Changing the Game

In the September/October issue of Trusteeship, just in time for football season, read about how rising athletic expenses are becoming a destabilizing force for many institutions. William E. “Brit” Kirwan and R. Gerald Turner show you how the game is changing:

“The trends do not look good. Last year, the 10 public FBS institutions with the most expensive athletics programs spent an average of $98 million on athletics; by 2020, that amount is projected to rise to $254 million, given the rate of growth from 2005 to 2009.

At many of the nation’s most prominent institutions of higher education, sports are far more than just extracurricular activities or even campus spectacles. Contests in football, basketball, and often other sports unite colleges and universities with their students, fans, friends, and alumni, both in person and across the globe. Big- time college sports are integral to the identity of many institutions, including our own.

However, rising expenses—and the pursuit of more revenue to support college sports—have become a destabilizing force for many institutions, regardless of athletic mission or program size. According to the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), over the past decade, spending on athletics has been rising at a rate three to four times faster than the rate of increase of academic budgets among institutions competing in the NCAA’s Division I.

Moreover, most programs rely on institutional resources–in the form of student fees, general-fund transfers, and, in a few cases, state appropriations–to balance their budgets. such transfers are also rising much faster than other educational expenses. According to a recent analysis in USA Today, only seven universities generated enough outside revenue from athletics to cover their athletic costs in each of the past five years.

This is particularly concerning given the challenging financial conditions facing institutions. Universities are dealing with double-digit cuts in state appropriations and sharply reduced endowments in the face of rising costs across the boar–not to mention the loss of federal stimulus money meant to address the current recession. With employee furloughs, program reductions, and increased tuition and fees, spending on college sports can seem questionable or even counterproductive.” …

For the full article, link here.