Dick Harmon: Are we spending too much money on college football?

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  • jpc53 Cottonwood Heights, UT
    Dec. 10, 2013 12:12 a.m.

    The fact that very few athletic departments are profitable tells us that the answer is yes we are spending too much on football in particular and sports in general. The question is how much in alumni contributions is generated from athletic programs. As much as I like college sports I doubt that for the vast majority of schools the alumni contributions do not cover the losses of the athletic departments. I have a feeling that includes all the institutions in Utah.

  • mn_online In, UT
    Dec. 9, 2013 3:24 p.m.


  • Getting Older Riverton, UT
    Dec. 8, 2013 9:04 p.m.

    It's been a long time since I read Fahrenheit 451 but one of the things that stood out to me is that, in the book, books being banned came because the people stopped caring about books. No one really protested. The fire chief told the whole story including this quote:

    "With school turning out more runners, jumpers, racers, tinkerers, grabbers, snatchers, fliers, and swimmers instead of examiners, critics, knowers, and imaginative creators, the word 'intellectual,' of course, became the swear word it deserved to be.”

    Maybe we are heading that way. Universities are becoming more known for their runners, jumpers, racers, etc. In the meantime, one great university after another gets dragged down by sports scandals (Ohio State, Miami, Penn State, USC, Oregon, etc). But, we don't care as long as they win.

    I say it is time to get inter-school sports out of high school and college. Athletics will continue. they won't die; but schools will be able to focus on what they are supposed to do.

  • let's roll LEHI, UT
    Dec. 8, 2013 10:17 a.m.


    You can rest easy. You're not paying any part of Mack Brown's salary, unless you go to UT games or are a UT donor. Texas football generated $104 million in revenue last year and spend $26 million for a tidy profit of $78 million. Texas athletics do not use university funds.

    Alabama football had revenue of $82 million with expenditures of $37 million resulting in a profit of $45 million. About 4% of Alabama's overall athletic budget comes from University funds, but it's not clear how much of that goes to football, although those funds include indirect funds (e.g. facility maintenance, security).

    In most cases when college coaches have large salaries, a significant amount of that salary is paid by booster rather than the University. Fan donations can make up over 50% of a school's athletic budget in some cases. For Texas and Alabama, it's in the 25-30% range.

  • Mike Johnson Stafford, VA
    Dec. 7, 2013 8:09 p.m.

    I don't think there is a single college out there that spends more than about 20% on athletics compared to what it spends on academics. The University of Utah spends three to four hundred million on academics and several hundred million on research and 40 million on athletics. The University of Michigan may spend 100 million on athletics, but spends multiple billions on academics. Academics is not being left in the dust by athletic spending. What is different is that athletics happens to be in the public eye and in fact is often what puts and keeps schools in the public eye. But, all parts of the school benefit from that position.

  • CougFaninTX Frisco, TX
    Dec. 7, 2013 5:05 p.m.

    I won't try to answer the question posed in the first sentence of the article, but I will say it is time to stop subsidizing sports with taxpayer money.

    When Mack Brown and Nick Saban are the highest paid government workers in the U.S. and my taxes keep going up to pay Mack Brown's salary, there is something wrong.

    I love watching sports as much as the next guy, but the athletic department should be self funded.

  • let's roll LEHI, UT
    Dec. 6, 2013 10:52 p.m.

    Still scratching my head over what government could do.

    rhappahannock's suggestion is never going to happen. Alabama legislator's voting to put their teams at a disadvantage. Can't think of a better example of a political death wish. And even if a few states did do it, all it would do is make the playing field more uneven for teams in those states.

    And despite WA_Dad&Grad's suggestion that the Fed Gov could incentivize change somehow, I certainly can't fathom what those incentives would look like nor can I see any political tailwind for meddling in college football.

  • rhappahannock Washington, DC
    Dec. 6, 2013 10:25 p.m.

    It has to be the state legislatures that step in and stop the madness. There is quite a simple solution. Government grants typically get 30-50% taken out of the contract for "overhead." The same should be done with college athletics TV contracts for teams in the top 5 conferences that are making the big money. It can't control the Boone Pickens, but it is his money to do with it as he may.

    However, the states are the effective "shareholders" and "owners" of the university and the money they bring it. Since the state legislatures have the responsibility to make sure the state higher education system is running properly, they need to be the adults, step in, and make sure the state is getting value out of the revenue coming in from sports. If it just goes back to sports, it has not given maximum value to the state, and needs to be redirected to higher priorities - such as education.

