The NCAA’s power schools in the power conferences are getting just what they wanted when they formed the BCS: separation from the smaller Division I schools who are desperately trying to keep pace. Ironically, most BCS schools are themselves unable to keep pace with a small group of big-time college sports powers.

Take the University of Texas, for example. Texas’ athletic program is one of only 22 Division I programs across the country that generates enough revenues to cover expenses. According to a USA Today report, no college athletics program has out-earned or outspent Texas.

While a small group of big-time college sports institutions can keep pace in the college sports arms race, the vast majority of Division I schools can’t, especially during these tough economic times when university budgets are being slashed and professors are being laid off.

“At Texas it may be sustainable,” according to former University of Arizona president Peter Likins. “But think about the schools that are desperately struggling to stay in the game and are dramatically increasing the university’s subsidy of intercollegiate athletics and aren’t succeeding in improving their financial position.”

Apart from athletics, the University of Texas is also struggling financially — just like most colleges and universities across the country. Texas cut 200 jobs in fiscal 2011, and 400 more are set to go in 2012, including 95 teaching positions, meaning larger class sizes and fewer course offerings for students. Meanwhile, Texas’ athletes enjoy more and more amenities in the athletics department.

By almost any measure, big-time college athletics programs are out of control. NCAA leaders can’t slow down the arms race, and neither can school presidents. As such, it’s time for the government to step in. Likins sees that day on the horizon.

“Somebody’s going to decide, either out of anger or just out of good government, that this is an unrelated business enterprise and has to be treated as such in terms of tax policies and that kind of thing,” Likins predicts.

That day can’t come soon enough.

Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans


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