Colleges must find balance with sports

A competitive athletic program is a commodity valued by colleges and universities across the board.

From enormous amounts of revenue generated in ticket sales and memorabilia, to the prestige connected to national publicity, sports have cemented a place in the framework of many successful colleges.

This increased emphasis on furthering sports programs has been a trend observed by colleges of all sizes, but not everyone is embracing this shift with open arms.

Editorial Board

Emily Wilkins
Greg Olsen
Derek Blalock
Michael Koury
Simon Schuster

Kansas State football head coach Bill Snyder is one of the most outspoken opponents to the movement he believes is plaguing college sports.

During a radio interview Wednesday, Snyder said college athletics, particularly football, is in a “bad place right now.”

The 73-year-old coach criticized universities for allowing sports to become money driven, and for failing to adhere to the values one should expect of an educational institution.

The K-State coach also said he feels overpaid for the work he does, incidentally coming just months after signing a five-year contract worth $14.75 million.

For a person of his professional stature, Snyder’s attack at the direction of college athletics is an unexpected breath of fresh air.

The new face of college athletics seems like a shell of what once existed. Instead of catering to the needs of student-athletes, current athletic programs appear to have deflated much of the passion once prevalent.

College athletes are milked for their talents and sold for their skills. During their time at school, big-name recruits ­— often in football and basketball — become the faces of their specific programs, but see none of the money their athletic prowess brings in.

In time, this money-based system often breeds a familiar result.

For star athletes, the temptation to make money and avoid suffering an injury lead many into leaving school early to pursue a professional career. Instead of leaving their institutions with a degree, many of these athletes are forced to sacrifice their educations to pursue a more fruitful lifestyle.

At many universities, college athletics have become a business where traditional values have been sacrificed for dollars and cents. This slide can even be observed at MSU.

At MSU, the money generated from the football and men’s basketball programs are in a league of their own.

Last year, MSU’s football program produced 62.9 percent of the overall revenue for the athletic department.

Not to be outdone, during that same period, MSU’s basketball revenue was $19,228,130 and was highest in the Big Ten, according to figures from the U.S. Department of Education.

These numbers are significant, but they also can be misleading.

The main source of revenue for both sports come from private donors, and this money is essential to the survival of other non-revenue sports.

But the immense amount of money these programs bring in serve as a testament to the potential magnitude of this problem.

Unless universities are able to figure out a way to reverse the direction their sports programs are heading, this tendency we are observing only will continue to worsen.

Regardless of how much money they might stand to lose, a university’s top priority should always be to adhere to the needs of the school’s students, and most certainly hold them above athletics.

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