  • WA_Alum&Dad Marysville, WA
    Dec. 6, 2013 1:28 p.m.

    @let's roll
    "The NFL and NBA both have (or had) their own funded farm teams. . . Neither has had any material impact on the NCAA."
    This is why it would require congressional action to "incentivize" a different market approach (and only a market approach will work), because the NCAA will never willingly relinquish its status as the NBA/NFL farm system. The money is just too good.

    The reason MLB farm system works is that baseball was an established and mature professional sport with a minor league system in place before television made football or basketball, college or professional, the national commodities they are today. College football and hoops not only predate, they drove their professional counterparts, so it was only natural that their feedstock was the college system.

    If the government can decide that it's their business to tell people what medical care they can receive, they can take this on.

  • jeru0455 SALEM, OR
    Dec. 6, 2013 11:37 a.m.

    College athletics isn't a waste of money, at least not in my opinion. I think that universities spending millions of dollars to study bird flight patterns or algae growth is a waste of money, but again, that's just my opinion.

  • Esquire Springville, UT
    Dec. 6, 2013 9:16 a.m.

    Athletes are exploited, used, abused and tossed out like yesterday's garbage. College athletics has become shameful, especially the fiction of the student-athlete. Just pay the players and stop the pretending.

  • Duckhunter Highland, UT
    Dec. 6, 2013 9:13 a.m.


    You should try not to let that university of utah education show as it is an embarrassment. Harmon was the guy supporting college football, he did ask some questions about whether or not the cost is worth it but he was overall in support of it. "Frantic and emotional" lashing out like you did in your post is funny but ultimately embarrassing for your school and all of its "fans".

    Also BYU turns a profit on its athletic department as a whole, to the tune of 5+ mil per year. Whatever utah is getting means nothing to BYU and has no affect on BYU. utah is an overall athletic loser, and not just on the field. utah's athletic department loses money and is heavily subsidized, millions of dollars in fact, by students and the university itself. It is a poor example of an athletic department as it bungles its way to loss after loss in sport after sport all the while bleeding dollars in its ineptitude.

  • let's roll LEHI, UT
    Dec. 6, 2013 8:43 a.m.


    I'd be interested in more of your thoughts on how NBA and NFL funded farm teams would change the status quo in NCAA BB and FB.

    The NFL and NBA both have (or had) their own funded farm teams. The developmental (D) league in the NBA has been around for awhile, subsidized by the NBA. And NFL Europe was the latest iteration of the NFL's farm system.

    Neither has had any material impact on the NCAA.

  • WA_Alum&Dad Marysville, WA
    Dec. 6, 2013 7:10 a.m.

    I've beat this drum before, and I'll continue to do so. There's no bigger college sports fan out there than me, but in my opinion the only way this arms race stops is to require the NBA and the NFL to fund their own professional farm teams, just like MLB does. It solves multiple problems, by allowing kids (and coaches) who have no desire to be at college for any reason other than the chance to play professionally a place to go and actually earn money while honing their craft.

    Major college sports is--or should be--about the competition, and it still would be. In fact, it would be enhanced by limiting the ability for the "dynasty" schools to monopolize the talent and the money. College football was huge before the NFL was, and it would thrive without its current farm team status. But it would take an act of congress to change, because the NCAA will never voluntarily part with the river of money that corrupts it today.

  • Eddie Would Go FPO, AE
    Dec. 6, 2013 6:56 a.m.


    You might be right. Maybe BYU is one of the few schools that makes a profit in athletics. But wouldn't it be nice to see BYU publish their numbers?

    Whatever percentage of BYU students' tuition goes to athletics has little to do with "why BYU's tuition is able to remain so inexpensive." BYU offers an incredibly inexpensive education because the university is heavily subsidized by the LDS church. Each BYU student's education is mostly funded by the LDS church, not by the student's tuition check.

  • let's roll LEHI, UT
    Dec. 5, 2013 6:41 p.m.


    I take it then that you have no issue with the more than half of FBS teams that are profitable?

    In the reports I saw, the profit margin of the football programs averaged about 30%. That's good money even in the private sector (take a look at the Forbes ranking of the value of college football programs). Also about half of the schools had no student fees or state monies in their football revenue.

    And my understanding is that when student athletic fees were stated, 100% of those fees were reported as revenue for the football program when fewer than half of the scholarship athletes are football players. Cooking the books indeed.

