Higher education is spending more on athletics

From 2004 to 2011, community colleges’ inflation-adjusted educational spending — on instruction, public service and academic support — declined, while their athletic spending increased 35 percent per athlete, the report said. Overall spending per student grew 2.6 percent.

Inflation-adjusted athletic spending also increased, by 24.8 percent, at public four-year colleges in all divisions in those years, while spending on instruction and academic support remained nearly flat, and public service and research expenditures declined, the report said. Their overall spending per student grew 1.6 percent.

The fastest growth in athletic spending was at Division III schools without football programs, where median inflation-adjusted spending for each student-athlete more than doubled from 2004 to 2012.

There is more here, by Tamar Lewin, interesting throughout.


That is interesting. More and more money pouring into "higher education" with diminishing returns, as the students are fatter, lazier, and dumber than ever, Flynn effect notwithstanding. Except of course GMU students and readers of this blog!

That is interesting. More and more money pouring into “higher education” with diminishing returns, as the students are fatter, lazier, and dumber than ever, Flynn effect notwithstanding.

If there is the historical Flynn effect of improving IQs, doesn't that indicate education is improving?

No. It likely is due to better neutrician. However you spell that. Google The Economist website with "IQ by Country" for a very provocative article on this. The peer reviewed article ranks countries by IQ, and finds a one-to-one correspondence between good diet and low disease rates and high IQ; Singapore was the highest at 105, China was over 100 (likely fake data based on Shanghai, but I digress), all the western countries were near 100, Greece was at 92 (I am stupid), Philippines my adopted country was in the low 80s (the people here are happy but frankly a bit dense) and nearly all African countries save South Africa were in the 60s. Mongolians, poor, but presumably disease free and with good diets, were outliers and scored over 100, I believe they tied Singapore at 105. Keep in mind "functionally retarded" is defined at 80 or below, and 10 points is a 'big deal' for IQ.

So short answer: Flynn effect is due to better bodies, as in the ancient Greek maxim "Strong bodies, Strong minds".

No effect of famine (an extreme margin of diet) on IQ has been shown. Extreme famine of the mother during prenatal period had no effect on adult IQ: http://www.nidi.nl/shared/content/output/2013/lumey-2013-nutrition-health-famine.pdf

Occam tells you that what you say is all good if you just reverse cause and effect.

Occam is a racist then, lol. Here is the original article: http://www.economist.com/node/16479286 and the link therein shows the country-by-country analysis. Your paper could simply mean 9 months of bad diet is not enough for low IQ, which takes a several years or more to develop.

The question of whether Occam is a racist is irrelevant. The question is whether he is right.

China had the world's largest famine 1958-1962. About 30-40 million dead. Everyone was hungry. In fact up to 30 years ago, everyone was hungry much of the time. Chinese people are still stunted from poor diet.

Yet their IQ tests are not low.

Africans, on the other hand, have periodic famines, but are not stunted. They may be poor but they eat well. How many fat African women do you see compared to how many fat Chinese women.

Ray - just because it was in the Economist doesn't mean it is right, or even well thought out. I would say the Economist is one of the better magazines, but much of what they write is about re-enforcing their readership prejudices.

In terms of the specific question "why is there lower measured IQ in some countries compared with other countries", I have seen the following theories; a) IQ does not exist and it is all a WASP conspiracy b) lower nutrition or higher disease loads in those countries, especially during early years c) it is all about early years nurturing, the parents pass on stupid habits to their children or d) IQ is largely genetic.

