The college I graduated from never had a football team while I attended, but there was a period of interest and debate during which it was decided that we should ultimately switch to Division I in order to compete in more challenging events. Of course, this transition to a new athletic division came with significant costs and I was never quite convinced that the move would be a net benefit for the majority of enrolled students…
At the top division, collegiate athletics like football and baseball require huge sums of financial assistance. While an established team with national popularity can bring millions back in branded merchandise, ticket sales, and television contracts – most schools with football teams won’t be seeing any bowl games this year.
Meanwhile, athletic directors are among the top-paid professionals at many colleges around America. In the Big 10, Big 12, and other major conferences, some athletic budgets are more than $100 million – every year! Heck, the college I went to ran the entire university on less than that.
Of course, college sports do provide great opportunities for those who play. Not only does a Division upgrade require a certain amount of scholarships for student athletes, it also gives those students a chance to shine in their own right. Many professional sports millionaires got their start on campus, and becoming well-known before hitting the big leagues can drastically improve an individual’s chance of getting play time on the field in the big game.
Students can also gather around and unite in support of their teams. Not only do the games themselves provide an excellent social event, but there are also additional ways that sports can bring the campus together. Many teams head up charitable campaigns and take an active lead in campus social life.
So when you’re looking for a degree, or even if the school you are at is in discussions regarding the future of athletics, remember that there are at least two sides to the story and a big part of that tale involves the money that will be headed to maintain stadiums, purchase new uniforms, and fund scholarships for star athletes.
Then again, that may sound perfectly worth it if you’re also interesting in pursuing a career related to sports, broadcasting, or sports medicine & physical therapy!