Analysis and rationality in a nonrational world

July 29, 2008


Filed under: Government — analysis @ 3:08 pm

The economy is bad, states are short of cash, and Homeland Security is still playing “pretend to be secure” games with our airports and shipping ports. So where’s your money going? Here’s one place… Today’s Star-Ledger (New Jersey) disclosed that the State is now conducting an audit of the Rutgers University sports department, including stadium funds. The reason is a coach who gets $2 million per year in salary, plus a house and limousine, plus an apparent $250,000 per year bonus. Rutgers is a state university of New Jersey and receives massive infusions of tax dollars. Yet, the university has in the past managed to escape any serious scrutiny, even after the University of Medicine and Dentistry was found to be a cesspool of corruption and waste. The millions of dollars essentially embezzled from UMDNJ are not likely to ever be recovered; nor will most of the culprits end up in jail, if the past as any indication. Rutgers, which claims poverty on a regular basis and, like most universities, puts education into the back seat when they can have cheap grad students and adjuncts teaching, has no excuse for this lavish excess. Nor do we, as a society. Americans tend to tolerate this kind of wastefulness, as well as the professionalization of college sports. 

I believe now is the time for the Federal government to proclaim that any university that takes its money – in terms of financial aid or research grants – must de-professionalize their sports teams. That means going back to the days when there was a single coach who did not make more than the highest-paid professors; back to the days when games were played on fields, not in massive stadiums; back to the days when students were not recruited and given scholarships based on their athletic abilities. 

Universities love to pretend that sports are a profit center, and Rutgers will show you that inquiries rose dramatically when they started to throw money at the sports arena. What they won’t tell you is that they were already selective, and that the extra inquiries just waste money and paper. A precious few colleges or universities benefit from sports, but most lose a fortune and gain nothing. 

Colleges and universities are educational institutions. I see no reason why my tax dollars should be funding sports; that’s what Budweiser is for.


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