Admissions prices asked by the 15 colleges contacted ranged from $1.80 per ticket at Hamilton to $4.80 per ticket at several. The average charge was $3.60, while Notre Dame merely said that it charged "established rates." Syracuse, Brown, Notre Dame, Hamilton, SMU, and Columbia didn't charge student admission. Al colleges where students paid admission through activity fees or coupon books, the prices ranged from $10 to $25 per entire athletic season. The average seating capacity at the stadiums of the 15 colleges averaged 38,098. Yale bad the biggest capacity, 84,000, and Hamilton the smallest, 2000.
Colleges of late have felt uneasy about admitting the importance of football receipts in their budget; they sense that there is something unwholesome about it. Provost Buck, for instance, said a year ago, "Complete dependence of an athletic program on ticket sales is a dependence on public support, and this is an unhealthy condition." Only one of the 15 schools, Syracuse, answered "yes" to the question: "Is it the policy of your institution to give varsity athletes, especially football players, a special 'break' in regard to financial help?" It is doubtful that all the other 14 were altogether honest, but the urge to appear "pure" has been especially strong ever since 1929.
The Carnegie Report
In that year, The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching issued a 388-page report on "American College Athletics" which caused charges, counter-charges, and protestations of sainthood in collegiate athletic circles all over the country.
"Their financial and public aspects, the reputation which they confer upon the institution, and a thousand other forces unite to make college athletics not so much an activity of undergraduate life as joint cooperative enterprises involving presidents, trustees, faculties, alumni, townsmen, and the vast publics of the radio and press," said the Carnegie Report in an introductory chapter.
"They are undertakes less for diversion of the undergraduate than for the amusement of others. Thus, their 'educational values' frequently have to be rediscovered and proclaimed in order that the hospitality of the college toward commercialized athletics may be justified."
One of the long range results of the Carnegie Report was Article III of the National Collegiate Athletic Association, generally known as the "Sanity Code," in which standards for amateurism, academic levels, and financial aid to athletes are set up.
Of all the colleges which replied to the inquiry, only Notre Dame seemed unworried about the future of its athletics. The others are worried. Athletic directors generally exuded hope that somehow the lush days of the 20's would return and that the deficits which plague many of them how will melt away. High university officials at Harvard, however, are resigned to athletic deficits and making them up through other University funds. Nine of the 15 colleges have already absorbed their athletic departments into the overall budget plan of the institution. Hero, indeed, the HAA is silently being absorbed into the Faculty of Arts and Sciences.
The Case of Chicago
The best known case of pique with the tensions of "big time" intercollegiate athletics is the University of Chicago, which dropped football in 1939 and withdrew from the Western Conference in 1946. "The basic reason back of both moves," Chicago told the CRIMSON, "was that we were outgrown by the big state universities of the conference and could no longer offer much competition in most sports. It was bad for them and bad for us. Chicago is really in the small college class athletically."
Chicago still feels it has a "quite satisfactory" athletic program. While football is missed to some extent, the university is "happy to be relived of the headaches of present big-time football." Chicago's total operating budget for athletics is $135,000, $11,294 more than the deficit which the HAA took on its $884,180 budget in the fiscal year 1948-49.
Very small colleges, such as Hamilton, have deficit problems--only on a small scale. For instance, they have to travel to meet equal competition, but find difficulty raising and funds necessary for transportation and hotel expenses.
What is to Be Done?
What is to be done? The chief items of expense in a college's athletic account is intercollegiate athletics. In this department, salaries for coaches, doctors, and assistants are the major item. Other sports, except basketball at Colgate, Yale, Syracuse, and Notre Dame, and hockey at Yale, never make any money. Yale complains that crew costs it close to $100,000 each year. (Harvard rowing fortunately has a loyal alumni following which helps somewhat to keep it afloat financially). Maintenance costs on physical plants have risen sharply recently.