$1,700,000 per year


That’s the salary for the University of Minnesota’s new basketball coach. I want to meet that guy sometime — I really have to shake the hand of a fellow worth more than 30 of me, or most of the faculty here.

Comments

  1. Hank Fox says

    [Tubby Smith] has agreed to a seven-year contract worth $1.7 million per season, plus incentives for both basketball and academic performance.

    So we’re talking $12 million, give or take … for one employee, for college BASKETBALL.

    Priority-wise, for a UNIVERSITY, that’s just fucking insane.

  2. mjfgates says

    Some employees are part of the faculty, and contribute directly to the purpose of the university.

    Some employees are a means of making profits, to fund the faculty.

    I suppose that if hiring this coach produces enough profit to pay for him, with enough left over for a real professor or two, there’s no real problem.

    Just make sure that he uses the servants’ entrance.

  3. jklein says

    mjfgates, I think we all understand how capitalism works, but wouldn’t it be nice within the cozy confines of academia we could be a bit more principled?

  4. Colugo says

    Back in the 90s even uber-progressive Boulderites worshiped Buffs coach Bill McCartney. Coach Mac called homosexuality an “abomination” at a press conference, distributed bibles with CU’s logo on them (isn’t that blasphemous?), and founded the conservative Christian men’s organization Promise Keepers and made Boulder their annual meeting ground. Yet Coach Mac could do no wrong because he gave CU a winning team.

    Well, people have their priorities. The reported eight-year salary of Nick Saban, coach of the University of Alabama’s football team, is $32 million. And John Elway may be headed for the Senate in ’08.

  5. Jon says

    I can’t see how Bruinicks wants make the U one of the top five research universities while spending money on such frivolous junk.

  6. Mark says

    When you consider the economic impact a winning basketball team can have on the amount of donations and alumni support for a given university, the new coach could be worth 300 times more than the other faculty members. It would be nice if alumni were inspired to give and go out and buy a college sweatshirt based on the quality of research produced by the science department, but buzzer beaters are more inspirational than a reclassification of cephalopods based on molecular phylogenetics.

    Of course, all this competition for “winning” coaches has driven the price of their salaries to a level where for most schools there isn’t going to be a corresponding payoff. Even today, there are still only 4 teams that can make it the final four.

  7. Robert says

    ah crap, tell me that Elway isn’t seriously considering a political career. I live in Colorado, and am truly tired of this crap.

    But at least he’s not Marilyn Musgrave. Shudder…

  8. says

    Priority-wise, for a UNIVERSITY, that’s just fucking insane.

    That’s true, if by “fucking insane” you mean “perfectly rational.” It’s perfectly rational because it’s based on how much a winning basketball program (which Tubby can definitely provide) will bring in to the university. You know, it’s an expected utility sort of thing. Wait, I get where you’re coming from, Hank. You’re thinking of the St. Petersburg “Paradox” and treating it as though it makes all expected utility calculations irrational, and therefore that any decision seemingly based on maximizing the expected utility is, in your words, “fucking insane.” I should have given you more credit.

  9. says

    Hank Fox

    So we’re talking $12 million, give or take … for one employee, for college BASKETBALL.

    Priority-wise, for a UNIVERSITY, that’s just fucking insane.

    Hey, what’s more important here, that a few kids leave college with an ability to throw a basketball through a hoop or that the majority of students are educated enough in biology to become future doctors, scientists and torturers for the military?

    Obviously parents and donors have decided, in their infinite stupidity, that winning basketball games is the most important thing a college can do.

    Could PZ get that much if he won a Nobel prize?

    http://normdoering.blogspot.com

  10. Eamon Knight says

    It would be nice if alumni were inspired to give and go out and buy a college sweatshirt based on the quality of research produced by the science department, but buzzer beaters are more inspirational than a reclassification of cephalopods based on molecular phylogenetics.

    Hell, I’d give money to either of my almas mater (or whatever the Latin plural is) a lot faster for squiddy DNA trees than for jocks. But then, I’m an athletophobic nerd. (That, and I’m in Canada where college sports don’t seem to be such a national religion).

  11. andy says

    Well, our campus earns half a billion dollars a year for research, and we’re only just going into Division I… (I-AA in football). Alumni donations, etc don’t come anywhere near that. Also, as I understand it, big-league sports programs are expensive to run (see coach’s salary above) and suck up nearly as much dough as they bring in.