    Agree with you that funding Title IX sports is part of the cost of a football program--even though I don't believe college football has gotten much, if any, credit for advancing women's sports.

    There's a valid debate about the cost of college athletics overall, but in engaging in that debate, no credible argument can be made that football is at the forefront of the problem. Without football, the likelihood is that college athletics as a whole would have been shuttered long ago.

  • DRay Roy, UT
    Dec. 5, 2013 5:47 p.m.


  • Y Grad / Y Dad Richland, WA
    Dec. 5, 2013 5:41 p.m.

    Prodicus, your specific statement is fair enough, and deserves further discussion.

    While it is inappropriate to equate a college board of trustees collective decision as "fair market," one has to recognize that there are an extremely large number of college boards of trustees making a decision about the same question: sports or no sports? Football or no football?

    They may not have fair market values driving their decision, and individual decisions may be deemed as downright goofy, but where so many have collectively made the decision to ante up, you have to at least ascknowledge that there is some underlying reason why, even if you disagree with it.

    And I am willing to agree that as time passes, and the cost rises, the decisions may, one by one, be reversed. Or as has recently been discussed, maybe the big boy colleges will drive up the cost even further and drive out the fringe players. You should like that!

    I am fascinated with the decision by the church (board of trustees) to discontinue intercolegiate athletics in Rexburg while upping the ante in Provo. No value judgement, just fascination.

    Classic line about "other people's money" though! Look forward to your response.

  • Prodicus Provo, UT
    Dec. 5, 2013 4:37 p.m.

    Profits are more common in football and mens BB, but for both sports it was still only just over half of the FBS teams that made a profit. For football, almost all of those were in the BCS, and FCS teams practically never make a profit. (Football is no more likely to be profitable than basketball- yes, revenues are a lot higher, but so are costs.)

    Even those numbers involve cooking the books to make them seem impressive- athletic fees charged to all students and several other questionable things get counted as football revenue (even for several BCS teams student fees are over 10% of "football revenues," and in smaller conferences it's often several times higher), universities make interest free loans to their football programs for facility construction, etc.

    It's only possible to see it as an investment if your team is one of the elite. Even considered on its own, football is a bad deal for most colleges. And it can't be considered on its own- the cost of programs for Title IX compliance is ultimately part of the cost of running a football program. Takes a lot of womens' scholarships to balance out football.

  • Samwise Salt Lake City, UT
    Dec. 5, 2013 4:31 p.m.

    Mark from Montana

    Um... because I enjoy watching sports as it is one of my very most favorite activities. I don't have kids yet, but some of my favorite activities I did with my Dad growing up involved sports, whether it was playing them, watching them or talking about them (often while doing chores or some other activity such as hiking). I couldn't stop watching sports even if I wanted to, but more power to you for being able to do so.

  • benjoginko Cottonwood Heights, UT
    Dec. 5, 2013 4:29 p.m.

    As long as it's not my money being spent it isn't to much. As soon as it is my money being spent it is too much.

  • yarrlydarb Ogden, UT
    Dec. 5, 2013 4:09 p.m.

    Harmon says:

    "Crazy! But it is a crazy arrangement that is feeding on itself.
    Nobody is going to unhook the IV."

    I say, it's also sad, very sad.

    It's analogous to saying something like:

    "Sure, state lotteries cause a lot of social havoc, but it supports the school system."

    It reminds me of:

    "For the love of money (college football receipts) is the root of [much pride and] evil: which while some coveted after, they have ... pierced themselves through with [little of true redeeming value]" (1 Timothy 6: 10).

  • slave American Fork, UT
    Dec. 5, 2013 3:51 p.m.

    @ Kralon
    According to the NCAA of the 67,887 College players that participated in college football in 2011 (all divisions), only 1.7% or 1154 players ever got a crack at playing professionally. Only 255 were drafted that year. Of the 1,108,441 High school players that participated in football that year only .08% or 886 players got a crack at playing professional football. Most were delegated to practice squads. While I enjoy college football and according to some waste my Saturdays watching it. Maybe it is time that we separate college from athletics and instead go to the same format that exists in baseball, namely the minor leagues. Because at the end of the day those universities that have large donors will in the end have to pay the cost of maintaining it all thru tax dollars or charity. It truly is sad that we have fallen in the level and ability of college graduates when compared to the rest of the developed world. But what the heck. We do have plenty of career opportunities for want to be football players on the talk show circuit.

