Almost every academic college on campus is experiencing financial cuts related to the decline in both overall and freshman enrollment.
With fewer students enrolling in credit hours, there’s less revenue generated, resulting in less allocated funding for each college – save for the new College of Medicine – this year compared to last.
But that hasn’t stopped the athletics department from racking in more money this year.
While it’s important to note that athletic funding exists separately from academics, listed in the operating budget as a subsidized auxiliary center, it’s a major drain on Central Michigan University’s funding – consistently losing money when compared to revenue generation.
The university, as well as an educational institution, is a business, in a sense. One that relies on profits to survive.
From a business perspective, it doesn’t make sense to continue pouring subsidies into a department that is continually hemorrhaging.
The College of Business, when confronted with only a 0.3 percent decline in credit hours, is talking about downsizing in the face of $800,000 in revenue declines.
The university needs to realize that athletics are not a stable business model.
CMU is far from alone in this, though. Save for a few rare exceptions, most athletics departments nationwide lose universities money, in many cases draining the university’s academic core of potential funds.
As with continued corruption scandals plaguing numerous football and basketball programs in the nation, dumping more and more money into athletics programs is indicative of a problem with the culture of college athletics.
Money has corrupted collegiate sports, leaving many schools looking more like minor leagues for the NFL and NBA than institutions of higher education and research.
One needs not look beyond the salary of many of these athletics programs’ head coaches, many of whom are a state’s highest-paid public official, to see the absurdity of the culture.
Take the state of Michigan, for instance. Michigan State head basketball coach Tom Izzo is set to earn $3.4 million this season. Michigan head football coach Brady Hoke is penciled in for $2 million this year, after contract bonuses
(Central Michigan head football coach Dan Enos, to the university’s credit, earns a more reasonable base salary of $285,000 per year).
Compare that to Gov. Rick Snyder, whose accumulated pay comes to $159,300 before stipends are taken into consideration.
What seems to be even more mind-boggling is the fact that most of these athletic programs lose more money than what is put into them. Only a handful in the country are large enough to break even, and an even smaller handful actually bring in revenue.
High salaries nationwide and continually increasing funding, even at CMU, shows where the priority lies for far too many colleges and universities. While athletics aid in bringing in new students and provide opportunities for student-athletes, a university’s priority when it comes to investing money should be in education.
And so we ask: Where’s the increased funding for that?
As a university, CMU should be directing its attention toward recruiting students who are going to go above and beyond during their time as a student and after they graduate.
It’s sad to see that excelling in the classroom and ultimately in the real world has seemingly taken a backseat to excelling on the field, here and most everywhere else.