Utah Sports Ruckus: Separate sports from school

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  • Dutchman Murray, UT
    April 10, 2014 1:38 p.m.

    Some keep making the claim that the tax payers of the State of Utah support the intercollegiate athletic programs at the U of U. I have reviewed the audited financial statements of the U of U and here is what I found for FY'13: The U has an annual $3.2 (2013) billion operating budget. That budget has numerous sources of revenues. The State Legislature appropriates $253 (2012) million taxpayer funds to that budget. And that support from the State has dropped from 75% to 48% over the past 30 years thus tuition hikes. All of this appropriation goes toward what is called the education mission of the U. None of it is appropriated to athletics. It is reasonable to assume that some of the "institutional support" money including student fees (which are approved by the elected student body senate) that may fund athletics comes from that $3.2 billion budget but is again outside the State's $253 million appropriation. That is how it is possible to have "institutional support" money flowing to the athletic department but not have it coming directly from the State's taxpayers. So stop worrying. The taxes you pay the State of Utah are not supporting Utah's athletic teams.

  • Mormon Ute Kaysville, UT
    April 10, 2014 10:00 a.m.

    The value of a college education isn't just in how much money it can help you earn in your career. We are churning out far too many poorly educated millionares in this country and this will be to our detriment. Also, the majority of college athletes will never play their sport professionally. Even those from the big name programs. Separating sports from academics will take away a great opportunity from a lot kids who otherwise couldn't afford college and will also never play professionally. This is a bad idea.

  • high school fan Huntington, UT
    April 10, 2014 5:58 a.m.

    Sounds to me like the author is a poor sport. He might be able to make free throws but he can't play the rest of the game. Football made it possible for me to go to college and. Most college athletes never will play professionally but we have a good time representing the school.
    If you want no college athletics, fine but let's also cut out choir and band and drama and dancing because those also are a distraction from getting an education.

  • ClarkHippo Tooele, UT
    April 9, 2014 11:33 p.m.


    You said – “The simplest and most cost effective way to eliminate the vast majority of the issues facing collegiate athletics these days is to eliminate athletic scholarships.”

    Perhaps universities should also get rid of music, performing arts, journalism and science scholarships too. If the athletes should have to pay their own way, so should everyone else.

  • ClarkHippo Tooele, UT
    April 9, 2014 11:32 p.m.

    Nate said – “But human beings adapt to their circumstances; whatever space is left open in people’s lives by the changes proposed here would quickly be filled by something else.”

    You are absolutely correct, Nate. In fact, there are many individuals from Internet casino operators to pornographic film producers who would love nothing more than to fill those spaces “left open” with their form of entertainment.

    Nate said – “I don’t want to get crazy here, but some might even, dare I say, spend more time paying attention to the other people in their lives.”

    Your right, Nate. The father and son who are busy with school and work whose only activity together might be watching or attending a football or basketball game. Oh well. The step-brother and step-father with nothing in common except their interest in the local sports teams. Too bad.

  • androol Queen Creek, AZ
    April 9, 2014 5:14 p.m.

    The simplest and most cost effective way to eliminate the vast majority of the issues facing collegiate athletics these days is to eliminate athletic scholarships. Keep the athletic department, still offer the sports, but stop offering scholarships. Certainly the level of competition would drop a bit, but the traditions, student interest, and community interest would still exist. The Ivy League and Patriot League both have done away with athletic scholarships but both still offer healthy and vibrant athletic programs. I grew up in an Ivy League town and the community still rallied around the athletic programs. The only losers in such a system would be the NFL and NBA who might lose their quasi professional developmental league.

  • RSLfanalways West Valley, UT
    April 9, 2014 4:53 p.m.

    I love college sports but I also understand that they are not sustainable. College debt is getting out of control and some of it is coming from athletic programs. How much has the tuition increased since the University of Utah joining the PAC 12? That goes the same for other schools when they are trying to build up their sports teams. The students and taxpayers are subsidizing these programs so 99% of colleges are not making money.