My take on this is that a) Asians and Jews have the highest average measured IQ so probably not WASP racism driven and IQ does correlate well (indeed synonymous with?) with examination results which every academic institute in the world takes as a "real" measurement. b) When moved to a different environment, for instance from Africa to US with a much lower disease load and much higher availability of nutrients the gap in IQ remains. Also in reverse, high IQ country origin people do not lose IQ points moving to tropical environments for instance. So I am sorry but this is pretty conclusively proven wrong theory. c) There is possibly some merit to this early nurture argument, but it begs the question of why some groups were able to transcend this. Also lots of separated twin studies that argue early environment is not a major factor in adult IQ. So we are left with d), IQ is mostly genetic. This seems to be logical, IQ must be genetic at some level, otherwise how did it evolve in the first place? Just about everyone accepts for instance that we have been evolving from a less intelligent group of apes. Why would this stop at some arbitrary point in time? Certainly there has been enough physical separation of groups over time to allow separation in a genetic sense as well, obviously this is true of skin color, physiognomy, hair color, eye shape etc etc so why would our brains be unique? If we look at countries, it is easy to predict IQ by looking at the nearby countries, also consistent with the genetic theory. So why is this so controversial? I can understand why people don't want to talk too openly about this, given the historical crimes of racism. But isn't it even more disingenuous to pretend to believe it is not true just to avoid hurting people's feelings?

What other complex phenomenon can we linearize into a single variable? Perhaps we should start measuring an athletic quotient -- all different sports are just variations on a theme, right? Give him a few years to practice and I'm sure Tiger Woods will make a fine basketball player. How about a health quotient? Good lung capacity but advanced Alzheimer's? Well we can just average the subscores -- congrats you've got an average HQ.

If you, or others, find those measurements as useful as IQ to explaining things, why not? Actually in terms of your suggested "Athletic Quotient" or AQ, you may have something there. I would actually bet that athletic capability is genetic and an athlete in one sport is likely better at other sports. My personal experience is certainly like that, I have a friend who was a rugby player for instance at a fairly high level, and his first time on the golf course he was out-driving pros. Also, you can see that certain races are over-represented in many sports, for instance West Indian blacks despite being a fairly small population. Everyone is familiar with the WI cricket and athletics stars but check out the number of West Indian soccer players in the premier league. This is an anecdote though, would be good if you have data to support your idea.

This is a real problem, particularly given that it is students that are largely picking up the tab for athletics programs through their payment of mandatory fees. The Virginia legislature's research agency (JLARC) completed an in-depth report on auxiliary spending in higher ed, including athletics. (http://jlarc.virginia.gov/Reports/Rpt443.pdf)

At Virginia's public four-year institutions, more than 12% of the mandatory tuition and fees charged to students are dedicated to college athletics programs. GMU is particularly bad, covering only 21 percent of its athletics budget through athletics revenues (pg. 13 of the aforementioned report). GMU charges students $577 per year just to cover the expenses of its athletics programs, and mandatory student fees generate 67% of its athletic program's operating revenue.

The problem is particularly acute at institutions with football programs in non-BCS conferences.

This is an interesting result, but I would caution against taking anything from the Knight Commission at face value. The same is true for the AAUP. Advocates have a long history of fraud in an effort to sway public opinion. Both of these groups are advocates for a narrow set of positions.

If the numbers hold up to scrutiny, then it would effectively gut the main argument from the Knight Commission people. For years now their charge has been that money flowing into colleges through sports like football are corrupting the colleges. No such dynamic exists at the community college level. That means the cancer is within, not without. The "cascading effect" claim is just a bunch of nonsense.

A better place to look for what is hollowing out higher ed is third party payments. Everything about the modern college is geared toward getting those government check the kiddies have in their sweaty palms. We have built for-profit monasteries all over the country. They combine the worst aspects of private enterprise with the worst aspects of religion.

"“My hypothesis, and it’s not yet fully proven, is that these are mostly schools that are very tuition-dependent, and they’re spending more on sports to recruit more students,” Ms. Thornton said."

(A female men's rugby coach?) Ms. Thornton is correct. DIII athletic programs are meant to attract students. I questioned a DIII hockey coach about the dubious financials this could produce at a small school. He said, "You don't get the picture. We know we can't make money on gate receipts. The point is that 25 or 30 guys come here to play hockey. If we didn't have a hockey program, they'd go somewhere else."

Colleges are attempting, by offering programs like film schools, drama, music and athletics, to satisfy for a couple of years the dreams of post-adolescents that are hoping to extend their youth. Who wants to get a job when they can be playing hockey or football or basketball in a structured situation?

Are universities hurting that bad for students that they need a hockey team to fill up their enrollment?