  • 81Ute Central, UT
    Dec. 5, 2013 3:04 p.m.

    Hmmmm...intersting timing. I guess the teams 'on the hill' getting huge payouts from a major conference and a school further south being left out, have nothing to do with it? Mr. Harmon I would posit that you are a hypocrite in that you feed your family from the very sports frenzy that you rail against. Show us that you are sincere and resign to pursue a more meaningful career. You have the medium to broadcast your change.

  • BeSmart Cheyenne, WY
    Dec. 5, 2013 2:30 p.m.

    United States Department of education in 2009 that BYU made a 5.61 million dollar profit off of athletics.
    Probably much better now with increased revenue.
    Maybe that is why BYU's tuition is able to remain so inexpensive.

  • BeSmart Cheyenne, WY
    Dec. 5, 2013 2:26 p.m.

    Just to clarify I am assuming the BYU financial stuff because you can find estimates that several publications make.
    But looking Utah's athletic budget for 2012 was 36.8 million. Revenue from football tickets alone for the Y's home games are probably around 20 milion in season ticket sales (estimate by desnews) and who knows how much from Bball (many other BYU sports sell a lot of tickets) not too mention other revenue streams and probably an overall significantly lower athletic budget. I am guessing BYU athletics is in the black.

  • tinplater scottsdale, AZ
    Dec. 5, 2013 2:26 p.m.

    It is ridiculous...a university judged by the quality of its athletic program! Fortunately Cornell, Penn, Harvard, etc get along just fine on their superb academics without getting trapped into becoming kings of entertainment. An interesting concept, don't give athletic scholarships at all and draw your teams from the studentbody at large, just as USAC (USU) did in the mid 1930's when they were nationally ranked in football.

  • let's roll LEHI, UT
    Dec. 5, 2013 2:16 p.m.


    The question posed by the article is whether too much money is being spent on college FOOTBALL.

    Thus your arguments about college athletic departments losing money misses the mark. College football makes money (over $1 Billion, in PROFITS, in 2010, no doubt more now). Athletic departments lose money because college football is the only profit center at most schools (BB at some) and in nearly all instances all the other sports lose money, meaning they are subsidized by football.

    Because of Title IX, schools can't drop non-revenue women's athletic teams, although many men's teams have been eliminated.

    Schools look at football spending as an investment (have to win to generate more money, have to spend to win).

    You may choose to criticize college athletics on a financial basis, but you can't say college football is spending other people's money, it turns a profit.

  • Utah'95 FPO, AE
    Dec. 5, 2013 1:52 p.m.

    I know that as a private university, BYU isn't required to let us see their books. But as a BYU alumnus and lifetime tithe payer, I would LOVE to know how they spend their money!

  • BeSmart Cheyenne, WY
    Dec. 5, 2013 1:40 p.m.

    @ ekute
    I actually do support the Utes and have attended several games before moving. I recently moved to Wyoming for a great job so until a few months ago I did pay Utah taxes.
    I think Bronco is a good coach and support him for what he makes, and knowing people inside BYU I doubt BYU athletics gets subsidized by anything except maybe student fees (I don't know and I don't support it if it does).
    If Utah was in the black I could care less if Whittingham made 20 million, but to take away from poor or indebted students, and from other priorities for the Utah budget (education, medical, lower taxes) is completely abhorrent.
    9 percent of Utahs below poverty line people are college students. Why should they pay for athletics?
    In 2012 18 percent of the american population said they could not afford the FOOD they need. I give significantly to charities and have fed people who couldn't afford it so I will say feed people before you build a 36 million dollar facility that won't compete with Oregon's 240 million dollar facility.

  • SlopJ30 St Louis, MO
    Dec. 5, 2013 1:23 p.m.

    I love the comments like those from Mark from Montana, which pop up now and then attached to articles about sports, movies, TV . . entertainment in general.

    When did it become a point of personal pride to not watch sports, tv, etc? The implication is that if you don't really care for sports and allocate your time elsewhere, you're somehow more noble. Apparently everyone who doesn't know their Bronco Mendenhall from their Nick Saban is running around "creating things with their hands," teaching their appreciative kids various virtues, helping little old ladies stuck in trees or engaging in other such all-'Merican wholesomeness. Not a second is wasted.

    Anyone can devote too much time to something like sports and create an imbalance in life, but simply enjoying a game, during your leisure time doesn't mean you're less this or that than the sports teetotaler. Families and friends can easily bond over sports. Just because you might choose to spend Saturday making macaroni necklaces with the kids/grandkids or learning origami doesn't set you on a higher plane.

