.

colleges and universities need to charge a fee in order to offset costs elsewhere. like it or not, most kids look at the university mascot and sports teams when deciding where to go to school, not how cool the science building is.

if you dont like the fee, dont go to the game...


I'm just curious what is going to happen at the U when they realize that the money from the Pac-10 won't really be coming to them for another 3-5 years, due to their revenue sharing rules. Also, what are they going to do when the big TV contract that was promised them by the Pac-10 doesn't materialize. When Fox, CBS, ESPN or whoever looks at that conference to consider a new contract and sees the impact of USC's 2-year probation, the continual fan apathy of UCLA, Stanford, Cal, Washington, and the mediocrity of ASU, UA, WSU, and OSU, and the additions of CU and UofU (which do nothing for the conference) do you really think they are going to be excited about offering a Big-12, Big-10, or SEC type television contract?

Then what is the U going to do when they realize that they have joined a sinking ship?

open minded

The people get what the people want. Utah doesn't care about EDUCATION they care about entertainment. This is apparently true at the higher ed level as well as elementary and secondary level. The way this state views education is bizarre. They want to have 5 kids per family and then not pay for them to receive an education. They complain that education isn't free because they pay $150 in fees for highschool. Give me a break. Sports and other ways to keep the populace entertained are all that matter to the uneducated in Utah. The more we put money away from academics and towards those other things the more uneducated Utah will be and the cycle will get worse.


@Coach Carter - This is one of the biggest myths surrounding college athletics, namely that college sports make money. The former President of Harvard, Derek Bok, wrote a great book titled "Commercialization of Higher Education" where he discusses this very issue. Reality is that only 25 athletic departments in the country come out ahead each year the rest LOSE MONEY! College athletics as a business venture make ZERO sense.

You make some good points, but number one has been proven not to be as good a scenario as you might think. We should ask ourselves, "what type of student are you attracting that will enroll at a university based upon the football team?" Studies have shown that while applications rise average GPA and ACT/SAT drops significantly.

Finally, what do you mean that sports can educate people better than certain majors? This is an apples and oranges argument. Did you know that the average graduation rate of athletes (who are attending on full ride) is typically in the 30-40% range? That is not education! EVEN BYU only graduates 50% of football players! I love college football but reform is needed.


Re: BigYak

Private schools keep sports around because they can manage funding as they see fit. Title IX schools (public schools) have to provide and equal number of scholarships to both men and women. Public schools are losing dollars hand over fist to their sports programs. For every football scholarship offered, a public school must offer a volleyball (or you name the women's sport) scholarship. Then the football team foots the bill for travel, uniforms, coaches, trainers, and everything else for all of these other teams. In the end, MOST public schools around the country are losing big money to their sports programs. BCS schools and private schools like BYU are pretty much the only schools not losing money right now.


Mostly the ignorant chose a school because of its sports. Who has heard of anyone going to Harvard, Yale, or Brown for their sports programs? The ivy leagues have it right, academics first, sports second. I love college sports, but I believe too much money is being thrown at them in the name of "marketing" and "publicity". Someone needs to step in and say that even though sports are fun to watch and a nice sideshow, it is better for more to play and only a small part of the academic experience. BYU has it right, have the sports support themselves through corporate sponsors, ticket prices, and donations.



Jealous much?? Dont worry, I hear Vegas is quite beautiful a few days before Christmas every year. I also hear Pasadena is absolutely gorgeous Jan. 1st. I might just have to plan a trip there with all my friends in Red in a couple years.

Joe Schmoe

You can bet that in a few years Utah will be spending a LOT more money to keep up with USC, UCLA, heck even WSU.

Their fans are gloating over the increased revenue but in reality they are going to be taking away even more money from the academic areas as they "need" for a new stadium, facilities, etc. increase.

It is going to be an interesting couple of years ahead...


soutboy25, byu pays for its sports because of the church, not through corporate sponsers. think

Brave Sir Robin


You had me right up until you said how BYU does it right because the sports support themselves.

First of all, BYU does not make its finances public, so you have no idea if their sports make money or lose money. You also have no idea if BYU sports are being subsidized by tuition or out of church funds.

But since every MWC school loses money on sports, I'd guess BYU does too.

Second, I challenge your assertion that BYU sports is doing anything right. Their stated mission is to use sports to bring people into the church. In my travels around the country I've met many LDS and many non-LDS. I have yet to meet a single person who has joined the church because of BYU sports. But I have met plenty of people who have stated they will never join the church because of the behavior of BYU players and fans. Seems like the mission of BYU athletics is actually having the opposite effect.

History Nut

BigYak14: Why get personal about this. I simply asked a fundamental questions. To your points:

1. It's a sad statement that students would choose a school because of it's successful sports program rather than because it offers academic excellence in the student's field of study. Beyond that, it's only a few elite sports programs that get attention. What about the rest?

2. It's not a source of revenue except in a VERY few cases. It's a net drain from academic budgets. See "intercollegiate Athletics and The American University" by the former President of the University of Michigan. It IS a big business that makes lots of people money but usually not the university.

3. Universities are about discovering and disseminating knowledge and skill, not "making [students] better", whatever that means. I'd love to see your evidence that student athletes become more successful than non-athletes. As has been pointed out, the graduation rate of student athletes is dismal.

4. History Nut is well educated, thank you, and has studied this issue. He also knows the difference between "their" and "there."

Big Daddy Ute

Runner, you talk about a sinking ship. If BYU and/or TCU leaves the MWC for greener pastures, whether for independence or the Big 12, the MWC is sunk. The TV contract that the PAC 10 will sign will be large. ESPN, FOX, and Comcast are already interested. The addition of CU and the UofU is better than most think. The Denver market is 16th and the SLC market is 31st (and growing), and don't give me that old "most people in the SLC market are BYU fans", stuff, even if they are, they will be watching.

Wash DC Reader

Coachcarter and Brave Sir Robin... it is odd to me that you would not trust the BYU athletic dept/University Offices and even Church headquarters when they say that the athletic dept is solely dependent on itself and NOT tithing funds. I guess if you can't believe that then there is no way to reason with you.

The church hires independent auditors to look at its books and I am sure that if BYU and church leaders were lying about the athletic budget needing extra tithing funding this would have raised a red flag.

I would be ticked if I were a resident of Utah, having to subsidizing the U's athletic budget each year. Isn't Coach Whit the highest paid State of Utah employee.

Brave Sir Robin

@Wash DC Reader

Read my post again. All I said was that BYU athletics is not profitable. I didn't say it was subsidized by tithing. You'll notice that the church has indicated that a portion of BYU's athletic program is funded by tuition. That means that students are subsidizing the athletic program, which IS losing money (don't get offended - it's not a failure on BYU's part. Very few athletic programs, and not a single non-BCS one, break even).

So interestingly, students subsidize BYU athletics, and the church general fund subsidizes students. So that's kind of like the general fund subsidizing athletics, but in a less direct way.

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