Costs to Students for NCAA Sports Shown by State Audit

KSL Broadcasting in Salt Lake City, Utah, published an article about an audit conducted by the Office of the Utah State Auditor that examined the amount of subsidies provided to support the athletics programs at eight public state institutions. The subsidies examined in the report are provided through tuition waivers, student fees, state funds and other sources independent of revenues generated by athletics through ticket sales, media contracts, advertising, donations, etc. In total, Utah’s eight public colleges and universities received more than $56 million in subsidized funding for athletics in fiscal year 2014.

The article quotes Auditor John Dougall: “The key purpose from our perspective is to provide more transparency to the public and policymakers,” Auditor John Dougall said. “The key thing, I think, is for the public to understand where the money goes. So part of our job is to try and help them track the money so they can express their will to what extent they agree or disagree with various decisions.”

This call for more transparency in spending echoes the recommendation made by the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics in its 2010 report to “require greater transparency, including better measures to compare athletics spending to academic spending.”

The Knight Commission’s Athletic and Academic Spending Database was created in 2013 to improve the accountability for spending in college athletics. The Commission believes more effective disclosure of finances – and of financial priorities – enhances the ability of colleges and universities to ensure athletics programs are advancing the mission of higher education.

As noted in the article, the Utah State Auditor asks policymakers to consider two questions: “How much should NCAA athletics funding be subsidized? And how much of that should come out of students’ pockets?”

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