Comments about ‘Universities should focus more finances on academics rather than athletics’

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Published: Sunday, Feb. 24 2013 12:00 a.m. MST

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Ricardo Carvalho
Provo, UT

This is an important article. I wish the author would have gone further and discussed the role played by student fees. At many universities, students vote a fee on themselves to support athletics. Is this fee part of the subsidy mentioned above or are those subsidies beyond the fee?


This reminds me of an SEC university with classrooms where the paint was peeling off the walls and the bathroom fixtures were original 1911, yet the football stadium was given a 25 million dollar overhaul.

Kearns, UT

College football and basketball programs in particular, have become such important money and prestige generators that the educational institution is becoming secondary. The joke at many large universities is that they are "a football team with a school attached." The biggest problem is that the revenue generated by sports programs, goes right back into the sports programs (even the money losing programs) instead of anywhere near what should be the priority of these institutions- education.

Tooele, UT

Review of sports spending is, of course important and WAY overdue.

But, in order to make a genuine impact on college affordability, we need to add a meaningful review of the outrageous proliferation of staff, faculty, and liberal feelgood programs, as well as the deranged inflation of salaries and perks.

It is particularly important to closely examine the corporate welfare costs associated with never-ending physical-plant enhancements, especially since they always benefit staff and faculty, but rarely benefit the students and their families, who, after all, pay the bills.


I'm not arguing that universities should be in the sports entertainment business rather than the education business, but this article is a bit misleading. For example, the article says "public universities now spend six times as much to support student athletes as they spend to support the education of their larger student bodies." Actually, six times more is spent on the average student athlete (after factoring in coaches, facilities, etc.) than on a non-athlete. Because the number of non-athletes dwarfs the number of athletes, universities actually spend vastly more to support the education of their larger student bodies than their athletes.

According to the study (cited by this article) 60% of all FBS football and basketball programs fully support themselves, including all "big-time" programs. All of the "big-spending" football programs (including all the PAC 12 programs) fully support themselves. The sports that require outside support are sports other than football and basketball.

So it is disingenuous to imply that Utah's football and basketball coaches' salaries are a financial drain when those programs support themselves. If money is the real issue, then the discussion should be whether all other sports should be discontinued.

Bountiful, UT

I've thought this same thing for years, that
tax or tuition dollars shouldn't go to pay
for sports, especially given that tuition is
so high at the U.

When ever I have mentioned this people
have told me that sports pays for itself
that it is a money maker. According to
this article, this isn't true.

If cutting back on sports means we could
improve academic opportunities and lower
tuition, we should cut back on sports.

Sugar City, ID

When Ricks College became a 4-year university, they dropped inter-school athletics. Many people were upset, but the educational atmosphere on campus improved significantly. When Ricks made the transition, they called a number of universities that traditionally recruited students at Ricks. When told that BYU-I would not have inter-school sports, one of the university presidents said: "That's the smartest thing you can do." I've never been able to understand what having a football team has to do with education. Mostly, it's an expensive distraction.

Bountiful, UT

Your editorial made some interesting points. However it was odd when you listed the schools in Utah you left out any mention of the school with the largest football stadium,
the largest basketball arena and probably the largest athletic budget in the state. Even though this school is private the same kinds of issues certainly apply. A passing acknowledgement of this school along with the others in the state would have been appropriate.

Provo, UT

I wouldn't even know about half the universities in this country if it weren't for their athletic programs. It's great advertising and advertising is expensive. The article does say that athletic success doesn't increase enrollment, but schools will only enroll what they can handle. I think the advertising athletics provide is valuable especially since universities love to attract people from different parts of the country and world.

Another thing that might be getting left out is all the merchandise revenue in bookstores and other stores that comes in because people want to have their school colors to wear at games.

