By Mary Beth Marklein, USA TODAY
Public universities competing in NCAA Division I sports spend as much
as six times more per athlete than they spend to educate students, and
likely for the first time per-athlete spending at schools in each of the
six highest-profile football conferences topped $100,000 in 2010, an
analysis of federal and school data finds.
Between 2005 and 2010,
spending by athletic departments rose more than twice as fast as
academic spending on a per-student basis.
spending by 97 public institutions that compete in the top-tier Football
Bowl Subdivision increased the most: 51%, to $92,000, between 2005 and
2010, while median spending on education increased 23%, to just under
$14,000 per full-time student.
Meanwhile, tuition at four-year
public universities increased an average of 38% and state and local
funding rose just 2%, research shows.
At schools where athletic
budgets top $70 million, ticket sales are the largest source of
revenue, followed by contributions and payments for television
agreements and participation in bowl games and tournaments, the report
shows. But fewer than one in eight of the 202 Division I schools in the
report 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. That subsidy is the largest and
fastest-growing source of revenue for the lower-tier schools, the study
in intercollegiate athletics in the United States comes with a hefty
price tag, one that is usually paid in part by state and institutional
funds," says Donna Desrochers, author of the report released Wednesday
by the Delta Cost Project at the non-profit American Institutes for
The group's analysis was based on data from the
Education Department and data collected by USA TODAY Sports for its
College Athletics Finances Database. A 2012 USA TODAY analysis of 227
Division I public schools found that athletics revenue had increased 54%
between 2005 and 2011; the portion of revenue that comes from student
fees and the university increased 57%.
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.
John Nichols, a retired
journalism professor at Pennsylvania State University and co-founder of
the Coalition on Intercollegiate Athletics, a faculty-led alliance that
seeks changes, says the growing reliance by sports departments on
university funds "can mean in many circumstances one more assistant
coach and one less English professor teaching Shakespeare."