Patriot League-Ideal or just Idealistic?

The Patriot League was founded on the principle of no athletic scholarships. As in the Ivy league, all financial aid was to be given on the basis of demonstrated financial need. They have problems attracting members and in the past couple of years relented on the issue of basketball scholarships. (Although, it should be noted that the only team from the Patriot League to compete in the NCAA Men’s Basketball tournement last year, and the league’s champion for the past two years, was Lafayette College which still has no athletic scholarships). Several schools which would seem to be good candidates for the league based on size, location, and academics are reluctant to give up scholarships, especially in sports where their teams had been nationally ranked.
This leads me to my questions:

  1. To what extent do/would having a winning team play a role in your choice of college or university? (or your choice to recommend to someone choosing a schoool).
  2. If as an alumnus(alumna), your school sent you a plea stating that if enough people do not send them money soon, they would have to decrease spending on sports, and thus decrease the likelihood of having a winning team, would you send them money for sports? Would the amount of money you donate to your school be dependent on their athletic prowess?(regardless of answer to part a)

Note: I am NOT trying to figure out why an athlete might choose a high-profile sports school vs. one that might provide him or her with a better education and preparation for life outside in some career unrelated to sports. I AM wondering whether the concerns of school considering the Patriot League about offending alumni and having difficulty attracting students are realistic.
Note 2: If you know anything about the actual Patriot League, please ignore any perceptions about what kind of students seek such schools. I’m interested in the “generic american’s” feelings on student athletes being students first or athletes first, rather than just those who might be interested in Patriot League schools.

Well, I was always the last one picked for teams in gym class, so I frankly couldn’t give a rat’s ass about athletic scholarships.

I also went to a college where the only Division I sport was lacrosse, which is hardly the same draw as football. I assume that they had scholarships for it, but I can’t believe that they involved a lot of money.

My feeling is that you go to college to STUDY and to LEARN, not to play football (or whatever). Universities exist to educate people, and to push back the boundaries of human knowledge, not so that the students can play football.

If the athletics help you get to college, that’s great. But if athletics are the only reason you’re there, maybe you shouldn’t be there.

So to answer your questions,

  1. It didn’t play any role.

  2. I would tell them to stuff it.

The Cat In The Hat

Answer to Question 1: Having high quality sports teams does contribute to a positive college experience. Quite simply, it is fun to go to the games. “Fun is good”, to steal a line from the St. Paul Saints baseball team.

Answer to Question 2: College sports teams should be self-sufficient. If the teams cannot financially support themselves through ticket sales, concessions, parking, etc., then they should be eliminated.

The problem is colleges have been diverted from their primary educational mission into operating pro sports teams for the entertainment for the masses. Men’s football and basketball, and women’s basketball to a lesser extent, pay the bills for the athletic department. Golf, women’s field hockey and men’s fencing may or may not be worthwhile for the individual participants, but they are not big spectator or revenue producing sports.

It seems to me the real question is whether or not colleges and universities should be operating big time spectator sports teams on the side. Logically, the answer to that question is “no”, however, see my answer to question #1, “Fun is good.” It is a conundrum.

As a graduate of a University that eschews the granting of scholarships, I state quite positively that it doesn’t ‘lessen’ the experience as a student to watch a football game with 5000 people instead of 50,000. As someone who shared dormitory space with basketball players who were also physics majors and chem majors and poli-sci majors, I can attest that it was neat to be on the same hall with your team’s starting center, and also neat to know the guy or gal had a 3.8 GPA and really studied something.

On the other hand: I don’t condemn big schools that offer scholarships to people who can’t be truly considered students to play sports for a college. After all, as a society we do enjoy watching sports for entertainment, so why not help a person become a good sports entertainer while at the same time advertising for the school at which he or she plays?

I think the biggest impact it has is in terms of advertisement. Most people in California, where I was from, had never heard of the Univ. of Rochester. Mind you, Rochester is a good school. But when you don’t see a school in the newspaper sports pages, it is hard to know it exists, unless you live in the area.

CanInHat - You went to Hopkins?

While I don’t think athletics would sway me in any way if I was looking to attend college, I don’t have problem with athletic scholarships. They should be fair - that is the woman’s diving team gets scholarships in a direct propoortion to the football team. But overall, they do more good than harm, IMHO.

Yer pal,

First in response to the questions:

  1. Yes it did, and obviously would have a great effect on the choice of my school. Not superceeding the acedemic requiements in the least, but many non-sports fans think that a football/sports powerhouses automatically have poor academics as a whole. Look up the Big Ten’s rankings of academic departments, most departments specifically engineering and business are littered with Big Ten schools in the top 25. This is not to say that no other confernce does to, but the Big Ten which emphasises sports as much as any conference, is second to only Ivy league schools in acedemic rankings.

  2. If my school solicited money to bolster the sports program would likely donate a reasonable sum to improve the team. I’ll give my reasons in the future becuase I imagine this will be an unpopular sentiment. I would however become very active in investigating how the athletic department is run, and if the powers that be are corrupt, stupid, incompetent, or just plain unlucky. I would see to it that this isn’t a recurring theme. The departemnt should be self sustaining, but shit happens.

