Universities Double Down on College Athletics, Students Pay The Tab, Tyler Webb, College Lawyer Blog

7:44 AM College Lawyer Blog 0 Comments


April 28th, 2016 

Mount Pleasant, MI

In today's world, college athletics have much greater implications than two teams competing for the love of the game. Today, sports have evolved to become premier social events that feature entertainment, celebrities, and a ton of money. In 2014 the NCAA, National Collegiate Athletic Association (the governing body for intercollegiate athletics) grossed $912.8 million and that number is anticipated to increase with the popularity of college sports. 

However, despite the NCAA cashing in on college athletics, universities themselves are losing money. According the NCAA's website, ncaa.org, only 20 of the 1,100 plus institutions involved in the NCAA make money on college athletics. This is a huge cause for concern because it questions the model universities are using to determine their investment in college athletics.  According to an article that appeared on USA Today, in 2010, universities that participated in D-1 (Division one) athletics that had a football program spent $91,000 per athlete. This is seven times the spending per student which is at $13,000. Universities find themselves in "spending" races in order to compete and keep with other universities. Higher education is becoming increasingly competitive and as other universities spend to make their sports programs more appealing, competitors have to decide between increasing spending or potentially becoming irrelevant. 

Universities are also opting to invest in athletics ahead of other social or academic interests, and students are picking up the slack: 

The University of Cincinnati froze its tuition but it will invest more than 80 million, majority of it borrowed, to expand their football stadium in 2015. 

Miami University has cut 50 million out of its overall budget but plans to raise 80 million from private donors for sports scholarships and a new practice facility.

Northern Kentucky University declined to build a new center to house its nursing students and accommodate other growing programs but they have enough money to expand to division one for sports; students pick up $8.5 million of the $10 million tab. 

Former Ohio State University president William Kirwan told USA Today "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." 

Some schools have already began to discuss leaving D-1 football altogether. For some schools, such as Eastern Michigan University, participating in Division-1 is a losing proposition that yields no positive outcome for its fans, faculty or students. A new report released by the EMU highlights the importance of saving students money instead of investing it in a “lost cause”. Howard Bunsis, an EMU faculty member, helped write the report and confirmed that EMU raises very little money for its football program and has some of the worst attendance in the country. The report also determined that each student pays almost $1,000 out of pocket to support athletics at Eastern Michigan University. In order to remain competitive EMU will have to invest more money in its sports programs which could create more debt and expenses for EMU’s students.

As the price of college continues to rise, and the popularity of college sports continues to increase university administrators will have to deal with the issue of budget allocations. Universities will simply not be able to sustain spending on both college athletics and areas of academic interest. Collegiate athletics are great events that bring alumni and currents students together, they require community involvement and create a sense of campus pride. However the cost of college athletics should not come at the expense of students or alternative academic investments that make the life for all students on campus better. Universities should be investigating in an ulterior model to that provides adequate funding for both academic and athletic ventures. 

Tyler Webb
Editor-In-Chief, CLB
Senior Law Clerk, Levitt Law Firm  


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.