    Intercollegiate sports are all very nice and all, but a college should be about learning first, and a sports franchise second.

  12. Steve LaBonne says

    That’s true, if by “fucking insane” you mean “perfectly rational.” It’s perfectly rational because it’s based on how much a winning basketball program (which Tubby can definitely provide) will bring in to the university.

    AFAIK economists have been pretty sceptical about such claims. (And creative bookeeping is VERY esay to pull off in such a context.) You know of any carefully done study that backs this up? One sees this kind of stuff all the time in the big business of sports eg. wildly exaggerated claims about the economic impact of taxpayer-funded pro sports stadiums. I would advise taking the Enormous State University AD’s similar claims with a heaping helping of salt.

  13. says

    And 1.7 MM was a paycut from the job at KY. See, he is sacrificing to come to MN ;) Also, don’t be too sure on the automaticness of his resurrecting the basketball program. Basketball success in the Big 10 comes down mostly to recruiting, which is not Tubby’s strong point. If he couldn’t get the best of the best to come to the college basketball mecca of KY, I don’t see him doing it MN. That said, with UM being the only Div I team in the state, if he just keeps the best MN high school players at home he’ll do ok and probably be worth the salary.

  14. Shiftlessbum says

    To all those who are making the claim that the basketball program expenses are justified by the revenue they bring in;

    Is this true? Is it true with U of M? What about at US universities general?

    I know that this is a common argument, so I am wondering if there is any, you know, data to back it up.

    This is a serious question. I bet someone, somewhere has looked into this.

  15. The Dude says

    I get that paying a coach this kind of money and more is a kind of investment, but… I have never liked college sports. I think it just distorts the whole thing. As a former academic the amount of attention and I find the energy sports programs get sort of sickening and I had lots of friends in college on the various sports teams.

    If we want a minor league system, then create one, but let’s stop distorting academia’s purpose.

  16. llewelly says

    When you consider the economic impact a winning basketball team can
    have on the amount of donations and alumni support for a given
    university, the new coach could be worth 300 times more than the other
    faculty members.

    Evidence, please.

  17. DaveL says

    #2 Just make sure that he uses the servants’ entrance.

    That’s a bit of a tin-eared comment given that Mr. Smith is African-American, isn’t it?

  18. says

    If I were the (benevolent) dictator of the world, it would be illegal to pay people money to play sports. Period.

    American football would also be banned categorically.

    Which is probably why I’m not the dictator of the world.

  19. says

    I personally don’t think it’s fair to pay someone whose only utility is to win games a whole lot more than a professor. But I can sort of see the reasoning why they would do so. A lot of alumni seem to only care to donate when the school’s team is winning. And some students seem to base their entire college career on which school’s sports teams are winning or not even though they’re not on any teams. (I know because I’ve talked to some of them.) Matriculation and donations are all based on sports–unless the combined academic star power of the school overshadows that.

  20. says

    It is ridiculous! It does show where the U’s priorities are. Let us not forget the $500,000,000 they are spending on a new football stadium. Drunken Jockocracy indeed!!!

    On the bright side, I’m worth *1* PZ! Wooohooo!!!

  21. says

    I believe athletics is self-supporting at all Big 10 schools. In other words, Tubby’s salary is not money that would otherwise be directed towards academic scholarships, staff salary, etc. Athletics are run as a separate enterprise from the University. Also, the profit typical of Big 10 football and basketball programs is what pays for the the other 30 varsity sports that are not profitable. MN has a women’s volleyball team, or a golf team, because the cash from football and basketball fund it.

    If you don’t live in MN or close, your only connection to the school after you graduate is probably football and basketball. One could argue that the donations directed to sports would otherwise be in the general fund, but I doubt the level of alumni involvement could be maintained without an active sports program.

  22. Brian says

    As to whether sports programs in general make money for their universities, the answer is no. Sure, they bring in a lot of money, money that then gets spent on the athletic program. Everything from palatial locker rooms, state of the art strength training facilities, to a few do nothing administrative jobs for former athletes. Rick Telender in _The One Hunderd Yard Lie_ goes into some detail about these claims.

    Also, those who have pointed out the zero sum nature of this game are correct: There can only be 4 final four teams. A lot of schools want to be this year’s George Washington University. The were the Cinderella team that got to the final four, or was it final game?, last year, and yes saw a huge boots in alumni donations.

