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Sunday, October 14, 2007

The Art of Raising Big Money for College Sports

Frank Fitzpatrick's first article of a two-part series about major colleges' fund-raising efforts for sports and how sports-related donations now constitute a bigger part of major universities' fund-raising efforts than ever before is must reading if you have had any issues with or curiosity about the topic. Click here for a link to his article in The Philadelphia Inquirer.

Once you've read the article, ask yourself a few questions:

1. Is this a good thing?

2. Who really benefits from all of these donations?

3. Do these donations enhance the quality of college life?

4. Do these donations enhance the quality of the average college education?

5. What do the donors receive in return?

6. Is the focus of the major institutions where it should be?

7. Is there a danger with some institutions that the performance of their football team and men's basketball team eclipses the overall mission of the university?

8. Is there a risk that the big money will corrupt the decisionmaking and priorities of the boards of trustees and senior administrators of the major universities? Or, how much has that "corruption" permeated the thinking of major college administrators?

9. What do most Americans think of when they hear the following names of universities:

B. Stanford
C. Alabama
D. Duke
E. Ohio State
F. Florida
G. Yale
H. Georgetown
I. Oklahoma
J. Kansas
K. West Virginia
L. Cal-Berkeley
M. Kentucky
N. Williams

I won't begin to answer the questions here, but will the average reader think first of a school's academic reputation or of the football team and men's basketball team and perhaps the number of players those programs have put into the pros? What would your first response be?


Anonymous tim said...

Here is my take on this issue, as someone about to (re)enter the academic working field (I just finished the first part of my doctoral qualifying exams)... also, I'm at USF, which has come from nowhere to be a national story and is currently #2 in the BCS rankings.

Oh, and I should note my other two degrees are from non-BCS MAC schools.

My opinion is that, in the long run, athletic success can lead to an increase in academics, though it is a long process. Universities experience surges in applications when their teams perform well on the national stage; Miami University and George Mason saw 50% increases after their recent successes in football and basketball, respectively.

If your school isn't seeking to increase its enrollment, then a rise in applications is almost certainly going to allow the school to become more selective in its admissions. More selective admissions means smarter students, which means a more attractive position for faculty -- which means a more competitive hiring process, and so on.

Increase the quality of the faculty, increase the academic reputation, increase applications, and the feedback loop begins.

I don't know what data exists to show my presupposition actually happens, but it seems logical and reasonable to expect.

9:44 PM  
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