Wednesday, December 6, 2023

International educators - please avoid big-time athletics

I have long been an advocate for U.S. higher education to stop pretending that athletic programs such as the University of Michigan and Ohio State University are "college teams." They haven't been for quite some time and continuing the fantasy is expensive and harmful to institutions that strive to compete with the likes of teams that are essentially semi-professional farm teams for the NFL and NBA.

The number of institutions that break even or make money from Division I NCAA competition is somewhere around 10%. In the other cases, students are charged to underwrite the deficit.

Charlie Baker, Chief of the NCAA, finally announced a possible strategy to allow big-time athletic programs to compensate their players. Such a strategy would reward student work. Baker's proposal would allow Division I athletic programs free rein in determining compensation related to athlete's names, images, and likenesses. For a mere $30,000 annual investment in athlete support, institutions would become part of a new subdivision with the highest revenue sources and the best records. These wealthy and successful programs have proposed the Baker model for years.

The advocacy for semi-professional athletics in higher education is now open and understood. There are numerous things that international higher education planners and leaders should avoid and this is one of the most egregious.

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