    Many schools will loose money trying that. It’s like gambling. Great if you win, but you will most likely loose.

    Also, the bumps schools get in alumni donation from sudden success in their sports programms, tends to go back to baseline quickly.

    Brian

  23. ComfortablyNumb says

    The economics of college sports has been studied by Richard Sheehan, finance professor at Notre Dame. He published a book, maybe articles, on the topic in the 90’s. Bottom line: most collegiate athletics programs lose money.

  24. David Livesay says

    Universities need to decide whether they’re in the education business or the sports business.

  25. says

    Errm, yeah. $35-$40K is an entry level salary for someone who has 4+ years of graduate work and 4+ years of postdoctoral training, and salary increments after that are fairly small. I have had many experiences of students graduating with a BS, going off to work for a few years, and coming back to tell me that they are making significantly more money than I am.

    Did you think professors were rich or something? Don’t believe Ann Coulter or David Horowitz.

  26. Colugo says

    The University Pecking Order:

    1. Coaches – semi-pro sports industry
    2. Administrators – control purse strings
    3. Tenured academics – grants, accolades, teaching
    4. Grad students – overproduction creates glut
    5. Adjunct instructors – teaching

  27. MikeM says

    I think one of the best sources of information for sports ecomomics is Andrew Zimbalist, an economist at Smith College.

    Zimbalist had this to say about university sports:

    Q: In other countries, quite frequently, kids join after-school clubs to engage in organized athletics. In this country, schools on all educational levels have teams as an integral part of their makeup. And leagues are organized within the framework of the school or university system. Do economic considerations play a role in school athletics in the United States?

    A: This is a complicated question. One aspect that is interesting to talk about is why do colleges get so involved in big-time sports. Many people assume that the reason for the involvement is that schools make a lot of money from these programs. The reality is that of the 970 or so schools belonging to the National Collegiate Athletic Association [the umbrella group regulating university sports programs], there might be a half-dozen – maybe 10 – schools that actually have a surplus in their athletic programs. All the rest have deficits, and usually they’re sizeable – several million dollars. The thing that drives college sports is different. First of all, you have the NCAA itself, which historically has been a trade association of athletic directors and coaches. They want college sports to grow. They want new stadiums. They want their teams to be more competitive. But you also have boosters in the local communities, local business people who contribute in various ways. It’s very important for the universities to maintain good “town-gown” relationships. Then there are the alumni, who are interested in following the universities through their teams; the students, who are involved with sports; and very often, trustees, or members of state legislatures, who want their schools’ sports teams to do well. So a whole culture of competition evolves around the sports effort. That’s different from saying this is a kind of calculated plan to generate revenue.

    When you stop to think about the university athletic programs, these are not privately held companies with stockholders who demand annual dividends and stock growth, capital gains. If you don’t have a constituency out there demanding the economic return, well, if an athletic director is presiding over a successful team and feels he can pull in an extra four million dollars from his squad’s championship participation, he’ll immediately say, “this is a good time to build a new training facility, a new fitness center, a new tutoring facility, or to spend more money on recruitment.”

    (This is from http://usinfo.state.gov/journals/itsv/1203/ijse/zimbalist.htm).

    Zimbalist also has authored several books.

    Another good source is http://www.thesportseconomist.com.

    I also enjoy http://www.fieldofschemes.com.

    Too many plugs in one posting.

    My nephew recently graduated from a private university in Northern California on a basketball (NAIA) scholarship. He managed to delude himself that he could make it in the pros, and ended up getting cut from an ABA team. When I heard about how LITTLE he was making, I was very, very bitter. It was next-to nothing.

    He ended up playing a half-season in England for, I think, less than that. And this was from an okay university that offered fairly useful degree programs.

    I was so mad at the way the university exploited him that I think high school athletes should be forced to watch “Hoop Dreams” about twice a year, so they understand better just how unrealistic those dreams are.

    I don’t want to tell you what degree my nephew got and what he’s now doing. It’s just not funny what college sports does to MOST (although not all) of its participants.

    Play basketball for fun, and if it turns into a career for you, great. If not, well, you had fun, right?

    Zimbalist tells us that most universities lose money on their sports programs. If you’re in the top 25, fine, you probably make money. But I don’t think it’s a mystery why so many universities have been dropping NCAA sports.

  28. HPLC_Sean says

    I knew after my first BS year in university that I would make more money in industry than I would doing academic research. There are easier ways to make money with a science degree than suckling at the miserly teat of academia.

