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Delta Cost Project Explores Athletic Spending

January 24, 2013

Using data from the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics, National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) reports compiled by USA Today, and the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) database, the Delta Cost Project's brief features charts and tables on academic and athletic spending by type of Division I schools and Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) conference; distribution of athletic expenditures; source of athletic budget revenues; and ratio of athletic program generated revenue to athletic subsidy.

One key finding of the report is that the average institution in the Football Bowl Subdivision category spent three to six times as much per athlete than they did on academic spending per student in 2010. The report also makes the case that between 2005 and 2010, despite substantial budgets for the athletic department, on average Division-I institutions increased the athletic budget at a steeper rate than that of tuition and fee increases.

In 2010, nearly 35 percent of the athletics budget at Division I schools was spent on compensation, 20 percent on facilities and equipment, and 14 percent on scholarships and grants to student athletes. Great variance in the sources of revenue in 2010 and its proportion to institutional subsidies for athletic programs was found between institutions in the FBS, Football Championship Subdivision, and Division I schools without a football program.

Nonfinancial benefits of athletic programs are also discussed.

The report is available at the Delta Cost Project web site.


Natalie Pullaro Davis
Manager, Research and Policy Analysis