Athletics Cost Colleges, Students Millions

Knight Commission data on athletic and academic spending are cited in The Cincinnati Enquirer article, “Athletics cost colleges, students millions.”

The article examines the costs and benefits of sports programs, particularly those that rely on institutional funding and student fees, and questions whether the costs are sustainable: “Athletics is among the biggest examples of the eruption in spending by universities that has experts concerned about whether higher education can sustain itself. The lethal combination of exploding spending, tuition and student debt could lead to a wider financial crisis, reminiscent of the Internet bubble of the late 1990s or the housing bubble in the late 2000s.”

The article cites Knight Commission data that show: “Division I schools with football spent $91,936 per athlete in 2010, seven times the spending per student of $13,628. Division I universities without football spent $39,201 per athlete, more than triple the average student spending.”

Knight Commission co-chairman Brit Kirwan is quoted: “We’re probably headed for some sort of disruption where the schools with lesser access to extensive revenue will have to find a different model,” he said. “Those who have the revenue will find a separate structure, whether it’s inside the NCAA or not…”

“It’s very alarming to see how intercollegiate athletics is distorting expenditures and value in higher education,” the Knight Commission’s Kirwan said. “It has so much potential for good, but I think we’re on a trajectory now that in my opinion is doing more harm than good.”

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