  • ekute Layton, UT
    Dec. 5, 2013 1:17 p.m.


    Why are you concerned with Witt's salary? You don't support the Utes...and you don't live in the state so it's not your tax dollars. If you pay tithing it would behoove you to hold bronco and byu accountable.

  • ekute Layton, UT
    Dec. 5, 2013 1:03 p.m.

    "other people's money."
    I assume that you mean tax dollars. College athletics bring many residual benefits to the states and local communities.

  • BeSmart Cheyenne, WY
    Dec. 5, 2013 12:55 p.m.

    @ CB
    Lets break down Whittingham's salary per win (you pay a coach to win)
    Whittingham 2,000,000/ 5 wins = 400,000 per win
    Helfrich (Oregon) 180,000 per win
    Mike Riley (OSU) 236,000 per win
    Nick Saban 504,090 per win ( he wins national titles)
    Mark Dantonio 178,000 per win (probably going to the Rose Bowl)
    Dave Cutcliff 178,000 per win
    Coaches are rewarded for winning everyone on this list except Riley and Whittingham would have been fired for 2 losing seasons.
    He is a decent coach but way way over paid.

  • BeSmart Cheyenne, WY
    Dec. 5, 2013 12:46 p.m.

    @ CB
    The U has 33,000 students right? lets say even 15,000 go to athletic events. The U just siphoned off 4 million dollars from students who don't care.
    I worked hard enough in school and athletics that I earned lot of money in school with scholarships, research grants and two jobs so money was not an issue, but
    I had roommates that went months without eating meat so an extra 150 a semester can buy a lot of meat.
    The U brags about money from the Pac then give it back to the student. The U will never compete with Oregon, USC, UCLA, Stanford in facilities they have too much money in the alumni.

    Stanford's Endowment is 18.7 Billion Utah's 636 Million (BYU's endowment is significantly higher than Utah)
    Your 2 million dollar coach has not done anything in 5 years.
    It is pathetic and the proponent of such a practice should go and survey students and see what they eat and how they live. Or talk to the recent grads who have 30,000 in debt they are trying to pay back.
    Universities are about education, and betterment of society. Athletics are fun but not at the expense of the student.

  • Prodicus Provo, UT
    Dec. 5, 2013 12:43 p.m.

    Y Grad/Dad, the decisions of university boards of trustees are not anything close to a classical competitive market, and they provide none of the guarantees about equilibrium social welfare optimality that a competitive market does.

    Without any approximation of those guarantees, attempting to justify decisions by saying they were "market choices" is nothing more than saying "they chose it, therefore it's fair and right," which would justify any decision whatsoever.

    That almost all programs lose money is not just a generality, and I expect people to not take my word for it but to find out for themselves. Any simple Google search is sufficient to come up with dozens of references, like a USA Today article saying "Just 23 of 228 athletics departments at NCAA Division I public schools generated enough money on their own to cover their expenses in 2012."

    ChrisB, if you and other college sports fans really thought athletics spending was worth your money, then donations, demand for tickets, TV deals, etc would suffice to make athletics programs profitable. Rather, you think it's worth spending other people's money.

  • Veritas Aequitas Fruit Heights, UT
    Dec. 5, 2013 12:27 p.m.

    Chris B
    Salt Lake City, UT

    I have no problem paying Whittingham millions if he'll continue to take us to top 5 national rankings and big time bowl game glory.
    So Chris, are we safe to assume that Whit should be fired for missing Bowl games, and no top 5 rankings in the past two years?

    I mean, that is your arguement. You want Whit fired?

  • Ed Grady Idaho Falls, ID
    Dec. 5, 2013 12:14 p.m.

    Support capitalism - pay the players. Don't try to sell me that garbage that athletes get a free education. The athletes that produce the revenue - football and mens' bball - are steered to majors where the athletes can easily maintain eligibility. If an incoming freshman football says he wants to major in Electrical Engineering, he'll be pressured to major in something like General Studies, Communications, Physical Education ... you get the idea.

  • Chris B Salt Lake City, UT
    Dec. 5, 2013 11:58 a.m.


    You're free to choose a college that uses funds in a way that you like.

    Unfotunately its impossible to have kids pick and choose exactly what they want to fund. What if I want to fund the diving team but not the lacrosse team, want to fund the student art club but not the student advertising club, want to fund an expansion to the university museum but not the drama building, should university be forced to calculate every possible combination of things I only want to fund?