  29. Colugo says

    Right; salary varies markedly by school rank (top tier vs state U vs community college), region (say, southwest vs northeast), and program (ex. classics vs photonics).

    Then there is a tiny number of academic superstars like Stanley Fish and Cornell West who are subject to bidding wars and get all kinds of perks. These types are like stadium-filling rock stars compared to the much larger world of dive bar cover bands.

    Next to the superstars, even tenured profs are drones. But without the teaching duties fulfilled by the proles – grad students and severely underpaid adjunct instructors – the system would collapse.

    Donations by alums – who like team sports – is important, as is corporate cash and state and federal $ (for example, the DOD – as a beneficiary, Chomsky knows all about that).

  30. Pumpkinhead says

    For all their pretense of intellectuality, the temples of Darwinism show their true colors in the way they promote their faith. They give football and basketball throwing Epsilon semi-morons full scholarships and pay the Deltas who coach them seven figures! Say what you will about Christian financial scandals, at least in churches it’s the guy who actually preaches the message on Sunday morning who rakes in the big bucks, and not the director of the church basketball league! Guys like PZ just don’t realize the Darwinian anti-Gospel is too disgusting to be swallowed without the chaser of sports.

    That having been said, let’s not feel too sorry for the professorate. After all, they make a reasonably good living on taxpayer dollars to preach the religion of evolutionism to a paying audience of people looking for that sheepskin to put on their resumes. Unlike our preachers, they don’t even have to make themselves appealing, since their students career prospects are in thrall to their mastery of Darwinian drivel.

  31. Tukla in Iowa says

    That’s a bit of a tin-eared comment given that Mr. Smith is African-American, isn’t it?

    You’re assuming that mjfgates (a) even knew that and (b) gives a damn about political correctness.

  32. says

    • Although men’s basketball still made a hefty profit ($6.1 million) in 2005-06, the profit margin dropped more than $1 million from 2004-05. (link).

    Will Tubby Smith improve the basketball program’s bottom line? It’s doubtful, unless the University is willing to substantially increase ticket prices based on reputation alone.

  33. Troublesome Frog says

    I’m fondly reminded of some great t-shirts sold by our student government at the University of the Pacific. UOP Football: Undefeated since 1996.

    The football team was eliminated in 1995 when the costs of running the team were recognized as prohibitive.

  34. Ryan Phillips says

    Being a Kentuckian, it’s really sad to see Tubby go. I think Minnesota will benefit greatly from him being there. Getting him for 1.7 mil a year is a bargain for such a great coach. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Smith once, and he was a very nice, genuine person. I hope it works out for both him, your university, and your state. Some of us here sure miss him already.

  35. Snakelass says

    Things like this make me very glad that I earned my degrees at University of California, Santa Cruz. No major sports teams, and the students chose the school mascot, the banana slug. The administrators in the 60s when the school was started made it the sea lion, but the students protested, and won. Banana slugs are particularly appropriate, since they are found on campus in wooded areas.

    I think the prospect of a football or basketball team called “The Fighting Banana Slugs” is amusing, considering my distaste for school sports. I’d love to see the mascot’s costume.

  36. says

    I think the prospect of a football or basketball team called “The Fighting Banana Slugs” is amusing, considering my distaste for school sports.

    The Banana Slugs are second only to the Rhode Island School of Design’s hockey team, the Nads, as far as mascots go.

    Yes, you shout your support for the Nads exactly as you might expect. “Go Nads!”

  37. Dan says

    I love athletics, but this sickens me.

    I am a varisty high school basketball official, aspiring some day to work the “big leagues” of NCAA. When that happens, I will earn a whopping $500/night (minus time away from my “real job”).

    At least every night, this guy is guarenteed to have half of the world rooting for him. As an official, hoping to earn maybe an extra $10K for countless nights on the road, basically 98% of the crowd hates you every night.

    Don’t get me wrong, I love being “right” in spite of the ingorant opinion of an enormous crowd (sound familiar my scientist friends?). The rush of working the system and playing by the rules is a great rush and why I love what I do.

    Isn’t this terribly analagous to the creationist issue? They make the money, cry to the the media, and never have to fully understand the rules under which they are supposed to operate? Damn, as a referee I never thought of it, but I am in the same boat as your average scientist.

    In some disturbed way, that rocks. It’s a nice boat to be in, considering the company.

