Ryan Whirty is spot-on in his Back Page essay "Pigskin Profit". The corruption in college athletics is pervasive. Our institutions of sports and entertainment have long since sold their souls to pay TV. Even so, only about 10 percent of public colleges show an athletic department profit. Student fees make up the deficit. The recent Bloomberg, American Association of University Professors, and Joint Legislative and Review Commission reports provide details.
Exactly how do athletics contribute to academic or research excellence? Any student or family who would borrow money to attend some college based solely on its athletic prowess ought to be charged double interest.
Yet, we taxpayers subsidize this misuse of public money with appropriations, tax credits and student loans. Professional sports are barely better. Even Richmond — a poverty-stricken city — spent tax money on a billionaire and his millionaire minions. The NFL, a lucrative nonprofit entity, couldn't be bothered.
Colleges might support physical fitness facilities, intramural activities and club sports, but only after focusing on their primary mission, i.e., a quality higher education. Professional sports can provide non-public funded entertainment if we need bread and circuses.
Walt Pulliam Jr.