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Priority on Sports an Issue Even at Smaller Colleges

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You come to this website to read blogs such as this one, of course. But the gold is generally in the sidebar of openings available in higher ed.

How are colleges allocating their “human resources” these days?

Too often in the last decade, the spending by colleges and universities for new jobs and the like has either stayed steady or gone down.

That is except for one area — sports.

It’s been a real boom-time for sports in college, according to “Losing Focus,” a recently released report by the American Association of University Professors.

In case you missed it, the New York Times pulled this quote from the report: “Increasingly, institutions of higher education have lost their focus on the academic activities at the core of their mission. …The spending priority accorded to competitive athletics too easily diverts the focus of our institutions from teaching and learning to scandal and excess.”

Stinging indictment? Or old news? Maybe for the big-time programs of Division I schools.

But this report is believed to be the first one that looks at the other schools: the small Division II and III schools, including a few HBCUs. The report also exams community colleges, the home of the now much prized “JUCO” athletic transfer, who is becoming the new minor league player for the big-time college programs. (Why redshirt at a four-year school when you can be a star and maybe go to class at a junior college?)

The smaller schools are the ones that have avoided the scrutiny of the big-time programs. But the report finds now is the time to look a bit closer, as these are the very schools that are experiencing a bull market in sports.

 

The report uses data from the United States Department of Education, the National Collegiate Athletic Association and its own surveys. It found that from 2004-2011, community colleges’ spending on instruction, public service and academic support declined.

 

Athletic spending? It increased by 35 percent, according to the report. Overall spending per student grew at 2.6 percent.

At public, four-year colleges, spending on academics, instruction and support was flat. In the public service and research categories spending declined.

But athletics grew by 24.8 percent. Overall spending per student grew by 1.6 percent.

The NCAA, of course, wouldn’t make its millionaire president Mark Emmert available for the story.

And people questioned the bias of the university professors. Imagine professors advocating for more resources for education!

But like the score at the end of the game, the numbers show there’s a real winner and loser — and by a wide margin.

The enormous expenditure differentiations show there’s a real priority issue when it comes to spending.

When dollars are limited, at all schools big and small, why are the academic expenditures the first cut?

 Emil Guillermo writes on issues of race for the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (www.aaldef.org/blog). Like him at www.facebook.com/emilguillermo.media ; twitter@emilamok.

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