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College Spending On Athletics Rises Faster Than On Academics


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.

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