Recession Emerges as Formidable Foe for College Sports Athletic Departments Make Winning Decisions and Lose out in the Downturn
DeSchriver, Tim, Phi Kappa Phi Forum
On Feb. 8, the North Carolina State University men's basketball team boarded a bus for a game against Division I conference foe Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Va.
While this may not seem important, it was a sign of the effect of the recession on intercollegiate athletics.
It had been years since N.C. State took a bus to go the 200-plus miles to Virginia; traditionally, the Wolfpack had chartered a flight to play the Hokies. Even though the $25,000 savings in travel expenses proved a relatively small amount from the N.C. State athletic department's annual operating budget of about $36 million, the belt-tightening made the use of ground transportation worthwhile. (1)
Austerity measures have been much more serious at other institutions. A wide range of schools across the divisions, such as University of Washington (Division I), Kutztown University (Division II) and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Division III), have taken the draconian step of eliminating sports teams entirely.
Cost cutting is being seen throughout college athletics as programs face an uncertain financial future due to the economic downturn.
The money across the divisions
Before understanding the impact of the recession on college athletics, one must first understand the basics of how college sports are organized and financed.
The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), the largest governing body for American college sports, is comprised of three levels: Divisions I, II, and III, based on the number of sports offerings, athletic scholarships, and money spent.
Most college sports fans are familiar with the 300-plus institutions that compete at the Division I level, the largest in reference to dollars. Programs like University of Michigan, Penn State University, and University of Tennessee receive the most media attention and attract more than 100.000 spectators for home football games, in examples from the most popular and lucrative of college sports programs: the gridiron. These powerhouse universities each generate as much as $5 million in revenue from a single football home contest and have total annual football revenues in excess of $40 million. (2)
Division I contains two subdivisions specifically and only for football: Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS), with about 130 schools, and Football Championship Subdivision (FCS), with more than 120 …
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Publication information: Article title: Recession Emerges as Formidable Foe for College Sports Athletic Departments Make Winning Decisions and Lose out in the Downturn. Contributors: DeSchriver, Tim - Author. Magazine title: Phi Kappa Phi Forum. Volume: 89. Issue: 3 Publication date: Fall 2009. Page number: 14+. © 2008 Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi. COPYRIGHT 2009 Gale Group.
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