University presidents may not realize it just yet, but the debate over the realignment of college football conferences will compel them to grapple with a question none of them want to answer — is a modern American university a “corporate” or a non-profit , tax-advantaged exempt “educational” entity?
If universities want to operate like a company, they should be taxed like a company. They shouldn’t be allowed to hide behind the non-profit tax shield to pursue major athletics or indoctrinate students to be left-wing socialists.
It would be one thing if college football programs brought in $100 million per season and allocated $50 million to fund academic scholarships for non-athletes or to support cancer research in college labs. But they don’t. 100% of money teams generate stays within the sports program, primarily to fund scholarships for non-revenue sports; Title IX Athletics for Students; Travel and training costs and of course trainer salaries.
When college football coaches make $10 million a year and assistant coaches make more than $1 million to coach special teams or wide receivers, those programs are clearly “professional” in nature and don’t deserve to be considered a non-profit organization to be tax protected. Once the outer layer of the onion has been peeled away, revealing college football’s 100% business nature, the next layer to peel off is the blatant politicization by the faculty, which indoctrinates and intimidates students to embrace the politics of the far left support – which is prima facie evidence of how to violate 501c nonprofit statutes. A fat target is then painted on each university, which the legislature can use to justify the abolition of the general tax exemption.
College football has been dominated by the same colleges for decades. Every cursory overview of the top 20 teams since 1950 includes the same teams: Alabama; Notre-Dame; Michigan; State of Ohio; southern cal. Such programs have long been “big business,” whether a college president admitted it or not.
Why not embrace the reality of college football as a business and do away with the conference structure? Make each college an independent college like Notre Dame and take the top 20 teams into a top-flight nationwide league not unlike the English Premier League in football. Each team would have to play nine games against other top 20 teams, which would guarantee at least half a dozen top 20 encounters every weekend.
Nobody wants to see Alabama devastate FAMU or The Citadel. Stop it. Give the soccer fan the best matchups week by week. That’s what American competition is all about, not destroying Creampuffs to pad stats and win/loss records.
No team, including Alabama, could go through a season unbeaten for longer each week in such fierce competition. Traditional powerhouses like Oklahoma would likely lose 3-4 games each year rather than feast on the relatively weak competition of the Big 12 to go 10-1 for a national title each year.
Each of the top 20 teams played three games against one of the 60 teams in the second division. If they lose two out of three games against a second division team in a season, they are relegated from the top division to the second division.
Conversely, if a team in the second tier defeats two of the top three teams it plays against in a season, it qualifies for the next season in that top tier. There would be 45 teams in college football’s minor league that would compete to advance with three wins over Tier 2 teams.
All independent businesses. Everything taxable. survival of the fittest.
There is absolutely no justifiable reason why a major college football program in America that could generate $100 million in revenue in the next round of television deals deserves it, in any way, shape, fashion, or form the non-profit statutes of the USA tax code to be protected. At the same time, there is no justifiable reason why a university that restricts freedom of speech and thought and practices leftist indoctrination policies should not lose its nonprofit status for violating 501c3 statutes that prohibit partisan political activities.
University presidents and athletic directors should be aware of all the repercussions they will set in motion as they chase the almighty dollar in the next round of rebalancing. It’s a Pandora’s box they may one day wish they had never opened, but it should be looked into by Congress and state legislatures nonetheless.