I work with a sizable number of colleges and while I have no doubt there area few unscrupulous actors concerns for students, faculty and staff are at the forefront. My experience has been that delays are more around the uncertainty of the world environment and the complexities of moving classes, labs and activities online at a scale to accommodate tens of thousands of students (and the desire to avoid the educational and experiential downsides of doing that) as opposed to some of the reasons mentioned here. The biggest miss I can see in this area is the lack of collaboration that appears to be going on among schools. There are likely discussions at the top level between Universities but that hasn't seemed to filter down much. Most of the people I'm working with have little to no idea what the game plan or potential game plans are. Even within Universities some units are feeling left to their own devices to invent the wheel. Some of that is difficulty of changing mindset and structure as schools tend to take a slow, considered and debated approach to change. Not all that surprising given the traditional work and roles but it's not a system that deals with rapid change. And some is because schools vary heavily in terms of degrees, activities and geographical region so there won't be a one sized fits all approach but there still seems to be room for improvement. I'm hopeful more is going on behind the curtain but I am skeptical of that.
I'll caveat the next section that my experience is with schools that fully self fund or come close to fully self funding athletics and research heavy institutions. Higher ed is an incredibly diverse environment and one of my pet peeves are articles that lump it all together with no delineations. You might as well lump together the neighborhood bakery with Ford Motor company and draw business trends from that. Useful perhaps for broad trends but statements around sports and administration levels get muddled real fast. Yes there are schools that grossly over spend on athletics. Yes there are schools that grossly overspend on administration. But there are valid reasons that some may choose to go in certain directions. This also isn't to say that changes won't be coming to ameliorate financial shortfalls.
For sports - there are benefits that are gained that are rarely if ever accounted for in the general discussions that tip the balance for those close to breaking even. First its a great tool for gaining donations. Even beyond the "invite a big donor to a suite for a football game" interactions, donations tick notably upwards during athletic seasons the school is known for (football season, basketball season etc) as Alumni or even just fans are reminded of their college experiences or whatever else compels them to donate. Vendors and businesses compete harder for contracts if they can leverage your sports team's name or even donate resources\equipment\product that can be used outside of athletics outright. Schools can leverage the local economic impact of well attended athletic events for discounts\subsidies on city\local services that benefit the greater University (congested buried conduit access, beneficial routing of services etc). This won't offset costs schools who are hemorrhaging money on athletics but the "Only 24 schools make money on athletics" is not as dire as the headline sounds.
Administration levels are even more complicated. "Administration" is not just your Presidents, Provosts, Key Administrators but also your researchers, programmers, librarians, facilities, IT, maintenance and janitors. Faculty are being asked to do less administrative work that is offloaded to their units - or at least they are not being asked to take on as much additional administrative work as new things (regulations, technology etc) come up. New pedagogical staff resources are available to them to help with their instruction. Programmers available to help them get\model\manipulate research data. Librarians and archivists to help them retain information "indefinitely" in new ways. Movers to move furniture throughout the day to accommodate different session\labs without needing to buy\build\remodel buildings. For students there are more staff resources to help them with career counseling, interview\resume prep, navigate increasingly complex degree, transfer, financial aid programs. The government and grant programs are also asking for increasing regulatory compliance. Coming from a defense contractor I was surprised how much more complex the regulatory environment for higher education is. Many also have defense contracts. And need to comply with Health regulations (HIPPA, Human subject research), Financial (GLBA, PCI), Export controls (ITAR, EAR), Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI), Personally Identifiable Information (PII) and of course their own regulations like FERPA and Title IX. Grants\agreements may require their own views on how to meet data security levels resulting in a myriad of one-off compliance situations. Even more fun many schools run into scenarios where a federal law requires one thing while a state law requires the exact opposite. So you've got a small hoard of administration (lawyers, data stewards, IT, research program administrators etc) who try and make sure the school is in compliance with everything, negotiate agreements with third parties for data protection, doesn't suffer data breaches and doesn't lose millions to billions in research funding. Expenditures on compliance can reach up to 25% of research expenditures and 8% of non-research expenditures. Not to say this effort is not needed at least to a decent amount. Systems, processes and behaviors are often not familiar or cognizant of the measures necessary to keep this information safe and IT systems are frequently well behind the curve. Schools have access to a lot of sensitive data types and need to secure it. I am not in favor of any of the "Regulatory holidays" people pitch due to the risks those carry but there does need to be some normalization of regulations. And again there are schools that are too administrative heavy compared to the need or workload but there's more depth to the issue than often reported.
https://news.vanderbilt.edu/files/Cost- ... e-2015.pdf