  • Spellman789 Syracuse, UT
    April 9, 2014 4:35 p.m.

    This needs to happen Yesterday!

  • Lia Sandy, UT
    April 9, 2014 4:30 p.m.

    Not a good idea at all.

  • let's roll LEHI, UT
    April 9, 2014 4:25 p.m.

    Nate, are you advocating forcing universities to give up athletics?

    Universities have a choice. While many choose to have extramural sports programs, some choose not to.

    I'm all for tranperancy in letting prospective students know just how much, if anything, the extramural sports program will cost them should they decide to attend a given university.

    But as long as universities have a choice and students have a choice, what's to be gained in prohibiting univerisities that choose to have extramural sports from doing so and students who what to attend such schools from doing so.

    Compulsion has a well-deserved negative connotation.

  • DresdenBalla Germany, 00
    April 9, 2014 3:06 p.m.

    College recruiting is a dirty dirty business, as are many other aspects of college sports, because it is not about the education. Remember the Oklahoma State Sports Illustrated report?

  • Weberboy Fruit Heights, UT
    April 9, 2014 2:53 p.m.

    There are a few good points but mainly I disagree. First off, fast food is wonderful - who doesn't need a junior bacon cheeseburger every now and then? Second, college sports are fun to watch and a nice way to give students a break from studies and to express loyalty to their schools. Third, for the grand majority of the college athletes that don't make it to the pros, they're getting an education which has benefits for all of society.

  • Shamal Happy Valley, UT
    April 9, 2014 2:48 p.m.

    "Our universities should not serve as corporate minor league systems for pro sports any longer."

    So only non-athletes should get to use the school to go pro?

  • vinnyb3 Provo, UT
    April 9, 2014 2:10 p.m.

    The University of Cincinnati Athletic Director said that the athletic budget there is only 4 percent of the total school budget and attracts over 400,000 people to campus each year. We often forget the advertising value (advertising is always expensive) of extramurals and that combined with the cultural benefits make them worth it. ESPN has a breakdown of what public schools made/lost on athletic programs and most of them do suffer a slight loss. However, the advertising value of that the sports bring is worth more than those losses.

  • Brucemax Provo, UT
    April 9, 2014 2:02 p.m.

    "In any event, American universities should not be paying the contracts of young athletes or compensating them in any way. Playing a sport has nothing to do with higher learning."

    Exactly. That is the reason the regional director of the National Labor Relations Board ruled that athletes are employees of the university and should be paid.

    "Young people who want to expand their minds and get a true education should not have to pay ridiculous tuition amounts to support professional athletic programs."

    Most universities do have a fee that is specifically for athletic programs that each student pays with their tuition. At most universities it is about $150. That isn't "ridiculous" compared to the rest of the tuition they have to pay.

  • gary2635 Placentia, CA
    April 9, 2014 2:01 p.m.

    The author left one thing out of his arguments: What is best for the athlete. The great majority of college athletes are there for the education. The athletics are a means to that end. A minuscule number of college athletes will ever play professionally. To many people, like the author, glorify professional sports, leaving many wannabes out in the cold when they fall short. And remember, nearly all college athletes fall short. Those who take their education seriously will be prepared.

    Now the author proposes having them skip the college education, trading it instead for a "minor league" experience. Talk about exploitation. The few who make it out of the minor leagues will be fine financially. The rest will be left either a professional career OR an education.

    Let's not leave the future of the athlete out of the conversation.

  • ekute Layton, UT
    April 9, 2014 1:34 p.m.

    Sports and education support each other. Too many student athletes would have to choose between one or the other.

    Countless student athletes benefit from getting an education while participating in non-revenue sports.

  • Prodicus Provo, UT
    April 9, 2014 1:32 p.m.

    @Wiscougarfan your argument would be a good argument for intramural sports, but not for extramurals as they now exist.

