No, that’s not a typo. These days, it seems, it is all about the dollars. Even in college sports – or maybe especially in college sports.
The headline on this week’s Philadelphia Inquirer, Sunday Edition, blared “Raising Funds – and eyebrows” – the story about the push to raise money for colleges through athletics made the front page. It seems especially fitting to run the story during football season (and maybe just a little self-serving that it focused on Temple and Penn State Universities less than a week before the well-known Nittany Lions pick on the Owls in Philadelphia) but it’s hardly news. The role of the dollar in college sports has been under fire for more than a year now, from the IRS inquiry into whether the tax-exempt status of colleges should remain considering the “empires” that have been built on the backs of taxpayers to the controversial salaries paid to coaches to Congress’ debate about the role of sports in secondary education – including basketball. What has come out of this debate is largely nothing – a lot of drama on both sides about the value (or not) of sports programs at colleges and universities. While there should be pressure to answer this debate in a very public way, there isn’t. Perhaps it’s impolitic to do it with football play-offs looming in the distance – too many OSU fans in Congress (yes, that’s OSU pictured above)? And then there’s basketball… And then, baseball. It’s just so darned inconvenient. Only Senator Charles Grassley (R-IA) has dared bring it up again recently; he promised last month to take another look at whether tax-exempt status was appropriate – but then, who are we kidding? He went to the University of Northern Iowa.