College athletics is big business, and colleges fund expensive athletic programs because it’s great advertising. Coaches make $700,000 or more per year, while professors make about $100,000. Student athletes with much lower GPAs and SAT/ACT scores are admitted to improve game performance – well, because it brings free publicity to the school.
But universities are supposed to be think-tank or research institutions that give students access to the best professors, labs, and departments so that the students can graduate with a solid academic foundation that prepares them for graduate school or careers. Isn’t that why students go to college?
Students across the nation are challenging their universities about how their tuition is allocated. During the pandemic, many students demanded reduced tuition and activity fees because they were forced to take classes online and couldn’t participate in on-campus programs. Sports were cancelled and so too were games – games that were funded through Incidental Fees by student tuition. At the University of Oregon, 10% of the student government budget ($1.7 million) went to the athletics department.
This pandemic has opened Pandora’s box for colleges that were happy to conceal the amount of funds allocated for sports and other activities. When students are struggling to pay tuition, room and board, and other costs directed to their education, it seems only fair that they shouldn’t have to fund athletics programs that they don’t participate in or attend. According to Oregon Athletics, only 65% of students attend games, which means that 35% are funding athletic programs that neither have anything to do with higher education or their personal interests.
Universities are supposed to be think-tank or research institutions that give students access to the best professors, labs, and departments so that the students can graduate with a solid academic foundation that prepares them for graduate school or careers. It’s time for colleges to restructure tuition to make it more affordable and more alignable with student interests, not college’s marketing plans.