  38. JohnnieCanuck says

    Stuff like this makes me ashamed of humanity.

    On the positive side, at least team sports are somewhat of an improvement over the gladiatorial contests they serve as proxy for. It’s always better when death and injury aren’t the main objective.

  39. JimK says

    The sad fact is the NCAA could fix this kind of travesty tomorrow and all the schools would still make the same amount of money, but with significantly reduced coaching expense.

    A simple rule that no school is eligable for post season play if the coach’s total compensation is greater than the median total compensation for tenured faculty. All the schools would still be on the same footing without the ridiculous bidding wars that now occur, so they would maintain the same relative strength — therfor, incomes should be about the same.

    Of course, you’ll see this one enacted when pigs fly (possibly later, since it seems more likely someone will genetically engineer a flying pig before college coaches salaries are reduced)

  40. CalGeorge says

    1,700,000 for:

    Duh, okay you, pass the ball to him, and now you with the ball, run over here and throw the ball into the basket.

    Worth every penny.

  41. gwangung says

    Meh.

    I think the the anti-jock sentiments is prety much uninformed. As least for the Pac Ten schools, the academics and the athletics are pretty much skew—they’re drawing upon different pools of supporters and different sources of passions. Get rid of athletics, and the money they drew is simply not going to go to other places in the university–that’s simply not how donors behave (Certainly, that was one of the biggest lessons I learned as a fundraiser). And, for the most part, well run athletic departments have sepearate budgets and money sources than the academics.

  42. CalGeorge says

    That’s $582.19 an hour. 9.70 a minute.

    Yikes! If he sits on the can for 5 minutes, the University is out $48.50. That’s an expensive shit.

  43. CalGeorge says

    If he shits at University expense for a year: $12,610.

    I hope they are going to consider some kind of shit capturing and recycling system.

  44. says

    It is a fact that, at least for schools at the higher levels (Division I, Division 1AA), the top two money-earning sports bring in enough revenue to fund almost every other sport (including baseball) at those universities. Of course, at other universities, some additional funding is required for sports that don’t make money (usually from student fees), but at schools with successful programs (e.g., the University of Texas’ football program), that one program by itself can just about completely fund the rest of the university’s athletic programs.

    Think about it this way: the University of Texas spent 1.6 million on its football coach, and got a 42 million dollar return on that investment, last year (and that doesn’t include the sale of items with the university logo, which go up anytime a team is successful!). The Minnesota basketball team will never make 42 million dollars in one year, but it can make in the 20s or 30s if it rises to the level of success it had in the mid-to-late 90s. At that point, 1.7 million won’t seem like such a big deal.

    And of course, don’t forget that athletics help to recruit students who don’t play sports, too. You all may be geniuses who recognize that sports are irrelevant to the university’s mission (an empirical claim, but you guys are the geniuses, so I’m sure you’re right), but most students, potential students, and alumni aren’t as smart and well-grounded. Sports are important to them, so sports are important to the university, financially and in other ways.

  45. says

    Well, it’s a matter of priorities and of monetary returns. As long as schools make money because of their sports teams, then I suppose it helps fund other school & educational activities…. though I’m not sure this is always the case.

    What are we worth? This is a very big question. I, too, teach at a university and I am NOT overpaid!

    But, what are you going to do when people would spend their money on sports, on gambling, whatever… It’s the common attitude that prevails here.

  46. CalGeorge says

    Maybe they could sell tickets to the men’s room when he is taking one of those 48 dollar shits. Recoup some of that money they are throwing down the toilet.

  47. Russell says

    PZ writes:

    $35-$40K is an entry level salary for someone who has 4+ years of graduate work and 4+ years of postdoctoral training.

    This varies quite a bit across fields, and is partly determined by competition outside academia. I suspect salaries are quite a bit higher in some of the engineering departments and in the more applied specialties of chemistry, physics, and geology. Even so, many professors in such fields either do outside consulting or start businesses on the side. Then there are the various research consortia and other ways of merging academic and industrial research.

  48. says

    Zimbalist tells us that most universities lose money on their sports programs. If you’re in the top 25, fine, you probably make money.

    Anyone who honestly thinks that Tubby Smith is taking even one tiny red cent out of the pockets of UM’s faculty, staff or research budget is, I suggest, painfully misinformed.

