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Athletic/Instruction Expenditures

Intercollegiate athletics have a long history in American higher education and have become a staple of popular American culture. Beyond building school recognition and unity, many argue that athletics enhance the undergraduate experience of student athletes by teaching intangible skills such as teamwork and leadership. However, it is clear that the education of students and research are the primary functions of higher education and should be at the forefront of an institution’s mission. Our findings suggest that academic values are in danger of becoming subordinate to athletics at some institutions, at least in terms of expenditures.

In allocating scarce resources an institution is forced to make a tradeoff between these two demands for funding. Data from the U.S. Department of Education allow us to calculate the ratio between total athletic and instructional expenditures for Division 1-A institutions in 2006 (excluding the U.S. Naval and Air Force Academies, which do not have data available). The results vary widely among institutions; however, it is interesting to note the surprisingly high ratios for several schools at the top of the list. For example, the University of Arkansas spends 56.5 percent as much on athletics as it does on instruction, and the University of Alabama 50.2 percent.

To be fair, much of the money spent by athletic programs is shouldered by the athletics departments themselves from generated revenue. However, the fact remains that in 2006 only 19 athletic programs nationwide realized positive net generated revenue. The remaining 100 programs had to be subsidized using wider institutional resources. When making decisions about how best to allocate resources, it is important for university officials to consider the value of each component to the wider mission of the institution. The table below provides the athletic to instructional expenditures ratio of the 119 Division 1 institutions.

School

Athletic/Instructional Expenditures

University of Arkansas

56.5%

University of Alabama

50.2%

University of Tulsa

48.1%

University of Nebraska

45.9%

Texas Christian University

43.2%

Oklahoma University

41.2%

Auburn University

40.8%

University of Mississippi

35.6%

Louisiana State University

33.8%

Clemson University

33.4%

University of Oregon

33.0%

Louisiana Tech University

32.8%

Oregon State University

32.5%

Texas Tech University

31.7%

University of Georgia

31.0%

Mississippi State University

30.9%

Oklahoma State University

30.6%

Boston College

28.7%

Kansas State University

27.7%

University of Kansas

27.5%

Fresno State

27.3%

Baylor University

27.2%

Marshall University

27.2%

Boise State University

27.1%

Georgia Institute of Technology

27.0%

Southern Methodist University

26.8%

University of Virginia

26.7%

University of Memphis

26.4%

University of Texas-El Paso

26.3%

University of South Carolina

26.3%

University of Louisville

26.3%

Virginia Tech

25.6%

University of Notre Dame

25.2%

University of Kentucky

25.0%

West Virginia University

24.6%

Arkansas State University

24.5%

University of Tennessee

23.7%

University of Missouri

23.2%

New Mexico State University

22.7%

University of Louisiana-Lafayette

22.0%

University of Connecticut

21.5%

Wyoming University

21.4%

University of Iowa

21.2%

University of Louisiana-Monroe

21.1%

Iowa State University

20.6%

San Diego State University

20.5%

University of Wisconsin

19.6%

Troy University

19.4%

U.S. Military Academy

19.2%

Eastern Michigan University

19.2%

University of Southern Mississippi

19.2%

University of Texas

18.4%

Texas A&M University

18.3%

Wake Forest University

18.1%

Washington State University

18.0%

Florida State University

17.9%

Ohio State University

17.8%

University of Nevada-Las Vegas

17.5%

Syracuse University

17.5%

University of Florida

17.2%

Central Michigan University

17.0%

Middle Tennessee State University

16.9%

University of Central Florida

16.8%

University of Colorado

16.7%

Arizona State University

16.6%

University of Houston

16.5%

Michigan State University

16.0%

University of Akron

15.4%

North Carolina State University

15.4%

University of Miami

15.3%

Rice University

15.2%

University of Idaho

15.1%

Florida International University

14.9%

Western Michigan University

14.6%

University of New Mexico

14.5%

Utah State University

14.0%

Miami University

13.9%

University of Maryland

13.9%

University of Illinois

13.9%

Bowling Green State University

13.6%

University of Toledo

13.4%

University of Arizona

13.3%

University of Cincinnati

13.2%

Purdue University

13.2%

Indiana University

13.1%

University of Nevada

13.0%

Kent State University

12.7%

University of California

12.7%

University of Hawai?i

12.5%

San Jose State University

12.4%

Eastern Carolina University

12.4%

Florida Atlantic University

12.3%

University of North Texas

11.8%

Ohio University

11.8%

Colorado State University

11.7%

Ball State University

11.7%

Northern Illinois University

11.7%

University of Minnesota

11.7%

University of South Florida

11.1%

University of Michigan

11.1%

Tulane University

10.6%

University of Pittsburgh

10.5%

University of Utah

10.4%

University of North Carolina

9.8%

Pennsylvania State University

9.5%

University of Southern California

9.4%

University of Alabama at Birmingham

9.3%

Northwestern University

9.0%

Brigham Young University

8.9%

Rutgers University

8.6%

Temple University

8.0%

Duke University

7.8%

University at Buffalo

7.6%

Stanford University

7.5%

University of Washington

7.3%

University of California-Los Angeles

7.1%

Vanderbilt University

6.4%