Saturday, April 02, 2011

The decline of the NCAA

A short piece in the New Yorker this week spoke honestly about the decline of the NCAA as a stepping stone to the NBA, as the NBA D-League and European leagues become better places to play.  Oh well.  I'm sorry, but living in a place where college basketball dominates the landscape and has for my entire lifetime, I can live with that.  Universities with big teams have drifted too far from their core missions.  Big money sports were not supposed to be what the university was all about.  If college basketball becomes less relevant to the ongoing operations of the university, that's OK.  It would certainly be preferable if the same thing happened to football, since football really sucks.

Universities can think up a new funding mechanism other than headline sports. If, in states like my own North Carolina, that means that the flagship university (Chapel Hill) ends up getting marginally less money as other universities (UNCs-Charlotte, -Greensboro, -Asheville, -Wilmington, etc.) develop stronger donor bases, that's OK too. The university is not about sports, and it in particular is not about one specific sport.

What we do want to have is a strong public higher education ecosystem with a healthy mix of public and private funding sources.  California public education is hurting now.  Texas just realized it had a $27 billion fiscal hole. North Carolina must retain its leadership position.

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