Monday, November 19, 2012

The Race to Sixteen

Will the Big XII (currently with ten schools) or the Big 10 (currently with twelve schools) get there first?

It looks like the Big 10 is widening their lead...but at what cost to the student-athletes that don't play foosball or thump-thump?

Two schools that may be headed for the Big 10 (taking them to fourteen?) dumped multiple sports along the way.  They've become sad examples of overspending and Title IX policies gone wrong.

In total, these two schools dumped over a dozen sports in just the past five (5) years.  Even though they still maintain indoor long course facilities, Maryland dropped both men's and women's swimming, while Rutgers kept only the women's squad.

Read more here and here.

Two largely underachieving, financially irresponsible athletic programs are parlaying their geographic proximity to major metropolitan areas into membership in the Big Ten. They've done very little on the field of competition to deserve it. But that's not what drives conference affiliation these days.


Whatever the final exit fee is, it's still an expensive proposition for an athletic program swimming in red ink. Of course, Rutgers has been that red-ink pool for so long its fingers are pruned.

It cut six sports programs in 2007, and then proceeded to run up even more debt in the years that followed. The Newark Star-Ledger reported that Rutgers athletics spent $26.8 million more than it earned in 2010-11 – a staggering display of financial recklessness that was in part foisted on the general student population via additional fees and tuition.

...and Maryland:

Maryland is facing a $50 million exit fee from the Atlantic Coast Conference, just months after dropping seven athletic programs in July in an attempt to get itself out of multimillion-dollar debt. The students who worked year-round to compete in those programs – and who tend to graduate at a high rate – were expendable in order for the Terrapins to keep up with the Joneses in revenue sports. If the Under Armour booster cares more about 57 combinations of football uniforms than having a swim team, it's expendable.

On the surface, it might look like the decisions by schools to jump from conference to conference happen at the drop of a hat.

Don't believe it.

If you've never believed in conspiracy theories, but might want to start, this could be the one for you.

What, you don't think athletic directors and school presidents ever play golf?  Or have off-the-record chit-chats at annual meetings?

Give me a danged break...

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