Please read Runaway athletics budget over at the SMU Daily Campus.
This guy is wrong. This guy is uninformed. This guy's name is Todd.
Here is my response:
Todd, of course, never mentions how much money is spent on athletics. The reason is clear, he has no idea how much money is spent on athletics. And if Todd had bothered to look the numbers up, he would not have dared included them, because they only weaken his argument. Todd does mention that Phil Bennett makes “almost half a million dollars a year.” The fact is Phil Bennett makes what the market bares for his services. The fact is Phil Bennett makes less money than nearly every Division I football coach in the state of Texas. Indeed, according to Department of Education figures, SMU spends less on athletics than nearly every major university in Texas.
This is not about Phil Bennett. This is about the budget. Again, Todd has no idea what percent of the schools’ budget is devoted to athletics. The answer is just 1%. That is right. Just 1% of the school’s budget goes towards athletics. The vast majority of the athletic budget is paid for by athletic boosters, ticket sales and conference revenue. That has always been the case and that will never change.
And before Todd begins to dream about what SMU would do with the money devoted to athletics, again only 1% of the school budget, he should consider the opinion of those alumni that consider athletics important.
Some alumni, students and prospective students consider college athletics a vital part of the university community, fostering school spirit, fellowship and pride, which Todd admits. Some people consider a school’s commitment to compete at the highest levels of college athletics the mark of a great university. Those same people would question SMU’s commitment to be a great university if it eliminated athletics. My wife and I donate roughly as much to various colleges and programs at SMU (Meadows, Dedman) as we spend on SMU athletics (season tickets for the family, Mustang Club donations). Without the college sports experience, I cannot say how much, or if, I would give to SMU.
Glancing at the 2006 list of the “best colleges”, I must say that I have either never heard of or I have no interest in being associated with the non Ivy League schools that don’t compete at the highest levels of college athletics. I really have no interest is being associated with University of Rochester, Worcester Polytechnic Institute or Case Western Reserve University. I dare say that if Gerald Turner announced that he hoped SMU would someday be on the same level with Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, most alumni would retch.
In my humble opinion, SMU should spend more on athletics. If you look at TCU, which has recommitted itself to college athletics in the past ten years, you can see the benefits of doing so. TCU has seen an increase in donations to both academic and athletic funds. TCU has seen the average test scores and GPA’s of its entering classes rise at a rate faster than SMU’s. Though no one is talking about it, based on 2004 data, TCU receives more applications (8,061 compared to 6,438) and admits a smaller percentage of applicants than SMU (63.9% compared to 64.2%). Since 2000, TCU has also seen its entering freshman class grow by 8% while SMU’s has grown by 3%. The yield (percentage of acceptances that enroll) for both schools is now effectively the same at just over 31%. I can only imagine what would happen if SMU, with its superior resources, superior location and superior facilities, made such a commitment.
I have always believed SMU strived to be a great university. And by “great,” I mean successful in all of its endeavors. I have never desired SMU to be known as a well regarded small liberal arts college, and that goal is not shared by the thousands of alumni of the Cox School of Business, the Dedman College of Law, the Engineering School, as well as those communications and advertising majors in Meadows. It is my dream that SMU be a great university, and by great, I mean great in everything it does, including athletics.
Indeed, when SMU was founded, the founders knew the importance of athletics, and football in particular. One of the first employees hired by the first SMU President Robert Hyer, even before classes started in 1915, was Ray Morrison, the football coach. And not coincidentally, two years later, Ray Morrison was one of the first employees ever fired by SMU (Coach Morrison later returned to coach SMU in 1923).
I am only disappointed that the current administration, and apparently some students, doesn’t have the pride in SMU to get behind SMU athletics with the resources and support necessary to achieve its true potential.