Top College Football Programs “Do a Little Education on the Side”

(p. C7) When it is reported that the University of Alabama pays its head coach an annual salary of $6.5 million a year, or that the University of Oregon erected a $42 million academic support center for it players, or that the University of Texas assesses its fans as much as $20,000 in the form of “seat donations” for preferred locations, it is clear that college football is no longer just a game.
Gilbert M. Gaul contends precisely that in his persuasive new book, “Billion-Dollar Ball: A Journey Through the Big-Money Culture of College Football.” . . . the elite college football programs have become a (sic) “giant entertainment businesses that happened to do a little education on the side,” . . .
. . .
Given the revenue streams that winning programs generate year in and year out, it is easy to see why college administrators are drawn in by the siren call of football. But Mr. Gaul leads the chorus of those who are beyond dismayed by this juxtaposition of priorities. In the more than a decade that has passed since Mr. Gaul, who has won two Pulitzer Prizes, began collecting data on the economics of college football as a reporter for The Philadelphia Inquirer, he asserts that the staggering revenues of the 10 largest football programs has come largely at the expense of the academic mission.
At Texas, Michigan, Auburn, Alabama, Georgia, Florida, Penn State, Notre Dame, Louisiana State University and Arkansas, revenues have increased to $762 million from $229 million from 1999 to 2012. That is a whopping 233 percent increase. Mr. Gaul observes that during this period “profit margins had ballooned to hedge-fund levels,” generated by television broadcast rights, luxury suites, seat donations and corporate advertising. Mr. Gaul reports that the big universities “have netted 90 percent of all the new money that has flowed into college football the last decade or two.”

For the full review, see:
MARK KRAM Jr. “Books of The Times; A Sport’s Most Alluring Statistic Is Found on the Balance Sheet.” The New York Times (Weds., AUG. 26, 2015): C4.
(Note: ellipses added.)
(Note: the online version of the review was updated on AUG. 25, 2015, and has the title “Books of The Times; Review: ‘Billion-Dollar Ball’ Explores the Economics of College Football’s Top Programs.”)

The book under review, is:
Gaul, Gilbert M. Billion-Dollar Ball: A Journey through the Big-Money Culture of College Football. New York: Viking, 2015.

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