Enjoy the Basketball Game — and Thank a Student

As a basketball fan, I’m delighted that five Virginia teams — UVa, Virginia Tech, VCU, ODU and Liberty — will participate in the NCAA tournament this month. That’s more than basketball powerhouse North Carolina (heh! heh!), and it may be more teams than from any other state. After UVa chokes early in the tournament, I’ll still have up to four other teams to root for!

I’m less enthralled, however, by the fact that the teams’ success has been funded in part by an increase in student fees, thus contributing to the higher-ed affordability crisis.

According to Richmond BizSense, revenue from the Virginia Commonwealth University athletics program has more than doubled in the past eight years, zooming from $16.3 million in FY 2010 to $34.2 million in FY 2017. The largest source of athletics revenue was student fees.

According to data provided by VCU, the athletic portion of its student fee has risen an average of $33 each year since the 2011-2012 school year.  The student fee at VCU during the 2010-2011 school year was $558. In 2011-2012, it jumped to $610. The fee for the 2018-2019 school year is $827.

VCU’s defense is that the VCU student fee is lower than at most other public Virginia universities…. which is damning through faint praise indeed. Student fees are out of control at virtually every public institution.

As the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission (JLARC) found in its massive 2013 report on rising college costs:

In 2012, Virginia’s athletic programs generated only 31 percent of the revenue needed to cover their expenses, on average. … Because the programs do not generate sufficient revenue, most institutions heavily depend on mandatory student athletic fees to subsidize their athletic programs. … About 12 percent on average of what Virginia students paid in tuition and fees in 2012-13 was for intercollegiate athletics.

By all means, enjoy the NCAA tournament — and root for your home-state teams. Just remember, college presidents invest millions of dollars in athletics not for the students. They expand football and basketball programs because they know that alumni love rooting for the alma mater, and they know that happy, engaged alumni make bigger donations and leave bigger bequests. Thousands of lower-income Virginia students are piling up immense student-load debt to pay for athletic fees for your entertainment…. and for the empire-building ambitions of college administrators.

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7 responses to “Enjoy the Basketball Game — and Thank a Student

  1. Nobody wants to talk about the real causes of poverty, because too many people have their hands in the pot.

    • Yes, Steve, but it is also quite ironic. Hence, one iteration on your comment is that the progressive elites in America will never stop talking about alleged poverty and its ilk because they desperately depend on citizens’ perceptions of poverty, grievance, and social injustice, to keep them, the progressive elites, employed, rich, and in power, with full control.

      So, as a result, this explains most of what is going on in Virginia today, whether it be the Governor of Virginia, the Secretary of Education of Virginia, the Attorney General of Virginia, many county school superintendents in Virginia, many college presidents in Virginia, as well as most of its news and social media, and many delegates to Virginia’s General Assembly, plus now too an ever growing proportion of non-profits working in Virginia.

      All of these progressive elites are playing a growing array of race, social justice and poverty cards while they enrich themselves and drive most everyone else in the state into the poor house, stripping the state of its institutions, legacy and social capital build up over its entire history.

      As you mention, just look at what is happening to so many students in higher education today and their parents, getting screwed four ways to Sunday. Even on the basketball court.

  2. Seems like for awhile, the premise was that College sports not only paid for itself, but it generated excess dollars that paid for scholarships.

    So I wonder if that’s not true – how the scholarships are funded now.

    But I think College Sports exists in this country – and not other (even MORE LIBERAL) countries because it’s an uniquely American tradition that people want.

    What would we do if we did not have the Basketball tournaments this time of year? Ye GODS!

    But I also think it’s dumb and a waste to go into significant debt if you come from a lower-income family situation because the Community College system and Fast Forward offer much more lower cost ways to get enough education to get a job. You can always pursue more education later if you want.

    In terms of blame for our system – I have a hard time pointing at one group – I think a lot of us – all sides of the political spectrum have advanced the idea of a traditional 4 yr college for “ALL” no matter their personal finances.

    And Alumni who tend to be wealthier , older, and typically more Conservative have done their part to keep the current system going.

    I’ve yet to see our Virginia General Assembly do anything to put a hitch in the giddyup of College Sports… lots of them flapping their gums about “affordability” but beyond symbolic posturing… nothing real…

  3. The public (and public officials) tend to use the term “tuition” in the airing of their consternation over the rise in college costs. One of the dirty “secrets” behind this rise is that fees and room and board have increased at much higher rates than tuition.

    • Yes, I agree with you Dick. I also suggest that our institutions of higher education mostly milk our student’s every way they can in school, for as long as they can, and far too often give most of our students very little in return. The facts behind these suggestions of mine are all over the place, plainly visible.

      But, perhaps the greatest failure of our institutions of learning is their often abject failure to properly educate the lower 80% of our youth, when that group is judged, sorted out, and divided up on the basis of tests our schools use to test their scholastic cognitive ability, financial backgrounds, and race. These kids so identified by our institutions of higher education are harmed by those institutions and the systems they operate, in several primary ways:

      1/ These kids far too often are categorized, sorted out, and isolated within their designated groups, so kept apart from their “betters, and inferiors,” doing great harm to all, and the future of all of us, and society generally.

      2/ Meanwhile, far too many of these lower 80% kids are taught and forced to pay for instruction in matters they can never properly learn or need or be able to use to succeed in society.

      3/ And the rest of these lower 80% kids far too often are isolated and ignored altogether. So they far too often are demeaned and neutered altogether, stripped their opportunity to gain their fair share of the American Dream.

      For this reason Virginia’s new FastForward Workforce Credential Program is so vitally important. And perhaps, paradoxically, why The State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV) appears non-committal at this point.

      Question: How long must we believe that carpenters, electricians, plumbers, construction workers, and all our other citizens in this nation who work with their hands, are not entitled to the education they need to succeed in life, along with everyone else, instead of being cast off and abandoned, instead?

      See https://www.baconsrebellion.com/wp/passing-class-no-guarantee-of-certificate-in-new-state-workforce-program/

    • Reed,
      The older I have gotten, the more I have come to appreciate the work and skills of plumbers, mechanics, electricians, etc. Being someone who often has trouble hammering a nail in straight, I realize that they can do things I cannot do, know what to do when I have no idea, and do things that I would not want to do (e.g. work on pipes under a house while lying on my back). I don’t begrudge them the rates they charge.

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