At SFC, we’ve been tackling owner greed in professional sports for years. If an owner wants an extra Rolex, they’ll jack up parking fees. A new car? Pricey concessions will do the trick! We understand owners as the money-hungry billionaires they are.
What we don’t understand, though, is how owner greed has managed to infect higher education. Moreover, we don’t understand why the NCAA is sitting back while everyday students pay for the mistakes of a select few.
The NCAA’s mission is to “govern competition in a fair, safe, equitable and sportsmanlike manner, and to integrate intercollegiate athletics into higher education.” The religious following of college sports, particularly division 1 football and basketball, certainly confirms the NCAA’s success in integrating sports and education. In some cases, though, this integration is not fair or equitable at all. The NCAA has allowed sports to become an added financial burden for everyday students.
Some university athletic departments are screwing up their finances, and students are paying the price. For example, at Rutgers University in New Jersey, the Athletic Department ran a $38.6 million budget deficit last year. They simply spent way more money on sports than those sports earned. To recover that deficit, Rutgers is raising tuition for every student this fall. That’s right, undergraduates at Rutgers’ New-Brunswick campus will see a 1.85% increase in tuition fees or an extra $266 on their annual bill. The NCAA, under that part of their mission statement where they promise to be fair and equitable, did absolutely nothing in response to this colossal rip-off.
Meanwhile, the NCAA is accusing the Rutgers Athletic Department of remaining silent when a student-athlete was “leaning on a professor for a better grade.” That doesn’t seem like a bigger issue than the thousands of students who are “leaning” on unstable student loans. During a time when the average graduate of 2016 is burdened with $37,172 in student loan debt, the NCAA is using its tremendously powerful and profitable platform to pick the wrong fights.
At Rutgers, the The New Brunswick Faculty Council took a step in the right direction when they wrote a resolution for the budget issue that scrutinized the university's “failure to eliminate or even reduce the athletics program's chronic deficit spending and its continuing reliance on millions of dollars in student fees.” It’s the NCAA, though, that has the real power. The NCAA can and should set regulations and enforce punishments for financial carelessness. The NCAA should discipline schools who are blatantly screwing over students. Plain and simple: athletic departments are more scared of the NCAA than sympathetic to your student debts.
If you attend Rutgers or a school that falls into a similar category of outrageous spending, share this article, so every student knows exactly why they’re paying so much to go to class. More importantly, spread the word so we can get the NCAA’s attention.