Friday letters: Debt, sports costs are not linked

January 17, 2014 

— Dalton Floyd Jr.’s Jan. 5 column (“Are college debt, athletic spending linked?”) raised the issue of a correlation between student debt and the excess growth of spending by S.C. institutions of higher learning on athletics vs. instructional or academic spending.

If one used the published data from his column, there appears to be no meaningful correlation. Using the difference of fractional athletic-spending growth minus fractional academic-spending growth and correlating those differential values with the reported student debt from each S.C. institution (among those students who have debt), I see no relationship visually in an X, Y plot nor from the calculated correlation coefficient of approximately 0.1.

Mr. Floyd closed with “While there is no bright line showing cause and effect … .”

I would submit that (1) there is not even good correlation from the presented data and (2) cause and effect cannot be discerned from correlation.

Jeff Z. Brooker

Columbia

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