Northeastern is a private University with a nearly $34k price tag. So what do students get for this? Not a football team as of next year. Today, Northeastern announced that it will discontinue its intercollegiate football team after the season, which ended this past weekend with a 3-8 win-loss record that included a 54-0 blowout loss to Boston College and a 56-7 beating at the hands of Villanova. Since it began fielding a team in the 1933 season, NU has won only 44.7 percent of its games. Its last winning season was in 2003.
Non-competitive in a Colonial Athletic Association (not exactly a football powerhouse conference) this bold move by university officials is laudable. An article appearing this morning in IHE suggested that:
Northeastern officials stressed that the decision was not simply about saving money, but about where the university should spend money.The press release from the University indicated that:
The decision is consistent with the university’s strategic approach to prioritize programs and invest in signature strengthsThese statements confirm what CCAP and other critics of college sports have long suspected, that the proliferation of "big-time" sports had been at the expense of education. Northeastern deserves a pat on the back for being audacious enough to admit this through its actions.
Hopefully this is the beginning of a trend in which universities realize that their conglomerate operating model is a failure, and begin to re-focus their priorities (expenditures) on areas that they have a comparative advantage, rather than trying to be all things for all people. Individuals, firms and even entire countries have long abandoned the conglomerate (generalist) model in favor of specialization, it is time that higher education hop on the train. Northeastern President Joseph Aoun appears ready to embrace this concept:
“At a time when higher education is critically important to rebuilding our knowledge-based economy...universities have an obligation to invest resources in areas of strength—whether they are competitive athletic programs or cutting-edge academics."