Misplaced Priorities in College Sports

The Washington Post article, “Misplaced Priorities in College Sports,” describes the competition among colleges to outdo one another in building lavish athletic facilities and what the Post’s Editorial Board sees as a misplaced use of resources. The article takes institutions, including Clemson University and the University of Maryland, to task for ignoring the missions of their institutions and instead “pandering to the fantasies of 18 year olds.” They argue that an unfair burden falls on student fees and state taxes to pay for multi-million dollar athletic facilities.

In response to this, SUNYCON 2016 (Degrees of Influence: The Forces Shaping the Future of Higher Education, October 27-28, 2016) dedicated a plenary discussion to this topic. Leaders in college athletics including the President of the NCAA, the Chair of the Knight Commission, and the Editor and Co-Founder of Inside Higher Ed, discuss whether the media portrayal of student athletics is fair. The speakers state they wish more attention could be paid to positive stories of individual student success. They understand first-hand how college athletics prepare students for life outside of college. As an example, Kim Donaldson, Co-Founder and CEO of Excelle Sports (a multimedia platform dedicated to coverage of women’s sports) states that 80% of female C-Level executives was active in competitive sports in college, but that statistic is not widely known or shared. The remainder of the session discusses the benefits and challenges of college sports for students and for institutions of higher education as a whole. A recording of the session can be viewed here: https://livestream.com/hvccstreaming/SUNYCON2016/videos/140359060.