The Wall Street Journal released an interesting look at what's taking place in Fort Collins right now as Colorado State tries to secure the funding required to build a new $246 million on-campus stadium. I'll try and keep the CSU snark to a minimum because the story really is a good look at the state of college athletics and how the public institutions in Colorado are operating under unique circumstances due to an unusual lack of support from the State.
The story mentions that "Colorado has cut its support for public colleges by 73% since 1980, more than any other state, according to Tom Mortenson of the Pell Institute for the Study of Opportunity in Higher Education," and quotes CSU President Tony Frank as being concerned that his University could become one of the first in the country to receive no state funding within 10 years.
Even with the concern over the loss of state assistance, not everyone in Fort Collins thinks the move is a wise one.
Skeptics, including some alumni and faculty, see the project as a boondoggle-especially for a team that plays in a relatively low-profile athletic conference and doesn't sell out its current 32,500-seat stadium off campus. The debate has sparked dueling websites, animated letters to the editor and arguments about the role of sports at a university.
"I am just an ordinary retired citizen who looks at this from a financial standpoint and says, 'This is the stupidest thing I've ever seen,'" said Bob Vangermeersch, a former Fort Collins businessman who is leading the opposition movement against the new stadium. "The numbers just do not pan out."
The impetus for the new stadium and facilities is a desire to increase the number of out-of-state applications, a financial windfall for the University just like they are in Boulder. Athletic Director Jack Graham believes in the "if you build it, they will come" ideology, referring to better players which will lead to a better team which will lead to increased out-of-state enrollment. As part of the justification for this theory, administration refers to changes that have taken place at a few other schools around the country.
Colorado State and Oregon are largely similar institutions, Dr. Frank, CSU's president, said. "In fact, in places-research funding and things-we do far better," he said. "Yet, I bet if you asked 100 people outside the state of Oregon and the state of Colorado which is the better academic institution, probably 90 to 95% would say the University of Oregon. And what I would argue to you is that that would be based largely on perception and the visibility from athletics."
Hmm... I'm not quite sure that Colorado State should be looking at Oregon as an example of why this decision is a smart one. Quite a few factors make the rise of the Ducks athletic department very different from what the Rams are facing.
Anyways, the story is worth a read so check it out and let us know what you think in the comments.
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