SBD/Issue 84/Collegiate Sports

Subsidies, Fees Helping Prop Up Many College Athletic Programs

LSU One Of Only Two Schools Not Receiving
Subsidies During Four Years Studied
More than $800M in student fees and university subsidies are “propping up athletic programs at the nation’s top sports colleges, including hundreds of millions in the richest conferences,” according to an analysis by Gillum, Upton & Berkowitz of USA TODAY. The subsidies have reached that level “amid a continuing crisis in higher education funding.” At some of the schools where athletics is “most heavily subsidized, faculty salaries have dipped, state-funded financial aid is drying up and students are bracing for tuition and fee increases.” Subsidies for athletics at 99 public schools in the NCAA’s 120-member FBS grew about 20% in four years, from $685M in ’05 to $826M in ’08 (, 1/13). Many of the millions are “going to programs in the six richest conferences” -- the Big East, ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-10 and SEC. Of the 30 public schools where the percentage of athletic revenue from subsidies rose the most from ’04-05 to ’07-08, “five were from the ACC’s nine public schools,” and three were from the SEC. Nebraska and LSU “were the only schools whose athletic programs reported receiving no subsidies in each of the four years studied.” The athletic programs surveyed received a combined $1.04B in donations in ’07-08, and Univ. of Illinois law professor John Colombo noted that “likely translated into at least” a $200M federal tax subsidy of the programs (USA TODAY, 1/14).

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