    University funding is not fungible. The athletics department doesn’t take any more money away from the physics department than the music department does. Nearly every college athletics department at the NCAA Division I level is entirely self-funded and self-contained, whether or not they turn a profit. At most major universities, the financial crossover between the athletics department and the general budget is almost exclusively limited to running the support staff that maintains whatever university property is used by the athletics department.

    Making money is not the goal of college sports for anyone but the NCAA itself. Winning is the goal. Money is a nice bonus, if you can swing it, but it’s not the point and never has been. Besides, most universities are not only not funded by athletics money, but they usually don’t even need it to begin with.

    But I don’t think it’s a mystery why so many universities have been dropping NCAA sports.

    Only one NCAA Division I university has dropped a major-sport team in the last 15 years, and it wasn’t even a football school (Northeastern Illinois University dropped all their athletic teams in 1998 or so). And despite the lip-service, Pacific, Fullerton State and Long Beach didn’t drop their football programs just because they lost money. They dropped their football programs because they weren’t competitive. The financial loss was just an exacerbatory side-effect of their inability to win.

    The sports that universities tend to drop are the ones that don’t make money anywhere and have trouble recruiting enough athletes as a matter of course (like bowling, crew and rifle), but even that is fairly rare; it’s usually for Title IX compliance rather than financial reasons, anyway. There are probably ten times as many schools around the country who are having serious discussions about adding football programs than are talking about dropping them. I can think of four such schools just off the top of my head, and the only university that has had serious discussion about dropping football in the last 15 years — Tulane — overwhelmingly decided not to three years ago.

    Do universities exploit their “student-athletes”? Of course they do. But that’s not an argument against college sports per se, it’s an argument against the particular ways that college sports is currently administrated.

  49. says

    CalGeorge:

    Duh, okay you, pass the ball to him, and now you with the ball, run over here and throw the ball into the basket.

    An analogy comes immediately to mind.

    CalGeorge : basketball :: William Dembski : evolution

    HTH.

  50. Doug says

    Tubby Smith is to basketball what Steven Spielberg or George Lucas are to film or Joe Torre is to baseball.

    Ahh to be in the entertainment industry.

    To earn this kind of money, you may need to start a final four applicable to education in general or to each collegiate discipline individually.

  51. Donalbain says

    From across the pond, the idea of a university paying ANYTHING towards a sports coach seems a little wierd to me. When I went to university, I played in the national finals of my particular sport (indoor field hockey), and the whole club was self funded by its own members. We paid for the hire of facilities, we paid for uniforms and equipment.

  52. says

    It does seem like a bloated expense, but on the other hand, this expense does seem to have a return, which benefits academics as well. Can anybody post some sources on how the budget cycles between sports and academic funding in colleges turn? I think making judgements without seeing some data would be a tad harsh.

  53. says

    Tubby Smith is not just getting paid as an employee is part of what factors in this. He is a product and an investment. They are buying his name to market to draw in alumni donations, to draw in recruits (to help draw in more alumni money) not to mention media exposure to sell more merchandise. Professional athletes get paid so much for a similar reason. They are not just employees, they are the product. Same with big name actors. Now, whether this corporate mentality is good for education is a whole different story.

  54. Russell says

    Chris writes:
    Think about it this way: the University of Texas spent 1.6 million on its football coach, and got a 42 million dollar return on that investment, last year (and that doesn’t include the sale of items with the university logo, which go up anytime a team is successful!).

    Yes, and we have a top notch business school. Conveniently located just west of the stadium. BTW, for $50 million, you can have that school named after you. I think it cost the university a few hundred dollars to put up the new signs. That was a pretty good return on investment, too.

  55. Carlie says

    What I think is particularly sad is that the argument can even be made that good sports teams = more alumni donations. That’s the problem, isn’t it? Alumni, who presumably know the value of their education, are more swayed by a winning basketball season than by the knowledge that their donation will help hundred of others have valuable economic and career achievements. “My donation will help train better grade school teachers? No, thanks. Wait, the team won post-season? Here’s $500!”

  56. Stogoe says

    Can you ball-sweats even read? No, college sports doesn’t bring in money. In most cases, it’s a net drain on University funds.

    I say we ‘recoup’ their funding. With prejudice. (and a repo man.) Any money they make, they can put back into the team. Other than that, no dough. Fuckers.

