College athletic programs across the country are slashing sports and running up debts like teenagers with their first credit cards. Of the 227 public universities in Division I, just 22 turned a profit last year. Why? Because the drive to compete in theoretical cash cow sports like football and basketball drove many to invest in pricey stadiums and coaching staffs—investments that pay off only for the most successful and popular schools, the Washington Post reports.
"Quite frankly, I think we’ve gotten ourselves in a terrible situation with intercollegiate athletics," says the chancellor of the University System of Maryland. This weekend, Maryland will cut seven of its 27 varsity teams to deal with a $4.7 million deficit. Yet schools say they can't cut their big-ticket football and basketball expenditures, because they're the only programs with the cache to bring big donations. "Unilateral disarmament is nothing that will fly," an ex-Penn State official says.