The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette notes today that colleges are evaluating the "cost" of big-time athletics.
But the larger issue is which university president will have the courage to suggest the time is now to back off the pursuit of big-time athletics.
In the last couple of weeks, two second-tier universities -- Northeastern and Hofstra -- have chosen to shut down their football programs. It will take a more high-profile institution to make such a move before a serious discussion can continue.
I'm a huge fan of college sports, and I was fortunate to see it played at its highest level, as a student and a journalist. But over time I've come to question the supposition that "big-time" athletic programs are consistent with the larger aims of a university.
The decision by the University of Alabama to delay the start of the spring semester because of its football program's participation in the so-called national championship game sends a message that is difficult to defend.
I understand that at major institutions the football team is a primary public relations element; it brings national attention to the campus, offers prospective students a sense of what "life" at that school might be like, and allows the entire campus community to celebrate sporting achievements.
But I also understand that the larger the athletic program is allowed to become, the less believable is that school's contention that its "student-athletes" are in fact not "athletes."