  57. CalGeorge says

    USA Today article from Feb. 2004:

    Average athletic budgets rose at a pace more than double the increases in average university spending at Division I schools between 1995 and 2001, according to an analysis by USA TODAY and The Des Moines Register of the most recently available NCAA and U.S. Department of Education data.
    […]
    Athletics-generated revenue aren’t keeping pace with costs. Only about 40 schools claim their athletic departments are self-sufficient. To compensate for deficits, most athletic departments are increasingly relying on money from their schools — money that otherwise could be used for academics or other enterprises. Student bodies also are helping pay the tab, sometimes without knowing it. About 60% of all Division I schools rely on student fees to help the athletic department. These fees generally range from $50 to $1,000 a year for full-time students.

    http://www.usatoday.com/sports/college/2004-02-18-athletic-spending-cover_x.htm

  58. Flex says

    I can’t believe this quote hasn’t come up…

    From the 1932 Film, Horse Feathers

    Professor Wagstaff: “And I say to you gentlemen that this college is a failure. The trouble is we’re neglecting football for education.”

    Professor Wagstaff: Do we have a football stadium?
    The Professors: Yes, Professor.
    Professor Wagstaff: Do we have a college?
    The Professors: Yes, Professor.
    Professor Wagstaff: Well we can’t afford both. Tomorrow we start tearing down the college.
    The Professors: But, Professor, where will the students sleep?
    Professor Wagstaff: Where they always sleep: in the classroom. “

    Would you like an ridiculuous solution to the problem?

    Bring back the 90% income tax bracket, for say, incomes over $1,000,000 a year.

    I don’t think you would see a lot more money going to the government, but a lot of salaries and compensation packages would rapidly drop to $1,000,000 or less. The effect would be to take all the crazy leels of compensation to sport figures, CEOs, movie stars, even religious leaders (who’s personal income IS taxed) away. This money could be spent on other things, like R&D or facilities improvements.

    Naw, it couldn’t happen in America. At least not since 1982, once progressive taxation with a discourging upper tax bracket was dismantled after it had been in place for 30 years. After all, if we tax the rich less, they will spend more. What a ridiculous idea.

  59. says

    This is just a single data point, but an interesting one: At Virginia Tech, we received 20% more entrance applications the year after Michael Vick took us to the 1999 College Football BCS National Championship. Due to the larger pool of applicants, the school could be more selective. The result was that our incoming freshmen the had SAT scores an average of more than 100 points higher than the previous year. Again, it’s just one data point, but a successful athletics program can positively impact academics.

  60. says

    Stogoe:

    No, college sports doesn’t bring in money. In most cases, it’s a net drain on University funds.

    I say we ‘recoup’ their funding. With prejudice. (and a repo man.) Any money they make, they can put back into the team. Other than that, no dough. Fuckers.

    Several points:

    1) No university has ever closed its doors because its athletic department got too big. No university has ever failed to hire faculty because the athletic department appropriated the hiring budget. No university has ever failed to land an academic grant because it played NCAA Division I sports.

    2) State legislatures annually take many times more money away from universities’ academic budgets than do the universities’ own athletic departments.

    3) Not everybody goes to college to get an education and absolutely nothing more. Only a tiny minority of undergraduates go on to get a PhD and work in academia. Most of them enter the real world, where your degree only means something for about a year after you graduate. After that, nobody cares.

    4) Student athletics fees don’t take money away from academics, because they are charged in addition to tuition, not in lieu of it. Anyone who claims otherwise is either lying or ignorant.

    5) Anyone who honestly thinks that big athletics donations from wealthy alumni would, in the absence of athletics, go to the academic departments instead is fooling themselves and is probably shamefully ignorant of basic human nature and the prevailing American cultural attitude towards education. Oh, there would certainly still be donations, but they’d pale in comparison.

    6) Most arguments against college athletics can be boiled down to “I don’t like sports, therefore no one else should, either.”

  61. says

    Zeteo Eurisko:

    This is just a single data point, but an interesting one: At Virginia Tech, we received 20% more entrance applications the year after Michael Vick took us to the 1999 College Football BCS National Championship. Due to the larger pool of applicants, the school could be more selective. The result was that our incoming freshmen the had SAT scores an average of more than 100 points higher than the previous year. Again, it’s just one data point, but a successful athletics program can positively impact academics.

    And all that happened without VT even, you know, winning the game. Choked it away in the fourth quarter, as I recall.

