Pizza & Politics: Money in College Sports

This week’s P&P saw a packed house with standing room only as large numbers of students, faculty and staff attended the discussion.

With SUU opening discussions about the usage of student fees to student input, the funds allocated to athletics has become somewhat of a focus.

Attendees of the discussion were asked what value they thought athletic programs add to high education institutions. Students, including several student-athletes, argued that athletic programs generate large amounts of revenue for the universities, while others mentioned that athletics is what draws people to universities and can often act as the ‘face’ of a university.

The benefit of collegiate athletics for student-athletes is obvious, but what benefits do they bring to non-athlete students? Several students mentioned that attending athletic events creates a community out of the entire student body and can unify the university. One student noted that although he was not on an athletic team he was able to get a scholarship through the marching band; without athletics, there would be no marching band, so he was positively affected indirectly through athletic programs.

Reactions varied when statistics were shown providing the amount of money that was spent on students and student-athletes. On average, SUU spends about 3 times more on student-athletes than strictly academic students. Some felt that the numbers prove that institutions value athletics more than academics. Others argued that that money was being invested for short-term gains whereas academic investments prove to be more beneficial in the long run. Still, others felt that because of the additional expectation placed on student-athletes, the money was justified.

Students were then asked whether or not they should determine where their student fees go. Most agreed that a lot of important and popular clubs would suffer due to the lack of funding that would result from students having control over where their student fees were being used. Others mentioned that they had never attended an athletic event and didn’t like the idea of their student fees going to something they did not utilize or attend.

As with all Pizza & Politics, the goal is to have an educational discussion and hopefully leave with a better understanding of the topic discussed.  

If you have further questions or would like to have your voice heard, there is an additional panel on student fees Feb. 4 at the Leavitt Center.

Pizza & Politics is held every Wednesday at noon in the Michael O. Leavitt Center for Politics and Public Service located in the Sharwan Smith Student Center.

Story By
Lily Shurtleff