Some plantation you’re running there, fellas.

You’ll be shocked, shocked to find this out:

Annual spending on sports by public universities in six big-time conferences like the SEC and Big 12 has passed $100,000 per athlete — about six to 12 times the amount those universities are spending per student on academics, according to a study released Wednesday to greet college presidents arriving at the NCAA’s annual meeting in Texas.

The study finds the largest gap by far in the Southeastern Conference, which combines relatively low academic spending and explosive coaching salaries. Median athletic spending there totaled nearly $164,000 per athlete in 2010. That is more than 12 times the $13,390 that SEC schools spent per student for academic expenses, including instructional costs and student services.

Now that doesn’t mean schools are spending all that money directly on student-athletes.  Rather, in the case of the major conferences, schools are spending a boatload – actually, ever bigger boatloads – on athletics.  And those expenses are spread over fewer people.

This is nothing new.  But what’s interesting is that the have-nots are still hoping to find ways to rein in some of this.

The figures likely won’t shock college presidents arriving in Grapevine, Texas, for the NCAA convention, but they will highlight their rising concern over out-of-control spending on intercollegiate athletics that threatens to sink budgets and compromise their academic missions. Some want the NCAA to do more to address the issue even if it can’t legally limit salaries.

“How many sport video analysts do you really need?” said John Dunn, president of Western Michigan University, who gave a talk Tuesday at a preliminary portion of the meeting on rising inequality in college athletics. “How many assistants for a coach — not assistant coaches, (but) assistant office personnel, to keep his life straight?”

“While the NCAA wants to avoid being overly intrusive, they have never had a problem saying there should be x number of coaches and x number of scholarships awarded,” he said. “Why not also govern how many ancillary personnel you can have?”

Um, I don’t think Nick Saban has time for that shit.  If this actually gets some traction, expect an uptick in sorrowful calls for a separation of schools within D-1 athletics.


Filed under It's Just Bidness, The NCAA

23 responses to “Some plantation you’re running there, fellas.

  1. Normaltown Mike

    “schools are spending a boatload..”

    In SEC country, they are spending pontoon boatloads of cash. Pontoons with lots of Coors Lite in the ice-chest. And a shirtless Spurrier is our skipper.


  2. mike in orlando

    On the one hand, the number of ancillary personnel at numerous schools, such as Alabama, is ridiculous and almost NFL-like . On the other hand, if schools such as Alabama want to have 40-plus people on their football staff, why can’t they?


  3. Go Dawgs!

    Sounds like job creation to me.


  4. So what's the problem?

    So the prez of WMU doesn’t think these support structures are necessary. It’s not as if what Alabama approves for its athletic department somehow becomes policy at WMU. He can spend as little as he wants, can’t he?


    • Alkaline

      The problem is WMU sports aren’t known for being competitive, and he thinks he sees a way to fix that without spending any more from his own bank accounts.


      • James

        There isn’t any more in his bank account. The problem is philosophy: WMU thinks they are playing in a cooperative, non-profit league. Alabama thinks it is playing in a highly competitive, high stakes game of capitalistic PR (which is, effectively, why Presidents continue to support professionalization of college sports, because there are direct correlations between football success, applicant numbers, quality of students admitted and therefore academic rank).


        • Alkaline

          They are free to drop to DIII if that’s their philosophy. I think all DI schools are perfectly aware of the environment they’re signing up for at this point. Some of them just want the opportunity to win and be recognized at the major level without earning it.


  5. Biggus Rickus

    Something generally ignored in these kinds of comparisons is that the athletic departments generate the money. It’s not like the money is being diverted from academics to athletics. The money wouldn’t exist at all if not for the athletic departments, and more specifically, big time football and basketball programs.


  6. Monday Night Frotteur

    Treating coaching salaries as “spending on students” is like treating plantation payments to overseers as “spending on slaves.” That’s idiotic.

    And obviously this article ignores the boatloads of revenue that the football and men’s basketball players are bringing in.

    Incredibly misleading article.


  7. AusDawg85

    Let’s see…College presidents are at a lavish, all-expenses paid “business” trip where they will whine and moan about not enough money being spent on students. Then go home to their lifestyle of perks and privileges.



  8. James

    “How many sport video analysts do you really need?”

    How about — how much do they make? And how much does that average spend per S-A go down if you remove a couple of them?

    The real money here is at the top — in the salaries of HCs, OCs, DC, ADs and so on. Removing staff count can’t possibly make much of an impact, especially since the financial rewards are so high that work is almost certainly just going to be offset my even more hours for staff, putting an even bigger premium on the people that are insane enough to pull it off, which likely offsets the $40k a year you saved by cutting a video analyst. Revenue sport coaches get that in wind breaker subsidies.


  9. Uglydawg

    This whole thing is a microcosm of what’s happening to our nation’s economy. Political types (college prezes) envying the treasure that others have produced, will have that golden egg even if it kills the goose that layed it. It needs to be accepted that college football is much closer to the NFL and entertainment industries than it is to the academic industry.
    In the offf season, hold academic bowl competions in Sanford Stadium and see how many sell outs you get…and how much TV coverage. My point is, things have evolved into what they are, but many who resent college atheletics are happy to insist on their “share” of the money it generates.


  10. Bulldog Joe

    Athletic spending pays off in many other areas other than football.

    For example, the University of Alabama’s 2012 freshman applicants (26,707), freshman class size (6,397), and selectivity (43.5% acceptance rate) are all at record highs. It is difficult to argue this is unrelated to its recent football success.

    Over the last several years, each risen at a rate far exceeding other regional universities. The argument that athletic investment brings does not bring benefits far beyond football fails when you look at the numbers. The process works.

    In contrast, the University of Georgia has spent considerably less on athletics than Alabama and has traditionally been a larger, more selective university. While it continues to spend less, the rest is no longer true when you look at the numbers. UGA’s 2012 fall freshman class was 4,970, with 18,954 applicants and a 55.1 % acceptance rate. Growth rate has been flat over the past five years.

    One may argue the academic level of those who choose a university based on its athletic program are not always as high as those who choose for other reasons. However, it is difficult to ignore these numbers and where they are going.


  11. rocksalt76

    For true purposes of comparison, I’d like to see spending per student for all students on full scholarship – for anything.


  12. Dog in Fla

    “Why not also govern how many ancillary personnel you can have?”

    Because they don’t do that at Candyland


  13. watcher16

    What’s the matter with creating jobs to help the economy if you can afford it? Are they saying they want those people to not have jobs?!


  14. rocksalt76

    Further to my post above, I think the “plantation” thing is a bit overblown (Senator’s hyperbole noted as likely tongue-in-cheekish). There are lots of undergrads who are doing a lot of free work to make their Universities a lot of money – and that research belongs to tha U, even at the grad level. Sports are more visible – that’s all. And, I still haven’t heard the answer for Title IX. If you’re gonna pay some of ’em, you gotta pay all of ’em.


  15. Former big-time football coach

    See…if I’da just had one more assistant to manage my motorcycle rides…..

    I told ’em…they just wouldn’t listen…