Covid-19 has shut down college football, leading to cries of despair (“As College Football Games Vanish, So Do Their Millions,” The Wall Street Journal, Aug. 17). They range from the loss of seeing their teams clash to the loss of millions of dollars in revenue for individual schools.
Yet I think what is happening is long overdue. The fact is that athletic departments at most schools do not share their revenues with academic departments. The money is simply reinvested in upgraded and expanded facilities and the like. We’re not talking about chump change here. Pac-12 athletic departments generated $1.3 billion in revenue in 2018-19, according to the Department of Education.
I understand the argument about the positive lessons taught by varsity athletics. But when the cost of tuition remains sky high, I think that athletic revenues should be plowed back into the general fund to award grants to deserving scholars. As things stand, athletics occupy far too great a place in academia. The argument that without varsity football alumni would cease writing checks is false. For example, the University of Chicago abolished varsity football years ago. It has not suffered at all. The truth is that football is the tail wagging the dog in higher education.
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