    If a football coach adds more value to a university(and save us the tear-jerking stories of professors saving lives) than a coummunications professor, then he deserves to be well compensated.

    I have no problem paying Whittingham millions if he'll continue to take us to top 5 national rankings and big time bowl game glory. He's the only coach in the state who has proven he can do that, so we should compensate him for it.

    Go Utes!

  • Owl Salt Lake City, UT
    Dec. 5, 2013 11:56 a.m.

    When some teams lose in athletics, the alumni contributions sag. Some schools continue to lower their academic standards for talented athletes in addition to ignoring past criminal records. Football and basketball revenues fund the non-revenue sports. Until athletics are considered in the same light as do Ivy League schools and many other high quality universities, yes Cal Tech has athletic teams for personal development and not public entertainment, things will not change. With such large amounts of money involved, change is unlikely and the high revenue BCS conferences are leading the race to the bottom. The press and fans encourage such elitism and denigrate teams who share the wealth by scheduling teams with lower conference prestige.

  • BeSmart Cheyenne, WY
    Dec. 5, 2013 11:20 a.m.

    A major issue for me is that Students at universities pay athletic fees. All state ran schools in Utah do (BYU I don't know).
    So why student loans become such a problem in the nation, universities charge students (many of whom that care less about athletics) significant fees to subsidize athletics. I think the U athletic fees are 150 a semester or something.
    For one we spend way too much on athletics 2 million for a coach when professors that research and save lives make half that maybe. And to make the matters worse we expound the problem by making the struggling college student pay fees to support the "non-revenue" sports.
    Let the people who want athletics pay for them, buy tickets, make donations, and buy from schools advertisers, but don't make students foot the bill.
    I like sports a lot, but if I attend a university should I be required to fund their diving team?

  • Chris B Salt Lake City, UT
    Dec. 5, 2013 11:11 a.m.


    Its fun and people want to spend that much money on it. Ultimately if overall the taxpayers LIKE having a great football program and they want it to be a high caliber program, then they support whatever it takes to get the program there.

    I fully support my taxes going to help the University of Utah excel on and off the field. Watching the team enjoy BCS glory has been worth every cent I've ever contributed.

    Go utes!

  • Y Grad / Y Dad Richland, WA
    Dec. 5, 2013 10:55 a.m.

    Prodicus, you have narrowly limited the scope of your argument, then criticize others who discuss other dimensions of the debate, while at the same time offering generalities that you expect to be accepted as fact.

    For example, tax-payers footing the bill. Of course, BYU comes to mind as an exception. You might make a case for tithe-payers as well, but you didn't. Also, as often as the University of Utah has been criticized for the wasteful expenditure of tax dollars, on athletics, just as frequently, U fans will detail how actually, tax dollars are not used to fund athletic department shortfalls.

    A big issue for educators is funding for "the arts." When budgets are tight, the arts take the cuts over math and science. This, too, is a choice, but is it the right choice?

    You state that for rock stars, doctors and professional athletes, exorbitant pay is fair because of the fair market. I agree. The church dropped athletics at BYU-I, but promotes it at BYU. This also is a fair market choice, whether you disagree with the choice or not.

  • Levin Reno, NV
    Dec. 5, 2013 10:36 a.m.

    I suspect a lot of universities see college sports as part of their student recruitment expense. Successful sports teams are part of the college selection process for many incoming students, and sporting events themselves provide advertising for the university.

  • Prodicus Provo, UT
    Dec. 5, 2013 10:02 a.m.

    (I should clarify that TV packages, bowl bonuses, and all other athletics income sources are included when I say that only about a dozen programs across the country make money; it's not just counting tickets and boosters.)

    M Jaack, this isn't about "some" programs losing money. Roughly 90% of Division I athletics programs lose money, and I'm sure almost all other programs do as well. It is a money pit, not a profit center.

  • Hawk Littleton, CO
    Dec. 5, 2013 9:49 a.m.

