The Wagging Tail

I have blogged (endlessly some would say) about the tail that wags the dog in Division I athletics. I promised myself I would not go there again  (but I may have had my fingers crossed!).

A recent editorial in Sports Illustrated requires comment. It addresses the ripple effect of the decreasing use of cable TV on college athletics. Because fewer people are using cable since moving to digital technology which will allow them to watch those programs they want to watch and not pay for those they will never watch in their lifetime — or that of their children — the cable companies are hurting in the pocketbook 😢. The sports network giant ESPN, for example, has been seriously affected by the change in viewer preference. While a few years ago they could count on $8.00 per month from everyone who watched sports on their network  ESPN is now in 12 million fewer homes than it was in 2011. In a word, the number of viewers has dropped considerably and the income from cable has dropped accordingly. ESPN recently laid off 100 of its people in a move that had remaining folks on ESPN crying crocodile tears as they breathed a sigh of relief that it wasn’t them — yet.😥

All of this impacts on college sports, which, as we know, is Big Business. As Sports Illustrated tells us:

“College athletics departments spent lavishly [in recent years because of the huge influx in cash from ESPN and other major TV networks], especially on football. At Texas new lockers were installed at a cost of $10,500 apiece and include individual 43 inch TV monitors instead of the traditional nameplates. Auburn added a $14 million video board at Jordan-Hare Stadium. Clemson’s training complex included a bowling alley and nap room. Even position coaches were making six figures. . .”

Nick Saban, head football coach at Alabama, can be seen crying all the way to the bank as he gets ready to deposit some of his $11.1 million annual  salary; he worries that this trend spells the end of collegiate football as we have come to know and love it. Armageddon is at hand. This, of course, is nonsense as the universities will find ways to support their athletics programs — including raising student fees even higher — most of which (by the way) operate at a deficit. But they all see the big bucks the big guys make and hope that some of it will come their way. The problem will not go away just because figures must be juggled. It’s still a business and it is a HUGE business.

Oh, and speaking of big business, Jay Paterno, son of the infamous Penn State football coach and an assistant coach during the Sandusky era, was recently named to the Board of Trustees at that University. So much for cleaning house. The tail will continue to wag the dog. (But, seriously, a “nap room”??)

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What’s Wrong Here?

The independent organization known as The American Council of Trustees and Alumni, located in Washington, D.C., has come out against the bloated salaries and expanding numbers of administrators at American colleges and universities in the face of higher costs of tuition and the poor graduation rates and mediocre showing of college graduates upon graduation. More importantly, they engage in an ongoing check on the academic credentials of America’s colleges and universities and grade them according to their core requirements. This examination covers the basic subject areas they think every educated person should know something about, namely, Composition, Mathematics, Economics, U.S. History, Foreign Language, Literature, and Science and their grades rank from A to F. Very few colleges and universities in this country garner an “A” grade.

Seemingly unrelated to this fact is the consideration that football coach Nick Saban at the University of Alabama was recently given an extension on his contract that will guarantee him somewhere between $7 and $7.5 million a year. Undergraduate students pay out $92,000 apiece in tuition, room and board for their four years of education at Alabama even though fewer than half of them actually graduate. Alabama did not make the A.C.T.A.’s “A” list, needless to say.

Additionally, Florida State University will play for the national title in football and their star quarterback recently won the prestigious Heisman Trophy — despite the fact that there are still allegations of rape against the man that have not been cleared up. Playing for the national championship in football will bring the university millions of dollars in revenue. Students at Florida State pay about the same as those at Alabama for tuition, room, and board and the university has a slightly higher graduation rate. But that university also fails to make the A.C.T.A.’s “A” list.

I’m just sayin’…………