It's a way to recruit wealthy students. At a school with 1500 enrollment (like my alma mater), adding 6 sports teams with predominantly upper class participants (which they did) adds 5% to enrollment, most of whom can pay close to full tuition. Our president is openly hostile to athletics, but that's a difficult proposition to turn down.

It's also why big state universities and private colleges are turning themselves into five star resorts. It is all in an effort to chase after those government checks. A fair amount of junk studies from the soft sciences are funded by those government checks.

Bear in mind that a lot of this funding probably isn't spent on athletics - it is spent on making colleges five star resorts. If you build a Gym with saunas, it looks like spending on the athletics program but it isn't.

Almost any spending that is not academic is going to be labelled as athletic. Even if it is in fact life style.

I'm nonplussed by this increased spending and hope that every college student competes on a team. Team athletics is an attractive way to inspire young people into life-long healthy habits. Competitive sports also teaches some basic life-lessons that parents don't seem to instill much any more. I could easily point to dozens of classes in a curriculum that seem more wasteful than sports.

You're right. HR departments at businesses look very favorably on small college graduates with experience in team sports. These athletes have proven themselves in a competitive environment, shown the ability to work well with others, and managed to successfully organize their time between sports and study. They're exactly the kind of people that businesses want.

I agree. My oldest child is selecting a college this month. While academic fit is the primary criteria , we are also seriously evaluating schools based on his ability to participate in sports at the DIII or serious club level. His niece and nephew both attend very selective colleges where they participate in DIII sports (the niece is a multi-time All American and podium winner at DIII Nationals). None of these kids are going to be pro athletes - far from it - but organized sports are a great way to stay in shape, meet a good peer group, learn teamwork and how to organize a busy schedule, and to have fun.

As an employer, I hire new college grads. Academic achievement is our primary criteria, but having played sports (or, for instance, played in the college orchestra) are factors that distinguish among those that meet the academic criteria.

None of these kids are going to be pro athletes – far from it – but organized sports are a great way to stay in shape, meet a good peer group, learn teamwork and how to organize a busy schedule, and to have fun.

That may be true for organized sports in general. But a lot of college sports have embraced sub-par semi-literate, at best, ghetto thugs. Have you seen the people who play for half the college teams these days?

These are people to keep your children away from.

The spending isn't needed. Young, fit people will start amateur sports leagues all on their own.

Like a book club, you mean.

Or rugby. Or fencing.

Perhaps some of this spending got through in the areas of shovel ready projects for sports venues?

The expense of athletics at schools competing at lower levels is primarily scholarships (in theory the sport reimburses the school the full tuition associated with a scholarship athlete). This is just a function of rising tuition at these schools flowing through to cost of a scholarship. I wonder why such a scholarly group would leave the driver of increased spending as some unknown variable. It's almost like they are intentionally trying to leave a false impression that there is some sort of athletic arms race going on among small college programs.

It is happening where I am at JMU. We are moving to a higher football division. Why? Some alumni and the VP for Finance want us too. Does this make money for the place as so many claim? No. And it distorts allocations here with academic programs put on hold while we build more and bigger additions to our money-sucking football stadium. Is it really socially worthwhile that in 40 out of 50 states the highest paid public official is a university athletic coach even though there are only about 20 college athletic programs in the country that actually make money?

There's no shortage of guys that think they can coach football. A school with a substandard program, Illinois or Indiana, for instance, should advertise an opening for a football coach with the proviso that the job goes to the applicant that will pay the school the most money to get the job. If he does well, other, better, schools will be interested in hiring him. A fellow that thinks he's a football genius could get others to chip in on his payment in the anticipation of sharing in his multi-million dollar reward when he gets that job at Florida State or Texas A&M. It's amazing that this approach hasn't been taken long ago.

It seems that having a good football or basketball team increases interest in a school and so it is a marketing expense, but I see no good reason for a tax funded/subsidized state school to attempt to attract more applications from better students. It is a zero sum game state schools should quit it.

BTW The success of UF's football and basketball program cost me $50,000 because it led to more application and so my son was rejected and so had to go UCF and could not live at home.

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