I found this book wildly entertaining, even being someone who holds an advanced degree in Sport Management. For those that aren't super familiar with the business of major college athletics, specifically the large money making programs of the Power 5 conferences there is nine-digits floating through these athletic departments on an annual basis. However, collegiate athletic departments are classified as non-profit entities so they are exempt from paying taxes. This allows the money that they make to go flowing back into the programs in the form of large coaching salaries, gaudy facilities and lavish amenities not open to the average student.
The vast majority of collegiate athletic departments are not profitable and rely on student fees from the regular everyday student to stay afloat. Even with programs operating in the red it isn't unusual for the highest paid public employee in the state to be a college football coach. The challenge is raised whether these athletic departments with un-profitable football programs should even continue with a program.
Gilbert Gaul did an excellent job researching the book and getting a lot of first-hand accounts. I will admit that my eyebrows were raised by some of the quotes and perspective he provided throughout the book. It is definitely worth the read.
What Did I Learn?
1. I was aware that Title IX made college programs create comparable programs to women and provide a number of scholarships comparable to the student body. What really jumped out to me in Gaul's book was how women's rowing has largely been a driving force to help match the 85 scholarship given to football programs. Women's rowing is a relatively cheap sport to finance and most of the girls that enter the sport have little or not experience in the water. They just happen to be tall and strong.
2. Gaul digs into why the SEC is so dominant at football. I won't ruin that chapter for you.
3. I enjoyed how the idea of whether student athletes get a real education. Often times schools tend to funnel kids into majors and colleges that best fit the needs of the football program's schedule. Does that really benefit the student in the long-haul? The NCAA's comical "we're preparing for life after sports" campaign comes to mind. Do they really mean that when it comes to football? Or are they just protecting their cash cow?
About the Author
Andy Rupert is a Penn State (B.A. John Curley Center for Sports Journalism 08') and a Southern Miss (M.S. Sport Management 09'). He has spent his whole career working in sports and tourism digital marketing and metrics.