    Colleges have a strong interest in helping a broad swath of their students be physically active, meet other students, and find non-destructive things to do for fun outside of their studies. A good intramural program can help accomplish that. But any needs and wants which are served by extramural sports would be better served by a local professional or semi-pro team unaffiliated with the university.

    @Silent Lurker, the majority of college men's basketball and football programs lose money even considered on their own. FBS schools report about 50% in both sports making a profit, but even that involves cooking the books (counting athletic fees charged to all students as football revenue, giving huge 'interest free loans' to the football program for facility construction, etc). FCS schools practically never make a profit. Also, while your claim that they pay for all other sports is overblown, Title IX compliance is part of the cost of doing business.

  • noodles Logan, UT
    April 9, 2014 1:16 p.m.

    As a former college athlete, I can say that college athletics can be very educational for those who wish to take advantage of the experience. College is a time in life to grow and learn. The experiences and habits developed during this time had a significant influence on my growth and development as a person. These experiences influenced me in grad school and in my profession today. There is no doubt that problems exist within college athletics that must be addressed. But a complete separation of college and athletics is not a serious solution to the problems.

  • DresdenBalla Germany, 00
    April 9, 2014 12:24 p.m.


    I don't think the author tried to say that sports has not become a part of our academic culture in America. I think he is making the point that this mixing of sports culture and academic culture might not be a good thing and that inherently sports has nothing to do with higher learning. In most countries in the world sports and universities are not joined like they are in America. Like the author says, there would be resistance, but college students would find other things to do besides sports that just might be more useful and meaningful in the long run. Plus there still would be sports, just not to the same commercial level as now where college athletics is essentially the same as pro sports.

  • JJ000012 Salt lake city, UT
    April 9, 2014 12:22 p.m.

    Mr. Gagon, once again you have altered my life for the better! I had never considered the state of collegiate athletics in such a way! My eyes are now open, and I see the beautiful, glorious light of progression. Today, I am a changed man!

  • Silent Lurker Cottonwood Heights, UT
    April 9, 2014 12:14 p.m.

    What Nate fails to realize is that mens Football and Basketball at most major universities is tasked with funding not only themselves but also Golf, Swimming, Volleyball, Softball, Baseball,and as many as 32 total sports programs. Mens Football and Basketball also responsible for funding women's athletics teams. If Football and Basketball were separated they could easily survive, even thrive but what about the other sports.

  • UteTerritory Mapleton, UT
    April 9, 2014 12:12 p.m.

    Terrible idea.

  • JSB Sugar City, ID
    April 9, 2014 12:06 p.m.

    I agree. What in the world does inter school athletic competition have to do with education? When was the last time Harvard or Yale or Columbia had a great football team? BYU-Idaho dropped athletics, added a comprehensive intramural activities program,and both the university and their intramural program are thriving. Hundreds of students are participating and they love it.

    I think we should take a look at high school sports as well. What is the educational value of high school sports? A lot of taxpayer dollars go into funding these teams that could actually go into education. There are high schools that have great intramural programs involving a lot of students who would not otherwise be involved and it costs almost nothing. Replace the current high school sports program with intramurals and there would be more student involvement at a lot less cost. That's an educational win/win. Next time the legislature takes up school funding they should consider prohibiting the use of taxpayer money for the use of inter-school athletics so the dollars could actually go to education. What a novel idea!

  • Wiscougarfan River Falls, WI
    April 9, 2014 11:57 a.m.

    While the author makes several good and interesting points in this article, his assertion that sports have nothing to do with academics is ridiculous. As a college professor I'll be the first to tell you that sports have a lot to do with academics. Students who attend college are at a stage in their life where they are forming their identities. Collegiate athletics can be instrumental in connecting them with other students and to the college campus and larger community. Many students go to specific colleges for their sports programs while many others simply benefit by having something to do/care about that isn't academics.