How Intercollegiate Athletics Compete with Academics at Rutgers University

In a recent op-ed published in the New York Times, Joe Nocera examines the increasing tension between the priorities of faculty and of alumni donors who want to create a nationally prominent athletics program at Rutgers University. Here are several paragraphs from the middle of the column, which is titled, “At Rutgers, It’s Books vs. Ballgames”:

“The Rutgers athletic department has consistently run large deficits; indeed, since the 2005-6 academic year, deficits have exceeded $20 million a year. In the last academic year, Rutgers athletics generated $40.3 million in revenue, but spent $76.7 million, leaving a deficit of more than $36 million. In other words, revenue barely covered half the department’s expenses.

“And how did the university cover this shortfall? Partly, it used its own funds, to the tune of $26 million last year, money that might have gone to professors’ salaries or other academic needs. It also took it out of the hide of the students themselves, who have been assessed steadily rising fees to help cover the athletic department’s deficit. Last year, fees that went to athletics amounted to $10 million. . . .

“Even with the Big Ten’s money (and to be fair, as a new member, Rutgers won’t reap the full rewards for six years), the Rutgers athletic department is projecting deficits at least through the 2021-22. Indeed, according to figures compiled by a faculty committee, Rutgers athletics is projecting a total deficit of $183 million between now and 2022.

“You can see, of course, why this would infuriate faculty members — or, for that matter, anyone who cares about academics. Like most state schools, Rutgers has seen its state financing shrink drastically over the last decade, while tuition and fees have been going up. Academic departments have had multiple rounds of belt-tightening. ‘At the school of arts and sciences,’ said Mark Killingsworth, a Rutgers economics professor who has been a leading voice against the athletic department’s costs, ‘we have been told that we can hire one person for every two who leave.’ The library, he noted, recently had its budget cut by more than $500,000. Meanwhile, Kyle Flood, the football coach, is getting a $200,000 raise next year, taking his salary to $1.25 million.”

The complete article is available at: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/05/12/opinion/joe-nocera-at-rutgers-its-books-vs-ballgames.html

 

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