Originally published 03/29/2013
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....