ARE A DRAG ON
THE UNIVERSITY BUDGET
A newly released NCAA report shows that just 14 of the 120 Football Bowl
Subdivision schools made money from campus athletics in the 2009 fiscal
year, down from 25 the year before.
—Associated Press (2010)
Twenty-two elite athletics departments made money in 2010, up from 14 the
previous year. … At the 98 other programs in the NCAA’s Football Bowl
Subdivision (formerly Division I-A), the median deficit in 2010 was $11.6
million, barely changing from the previous year, while no programs in the
Football Championship Subdivision (formerly Division I-AA) or at Division
I programs without football operated in the black. At those programs, losses
continue to grow each year.
—Libby Sander, Chronicle of Higher Education (2011)
Using the NCAA’s own data, those hostile to college sports foist a myth on casual observers—athletic departments struggle to break even. Article after article echoes the AP quotation above—without institutional support (direct and indirect payments from the university to the athletic department), nearly all of the athletic departments would run in the red. Quoting then interim NCAA president Jim Isch, the AP article in the epigram notes, “The top end … still does not have to rely on institutional subsidies. But those that do are falling further behind.” Even those who grant that there are values created by college sports wonder why universities should foot the bill. Indeed, for those who insist that university administrators have no control over athletics, it seems the tail wags the dog—athletic directors