More Than 'Morally Reprehensible'

August 6, 2020

To the Editor:

John Kroger’s piece “Cancel College Football or Pay the Players” hits many of the key points to be made, including that universities have tied themselves too much to their football brand and that jeopardizing the health of student players who aren’t paid is morally questionable.

But he misses a key issue with college sports. He describes student-athletes as “essential revenue generators” and “support[ing] our institutions financially,” but this isn’t true. In 2019, only 13 athletic departments were self supporting (received no financial support from their institutions and were also not running a deficit.)

Given that there are about 1200 schools in the NCAA, this means 1 percent actually make money on sports, and they’re all in three of the Power Five conferences. That’s right - even two Power Five conferences have no schools that make money. This is worth reiterating: 99 percent of schools in the NCAA lose money on athletics. It’s true that a few schools lose money on athletics overall but generate it on football - but not many. Most schools lose money even on football, and in many cases they lose more money on football than any other sport (due to high coach salaries, large teams, and expensive travel.

It absolutely is “morally reprehensible” to place sports above the wellbeing of our students, but it’s financially irresponsible too.

-David Syphers


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