    This brought to mind a news story I heard last evening that the University of Colorado just approved another $175 million to be spent on upgrading athletic facilities. I'm a huge college sports fan, but as the stakes rise, it is becoming increasingly difficult to justify this kind of spending. The "haves" who, as Dick pointed out, are often financed by billionaire alumni benefactors are driving a standard which is putting a lot of pressure on the "have nots" to keep up. So for example, Utah, who was just catching up with their old rival, now has new facilities which are in danger of being leap-frogged by a lot of money being being committed by their new rival -- what's Dr. Hill's next move to stay competitive in the new conference? Obviously Oregon, Stanford, UW, WSU, UCLA, USC, OSU, ASU, UA and Cal are not standing pat either. Where does it stop? The gap will continue to grow -- most likely the "superconference" approach will end up weeding out those schools who don't have the stomach for (or simply don't have the resources or can't justify) this level of spending....

  • Prodicus Provo, UT
    Dec. 5, 2013 9:36 a.m.

    @t702 that's laughable. For there to be sufficient demand in any kind of economic sense, athletic spending would have to turn a profit in ticket prices and booster donations large enough to be comparable to other investments. But there are only about a dozen schools where ticket prices and booster donations even cover the cost of the athletic program. All the other schools rob the taxpayer or the regular student to pay for athletics. And yes, taking students' tuition money and spending it on an indoor practice facility rather than on teaching them does tend to keep students from "being smarter."

  • Mr.M Jaack Bountiful, UT
    Dec. 5, 2013 9:18 a.m.

    Is it worth paying a top coach to put a good product on the feild each week? Absolutley. No different than a good CEO to run a company, this is the reality. How we spend our money on ENTERTAINMENT should not be compared against money towards those working towards degree's. Athletes bring money to the universities ... Universities benifit, and the athletes get an education that they would have to work a lot of hours to match. Also, a side note. I would love to see Dick's math on the numbers he put in this article. Also, next time show the money each university brings in as well. I am wondering does the average athlete bring in 2x what they spend on them ?

  • Mr.M Jaack Bountiful, UT
    Dec. 5, 2013 9:16 a.m.

    The comparison is wrong. College sports and college academia are different. College sports is entertainment ... period. The reason major universities can spend the money they do is that they have a strong base of supporters that are willing to put their money towards watching these games. How much money do they make off of TV revenue, apparrel sales and other items? Millions. Sure are their programs that lose money? Yep. Do they need to be managed better? Yep. Could someone with business sense help? Yep.

  • t702 Las Vegas, NV
    Dec. 5, 2013 9:04 a.m.

    This is supply and demand issue, school spend the money because there is a demand for it.

    I must have missed it, where is the proven formula that says students will be smarter in the absence of college sports?

  • CougarSunDevil Phoenix, AZ
    Dec. 5, 2013 9:02 a.m.

    I take my children to the football games. I'm taking my son to the PAC 12 Championship game at Sun Devil Stadium this Saturday (don't worry, we'll be bundled up!). So, I enjoy college football AND spend time with my children. Best of both worlds.

  • Ed Grady Idaho Falls, ID
    Dec. 5, 2013 8:42 a.m.

    We do spend too much money on college sports; however, I wouldn't care as much if the money started to flow to the players. I think it's ridiculous that coaches' and ADs' and college presidents'salaries soar while the players are still little more than indentured servants. I hear people say that "college football is a business." If so, why don't colleges pay property taxes on stadiums and weight rooms and indoor practice facilities? What other for-profit business do you know that pays it employees with in-kind goods. I love college football, but it's not a business.

  • toosmartforyou Farmington, UT
    Dec. 5, 2013 8:26 a.m.

    If academics were the emphasis many athletes wouldn't be able to attend the university. They are treated to scholarships and all other kinds of benefits. Many of them never bother to graduate with a degree because they can make unholy amounts of money in professional sports. After a few years in the NFL Jim McMahon said he'd never have to work another day in his life for money. (But he was responsible with his resources, another separate issue for the pro athlete.)

    I am concerned more about the double standard privileges for athletes than the average student. Nothing said it better than the style of Reilly Nelson's hair at BYU. I'm not arguing the standard, but the average student would have been in trouble for such grooming. Thee football QB could do whatever he wanted---all the athletes were treated differently.

    I agree it will never change. I enjoy watching the game as much as anyone. The coaches sure have a sweet deal across the board. Win and they're almost worshipped; lose and they get a huge buy-out and relocate with more money than they know how to spend.

  • Mugs Idaho Falls, Idaho
    Dec. 5, 2013 8:26 a.m.

    Are we paying too much for college football?

    I think we have the answer, Dick, when we find so many people getting paid to talk about it.

  • Prodicus Provo, UT
    Dec. 5, 2013 8:19 a.m.

