The perpetrators of last fall’s faculty senate resolution, that intercollegiate athletics at Berkeley be funded according to the rules and according to their appropriate role in a university, have an op-ed in the S.F. Chronicle.Â Â The chancellor appears to have a concept of “shared governance” that differs from what many might think the phrase means.
This is bigger than Berkeley; a lot of universities are trapped in a positional arms race that is a gold mine for people who sell entertainment and chotchkes; for us, not so much.Â In the case of public universities (and in the US system of tax exemptions for non-profit private enterprise, all universities are partly public) a lot of the money we spend on the 3% of our students engaged in this stuff is money taken from all citizens by force through taxes.Â What the sports supporters like to call “private” support, giftsÂ to intercollegiate athletics , are (incomprehensibly) tax deductible, so more than a third of those donations from wealthy boosters came right out of your pocket.
On the other hand, consider the value it creates. At our current level of commitment, only 10% of teams from our conference, the PAC-10, can play in the Rose Bowl, but what if we really got with the football program and we all doubled our spending on it; no more stingy two-million dollar coaches’ salaries, for example, but real money.Â Imagine how many teams could play in the Rose Bowl, and how many teams could all be in the top half of the conference, if all the chancellors and presidents stepped up!
If you think the answers are “one” and “five, same as now”,Â you don’t understand something deep and essential about bigtime college sports, which is a pity, because you won’t be able to explain it to me in comments and I will continue to not get it.