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Business and Policy Areas
Business and Policy Areas

Knight Commission Discusses College Sports Finance Issues

November 3, 2004

The Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics and several college sports finance experts recently discussed the difficulties in accounting for the full cost of athletics and the continued need for reform. Improving data on capital expenditures supporting athletics will be a focus of new research. Commission members received briefings on attempts to establish uniform college athletics financial reporting from Judith Palmer, vice president and interim treasurer at Indiana University and chair of the NACUBO/NCAA task force, and James L. Isch, NCAA chief financial officer. Also presenting was Peter Orszag, senior fellow in economics studies at the Brookings Institution, who shared new data from a study on college athletics spending over a 10-year period.

Isch asked commission members to support efforts to include the new report as part of the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act, currently stalled in the House of Representatives. The new report would replace the Equity in Athletics Disclosure Act, which currently requires colleges to report data on athletic finances and athletic participation rates.

Orszag analyzed two new years of data, extending his 2003 study, Empirical Effects of Collegiate Athletics: An Interim Report,, to cover a 10-year period. The new data show a significant increase in financial inequality among football programs around the country. The data also reaffirm the original findings that increased spending on college football or basketball programs do not yield increases in alumni giving, operating revenue, winning, or academic quality at higher education institutions.

For more information, visit the Knight Foundation Web site.