Monday, January 08, 2007

Alabama football.

Alabama just hired a new football coach, Nick Saban, who is reportedly being paid the highest salary of any college football coach in the nation. The eight-year deal will pay Saban $32 million PLUS other benefits. That's $4+ million a year.

Because the football program brings in so much money for the school, it makes sense for them to shell out what's needed for the best coach they can find. Right?

That's fine, until you consider that Alabama public schools rank below the national average in all of the testing areas mandated by No Child Left Behind. There's a solid argument that the money would be better used to improve the state's public schools as a whole.

ADDED: I was just told that football coach salaries are typically drawn from the revenue of boosters, alumni associations and the football team itself, but I couldn't find any information backing that up. However, even if the money is taken from the football team itself, the team is a part of the university, which is part of the state's public school system. My argument still stands.


Adam said...

It seems another way to look at it might be that the football team is funded by outside donors (the alumni groups etc.), but contributes to drawing in students who otherwise wouldn't want to go to the school (sports fans). Pulling money from the team would lower its winning percentage, thus decreasing its draw for potential students and thus lowering desire to attend. This would, in turn, lower the amount of money the school system pulls in.

I guess all I'm trying to say is your argument may be a little simplistic, even if emotionally satisfying. I think, for the argument to stand, some sort of numerical proof that the number of potential students who would not have gone to the school were it not for the football team contribute less financially than the price of the coach. If this is true, then it is a valid argument.

Matt said...

The other problem with the argument, as such, is that all government funds are tied into a staggeringly ridiculous web of accounts. Those accounts have acceptable uses, and Boards of Trustees often look at expenditures, as do Deans and Colleges within the university. When they find expenditures that do not fall within the budget's appropriate use, they cut that budget, and sometimes penalize the department who manages the budget.

Some funds are not legally allowed to be used for purposes relating to academics because they are earmarked for athletics, for example.

Also, I'm from Ohio and lived in North Carolina, worked for a University in Illinois. In none of those states were state funds used to primarily support public elementary and secondary schools. Counties, cities, and districts all used their taxes, levies, etc., to support their schools and then received aid from the state. I don't know how it works in Alabama.

Short form: the things to change about this system start well before you even get to the college level. The thing to be upset about, I would hazard, is really the fact that football scores are actually important enough to draw students to a higher education facility.

Cool blog -- found you thru the MySpace group. Keep it up.