You could attend Harvard about 17,554 times for $1 billion. Men’s college football and basketball generate $6 billion in annual revenue. In the modern world of higher education it is safe to say that college sports have become a major source of income for universities and colleges.
It follows that colleges and universities have a lot to lose when it comes to the success of their sports teams. Alumni and university donors expect to see teams that they can put their money behind – essentially they want a school that they can be proud of. Consequently, colleges have become more and more aggressive about finding new, young athletes to beef up their teams.
According to “Athletes Wanted,” by Chris Krause, a book written to help guide parents through the recruiting process, 50 percent of the recruiting coaches’ decisions depend upon athletic ability, 25 percent depend upon academics, and another 25 percent depend upon “intangibles,” which include “character, leadership, and work ethic.”
These statistics are astounding. They are difficult numbers to hear for a hard working, but not-so-very athletic student. I, like many of my fellow students, have enrolled in as many AP classes as I could, volunteered, worked a few jobs, joined multiple clubs, and tried to beef up my academic resume. However, as much as all these things help in the race to college, being a star athlete will ultimately boost a student’s chances of being accepted into Harvard or Yale more than most other extracurriculars will.
Although Ivy League schools have never offered athletic scholarships, they have found other ways to recruit athletes, by providing need-based financial aid. Erica Reetz, an outside hitter on Yale’s two-time defending championship volleyball team, claimed that, “ I was going to Yale for the same cost as any other kid going to a state school.” Ivy Leagues have been providing more and more need-based financial aid to athletes as their teams have begun climbing in the national ranks once again.