Universities Invest More Money in Athletics than Academics, Study


A recent study - Academic Spending Versus Athletic Spending - by Delta Cost Project revealed that universities invest a lot more money on athletes than students. 

This trend is noticed in universities who frequently take part in National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I athletic programs like football and basketball tournaments. These programs rated as the highest level of intercollegiate athletics in the country comes with a hefty price tag that is usually paid in part by institutions and students.

The study found that public colleges and universities with Division I athletic programs spent around $6 billion in fiscal year (FY) 2010. The reason for higher investments can be due to multimillion dollar coaching contracts, a demand for more staff and better facilities, and increased scholarship commitments needed to keep pace with rising tuitions 

Among Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) institutions, athletic departments spend three to six times more on athletes than on  students. For example: FBS's median athletic spending was around $92,000 per athlete in 2010, while median academic spending per full-time student was less than $14,000 in the same universities.

Division I Subdivisions and

FBS Conferences

Median Academic Spending

per Student, 2010

Median Athletic Spending per

Athlete, 2010

Southeastern (SEC)



Big 12



Pacific 10






Atlantic Coast



However, participation in NCAA competitions like men's football and basketball, generates certain benefits like reputation, endorsement deals, multimillion dollar coaching contracts, donations, state support and enrolment growth.

The report also criticized the increase in athletic subsidies in all the subdivisions despite financial constraints in academic departments with state budgets being cut or frozen.

Certain universities like University of Maryland, University of California at Berkeley and Rutgers University have either recently cut athletic teams or tried to limit athletic subsidies. Last year, the Louisiana State University decided to transfer $7.2 million annually and $36 million over five years to support university academics. Louisiana has four public FBS schools - LSU, Louisiana Tech University, the University of Louisiana at Lafayette and Monroe.

But other universities like Georgia State University, University of North Carolina at Charlotte, and Mercer University recently decided to take part in NCAA Division I football programs to boost their reputation.

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