This. My god... THIS. I still haven't figured out how having a semi-professional football and basketball program affiliated with the institution (ANY institution) is instrumental in that institution's academic mission. Stupid higher education classes with their learning and changing perspectives and so forth.
With each passing year, I think I enjoy college football less and less. It's definitely not for lack of recent titles for Ohio State. The older I get, the more difficult it is to reconcile that preposterous facade of amateurism and why many prestigious institutions of higher education should be so concerned with this peculiar (albeit multi-million-dollar) entertainment package it now feels compelled to offer. The sport seems to be becoming faster (and more brutal) for young athletes still growing into their body. Notwithstanding recent efforts to promote player longevity through safety initiatives, there is nevertheless no real impetus behind promoting player longevity as long as there exists a large talent pool of high school players that can push oft-injured college athletes to pasture.
A quick stop-gap would be to pay players, though universities clearly do not want to do that and compensation (however justified) creates additional headaches for athletic departments who have to teach an entire roster on how to file taxes and report taxable benefits. Urban Meyer should get a lot of credit for his Real Life Wednesday program. I've heard player parents (almost to a person) speak highly of it. But, contrast that with low graduation rates at other universities for football players. Contrast that with Ole Miss bragging about a team GPA below a 3.0. Heck, contrast that with what happened at UNC, which---seriously---is the most ambitious case of academic fraud committed in American university history and no one fucking cared when it was first reported. College football can be a lot of fun, but at what societal cost? I struggle with this.