Baby’s in black, and I’m feeling blue.

Another day, another NCAA-commissioned report on revenue generation in college athletics.

The bottom line regarding the bottom line:

The amount of money the nation’s highest-level college athletics departments are receiving as subsidies from their schools is rising, according to a report by the NCAA.

The report, which examines the revenues and expenses of Division I athletics programs for fiscal years 2004, ’05 and ’06, also shows that:

•Without subsidies, athletics departments at 19 of the 119 schools in Division I-A (now known as the Football Bowl Subdivision) made money in fiscal 2006 — up from 18 in ’05 and ’06 — and 16 did so over the three-year period.

•A little more than half of the I-A schools (67 of 119) made money on football or men’s basketball (68 ) in fiscal 2006, based on revenues those programs generated.

The NCAA has done similar studies, but this is the first time revenues were identified by whether they were generated by the athletics department or from the school.

And why another report, you ask?

“One of the many goals was to get more information in a more standardized way,” NCAA research director Todd Petr says. “We’re trying to get a better handle on the cost of the enterprise from the standpoint of the institution, not just the athletics department.”

For the study, athletics-generated revenues were defined as those from sources such as ticket sales, conference revenue sharing and donations. School-allocated revenues were those from sources such as student fees and direct and indirect institutional support, including utilities and maintenance.

This methodology rose from a collaboration between the NCAA and the National Association of College and University Business Officers (NACUBO). The partnership was developed at the request of college presidents, said Stan Nosek, vice chancellor of administration at the University of California-Davis and a member of the NACUBO/NCAA Task Force Oversight Committee. Schools’ differing accounting methods have made it difficult for university administrators to have numbers they could compare.

“There are so many questions being asked about the amount of money that’s going into athletics,” Nosek says. University officials “wanted to have clean data about what they were spending and how it compares to other schools.”

There is “growing concern” among presidents about making sure they fully understand how much their schools are subsidizing athletics, Nosek says, because “when some programs require more institutional support, it takes away from the core mission.”

Maybe it’s just me, but there’s seems to be a pretty steady drumbeat being sounded these days regarding rising expenses in college athletics (in other words, coaches’ salaries and sports facilities). It’s reminiscent of what the baseball owners were yammering about in the ’80s and ’90s in the wake of free agency and it’s likely to be about as effective. Unless, of course, the NCAA can get its hands on its version of the Holy Grail: anti-trust immunity.

Again, maybe it’s just me, but there’s a paranoid tickle in the back of my brain that has me wondering if there’s not a trade being contemplated by Miles Brand and the likes of folks like Rep. Neil Abercrombie – something along the lines of giving the NCAA and the college presidents the anti-trust exemption they crave in return for active support to reform the D-1 football postseason. I think that’s a deal the college football powers that be would make all day long and twice on Sundays. It’s Michael Adams’ “core mission”.

Two last items of note:

… The report showed that for the 67 I-A football programs that showed a program-generated surplus in fiscal year 2006, the average surplus was nearly $8.8 million, while among the 52 programs that showed a deficit, the average deficit was a little more than $2.5 million.

The report also showed that for the 19 I-A athletic departments that showed a surplus in fiscal 2006, the average surplus was nearly $4.3 million, while among the 99 departments that showed a deficit that year, the average deficit was a little more than $8.9 million.

Football sure pays a lot of bills, doesn’t it? In case you were wondering why the money keeps getting laid out for coaches and facilities…

2 Comments

Filed under College Football, It's Just Bidness, The NCAA

2 responses to “Baby’s in black, and I’m feeling blue.

  1. baltimore dawg

    Is it possible that you’re more of a cynic than I am, Senator? There are a lot of people in higher ed (even a few at the NCAA) whose honest intentions are to reform athletics as one way of improving the quality of education delivered to students. Give Murray Sperber’s book “Beer and Circus” a read. In the meantime, check out http://insidehighered.com/news/2008/05/16/ncaa, a short overview of the report (with some different numbers from what the USAT quotes) and a link to the NCAA report itself.

  2. NM

    I think most people will read this, think “college sports = football”, blame the Sabans of the world and insist we spend less on football. But actually, the numbers (and common sense) say football is the only one that makes money. The most likely outcome of calling attention to athletic department deficits (and schools saying no to more subsidies) is cutting minor sports that most people don’t even know exist, like lacrosse, equestrian, or swimming. And then it’s only a matter of time before ESPN does a sob story on all the female athletes who lost their scholarships thanks to heavy-handed administrators who “don’t care about women’s athletics”.