THE BUSINESS OF SPORTS
A glow of pride and a lot of money
By Justin Pope
he payoff of the 1996-97 bang-up year for
Cardinal athletics was a healthy glow of pride and invaluable publicity
around the country.
The cost, however, was a little more tangible: $30 million to run
Stanfords 33 varsity sports by providing them with the best coaches,
equipment and facilities and to fund 260 full-ride scholarships. Whether
you consider that figure a bargain or a costly operation, its a fact of
life in the 90s.
Ballooning television dollars and pressure for gender equity are among
the factors that have revolutionized college athletics in the last 25
years. Intercollegiate sports can no longer exist apart from the often
troubling influence of money. Funding even a mediocre program requires
business sense; funding one of the nations most enviable is a big-time
Remarkably, except for a small fee the athletic department receives for
making its facilities available to university staff, Stanfords athletic
program runs without a penny from university general funds. Even rival
schools that dont award athletic scholarships cant make that claim.
The schools that are like us Harvard, Yale, Princeton all
give significant general fund subsidies to athletics, said Athletic
Director Ted Leland. But Stanfords athletic department not only foots
the bill for more than $7 million in scholarships annually, it also has
to make budget on operating expenses.
The formula is simple: aggressive fundraising, big-time football and
some Silicon Valley-style capitalism.
Fundraising supports the scholarships. Of the $7.5 million in athletic
grants awarded this year, $4.5 million will come from endowed funds. The