by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Laurence Peterson writes for the Martin Center about critical questions surrounding college sports.
Intercollegiate sports, particularly football and basketball, have ever so slowly, over the years, inserted themselves insidiously into the fabric of most universities with the support of alumni, the business community, and their college presidents.
When will college presidents, university boards of visitors, students, parents, and alumni realize intercollegiate sports are detracting from universities’ educational missions and need to be eliminated or significantly curtailed?
Perhaps they will wake up when college coaches receive multi-million dollar salaries and are the highest-paid public employee in their state, paid even more than the governor. Or when a select few star college athletes earn more from their NIL (Name, Image, and Likeness) rights than their best university professors. Maybe college leaders will realize something’s amiss when all undergraduate students at some universities pay thousands of dollars each year in mandated athletic fees, or when universities go deeply into debt and lose tens of millions of dollars annually from their sports programs. Perhaps they will notice that many of the 98 percent of college football and basketball athletes who do not go on to the NFL or NBA find themselves unemployable because of an inadequate college education.
The preceding events are already happening, yet few seem to be concerned. Will all of these occurrences need to happen on many campuses before we understand the adverse impact of intercollegiate sports on the educational mission of our universities? Why are universities letting big money, greed, and third-party interests drive their academic decisions and strategies? How can we make quality education the highest priority for our universities?
These are all questions we need to ask our university leaders, especially in light of a recent Supreme Court decision that impacts the world of college sports even more than the irrational behavior of many fans, the outrageous salaries of coaches, and unreasonable student athletic fees.