    @Y Grad/Dad: that doctors and rock stars receive high salaries is mostly a matter of how people value their services and is basically fair, and that funding could not imaginably be reallocated without coercion.

    But this situation isn't comparable at all; nobody's saying "gee, people who attend college football games should take their ticket money and donate to academics instead." This is about misallocated university budgets, and university budgets are utterly unlike the things you've tried to draw analogies with. Almost every athletics program in the country loses a large amount of money every year; ticket sales and booster donations have to be substantially supplemented by taxpayer subsidies and by taking money away from regular students' tuition. That money really could simply be better allocated and "end up in the pay checks of our teachers" or be spent on any of countless other things that actually help accomplish the purpose of a university.

  • Wiscougarfan River Falls, WI
    Dec. 5, 2013 8:03 a.m.

    Where you complete your undergraduate education makes a significant contribution to your identity moving forward. If you went somewhere with a good football (or basketball, or fill-in-the-blank) program you have the rest of your life to cheer for "your" team. Having a team to root for can improve your life satisfaction, help you forge a bond with others (who root for the same team), etc. I am fine with athletic budgets being what they are, but what do I know, I'm just an underpaid professor at a University that doesn't offer athletic scholarships.

  • Y Grad / Y Dad Richland, WA
    Dec. 5, 2013 7:36 a.m.

    No need to isolate college football. We spend too much money and time on entertainment period. But, it's our time and our money and our choice what to do with it.

    There are also people who feel doctors get too much money. I know this: the one that saved my son's life wasn't over-paid. At the end of the day, how many of us our really worth what we get paid? But taking it away from rock stars and middle line backers doesn't mean it will somehow end up in the pay checks of our teachers.

  • thebigsamoan Richmond, VA
    Dec. 5, 2013 7:33 a.m.

    @Mark from Montana
    Davis County, UT.

    "Sports, both pro and college, is such a waste of time and money. Do something with your life. Get off the couch and be productive."

    Umm, it's different strokes for different folks dude! Whatever rocks your boat! I don't care for professional sports but I'm crazy hooked on college sports, especially BYU sports!

    Go Cougars! Good luck to Utes and Aggies too!

  • Mark from Montana Davis County, UT
    Dec. 5, 2013 5:14 a.m.

    Yes people do unhook the IV. I stopped watching sports a number of years ago when I realized what a complete waste of time they were. Why spend three hours on a Sat to watch a college game when I could spend the same three hours with my kids? Or instead of spending four hours on Sunday watching an NFL game when I could spend it catching a nap? Why waste three hours during the week on an NBA game when I could use that same time to create something with my own hands, something I could pass down to my grandkids?

    Sports, both pro and college, is such a waste of time and money. Do something with your life. Get off the couch and be productive.

  • LetsBeRational Spanish Fork, UT
    Dec. 5, 2013 4:42 a.m.

    Great commentary. Many argue that Universities should apply that money to academics. Fact is, people don't chose between football season tickets and donating to the chemistry department. If the money wasn't being spent on football, it would not go to the university; so the university is not "loosing money" from its general coffers because of athletics. The opposite might be true though. Because of sports, some people are drawn to donate money to the university.

    It would be interesting to see a correlation between athletic expenditures and general academic fundraising--not grants, just pure donations to academics.

  • runnerguy50 Virginia Beach, Va
    Dec. 5, 2013 2:27 a.m.

    We are spending too much on sports at out universiies. I love college sports but it is totally out of hand and no longer justfiable.

  • Prodicus Provo, UT
    Dec. 5, 2013 1:08 a.m.

    The claim that football and related activities "bring millions of dollars to universities" is bogus. Almost all athletics programs lose a lot of money.

    "Community pride" and the supposed economic benefits of games could do just as well if teams were professional or semi-pro teams unaffiliated with universities.

    To admit the situation is crazy and then say "nobody's going to unhook the IV" is to say "sure, education and academics already get the short end of the stick and that's just going to get worse and worse as time goes on, but nobody should try to rock the boat to make any necessary changes, because SPORTS."

    Universities have good reason to have robust intramural sports. Extramural sports have become too much of a distraction from the purpose of a university and too exploitative of students (both athletes and non-athletes), and should be spun off.

    Dec. 5, 2013 12:37 a.m.

    It would be great if we could raise academic achievement to a higher level than athletic achievement because most people have a much better chance of financial success in life through academics than sports.

    For example, roughly one in 500 High School football players make it to the NFL and then the AVERAGE NFL career is THREE years!