by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Joseph Warta writes for Martin Center that a planned new home for N.C. State University basketball players sends the wrong message.
Athletes need a good night’s sleep to maximize their performance. But that doesn’t explain why NC State’s proposed new dormitory for basketball players will cost roughly four times as much per bed than other campus living quarters do.
It seems pretty clear that the dormitory is due to NC State’s participation in the ever-escalating arms race to attract top athletic talent in the revenue-producing sports of football and basketball. Luxury accommodations and lavish perks appear to be the minimum required to draw athletes capable of winning championships and bringing in big TV revenue from bowl games and March Madness playoffs.
The dormitory story began in 2015. NC State’s athletic director, Debbie Yow, wanted to build a new residence hall for the school’s basketball players, following the examples of the Universities of Kansas and Kentucky. Those schools, whose basketball programs are among the most successful in the country, built multi-million-dollar dorms specifically for basketball players. The University of Kentucky spent $7.9 million and the University of Kansas spent $12 million for upscale dorms for student-athletes, which were stocked with theaters, private chefs, a barber shop, and other amenities.
Obviously, the two schools were attempting to sway athletes with perks to attend their schools in order to bolster their athletic programs. NC State’s administration has long sought to rise to the upper echelon in college athletics, and to do so requires top talent. So plans were made for the new basketball dormitory, to be known as Case Commons Residence Hall.
There will be 65 beds for students. Thirty will be reserved exclusively for student-athletes, while the other 35 will be filled with non-athlete students. There is a certain craftiness to this arrangement. The NCAA National Collegiate Athletic Association has strict rules regarding special treatment for student-athletes, one of which is that residential buildings must contain at least 51% non-athlete students.