SBD/June 16, 2011/Colleges

Athletic Departments Saw Rise In Revenues, Spending Last Year

More than $470M in “new money poured into major-college athletics programs last year, boosting spending on sports even as many of the parent universities struggled with budget reductions during tough economic times,” according to a front-page piece by Berkowitz & Upton of USA TODAY. Much of the “rise in athletics revenue came from an escalation in money generated through multimedia rights deals, donations and ticket receipts, but schools also continued increasing their subsidies from student fees and institutional funds.” Altogether in '10, about $2B in subsidies “went to athletics at the 218 public schools that have been in the NCAA's Division I over the past five years.” The subsidies “have grown by 28% since 2006 and account for $1 of every $3 spent on athletics.” While “about a third of the 218 Division I schools trimmed athletics budgets last year, about a third either increased their spending faster than money came in or didn't cut spending enough to keep up with losses.” There has been “an increase in the number of schools whose revenue generated by athletics department activities exceeds the department's total expenses -- the NCAA's benchmark for whether an athletics program is financially self-sufficient.” Last year “there were 22 such schools,” up from 14 in ’09 (USA TODAY, 6/16). The AP’s Michael Marot noted NCAA President Mark Emmert is “concerned the balance in college sports could be jeopardized by a growing gap between schools with self-sufficient athletic departments and those that rely on school subsidies to fund sports programs” (AP, 6/15).
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