Jonathan Zimmerman: Why I Love, But Also Hate, March Madness

tags: Jonathan Zimmerman, NYU, NCAA, college sports, CS Monitor, March Madness



Jonathan Zimmerman is a professor of history and education at New York University. He is the author of “Small Wonder: The Little Red Schoolhouse in History and Memory” (Yale University Press).

I’m a crazed basketball fan, so I love it when the NCAA tournament rolls around. But I’m also an educator, and so I hate myself for watching.

That’s because college sports are – to put it bluntly – a plague on American higher education. They add a big-ticket item to our mounting costs, and they compromise our academic quality. And now we’ve got the numbers to prove it.

Let’s start with costs. Colleges in the Football Bowl Subdivision – the most competitive of the Division I programs – spent an average of nearly $92,000 per athlete in 2010, according to a January study by the American Institutes for Research. For the student population at large, the average per capita spending was less than $14,000.

I’ll spare you the math: These schools spend more than six times as much on athletes as they do on students generally....



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