College sports subsidies at partial fault for cost of college

College football

Want to bring down the cost of college? Get rid of sports. Image from Wikimedia Commons.

Considerable consternation has been recorded over the rising cost of college and the subsequent debt that students incur to get a college education. However, there is something that would likely help bring down those costs, namely getting rid of sports.

College sports partially behind high costs of college

In the past few years, a lot of attention has been paid to the rising cost of a college education, but comparatively little as to why those costs are going up.

There are numerous reasons. Larger student bodies, falling state revenues and so forth all contribute, but there’s another one, which is namely sports. According to Smart Money, the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics found spending on sports was growing two to three times faster than spending on academics. Coach salaries are a large part of it; between 2006 and 2009, the average salary for a NCAA Division 1 head football coach rose 46 percent, to $1.4 million.

A stain on education

Sports also don’t turn much of a profit. In 2008 and 2009, only 13 NCAA Division 1 sports programs weren’t operating at a loss. One wonders why business departments aren’t objecting. Losses are worse for teams that don’t win championships. School pride is hurt; but so are the student’s wallets.

NCAA sports like basketball and football get the most attention. However, the student body might start objecting if they learned how much they cost. For instance, according to Reason magazine, Rutgers University gave its womens’ basketball coach a monthly allowance for golf in 2010. How was it paid for? By not giving the history department phones.

Not all schools are equal; some require less in subsidies from student fees or other college funds than others. However, the subsidies are getting bigger at many universities. According to USA Today, subsidies for the 99 public schools in the 120 Football Bowl Subdivision, the biggest football schools, grew 20 percent from 2005 to 2008, from $685 million to $826 million. The biggest increases were noted in “power conferences,” which have the most popular and winning teams.

Varies by school

The amount each sports department gets in subsidies depends on the school, according to USA Today, as some require none. Others require a lot. Amounts range; sports programs at Louisiana State University, Ohio State and the University of Oklahoma received no funding from their respective institutions between 2006 and 2011.Ole Miss received 7.4 percent of sports funding from subsidies, the University of California got 16.1 percent and Washington State University received 28.8

Some required much more. Ball State received 72.6 percent of funding from subsidies and Delaware, alma mater to Vice President Joe Biden, received 79.1 percent through subsidies. The reigning king was New Jersey Tech, which received 92.5 percent of its sports funding through subsidies.

Stop paying the students and the coaches

An ESPN article from July of 2011 opined that since the NCAA was getting $10.8 billion for rights for CBS/Turner broadcasting to show the March Madness Tournament between 2011 and 2024, the athletes should be paid. What the author, Michael Wilbon, doesn’t mention is that the schools don’t see a dime from the rights to broadcast those games, according to Smart Money.

Something is rotten in the state of athletics. That’s a terrible butchering of a famous quote by someone. More people would know who wrote it and what they wrote it in, possibly, if so much wasn’t devoted to college sports.


USA Today

Smart Money

USA Today



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