College football cancellation is blessing in disguise

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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2 Replies to “College football cancellation is blessing in disguise”

  1. How about each of the conferences adopting a relatively low $ cap on total inter-school athletic spending, including scholarships and coaches’ salaries. All revenue from athletics goes into the college’s general fund and the college pays out the cap $ to the athletic department. Donations to athletic programs go into the general fund and do not increase the cap $.

    That would allow the colleges to retain most of the advantages of athletic programs while diverting $ back into the colleges’ other activities.


  2. Labor Lawyer: An excellent proposal, but I doubt it will be adopted because it will be seen somehow as detrimental to competition. I still can’t believe the salaries paid to football coaches at some schools.


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