SBD/January 16, 2013/Colleges

Study: Athletic Spending Outpacing Academics, Rising More Than Twice As Quickly

Per-athlete spending in the six power conferences topped $100,000 in '10
Public universities competing in NCAA Div. I sports “spend as much as six times more per athlete than they spend to educate students,” according to a Delta Cost Project study cited by Mary Beth Marklein of USA TODAY. Likely for the “first time, per-athlete spending at schools in each of the six highest-profile football conferences topped $100,000" in '10. Between ‘05 and ‘10, spending by athletic departments “rose more than twice as fast as academic spending on a per-student basis.” At schools where athletic budgets exceed $70M, the study shows that ticket sales are “the largest source of revenue, followed by contributions and payments for television agreements and participation in bowl games and tournaments.” But fewer than one in eight of the 202 Div. I schools in the study “generated more money than they spent in any given year between 2005 and 2010.” Most athletic departments are “subsidized in part with student fees and state and institutional funds because they do not generate enough revenue to cover all of their costs.” The study shows that subsidy is the “largest and fastest-growing source of revenue for the lower-tier schools.” Compensation and benefits represent the “largest athletic expense across all subdivisions, with about half of budgets going toward coaching.” Lower-tier schools “spent more of their budget on student aid” (USA TODAY, 1/16). The AP’s Justin Pope reports the study “finds the largest gap by far” in the SEC, which “combines relatively low academic spending and explosive coaching salaries.” Median athletic spending in the SEC “totaled nearly $164,000 per athlete” in ‘10. That is “more than 12 times the $13,390 that SEC schools spent per student for academic expenses” (AP, 1/16).
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