Friday, January 25, 2013

University Administrators: Athletics or Academics?

It is no secret that college sports is a billion dollar industry. Also, there is no question that many, if not most, colleges revolve and rely on their athletics more than they should. A recent study by the Delta Cost Project (Delta) shows that this reliance may be stronger and more relevant then previously thought.

Everyone knows that college athletes cost a lot of money. According to Delta, the median expenditure per athlete at an FBS school was $60,727 in 2005, whereas the median expenditure per academic only student was $11,079. Yes, that is a very small number. This means that the average FBS school spent six times more per year on their athletes than their academic only students. Remember that the average FBS school is making SOME money every year, so the even more interesting statistic is how much the University subsidizes each athlete per year. In 2005, that median was $12,008; yes, the University was spending an average of $929 more per year on each athlete than each academics only student.
Source: Delta Cost Project at the American Institutes for Research

From an article in USA Today, written by Mary Beth Marklein, "Between 2005 and 2010, spending by athletic departments rose more than twice as fast as academic spending on a per-student basis."

In 2010, the numbers are even more frightening. The median expenditure per athlete in 2010 was $91,936, the median expenditure per academic only student was $13,628, and finally the median subsidy per athlete was $19,318. On average, Universities are subsidizing each athlete more than they are spending on their academic only students by $5,690 per year.

There should be massive concern regarding these statistics among students and administrators alike. There is no doubt that more university funds are being redirected towards the athletic department to keep up with the massive "arms race" that defines Division I athletics, but the question is are the general students suffering because of it? A 2012 USA Today analysis of 227 Division I public schools showed the portion of revenue that comes from students fees and the university increased by 57% between 2005 and 2011. FIFTY SEVEN PERCENT. In only 6 years, the amount of money given to athletics from student fees and the university coffers more than doubled.
Source: Delta Cost Project at the American Institutes for Research

These statistics really tell the whole story. Universities need to re-analyze how they are splitting up their funds, and whether the amount of subsidy they are providing to athletics is really providing the best return on investment for their University as a whole. As quoted by USA Today, John Nichols, co-founder of the Coalition on Intercollegiate Athletics says the growing reliance by athletic departments on university funds "can mean in many circumstances one more assistant coach and one less English professor."

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