Report Says College Sports Spending Increasing 7% Annually


Inflation is rising at a 3-4% clip annually, but college tuition is rising at twice that rate. What a lot of people don’t realize is that college spending on sports is also increasing sharply, about 7% annually basketballsince the mid-1990s, this news coming in the form of a report from a University of Arizona professor who published that information yesterday.

Professor John Cheslock’s report, “Who’s Playing College Sports? Money, Race and Gender,” found that from 1995 to 2005 spending increased by $8.2 million per school over that period, with football expenditures increasing by approximately $2.5 million per team while women’s sports, other than basketball, rose by just $135,000 per team.

“Athletic expenditures are increasing at a rate that complicates any efforts to increase or even maintain athletic participation opportunities,” said Cheslock, who studied 625 schools from 1995 to 2004, with Division II and III schools also posting a growth rate near 7 percent.

The professor’s report made note of data from the NCAA and Equity in Athletics Disclosure Act which revealed that male participation increased 6% across all divisions between 1995 and 2005 while female  participation increased by 20%. Cheslock made the point that universities have responded to Title IX (which gives equal access to male and female students) by increasing women’s participation in sports rather than decreasing men’s participation.

Title IX has been blamed for forcing colleges to cancel programs, including wrestling programs, while Cheslock’s reports shows other reasons for these programs demise including:

  • Other high school sports have gained in importance. Both male and female high school students are embracing nontraditional sports including, lacrosse, and colleges are responding by offering programs that much their interests.
  • Insurance costs for some programs is higher than others as injury rates are also higher. Some schools have found that the cost of athletic injuries makes supporting certain sports untenable.
  • Some schools also concentrate on sports which increase diversity, such as soccer, choosing to emphasize those sports which can benefit the entire student population.

The crux of the professors report was the annual increase in sports funding, even suggesting that Congress should grant the NCAA limited antitrust exemption to restrain athletic spending. This point in the professor’s report is certain to meet strong opposition from schools whose football and basketball programs provide the bulk of the sporting revenue.

(Source: Women’s Sports Foundation)

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Categories: Collegiate Sports