Archive for Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Heard on the Hill: Athletics spending far outpacing academics spending; new Iona president is a KU graduate; your humble correspondent tries to moderate scholar’s bowl tournament, Free State wins

October 25, 2011

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• One of my favorite quotes I’ve received during my time here came from a KU faculty member, who pointed out that when academic departments were cutting back on things like copy paper, it wasn’t easy to see Allen Fieldhouse, with palazzo tiles in the restrooms and iPod jacks in the locker rooms.

I always think back to that quote when I see stories like this one. The Chronicle of Higher Education points to a new report from the Knight Commission that shares the relatively unsurprising news that spending on athletics per athlete at Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) schools is rising much faster than spending on academics per student.

The study looked at a five-year period from 2005-2009. At FBS schools, the median spending on athletics per athlete rose nearly 50 percent, to $91,053. Meanwhile, the median spending on academics per student increased at a much slower rate — about 22 percent — to $13,471.

The disparity was particularly great in the Big 12 Conference, where the median spending on athletics per athlete ($131,440) was 9.4 times the median spending on academics per student ($14,021). Only the SEC had a greater difference between the two figures.

That’s a lot of palazzo tiles in restrooms.

• I figured I’d share a couple tidbits from around the higher-education presidential ranks.

First, Joseph E. Nyre is scheduled to be inaugurated as Iona College’s eighth president this week.

Nyre earned an educational specialist degree and a Ph.D. in school psychology from KU, and had been the president of the Hope Institute for Children and Families before being named as the first lay leader of the Roman Catholic institution, according to the New York Times.

Also, Andrew K. Benton, president of Pepperdine University and a Lawrence native whose parents, Nelda and Darwin Benton, still live here, has been named as one of three vice chairs on a national commission on higher education attainment.

The chair of the commission is E. Gordon Gee, president of Ohio State and one of the most well-known presidents in the business.

The commission will focus on ways to improve college retention and attainment, and will meet for the first time in Washington on Halloween (which is hopefully not some kind of bad omen for their task at hand).

Six different higher education associations submitted people to serve on the committee.

• And, finally, congratulations to the Free State High School scholar’s bowl team, who won the game-show style academic competition I had the pleasure of moderating at Blue Valley High School on Thursday while I was enjoying a bit of a stay-cation.

They beat Louisburg in the finals, coming out on top of the 15-team field.

Think you can handle a few of the questions?

“By what more common name do we know the Greek artist born Domenicos Theotocopoulos before being given his nickname by the citizens of Toledo, Spain?”

“If y is inversely proportional to the square of x and y=3 when x=6, what is the value of y when x=3?”

“The axilla is the medical term for what part of the body?”

If you answered “El Greco,” “y=12” and “armpit,” you’re smarter than I am. I only had a few flubs (hey, you try to pronounce "Theotocopoulos," on the fly). From the smart folks I saw answering questions, I think KU has more than a few smart cookies in Kansas from which to attract new Jayhawks.

• If you submit a good tip for Heard on the Hill to ahyland@ljworld.com, I might just lend out my moderating skills for you, too.

Comments

WilburM 3 years, 7 months ago

Simply put, these figures --" the median spending on athletics per athlete ($131,440) was 9.4 times the median spending on academics per student ($14,021)" are obscene. There really isn't any way to justify them. and all the worse as the main revenue producer (sic) of football goes down the tubes, becoming a cost center.

Jim Williamson 3 years, 7 months ago

Even when football absolutely stunk out loud -- I'm talking the Valesente years -- football still turned a profit. Now, may very well not be the case when one takes into account today's debt that still remains for the field house and the football offices, but it really doesn't take much for football to generate black ink and pay for several nonrevenue sports.

yourworstnightmare 3 years, 7 months ago

Let's be clear: turned a profit for the athletic department.

squawkhawk 3 years, 7 months ago

The numbers are pretty sad especially given the state of KU athletics these days.

yourworstnightmare 3 years, 7 months ago

"At FBS schools, the median spending on athletics per athlete rose nearly 50 percent, to $91,053. Meanwhile, the median spending on academics per student increased at a much slower rate — about 22 percent — to $13,471.The disparity was particularly great in the Big 12 Conference, where the median spending on athletics per athlete ($131,440) was 9.4 times the median spending on academics per student ($14,021)."

Truly shameful. I love college sports, but when confronted with facts like this, it is hard to see how modern athletics contributes to the mission of a university other than making money for athletic departments.

The university as a whole suffers and the college athletes are exploited to make money for the athletic departments.

One remedial step would be for universities to charge athletics departments a fee for use of the name and facilities owned by the university. Another would be to pay student athletes above and beyond scholarship.

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