You don’t have to be a business to feel the crunch of the chilly economy. For that matter, you don’t have to see it in the cuts to services, be it jails, police, or fire staffing. As the world goes, so do sports.
At the collegiate level, the concern has been about how much money pours into athletic programs. One look at the increase in funding that have been used for the Oregon athletics program (one, mind you, that had been saying was self-sufficient), it’s clear that, at least for now, it’s costing more to run athletics than the revenues they pull in. Look no further than Cal who is seeing baseball, men’s and women’s gymnastics, ruby, and lacrosse axed from their program in order to cut $4 million and keep Cal in compliance with Title IX gender equity requirements.
With every university in the country feeling the turmoil of an economy as chilly as the winter snow, the funding of college athletics becomes an easy target for faculty and the media. As a longtime faculty member with over 40 years experience, as well as a former academic advisor and director of athletics, I feel college presidents must stand up to the pressures that their faculty continue to pile on college athletics. The issue is one of bureaucracy, as much as anything.
Simply put, when academic departments drop their tenure policy and are willing to evaluate each professor on their latest accomplishments and terminate those who have become complacent and ineffective then they will realize how a strong vibrant athletic department has be accountable to their performance and an annual basis. Maybe it is time for Professors to Face the Scrutiny Coaches Face Every Weekend! Talk about Pressure!