This has a lot of people (Forbes' Steve Salzberg, among them)
outraged that a school that has a $100 million nationally ranked
football program would gut/eliminate/eviscerate/filet/pick-your-word a core
part of the science curriculum. U.S. News and World Report ranked UF's CS
department 39th in the nation two years ago.
always, the truth is somewhere in the middle. It's true that the
school, like most across America, is under budget pressure. It's true
the dean of the College of Engineering has a proposal on the table to
reorganize the department. What happens is yet to happen.
Misguided priorities? But
the ruckus affords an opportunity for us to debate the role of athletics
in establishments founded (whenever they were founded) to educate young
men and women and advance research in the interests of society.
were not founded to teach students to hit a baseball farther, score
more points on the football fields or basketball courts. But over the
years, you'd be forgiven if you got the impression that academics was an
afterthought at many universities, smitten as they are by the almighty
revenue stream from ESPN, sporting-events gates, and apparel and foam-finger sales.
would be fine if the money supported academics but it doesn't. Most
athletic programs are run by associations not directly connected to the
academic programs. At UF, the association gives about $3 million a year
over the past two decades to academics. And often, sports-program donors
give money only to the sports programs and specify their donation is
not to be used for anything else. And like clockwork, donors routinely get called out or prosecuted for slipping money to "student"-athletes, who are taking up a space in a classroom that should be given to a student, not a semi-professional sports figure.
My take is that sports at the
college level should be intramural only. The NCAA, ESPN and the rest can
go pound sand. They'll figure out other ways to exploit young athletes
But that's just me. What do you
Should sports be divorced from academic institutions that receive
Should sports associations be required to fund academic programs
(not just the occasional scholarship but research programs?)
Outstanding points, Duane. And if you think about, we DO use students as sweatshop labor, working lab experiments endlessly for professors who turn those ideas into startups that often enrich them. Yes, occasionally students get a piece of the action, but usually only graduate students who are wrapping up college.
NCAA-level sports needs to be severed from colleges, the NCAA dissolved and investigated (more thoroughly) and where concern arises about "well-rounded students," start intramural programs. Problem solved.
I made this case years ago to an acquaintance who's an athletic director. He hasn't spoken to me since. Oh well.
Sports do have a place. But not that much of a place. If it's just entertainment, then it should be separate - like in a different town from the school. If it's for prestige, then it should get equal billing with other prestigious activities like research or post graduation successes.
If it's for revenue, then why not also exploit college students by using them as sweatshop labor? You could create a manufacturing program where students would pay tuition to join the assembly line building things for commercial companies. The students would get paid in credits and the school in real dollars. It could even bring low cost manufacturing back to the U.S.
If that sounds ridiculous, then you can understand how I feel about the level of attention sports get at the university level.
Join our online Radio Show on Friday 11th July starting at 2:00pm Eastern, when EETimes editor of all things fun and interesting, Max Maxfield, and embedded systems expert, Jack Ganssle, will debate as to just what is, and is not, and embedded system.