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LTTE: CSU’s athletic program is not profitable

Editor’s Note: All opinion section content reflects the views of the individual author only and does not represent a stance taken by The Collegian or its editorial board. Letters to the Editor reflect the view of a member of the campus community and are submitted to the publication for approval.

To the Editor:

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The cover story “Stadium rakes in $3.2 million…” published on Sept. 16, 2019, creates the impression that the athletic program is a profitable enterprise at Colorado State University. The truth is exactly the opposite.

In the 2018 fiscal year, athletics required $6 million in student fees and $20 million in institutional support in order to cover its losses, according to CSU’s report to the NCAA. These subsidies drive up the cost of college attendance and divert resources that could otherwise be used to support education. 

Athletics is fun and worthwhile (except for football), but it is a profound mistake to treat it as more important than education.

Over the past decade, CSU has spent more and more on athletics, especially football. All it has to show for it is a losing team, lackluster attendance at home games and an athletic program deficit that grows larger every year.

The CSU administration has always argued that its deficit spending on athletics makes sense because of its “intangible benefits” such as national visibility. But there is no evidence to back up these vague claims. It is hard to believe that anyone decides to apply to CSU because they watch a football game on TV. If that is their motivation, why would they come to CSU when they can go to Oklahoma or Alabama? 

Football is an enormously expensive sport. Only the top college teams are able to earn enough income to pay their own way. CSU is never going to be in that league no matter how much money we throw at it.

Athletics is fun and worthwhile (except for football), but it is a profound mistake to treat it as more important than education. Reducing the cost of education and increasing the resources we put into it are more important than subsidizing the entertainment of football fans. That is the story The Collegian should be telling.

Prof. Steven Shulman

Department of economics

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