Utah colleges spending more on sports, even as state education funding drops

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  • 93 COUGAR
    July 28, 2010 9:48 a.m.

    To the Ute fan that said he knew of no person that had joined the Mormon church because of BYU athletics...

    Ever heard of a guy named Ty Detmer?

    The list could go on and on.

  • eagle
    July 27, 2010 6:25 p.m.

    Though BYU is a private school they cited Title IX concerns when choosing to cut wrestling and men's gymnasitcs in 2000...

    Most private institutions accept some federal money as stated above, thus these schools have to follow the Gender Equity requirements of Title IX. This has killed (male) minor sports programs all over the country. There are about one-third the Division I wrestling programs today that existed in 1973 (pre-title IX). Men's gymnastic and men's volleyball programs are spartan (probably less than 25 programs exist) and men's soccer pales in comparison to women's soccer in number of programs. Universities have also created women's bowling and rowing teams, though many of the participants are far from excellent in these sports, to get their quotas up, meanwhile blue chip male athletes in Olympic minor sports lose opportunities.

    Title IX has done some great things for women's athletics but how it is enforced through Gender Equity proportions is sick and wrong and thus a lot of pressure does exist at many universities to pay for minor sports and women's sports programs.

  • BigYak14
    July 27, 2010 4:12 p.m.

    Winglish: Very true but all major private schools in the PAC 10, MWC, Big 10, Big 12, SEC, IVY League, Big East, ACC (all BCS schools, and any non BCS school that wants to compete) accept federal funding. Especially those that have graduate programs such as medical schools, law schools and research facilities receive huge amounts of federal funding. Yet these schools which are private and accept federal funding (such as standford, duke, yale, notre dame, and byu) still run their sports programs at a profit while abiding by title IX. Thus your original arguement is 100% false: Title IX does not make it impossible to run a sports program in the black. Name one school that has a sports program that competes in NCAA division I sports that doesn't accept federal funding.

  • Tombstone Mentality
    July 27, 2010 2:32 p.m.

    Nice! Lets give more money to the already lazy, coddled athletes, rather than give staff raises. That makes sense.

  • Winglish
    July 27, 2010 1:49 p.m.

    "winglish: title IX schools are all schools in the U.S. ... that includes private schools not just public. So yes, duke, stanford, byu etc all have to play by the same rules yet they are still profitable."

    WRONG! That is absolutely, 100% false information. The only private schools that have to abide by Title IX are those which accept federal funding. Any private school may make the choice to give scholarships to whomever they want, whenever they want. Title IX DOES NOT control a private enterprise until said school accepts federal funding and the strings that come with that money.

  • Chucky
    July 27, 2010 1:48 p.m.

    How about getting a Men's Track in Field Team Utah!

  • Monsieur le prof
    July 27, 2010 1:18 p.m.

    I love college athletics. I love the passion and the excitement. I would watch a college FB or BB game over a pro game any day of the week. But I think things may be getting out of hand.

    The politically correct Title IX pretty much started the ball rolling downhill for the sports scene. It did a few good things for women's athletics, but was a disaster for the smaller men's sports, which had to be cancelled. Thus, the larger sports had to carry the burden of all the new women's sports that were being added.

    The sports tail is indeed wagging the dog, but I can't see how it can possibly change. There is so much tied up in a team's winning that no one wants to unilaterally cut back on funding or support. Where would one begin?

  • Johnny Triumph
    July 27, 2010 12:55 p.m.

    Apparently the Board of Trustees decided it could work, but in the end something will suffer. It might be the pockets of Utah citizens footing the bill. It might be academics. It might be research. It might be the Medical facilities. It might be sports. Guess we'll have to wait and see.

    Should the Utes' acceptance of the PAC bid have been sent to a popular vote? Maybe...I'd bet a majority would have chosen status quo.

  • eagle
    July 27, 2010 12:15 p.m.

    I love athletics and I love college sports. But big-time college sports needs to reign itself in, those who argue otherwise I have concerns with.

    It is a true fact, most college sports and most college football programs lose money. However, there is an argument about the intangible benefits a sports program may bring to a school that just can't be measured on a ledger sheet, that's probably why Ivy League schools keep their sports programs.

    However, we have reached a tipping point where the tail seems to be wagging the dog. Super conferences, poor graduation rates, one and done college basketball players (and colleges like Kentucky glorifying themselves in that), are eroding the positive aspects of college sports.

    Further Olympic sports like wrestling, gymnastics, etc. are being cut, mostly because of Title IX.

    As a former college athlete, I see the benefit of college sports and how high school and college sports participation affected my life in a positive direction. Still, I have major concerns and unless college (and high school sports) get their ships in order, they will just continue to give their detractors cannon fodder to battle for the end of their existence.

  • RoundelRider
    July 27, 2010 12:13 p.m.

    BigDaddyUte: No, I could really care less about watching Utah play Stanford or WSU, or even USC. Sorry, but most of Salt Lake County won't be watching the Utes.

  • Kyle loves BYU/Jazz
    July 27, 2010 12:01 p.m.

    I can't believe how many of the previous posters obviously didn't even read the article. It just goes to show people don't care about learning they just want to throw out their opinions even if they are uninformed.

    I can't believe the 6 to 1 spending reported in some BCS schools. Disappointing that education isn't valued as much as it should be.

