Universities should spend their cash on academics, not athletics, according to Ralph Nader.
The former presidential candidate gave a lecture at UC Berkeley Tuesday, in which he claimed that college sports are a drag on academic growth.
Nader said that society's attention to athletics has moved people down what he called the "sensuality ladder" — a theoretical scale of people's interactions with the world. Athletics are like fast food Nader said, which "turns the tongue against the brain."
UC Berkeley poured $78 million into Cal Athletics between 2003 and 2010, according to Brian Barsky, a UC Berkeley professor of computer science. Barsky was one of eight faculty members to author a 2009 resolution recommending the campus end all funding to intercollegiate athletics. When the athletics department reported a $5.8 million budget deficit in 2008-09, with the administration taking full responsibility for the shortfall, the UC Berkeley Academic Senate approved a resolution calling for the athletic department to start paying its own way.
Funding was not completely stopped, but efforts continue to be made to reduce the department's reliance on UC Berkeley's cash. Cal Athletics is on the way to meeting goals set by a task force in late August, campus spokesperson Dan Mogulof told the Daily Californian. By 2014, the department should have a budget deficit of no more than $5 million. Although a time frame has yet to be determined, the ultimate goal is to reduce the deficit to zero.
Do you think Cal's athletic program is "dumbing down" UC Berkeley, straining resources, and posing a threat to the university's academic integrity? Share your thoughts in the comments.