Sunday, November 16, 2014

Oh, The Irony.

Isn't it time to have a wall of separation between universities and athletics?  Do athletic programs provide some benefit that I as a taxpayer should support?  Let the pro-sports leagues have their own farm league teams so there's no more reason to have academic scandals like those at UNC and now Dartmouth:
Forty three students at Dartmouth College have been "implicated in an academic dishonesty case" in an ethics course, student newspaper The Dartmouth reports.

According to The Dartmouth, the 43 students allegedly skipped class, but got other students to sign in for them and answer questions using an electronic clicker. "Each clicker is registered with one student, who gains points for submitting answers to certain in-class questions," The Dartmouth reports.

The course — "Sports, Ethics and Religion" — is taught by Dartmouth religion professor Randall Balmer and is the largest course at the college this term, with 272 students. "Attendance and participation account for about 15% of a student's grade in the class," The Dartmouth reports.

Balmer told The Dartmouth that the course is specifically designed for student athletes. According to the newspaper, about 68% of the students enrolled in "Sports, Ethics and Religion" are Dartmouth varsity athletes.


Jean said...

Oh, it is SO time to separate them.

I teach research skills as part of my job--teachers bring their classes in on a sort of field trip. A couple of weeks ago I had a class I'd never taught before, and it was obviously a class 'for athletes.' The instructor was doing her best with them, but I have never taught such a disengaged bunch of students. My whole message is "do this instead of googling and your research will take way less time AND be better!" which I think is a pretty motivational message but apparently not.

maxutils said...

Of the four major sports, two (baseball and hockey) allow players to join the league and/or be drafted straight out of high school -- and I believe it's age, not graduation dependent. They also have the only two truly developmental leagues … The NBA requires 1 year of college (or a higher age) and the NFL 3 …Clearly, the colleges are doing it for them: but, these are also the 2 sports which provide the most revenue and thus support every other sport the university provides (although, I believe by and large, women's basketball also makes money). That allows more students to participate in sports, and I believe that to be a good thing. I chose to go to UCD out of all the UCs, because besides being a pretty good school, they had a good football team, and one of the best intramural sports programs in the country)That said? Just like in HS, I don't believe that student athletes should be treated any differently than other student … sure, maybe cut them some slack on admissions, just as you might any other student with a unique talent or background … but once there, they either get the grades or they don't play -- and if it can be demonstrated that that isn't happening, as a system-wide position, then there are NCAA sanctions for that. These programs are largely alumni and NCAA funded …

Anonymous said...

MaxUtils: "these are also the 2 sports which provide the most revenue and thus support every other sport the university provides (although, I believe by and large, women's basketball also makes money)"

My guess is that the top 30-ish or so D1 football programs make money or are break even. The bottom 60 almost certainly cost their schools money. Some numbers are here:

but, note that Stanford football has total expenses of less than $19M while Stanford plays in a stadium that was built in 2006 for ~$100M. Does the $19M include an amortized part of that $100M? I have no idea ... but I doubt it.

More: "These programs are largely alumni and NCAA funded"

For the big programs (Michigan, Texas, Alabama, etc.), these are largely alumni funded and profitable. The school then often uses the money to subsidize sports like wrestling. The NCAA doesn't fund anything ... it just drains money from the schools.

An overview (guess) of total athletic spending and gain/loss by school is here:

[Another breakdown of revenue only is here: ... not carefully the column labeled "Donations" ]

From the USA Today numbers, most schools subsidize their athletic programs (and note the accounting questions, too. Where does the cost for Stanford's new stadium show up), *but* the big-time programs are the only ones with a chance to self-fund. It isn't like the tennis team can charge enough for tickets to break even.

Having said this, a lot of the alumni giving is dedicated to sports. For many of these schools, that funding would not get redirected to the history department if sports were cancelled.

-Mark Roulo

Anonymous said...


You have missed how hysterically funny the Dartmouth thing is.

So ...

1) Dartmouth is part of the Ivy League.

2) Ivy League schools do not grant athletic scholarships (they also aren't supposed to grant academic scholarships ... only "need based" scholarships).

3) In spite of the no athletic scholarships rule, the schools are well known to favor athletes in admissions and to do a better job in granting need based scholarships to get those athletes [NOTE: "well known" does not mean true ... just widely believed ... I know a coach at a private, highly expensive local high school who believes that the Ivies favor good athletes and provide financial support. He believes this because he knows enough students who went to his school that got in this way]. In other words, the Ivy League schools are believed to have rules about athletes and then ignore those rules and cheat to win.

4) Dartmouth has an *ethics* class for these athletes, who, in a strict interpretation of the rules maybe shouldn't be at Dartmouth in the first place and shouldn't have the scholarships that they do.

5) The athletes that Dartmouth has admitted (and provided scholarships to) in order to cheat the rules for athletic admissions are themselves cheating in the ethics class. But what standing does Dartmouth have to complain?

Is the humor here not obvious? Sad, too, as if these are our "best and brightest," and environment where cheating to win is the norm is very bad. But still funny.

-Mark Roulo