It’s important to note here that the vast majority of schools lose money off athletics. In 2008, less than a quarter of sports powerhouses made money off their athletics programs, and collectively these same institutions lost nearly $1 billion on sports. These funds must be made up by state taxpayers or student tuition bills. Find out how much your school spent with this handy database put together by researchers at USA Today.
The aggregate impact of all this on American educational attainment probably isn’t all that big, but it’s not nothing either. We pioneered mass higher education in this country, but more recently we’ve been falling behind, and our habit of combining the function of a college with the functions of a professional sports franchise isn’t helping.