Salt Lake City, UT

A review of sports spending is long overdue!. Unless a Universitiy's sports progams can show that they are paying for themselves, they should NOT be subsidized by other University funds. With the cost of Education being out of control, a college degree in many fields is not worth the investment struggling families put into it. Our Education system has evolved into an empire unto itself and no longer serves the public good the way it once did. As much as I love BYU and Utah and other Utah college sports, its time to put an end to this madness of pouring funds into these athletic progams. Again, if the sports progams can demonstrate that they cover their costs, fine, if not, its time to lower the cost including salaries for coaches, facility expenditures and so-forth.

What in Tucket?
Provo, UT

Utah valley University seems to do ok with the largest student body in the state and no football team.

Sugar City, ID

@ vinny: When was the last time Harvard and Yale and Columbia had a great football team. The best publicity is a great academic reputation; not a great football team.

The Watch Dog
tumwater, WA

Yet the NCAA will disqualify a student athlete over a $5 gift. It's hypocritical and the schools take complete advantage of the athletes who can barely pay their rent or eat.

Othello, WA

I think 1aggie makes a good point. Numbers can be skewed and "enhanced" to reflect any point you want to make. This article makes it sound like you could just chop off and end the sports programs at most major universities, and that would solve ALL budget problems. I bet the truth is that you would hear a lot of crying and moaning about all the lost revenue that leaves when the sports leave. I would be in favor of universities not being held to regulations (title IX), that stupidly require them to provide funding to athletics that cant support themselves.

Woods Cross, UT

Athletics aside, higher education is a business and the business is not education.

Provo, UT


I didn't say a "great" football team was needed for advertising. As the study in this article indicated, more successful teams didn't make much of a difference. Harvard, Columbia, and Yale all have athletic programs but they are more well known for their academics, world renowned in fact.

I went to SUU for a couple of years and I there aren't a ton of people who know it exists unless they live in Utah or if their school plays them in sports. I'm just pointing out another benefit of having athletic programs. There definitely need to be more checks and balances in place. I know of one school where the principal took funding from academics and put it toward a new turf football field. Things like that shouldn't happen, but I don't agree with the polarized idea of getting rid of athletics completely, which you seem to support.

The Sensible Middle
Bountiful, UT

Utah taxpayer funded schools should follow the
lead of BYU Idaho. Discontinue sports between
schools and let sports be an activity for recreation
and fitness of the students at each school.

Students get into far too much debt to get a
college education, given this its time to
take a look at ways to cut costs.

Say What?
Bountiful, UT

The University of Utah wins a national championship yea hu.

The question is at what cost, perhaps instead it could had the best math department, or even art department, and/or affordable tuition rates.

We need to rethink our priorities.

Murray, UT

It is unfortunate that a discussion of this type always leaves out BYU because they are a private institution. Surely, the students at BYU pay a lot of fees along with tuition to support their athletic programs but the public at large can never find out just how much. Utah actually did its students and the tax paying public a big favor by joining the PAC 12 where student fees are some of the lowest in the country due to large amounts of TV revenue. Utah's student fees may actually decrease as the share of TV revenue from the PAC 12 is fully implemented. As I have stated many times, the U of U is operated as a public university but is is funded more like a private university. The state legislature only allocates enough tax revenue to the U to cover 8% of its operating expenses. The rest comes from private donations, tuition payments, fees, the medical hospitals and clinics and federal grants.

Murray, UT


Almost all men's football and basketball programs in the major athletic conferences support themselves. A recent study just showed that the Utah football team not only supported itself but returned a profit even higher than the football program at BYU. You suggested cutting out all sports programs that cannot support themselves. At most schools that would include the minor sports outside of football and basketball and most definately all of the women's teams. Is that what you are really advocating? Just have men's football and basketball teams because they can, at most schools, be supported by ticket and concession sales and TV revenue? By the way, in order to do that NCAA regulations and Title 9 rules and regulations would have to be scrapped. The article and the editorial accompanying it in the Deseret News is indeed misleading and needs to be rewritten with better researched and factual information.

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