College Athletic Departments Spend Three to Six Times More per Athlete Than Their Institutions Spend to Educate Each Student

The athletic departments of most public colleges and universities competing in National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I sports typically spend three to six times as much per athlete as their institutions spend to educate their students, according to a new report by the Delta Cost Project at American Institutes for Research (AIR).

The report, titled Academic Spending Versus Athletic Spending: Who Wins?, also shows that athletic costs increased at least twice as fast as academic spending, on a per capita basis, across each of the three Division I subdivisions between 2005 and 2010 and that most athletic departments receive subsidies from their colleges and universities because they do not generate enough revenue to cover all of their costs.

Download the full report on the Delta Cost Project website or read the AIR news release.

For further information, please contact:
Donna Desrochers at or 202-403-6241
Rita Kirshstein, Director of the Delta Cost Project at AIR, at or 202-403-5410

The Delta Cost Project ( at AIR is driven by the beliefs that college spending can be contained without sacrificing access or educational quality and that better use of data can inform strategic decision making.

Established in 1946, AIR is a nonpartisan, not-for-profit organization that conducts and applies behavioral and social science research both domestically and internationally in the areas of education, health, and workforce productivity.