23.10.03

UTILITARIANISM. Invisible Adjunct questions the University of Nebraska at Lincoln declaring a financial emergency and laying off tenured faculty members whilst diverting more resources to the football program. To answer one of her questions with a question: what do we know about the accounting procedures at Nebraska? The football program might generate a surplus on a cash flow basis, but if it pays no rent (explicit or implicit) on the stadium, practice field, alumni house, golf course, (you get the picture) or if, as is the case at Northern Illinois University, student fees go to pay the mortgage interest on such things, then on an opportunity cost basis it loses money. I recall reading a book a few years ago, one of the late-1980s criticisms of intercollegiate sports, that asserted no program made money once such transfers and subsidies were taken into account. The effects of on-field success on alumni giving, or on enrollments were also mixed.

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