    BYU students are paying a minimum of $115 for football tickets this year. How much are other schools students paying?

  • ryzhy
    July 27, 2010 11:35 a.m.

    "Costs are an even greater burden on smaller schools that often have to travel farther to play conference games on a shoestring budget"

    I've said it 1000 times. SUU and UVU need to find a way out of the scatter-brained conferences in which they currently participate and join the Big Sky. Shorter trips = less spending. Natural rivalries = more revenue. Who is preventing this from happening? Matchups with Weber, Idaho State, Northern Arizona and the Montana schools would certainly draw better crowds than the current slate of faraway midwest and east coast teams, right?

    As for those who doubt the BYU athletics is self-funded, keep in mind that BYU has the largest on-campus football stadium of any non-BCS school, some of the highest ticket prices, and they still fill it up. That's a lot of cash.

  • So-CalAggie
    July 27, 2010 11:26 a.m.

    Not many college age kids want to go to school at some place with no school pride. That's what sports offers. Utah isn't NYU. Large urban schools can get away without sports and still attact prospective students, but the reality is that you have to spend money on sports to have a successfull program, sucess in sports is the window into the University. Who outside of Nebraska would ever want to go there w/o the strong traditions and sports programs? Not to many. I chose to attend USU because it looked like the quintessential University, up on a hill, school pride, Aggie pride, pride in a Football team, even though they were mediocre, same went for Basketball (back then). But still, without those things I would have passed. I wanted the full collegiate experience. If I wanted to attend commuter-U, I would have stayed put in So-Cal. Sports attracts students and ultimately = money. If you are selling a home you can't spend money putting in a new kitchen w/o fixing up the facade too! Sports is that facade.

  • che loco
    July 27, 2010 11:07 a.m.

    Lame Girl Blobbin,

    I attended BYU & can rattle off two dozen student-athletes in a variety of sports who were baptized into the LDS faith during my time there. These new converts subsequently go home or on to other places in the world & share what they've found bringing in even more people to the faith. Sounds like BYU's mission for their sports teams is doing EXACTLY what they're setting out to do!

  • Your Highness
    July 27, 2010 11:07 a.m.

    Hmmm, so your conspiracy theory is that, in fact BYU DOES use other funds (tithing?) to support it's athletics even though the BYU front office just said that the athletic department was self-sustaining? Well then, I guess we're at a stalemate.

    You have to admit, it is impressive that BYU is one of the only schools that can support its athletics programs without subsidy. I guess it helps that the students are willing to pay to watch the games. I guess if the product on the field is good enough, people will pay to see it.

  • oldrunner
    July 27, 2010 10:50 a.m.

    Why are people always trying to separate athletics and academics? They are one and the same. You cannot separate the mind and body. Asking why athletics are on campuses is about like asking why the arts are there or why social events take place there. An athletic scholarship dose not pay for an athlete’s participation in sports, it pays for academic/vocational/avocational training. All of those things are beneficial to those who partake and to society as a whole. At least athletics bring in some revenue from the outside. History classes bring in next to nothing.

  • BigYak14
    July 27, 2010 10:40 a.m.

    winglish: title IX schools are all schools in the U.S. ... that includes private schools not just public. So yes, duke, stanford, byu etc all have to play by the same rules yet they are still profitable. Plus there (not their) are a lot of benefits that factor into having sports programs that can not have an exact monetary accounting. such as publicity.

    History loser: If you lived in the real world you'd understand a little more about marketing. You don't go to a school because it has a good football team just like you don't buy a car because the company has a lot of commercials. You consider a school that you hear about often. Just like you'll consider a car that you see a lot of commercials for. You can't apply to or attend a school you have never heard of.

    "Universities are about discovering and disseminating knowledge." I have never ever seen this as the primary mission statement of any university, yet I have seen many that say it is to improve people (students or public). While that is a purpose unfortunately for you it is not their primary purpose.

  • Brave Sir Robin
    July 27, 2010 10:37 a.m.

    @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.

  • Wash DC Reader
    July 27, 2010 10:01 a.m.

    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.

  • Big Daddy Ute
    July 27, 2010 9:40 a.m.

    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.

  • History Nut
    July 27, 2010 9:38 a.m.

    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."

  • Brave Sir Robin
    July 27, 2010 9:18 a.m.


    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.

  • coachcarter
    July 27, 2010 9:16 a.m.

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

  • Joe Schmoe
    July 27, 2010 9:08 a.m.

    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...

  • andrewute1
    July 27, 2010 9:03 a.m.


    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.

  • SoUtBoy25
    July 27, 2010 8:50 a.m.

    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.

  • Winglish
    July 27, 2010 8:50 a.m.

    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.

  • abr2116
    July 27, 2010 8:34 a.m.

    @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.

  • open minded
    July 27, 2010 8:30 a.m.

    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.

  • Runner
    July 27, 2010 8:19 a.m.

    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?

  • coachcarter
    July 27, 2010 8:06 a.m.

    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...

  • BigYak14
    July 27, 2010 7:48 a.m.

    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

  • KobeAggie
    July 27, 2010 6:47 a.m.

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

  • What's up?
    July 27, 2010 6:08 a.m.

    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.

  • IQ92
    July 27, 2010 1:34 a.m.

    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.

  • Dana
    July 26, 2010 8:13 p.m.

    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.”

  • History Nut
    July 26, 2010 7:53 p.m.

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