• Sumo

“There is so much money tied into big-time college athletics that it forces some people to make bad decisions,” says Robin Harris, executive director of the Ivy League.

A more accurate understatement has never been uttered.

At universities with NCAA Division I athletic programs, most notably Bowl Championship Series (BCS) schools, the school’s educational mission takes a backseat to the greed-based arms race for bigger and better facilities, so bigger and better athletes can be recruited, in order to land bigger and better television and sponsorship deals.

“We’re talking big, big money here,” says Jason Lanter, assistant professor of psychology at Kutztown University, and a member of the Drake Group, a college faculty organization whose mission is to defend academic integrity on campuses.

The biggest crime is that money from schools’ general funds are feeding a large portion of this arms race during a time of cutbacks everywhere else on campus. Of 53 universities surveyed by Bloomberg this year, 46 diverted money to sports in in their fiscal years ended in 2010. Rutgers spent more money on athletics than any other public institution in the six BCS conferences. According to a Bloomberg report, more than 40 percent of sports revenue at Rutgers came from student fees and the university’s general fund. This at at time when budgets were being cut for professors salaries, and while tuition, housing and other fees were on the rise. Even things like the use of photocopies for exams were being chopped at Rutgers during this time period.

“There are a lot of people chasing the Holy Grail,” Stanford athletic director Bob Bowlsby said. “Chasing leads to some bad decisions.”

On second thought, in the wake of the Penn State, Miami, Ohio State, and USC scandals, that is probably the most accurate understatement ever uttered.

Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans

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