Comments about ‘College sports vs. academics: A losing game’

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Published: Saturday, Feb. 23 2013 9:00 a.m. MST

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Riverton, UT

"In the state of Utah, Utah Valley University got 89 percent of its athletic funding from subsidies — the second-highest subsidy amount among the 202 schools analyzed."

To put this into perspective, it would be helpful to know what fraction of UVU's budget is spent on athletics. In other words, if athletics were eliminated completely, would it help the budget situation significantly?

Sugar City, ID

I wonder if Deseret News could do a follow-up article on the cost of high school athletics. I'd really like to know because so many people tell me that gate receipts cover the costs. Perhaps we could see a sport by sport breakdown.

Durham, NC

What is completely missing from this is what percentage of the schools overall budget is spent on athletics. The amount of subsidy is relative to the size of the program it is sponsoring. UVU has only a small subset of the athletics that Utah has... and there for just because is subsidizes the budget at a higher rate for athletics, that rate may still be a much smaller percentage of the overall schools budget.

There is no context to this report. This is like saying families of 6 kids spend more on food than families of 2 kids. So what. If the family of 6 is pulling in a deep six figure income - it means nothing. Where as if the family of 2 were recent grads, the percentage of income spent on food could be way higher than the family of 6 pays.

So this is more stats and reporting that tell you at best a partial story.... and most likely not enough of the story to be meaningful.

Mike Johnson
Stafford, VA

All the chart shows me is that the more important football is to the school, the lower the so-called subsidy and that schools without football need the most subsidy for the entire athletic program.

Athletics are a part of the student experience; at least that is the justification for using student fees. They get voted in by the students themselves.

Does football pay for itself? Almost always. 869 schools reported they had football to the US Department of Education about athletics last year. All schools except the Service Academies are required to report the financial status of their athletic departments. Using just football revenues and football expenses, 385 had more revenues that expenses, 419 balanced, and 65 reported more expenses than revenues (and thus had to rely on other sources such as student fees). Five of Utah's 7 football playing schools had more revenues. Snow was one of those with equal. Only Weber State reported more expenses than revenues last year.

Of course, football programs rarely pay for the entire athletic program, but for many schools they do subsidize other athletic programs. Donations for all other purposes, including academics, is higher when there is a football program.

Mike Johnson
Stafford, VA

For much of the period of data collection in the study, the years 2005 to 2010, Utah Valley was in transition from NJCAA to NCAA Division I. They had added several sports to qualify as a Division I program. They expanded scholarships. They did rely very heavily on student fees to pay for their program. Large numbers of students paying modest student fees (compared to most) can bring in money.

In the 2011 to 2012 year--the last year reported to the Department of Education--UVU reported revenues of $2,867,696 for all men's sports (basketball was about 40%), $2,575,229 for all women's sports, and $2,446,315 for all revenues not associated with a sport or gender (student fees would be a lot of this number). Total revenues were $7,889,240, which was also the total expenses. So, they now rely on less than 31% of the required revenue from student fees.

I know some people don't like funding athletics with student fees. But, I don't have a problem with it. It is a small part of the overall cost of education and the benefits to most students significantly outweigh the costs.

Sugar City, ID

@ mikejohnson: You claim that "...the benefits [of athletics] to most students significantly outweigh the costs." What are these benefits? And what is their economic value? Would the money spent on athletics [even if it is just a small amount] be better spent on actual educational experiences for the students?

Mike Johnson
Stafford, VA

We need to remember that most student fees go to funding the "social" aspect of a college education. They pay for the student association activities, for music and drama programs, and even to expand the library offerings. Athletics fees do the same thing, expanding the social aspect. They rarely subsidize football or men's basketball, but they do heavily subsidize track, softball, volleyball, and many other sports. They build and maintain athletics facilities for people to enjoy games and work out. Students get discounts on (or sometimes free) admissions to athletics event or the athletic facilities. They help pay for many of the things that contribute to graduates supporting their school financially or encouraging others to attend. While many students don't care about these things, even more usually don't care about other things that are funded by student fees. But just about all students after graduating can claim to be an alumni of a school many people have heard of--because of athletics. Utah's and BYU's currency as schools here in the east is greatly augmented by what they have done particularly on the football field and in the basketball arena over the years.


This article has too many problems to cover in a 200 word post, so please read the Delta Cost Project summary for the real story (which is, as we already knew, small-time athletics is a drain, but big-time sports generates profits). The writer couldn't even get the name of the institution that sponsored the Delta Cost Project (it is the "American Institutes for Research" not the American Institute for Research) right.

Salt Lake City, UT

Let's face it. The biggest religions in America are the NFL and the NBA ( not necessarily in that order ).

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