    No, this is not just one data point. It happens everywhere, every time a school has a successful football — and to a lesser degree, basketball — season. The schools that don’t feel that effect are rare, and even then, it’s usually because they’re so consistently successful that there’s no “attractiveness drop-off” in between successful seasons (e.g., Duke basketball). Even at Texas, with all our history of football success, we saw a huge spike in applications after the Rose Bowl last year.

    More applications leads to increased selectiveness in the admissions process. Increased selectiveness leads to better overall student quality. Better students leads to better academics. Better academics leads to more and better grants. More grants leads to more money in academic coffers.

    The argument against college sports simply doesn’t hold up, no matter how you phrase it. There are plenty of schools that are perfectly capable of maintaining quality academics while running major-college athletics, regardless of whether or not they’re good at it. Northwestern is one of the best schools in the country, but their sports have pretty much sucked forever, barring the ever-so-rare success. Same with Rice and up until relatively recently, Vanderbilt. Even Virginia Tech was athletically irrelevant at the major-college ranks until 1993 or so, but had built up a solid if not spectacular academic reputation. And there are plenty of examples of schools that maintain both high-quality academics and competitive athletics, at all levels of competition.

  62. K. Engels says

    WTF! I can’t even manage to find a $35-45k a year position as a Librarian at a university and I have a a background in Middle East studies, which, to be quite frank, is a hell of a lot more important (especially right now) than training people to toss a rubber ball through a hoop.

  63. says

    K. Engels:

    training people to toss a rubber ball through a hoop.

    I’m really beginning to think that most of you people just need to shut the fuck up about sports. Your understanding of basketball appears to be approximately as informed and comprehensive as a creationist’s understanding of evolution.

  64. says

    I talked to an economist (my father, who just saw his team lose to UCLA – so you know his current bias) who suggested a couple of sources of revenue that haven’t been mentioned – namely, television coverage and the fact that legislators themselves are more willing to put more money in the school budget if the sports program is doing well. After all, most of them are alumni of their own states’ programs. They can support their school with more than donations, if they feel like it.

  65. CalGeorge says

    Your understanding of basketball appears to be approximately as informed and comprehensive as a creationist’s understanding of evolution.

    I understand it very well:

    In the beginning, someone made a bouncy ball and put elevated hoops on a parquet floor. And tall men jumped up to the hoops and jammed balls through. And bored people all over the place saw that it was good. And Red Auerbach said let there be a Celtics Dynasty. And Red sent John Havlicek and Larry Bird to rule over the Boston Garden and the Lakers. And it was very good.

  66. ajay says

    Dan, I’m sure we all would love to hear your explanation of why “someone who understands the politics of the area in which we are currently waging two wars” is less of a priority than “someone who understands how to get very tall men to throw an orange rubber ball through a metal hoop”.

    No one in the UK gives a damn about university sports outside the Boat Race. The result is that we have flourishing leagues for sports, and we don’t have a) universities overrun by athletic freaks scraping their way through dumbed-down courses so they can continue to play on the team or b) universities who consciously give a lower priority to learning than to said freaks.

  67. DrNathaniel says

    First, I Gotta vent. I’m a physics post-doc looking for a tenure track job right now (i.e. short-listed a couple of times this year, but no offer yet).

    Counterfly: Those figures are the true averages, but remember that Physics is currently dominated by the old guys. This is finally starting to change as the baby boomers retire (yay!) but note the median age: 48. Not exactly starting income.

    PZ: 4+ years of graduate and 4+ years of postdoc is of course optimistic; both my wife (a neuroscientist) and I have done 6 years of graduate work and are starting our 6th years of postdoctoral work.

    Remember that during this time we have been making much LESS than $30k a year. That is a total of 12 years, both of us working. Getting a house is out of the question. Having kids is scary. We’re nowhere near poor, and there are perks to the job (mainly travel), but along with this has come with frequent moves, no free time, complete instability, the two-body problem, and ulcers.

    Every time someone talks about ‘elitist’ or ‘entitled’ academics I want to scream.

    Now, to get back to the topic at hand:

    Accepting for the moment that basketball brings in money (which seems to be under debate) and also accepting that winning at basketball is correlated with that money (also debatable), my question is this:

    How many more games will be won by a coach you can buy with 1.7mil vs a couch you can buy with $40k?

    This is akin to the CEO salary question and many others. It obviously doesn’t scale linearly.

    In summary..

    People in sports should have to do it for the love, just like we do. If we’re not worth the money, they certainly aren’t.

    Thanks, vent done now.