Sunday, March 25, 2012

North Carolina, Duke, and Oakland University

If my internet searches are correct, the University of North Carolina is a public institution located in Chapel Hill, with student enrollment of  somewhere around 18,000+, and it encompasses about 729 acres.

One might expect Duke University to have similar stats. One couldn't be more wrong. Duke is a private university with a relatively measly student enrollment of about 6600. Roughly a third of UNC's. And here's something I found astounding -- While both UNC and Duke are listed as being located in "suburban" settings, Duke sits on a whopping 8709 acres. Talk about elbow room. There's big-time ranchers in Montana and Texas that can't boast that kind of spread. That's an acre and a third per student. Conversely, doing the math, UNC is packing them in like sardines at 24 students per acre.

On the yearly cost to attend, with tuition, fees, room and board, etc., UNC averages about $20,000 for "in-staters", but zaps the out-of staters for double that. That doesn't seem right, but it must be legal somehow.

Then again, Duke, as a private university, seems to have a one size fits all when it comes to those costs. But it's upwards of $55,000 a year. That's a big cha-ching, but hey, the groundskeepers alone trying to maintain 8700 acres have to cost them a fortune.

Oakland University is public and has a student enrollment of 18,000+ while sitting on 1500 acres of pristine land. But nobody seems to know for sure what town they're in. Evidently, in their infinite wisdom, the local yokel politicos have created a border that runs through their campus. Some of it is in Rochester Hills, and some in Auburn Hills. It must be an election year. OU averages about $21,000 for Michigan residents, but like UNC, they bang the out-of-staters to the tune of about $33,000.

So what does all this have to do with sports? All three schools play Division 1 men's basketball. Duke and North Carolina are well known powerhouses, and have been for decades. Oakland, while relatively new to D1, is still trying to get a little respect, but they're light years from becoming a serious contender in the annual NCAA hoops tourney.

It's weird when you think about it. Oakland has about the same student population as UNC, and twice the acreage, but they have a second class basketball arena and can't even field a football team. Perhaps that has something to do with not having a facility for them to play in. A golf course, yes. A football venue, no. Heck, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway has a golf course on the infield, but how many sports fans care about that?

UNC has a football team, and they're pretty good some years, but few would consider it to be an elite program. Duke, with a third of the student population of UNC and Oakland, a whole bunch of land, and exorbitant tuition rates, has a football team, but they're never any good. No hot-shot high school kid wants to go to Duke to play football, full ride or not.

Duke has been a power house in men's basketball for decades. Despite their early exit from the NCAA tournament this year, an anomaly, they will likely remain so well into the future. On top of that, Duke's ladies' hoops team is consistently amongst the best in the nation.  So what has the athletic department at Oakland University been doing all these years, besides watching the world go by?

Three times the student population of Duke, and they can't come anywhere near competing with them, let alone beating them, in ANY sport? And don't tell me it's about academics, because I'll laugh. You name the field of study, and which university's degree do you think would be more impressive in the real world to have on a graduate's resume?

Like sports, it's not even a close call.


  1. You forgot both Oakland and Duke have a Coach K for the mens basketball teams. One has won multiple national championships, coached the USA olympic team and is legendary. The other one looks like a cabbage patch doll. Maybe that has something to do with it.

  2. How true. Small schools like Marquette,Depaul, Butler,Davidson,Gonzaga,and others stand up and roar once in a while. Oakland hasnt got past the meow stage yet. They arent grizzlies. They are kittens.

  3. Hey John. Your bio says you went to Oakland. Now you're trashing your own school?

  4. You make it sound like a university that was founded in 1957, can overnight get the national academic and athletic respect as a university that were founded in 1838 and another in 1795. North Carolina won it's first national championship in basketball in 1957. The same year Oakland University was founded. Oakland moved from DII to DI in 1997. North Carolina already had 3 National Champions and Duke already had 2. North Carolina had 30 NCAA Tournament appearances, while Duke had 20. Are you sure you don't want to compare to UCLA basketball? You are comparing apples to stones. You aren't even in the same category. Not only did you not make a point in your blog post, you are knocking your college education. Oakland University has made strides since entering the Division 1 era and Greg Kampe has made this basketball program blossom. The men's basketball team success can be attributed to the national recognition that Oakland University has garnished, and why people now know Oakland is in Michigan and not California.

