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October 3, 2007

"We eat what we kill"

dollar%20roll.jpgBig-time college football is big business. Maybe not as big business as the NFL, but definitely big enough that major universities really ought to dump the obsolescent and hypocritical NCAA regulatory system and form a for-profit system that would pay players market-based compensation similar to minor league baseball.

That such reform makes sense is underscored by the first part of a two part Austin-American Statesman series on the University of Texas athletic department's finances. Not only has the $100 million UT athletic department budget doubled in the past six years, athletics expenses at UT have grown twice as fast as the university’s overall spending during the same time frame.

Moreover, because of the NCAA's regulation of player compensation, UT (as with other big-time programs) funnels compensation to players in the form of "resort privileges." For example, just since UT's football team won the national title in 2005, the football program has spent more than $200,000 renovating its players’ lounge and $155,000 purchasing a hydrotherapy room to help soothe its players’ sore limbs. That hydrotherapy room probably came in handy for Texas QB Colt McCoy after the licking he took during the Longhorns 41-21 loss to Kansas State last Saturday.

Likewise, the amount of money the university spends per athletehas almost doubled over the past four years, from $113,000 in 2003 to $210,000 this year. That’s 10 times the average of all Division I and II colleges, and eight times what UT spends educating each of its non-athlete students. When questioned about that discrepancy, the UT athletic department's CFO replied that the difference is largely meaningless because of the self-supporting nature of the UT athletic program. “We eat what we kill,” the CFO told the Statesman.

Which reminds me of the thought that I had when I saw the now popular video of Oklahoma State head coach Mike Gundy going batshit at a newspaper reporter over an article that she had written that was critical of one of his players. Gundy wasn't wrong in going haywire. He simply went wacko at the wrong target. The target should have the feckless university leaders who perpetuate the facade of intercollegiate football at the expense of the players. It's high time that the universities engaging in big-time college football start treating it for what it really is -- a big business that should pay market compensation to the professional athletes who are responsible for generating most of the income for the enterprise.

Posted by Tom at October 3, 2007 12:05 AM |

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