When times are tight, that’s when you can count on creative solutions to a budget crisis, right?
The Knight Commission is hoping to catch lightning in a bottle.
The Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics heard all about the problems facing athletic programs in a meeting in Washington, D.C., today. This was the second public discussion in a year-long examination of the economics of big-time collegiate sports. The commission wants to find out why spending on athletics has increased while budgets have decreased, and come up with creative solutions for an unsustainable economic model.
“The struggling economy presents a prime climate for all stakeholders in college sports to take action,” said R. Gerald Turner, co-chairman of the Knight Commission and president of Southern Methodist University. Through innovative solutions, we can take measures to reign in ever-increasing athletics spending and preserve all that is good about college sports.”
Who could argue with that? Well, other than the potential scapegoats, anyway:
Andy Geiger, former athletics director at Ohio State, Stanford and Maryland, said 50 percent of athletics spending is for coaches, staff, and scholarships – and pointed to these areas as a way to cut costs. But Geiger said significant change is unlikely until administrators address those expenditures.
Any suggestions on how to go about doing that? Funny, but now that you mention it…
… John Colombo, University of Illinois tax law professor, explained how it would be difficult to remove tax-exempt status from “big-time college” football and basketball programs. Colombo argued, however, that Congressional action would be justified in attaching special limitations to athletics programs, such as restricting expenditures and/or mandating disclosures so that programs could continue to receive “tax-favored status.”
Colombo’s not some fringe character they trotted out for effect. These guys are seriously looking for a way to rein in what they pay coaches. If Congress gives them their quid, how much of a pro quo do you think they’d be willing to pony up in exchange?