My take on sports in college. Saying sports don’t belong in colege s ignorant. It comparable to saying art doesn’t belong in college, neither directly act in the advancement of society, neither increase the knowledge of people. The both do however provide enetertainment, no more no less. Entertainment is very important to people, and therefore they are noble pursuits. Most people who go to college for sports or art don’t earn a living doing that. The scholarships help people go to school who otherwise wouldn’t ba able to, that alone is a important thing. While many don’t take advantage of it, and take the free ride for granted and are “there to play football” and not to learn (I believe less than is portrayed in the media and by most no fans), that fact is not limited to athletes. Lots of rich kids go to college to drink and party, pick up chicks, and join frats and not to learn. Lots of talented artists and musicians go to college and play music, perform in bars, and ignore the required non-art classes. These people are no more innocent than the lazy athletes.

Sports are fun, and that is the truth. That said sports are more fun when your winning, and therefore big sports schools with sucessful prorams rate high on my list when choosing a one to affiliate with. Sports are also more fun when you feel like you have a stake in the team. Thats why people get so geeked about their home team, or their alma mater no matter ho far removed they are. This is why I place a strong emphasis on sports when I choose my college. I knew that a place where sports were an afterthought would leave me feeling empty. Picking a Big Ten school gave me a great education (very important) and it gave me a school that I will always cheer for and therefore to an extent better my life. Cheering for a good team playing in good games, makes me happy, and that is the reason I value it. This said explains why I would donate money to my alam mater, if the teams would get better, I’d feel my money well spent. I’d be buying more entertainment, better entertainment and feel like I was participating in the event. I supsose its similar to the arguement that gamblers give to why betting makes the games more fun. But in this case the money will presumably actually have a real influence.

Colleges are for education, not for turning out sports pros? Wazzamatta, ya unAmerican or somethin’?

The real question, though, is what is the graduation rate among the student athletes? There’s no doubt that the Big Ten colleges have excellent academics; but what is happening with the men who are basically being hired to play football for them?

The NCAA claims that more athletes than nonathletes graduate from college, but to arrive at that figure, they have to include Div III schools that don’t award athletic scholarships. And in the big two sports, basketball and football, graduation rates are at their lowest in seven years and are below that of the student body as a whole.

The fact is that graduation rates for student athletes in the “glamour” sports tend to be abysmal, especially for nonwhite student athletes. And Div I schools are happy to make tons of money off of these guys without (until recently) doing much to ensure their academic success.

Furthermore, even with all the complaining about modern college academic standards, student athletes at Div I schools are held to much lower standards than the rest of the student body. And heaven forbid colleges suggest higher GPA or SAT standards be made a condition for NCAA scholarships; the NCAA goes into apoplexy whenever it is suggested.

Frankly, I think a great many of the spots held in the admission roles by student athletes could be given to people who actually care whether they earn a degree, rather than by people who see it as a trade school for the NFL or NBA draft.

Up front, I AM a major sports fan, and a football fan in particular. I say that so that people who disagree with me can’t accuse me of being an elitist egghead who hates sports.

Though I love football, it’s time college administrators faced some facts: MOST colleges lose a pile of money on football programs. There are, perhaps, 50 colleges in this country whose football programs turn a profit (for the athletic department- NOT, usually, for the college as a whole). All the rest would be better off abolishing football entirely. Let the Michigans, Tennessees and Flordia States fight it out. Let the other colleges restore sports to what they’re supposed to be: an extra-curricular activity for students, not a source of entertainment for outsiders, or a training ground for pro athletes.

To those who say, “Doesn’t a winning football team bring in more alumni contributions,” the answer is… NO! In his excellent book, “The Hundred Yard Lie,” Rick Telander showed that Notre Dame’s best years ever, in terms of alumni contributions, came during the dismal Gerry Faust era!

Truth is, the kind of wealthy alumni inclined to build libraries and science labs (the kind of contributors a college should really want) doesn’t care that much about how the football team is doing. The contributors who REALLY make a school work don’t base their donations on whether your team made the Poulan Weedeater Bowl.

In general, every college has a handful of loudmouthed, prominent alumni, who make dominate debate over campus athletics. These are the idiots who create scandals- and in general, they contribute nothing of substance to a university’s true mission.

If more colleges would abolish football, several benefits would ensue, including:

  1. They’d free up needed funds for academics.
  2. They’d NEVER have another TItle 9 problem again.

Boston University is one school that finally dumped football. I’d like to see more schools follow suit.

Quick factual question:
Is there such a thing as Division II athletics? (If so, what sort of schools might have them?) (just wondering since I’ve seen mention only of I and III and know Lafayette College considered dropping from Div I to Div III athletics, which seemed to me the non-fan to be a big drop . . . even if it was bottom of Div I to top of Div III)

My answers to my earlier questions, in case my motives for asking are not as clear to you as they are to me:

  1. No impact. I may have been vaguely aware that it played Div I athletics, since that was probably a selling point for the school (Look at us, we’re little, have small class sizes, no nasty grad students, and Look! Div I athletics) but I don’t care about sports, closest I ever came to watching a football game in college was singing the national anthem and the Alma Mater at homecoming, then I fled the stadium.
  2. No, I wouldn’t give them money for sports. It is fun when I know that their team is winning, but not being much of a fan, and not being in the geographic area where my alma mater is, I am not likely to know if they have a winning team.