  5. Wow you must really be stupid. Have you ever heard of anything called an Athletics Budget? Try looking up all three schools budgets and then we can talk. OU's is nowhere near UNC and Duke. I'm sorry if you have some ill feelings towards Oakland but you aren't even making sense. Mid-majors are not the same as ACC schools, sorry man. Stupid

  6. Wow. Interesting stuff. First, organized basketball and football didn't even exist in 1838, let alone 1795, so I'm not sure that's relevant. And I would hardly consider 55 years "overnight". In 1957 there weren't any computers, microwaves, color TV was in it's infancy at best, putting a man on the moon was still over a decade away, yada, yada, yada, and look how far other things have progressed since. As for "budgets"? I DID try to look them up, without success. If you can pry open THAT vault of info, let me know. Good luck. No, I'm not trashing my own alma mater. Just calling em like I see em. Besides, it kept me out of Nam. Oakland is now known as being in Michigan and not California? Really? Ask somebody in Iowa, or Alabama, or Rhode Island where Oakland is, and what do you think they'll say? Me stupid? Maybe. Opinions vary. But trust me -- I've been called worse. Thanks for commenting.

  7. It is relevant due to the fact of the HISTORY of the institution. Whether or not athletics took place, history makes schools prestigious.
    North Carolina's athletic budget for 2011-2012 is 72 million
    Duke's athletic budget 71 million
    Oakland's athletic budget around 7 million.
    You do the math.

  8. History, regardless of athletics = prestige? If I buy that, than you have to buy William and Mary being the most prestigious thing going. Somehow I don't think too many people would agree with that. Whether or not athletics took place? Excuse me. Isn't that exactly what's at issue here?
    Thanks for the budget figures. So you're telling me UNC and Duke, while likely have comparable incoming revenues to Oakland, spend 10 times as much on their athletic depts. Don't look now, but you're proving my original point. Doesn't take a calculator to figure that out.

  9. John,

    I am not familiar with your blog or work, but I do find this particular article to be a bit frustrating as a fellow OU alumnus and an avid supporter of Oakland basketball. I think it is helpful to have a fuller understanding of the uneven playing field that exists in Division I athletics.

    Budgets are a function of revenues. Oakland's budget is so much smaller because its revenues are significantly less than those at perennial power programs such as UNC and Duke.

    According to the Office of Postsecondary Education, Oakland's Department of Athletics took in about 10 million, of which 1.5 million was generated by the men's basketball program. Likewise, the men's basketball program spent about 1.5 million. Duke's Athletics Department took in about 68 million in revenue in the same year, and 29 million of that was generated by the men's basketball program. UNC took in 71 million, and 20 million came from men's basketball.

    You can do more digging here:

    When comparing Athletics programs, it is all about the money. UNC and Duke generate so much money from their athletics programs because they play in power conferences that have significant television deals (revenue to the schools), they have high-profile sponsorships, bigger stadiums, and, yes, they have history and prestige. When a school has been around as long as Duke or UNC, that is time that people are graduating and going into successful careers. Those are both top-notch education institutions, and those successful alums donate money.

    Duke's endowment ( is upwards of $5.7 billion! By comparison, Oakland's is $57 million ( Granted, those numbers are directly related to Athletics, but I think one could infer based on these figures that there is a similar disparity in the amount of giving that occurs in Athletics.

    When Duke wants to recruit a player from California, Coach K can get on a private jet, arrive at the gym, watch the player, then fly back all in 24 hours. When Duke brings players to campus for recruiting visits, they can show then all of the amenities, the separate practice facilities, the allure of the TV cameras, the state-of-the-art locker rooms, etc, etc. Oakland's staff more than likely is lucky to get a rental car to go see a recruit, and OU certainly doesn't have those amenities.

    Given the huge difference in financial resources, what Oakland has achieved in the last 10 years since moving to Division I is a major accomplishment. The coaching staff has done it with limited resources and with good kids who have graduated. This is a model program for the playing field Oakland is on.

  10. Corey S. Many thanks for taking the time to spell out a few realities to yours truly, and I certainly agree with your conclusion.
    Thing is -- when I wrote the article, it was mostly meant to be a tongue-in-cheek thing. A spoof, like most of my other stuff. I've been an avid reader of MAD magazine for 40+ years. That should tell you something about the way I think -- or don't. I had no idea some would take it so seriously, but I guess that goes with the territory.
    As for OU? I meant no disrespect. Ah yes, I remember the heady days of drinking a glass of scrambled eggs in the Vandenberg cafeteria, or watching crazy Bernie snap off parking lot arms with his car because he refused to pay a quarter on prinicple. It's all coming back to me now. LOL. Have a good one, and thanks again.

  11. University of north carolina is my dream college. i need to know everything i can to get into that school. Especially when i would be considered out of state.

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