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Friday, April 27, 2018

Are There Better Ways to Subsidize Athletics?

The cost of higher education sometimes includes fees that pay for intercollegiate athletics. While sports are a valued part of campus life, what would students select if they were given the choice between sports and tuition discounts?

I have no idea, but I’ve been pondering this question as I consider the cost of running a sports program weighed against the cost of college to students,” John Warner wrote for a blog post for Inside Higher Ed. “Student-loan debt threatens the future prosperity of a significant proportion of college graduates—not to mention those who get loans, but don’t graduate—and it doesn’t take a crystal ball to see the potential for this to be a larger drag on the economic health of the nation.”

Based on data from USA Today, Warner postulated that erasing athletic subsidies could provide each student a discount of as much as $1,600 each year, decreasing their average student-loan debt by 25%. Research from the Urban Institute found that self-sustaining athletic programs would provide more than 680,000 Pell-equivalent scholarships.

One method that might work is through private donations and additional state funds. Clemson University used that combination to pay for its $55 million football facility, while the University of Alabama-Birmingham saved its football program through private donations.

“I like sports,” Warner continued. “I think schools would be diminished places without athletics, but when so many aspects of our public institutions are already impoverished, I believe we have to put every option on the table.”

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