Underdog U: Sports and Money at Brown

The Brown Daily Herald published a series investigating the spending for intercollegiate athletics at Brown University with respect to other Ivy League institutions. A committee composed of administrators, two coaches, two student athletes and a faculty member were charged with cutting the already-limited athletics department budget. In May, the committee will inform President Ruth Simmons next month of its recommendations to raise the department’s revenue and cut expenses, which could include eliminating teams.

“The question of what’s the right level of resources — there’s no formula for that,” said Dick Spies, Executive Vice President for Planning and Senior Adviser to the President, who chairs the committee. “We don’t have the ability — in financial aid and faculty staffing and salaries — to overwhelm anything with resources,” he said. “So we have to be selective in what we do, and we have to find the right balance in the programs we can offer.”

“It’s sort of a two-way street to make sure there’s a balance between what athletics is offering and what opportunities the athletes get academically,” said Brown University Director of Athletics Michael Goldberger.

Raising money is “going to be a big part of what we do as a committee,” Goldberger said. “I can guarantee you that what we come out and say as a committee is that it’s going to cost more money. There are some that say that all we should do is get more money, and there are others that say all we should do is cut stuff. But somewhere in the middle is what we’re looking for.”

However, there is concern at Brown over the amount of money required to remain competitive, including costs of recruiting the best players and to pay coaches near the same amount as at other Ivy League institutions. For admitted athletes whose annual family incomes fall between $100,000 and $200,000, Brown is “struggling” to compete with the big three — Harvard, Yale and Princeton — in its financial aid offers, according to Goldberger. As a result, Brown, in many cases, becomes the more expensive Ivy.

In addition, Brown University’s average salary for head coaches is more than $18,000 below the Ivy League average, making it difficult to attract top coaches for its programs Brown pays its head coaches a league-low average of $63,618 — 30 percent lower than the average salary at Cornell, the highest-paying school in the league.

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