College Spending On Athletics Rises Faster Than On Academics

A report released today indicates athletic funding at public institutions is increasing 25 times faster than academic funding.

lacrosse

Photo: Depauw University

Alumni donations, not an overall increase in budget, helped launch DePauw's lacrosse program.

College and university are spending more on athletics while spending on academics has remained stagnant, according to a report the American Association of University Professors released today.

The report shows that between 2003 and 2011, academic funding at public institutions increased 1 percent while athletic funding increased 25 percent.

John Curtis, the director of research and public policy for the American Association of University Professors, says the findings are particularly striking because the trend is being seen not only in schools with Division 1 athletics but also in less competitive Division 3 schools.

“It seems that colleges and universities are hoping to attract students essentially by offering them the possibility of participating in athletics, as many of them have in high school, even though it’s very clear that they’re not going to be pursuing athletics as any kind of career,” he says.

But Depauw University Athletic Director Stevie Baker-Watson says that’s not the case at her school.

The private university in Greencastle is a Division 3 school. It recently added men’s and women’s lacrosse in the past few years, but Watson says the overall athletic budget has largely been flat. She attributes that to the fact that Division 3 players don’t get athletic-based scholarships.

“So where you might see in Division 1 or Division 2, they are adding money into their department and it’s going to furnish more scholarships for those student athletes, we’re not doing any of that,” she says.

But Watson says the athletics department has received a substantial amount of private donations to make improvements to fields and the school’s recreation center.

  • Bob Eckert

    IU treats its athletic programs as “auxiliaries”, similar to how the IU Bookstore, Parking Operations, and the IU Auditorium are handled. They have to pay their own way but they are allowed to have excess monies handled and invested by the IU Foundation so that those monies are safe. NO public taxpayer or tuition money funds the auxiliaries. IU Radio and TV’s academic dept is funded by public money but the WTIU and WFIU services are not, they are funded by donations but serve as an excellent test-bed for students so it is a symbiotic relationship. The IU Alumni Association is actually a department which is partially funded by public money similar in fashion to University Information Technology Services. Again, those two units work with the IU Foundation to maximize the monies that they get from philanthropy and alumni association memberships. The IT service serves both an academic and administrative mission (research, IT services for students, the excellent IU Network, the admin depts such as bursar, registrar and the like) so it is primary funded by public money.

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