For nearly two years, the Knight Commission has studied the out-of-control spending in collegiate athletics, searching for solutions to help bridge the growing gap between the haves and have nots.
If the following list is the best the commission members could come up with, that’s two years of their lives they’ll never get back.
- Rewarding schools that make academic values a priority, including the creation of an Academic-Athletics Balance Fund. The reform group recommends at least 20 percent of the overall funds available for BCS conference distributions be allocated to this fund. The conferences then would take this allocation and distribute the funds to members who meet the following criteria: maintaining at least a 50 percent graduation rate; and showing an appropriate balance between investments in athletics and education.
- The group also recommends strengthening eligibility requirements for championships: schools would only be eligible with a graduation rate of at least 50 percent.
- The Commission also asked for greater transparency from universities, including better measures to compare athletics spending to academic spending.
- It also asks for bowl games to end by early January, preventing athletes’ identities to be used to promote commercial entities; enforcing coaching limitations and reducing football scholarships from 85 to 75.
- On the topic of coaches salaries, which continue to skyrocket, the commission recommends a ban on athletic staff members having separate contracts with apparel, equipment or shoe companies.
These people are detached from reality. There’s nothing on that list that stands a snowball’s chance in hell of gaining general acceptance in the present day world of college athletics. And I say that as someone who thinks that a reduction in the number of football scholarships would be a good thing, both for the cost savings and for the increase in competitiveness that would result.
But grandiose pronouncements that ignore economics won’t make it so.
“It’s vitally important to preserve the integrity of collegiate sports,” said Knight Commission member Carol Cartwright, president of Bowling Green. “The Committee believes we can no longer base shared revenue on winning but instead on maintaining the right balance between athletics and academics.”
I’m sure it does. But I’m equally sure that ESPN, Fox and CBS could care less.
There’s a place for the balance she yearns for. It’s called the Ivy League.
Like it or not – and based on this quote,
“The dynamic at work today is this disparity between the increasing athletic budgets and the decreasing or challenged academic budgets,” said Knight Commission Co-Chairman William E. “Brit” Kirwan, chancellor, University System of Maryland. “It creates a conflict of the principles of what institutions are founded to do and I think the time is right to embrace these recommendations.”
… it’s fair to say that the committee members line up in the “or not” group – driven by football, D-1 college athletics are heading towards a permanent split between the haves and the have-nots. The only question is whether the politicians move to stop that from happening.