Sis, boom, bust: The high cost of college sports

As classes resume at college campuses, for many, it’s an uneasy time.  States across the country are desperately searching their proverbial couch cushions for spare cash — anything to keep their education budgets intact — and they’re coming up short.

In California, the state funded colleges and universities have been hit particularly hard.  The state had to cut $1.3 billion for the academic year now upon us.

But on many campuses, spending on intercollegiate athletics is actually growing, even though most sports programs run up millions of dollars a year in annual deficits. That means that while public universities are cutting in classrooms, your tuition dollars — and maybe even your tax dollars — are subsidizing big-time college sports. Here’s Need to Know correspondent Rick Karr, with a report originally broadcast in March.

Watch more segments from this episode.

 

Comments

  • Mkclark313

    Friday is usually date night at our house.  Had to cancel this evening, but found Need to Know on our PBS station.  What an amazing tv show! So glad I stumbled on it tonight.  Guess I’ll have to set that to record each week!  Thank you for a super program.  Your show alone is worth my PBS membership dues.

  • Jd10135

    According to businessofcollegesports.com, Ohio University football revenue from July 1, 2009 to June 30, 2010, was $7,467,896.00. Expenses were $7,385,482.00.  It looks like football pays its own way and provides exposure and scholarships to students. I find it appalling that revenue/expense streams per sport were not even discussed.  Ask the students if their $750 surcharge to cover shortfalls are worth it for the losing sports that very few people care about.

    Then again, its  PBS interviewing an equally liberal academic administration and faculty.

    Bringing this up might bring up the possibility of rescinding part of the ridiculous portion of Title IX, which means if the girls dont get their softball team then nobody gets to play sports.  Grow up PBS and grow up nation.

  • Jd10135

    According to businessofcollegesports.com, Ohio University football revenue from July 1, 2009 to June 30, 2010, was $7,467,896.00. Expenses were $7,385,482.00.  It looks like football pays its own way and provides exposure and scholarships to students. I find it appalling that revenue/expense streams per sport were not even discussed.  Ask the students if their $750 surcharge to cover shortfalls are worth it for the losing sports that very few people care about.

    Then again, its  PBS interviewing an equally liberal academic administration and faculty.

    Bringing this up might bring up the possibility of rescinding part of the ridiculous portion of Title IX, which means if the girls dont get their softball team then nobody gets to play sports.  Grow up PBS and grow up nation.

  • http://www.facebook.com/grantchesley Grant Chesley

    I agree that PBS tends to be rather liberal, and that they did not even mention television revenues, which the court ruling just allowed colleges to sign exclusive broadcast contrasts. This does not change the fact that the vast majority of students are paying hundreds, or even thousands of dollars at these schools in fees, and communities and states paying millions of dollars for the academic programs in which very few students are involved, and receive an absolutely minuscule amount of any of that money, while the actual academics and infrastructures of many of these schools are being neglected or even cut. I strongly believe in school and collegiate athletics, but you supposed to be going to school to learn academics, not play sports. If you believe your future is in sports, then go pro, or to training camps; school is for education.

  • Bob

    Jd10135: Don’t rely on the “equally liberal” canard to dismiss something you don’t like. If you look more carefully at the source of budget numbers cited by businessofcollege.com, you’ll likely see that a huge chunk of the $7.467 million in OU’s reported football revenue actually came from other university general fund pots. Not all the revenue came from outside-the-university sources. I agree with you that Title IX has put extreme and illogical pressures on universities to find a one-size-fits-all formula. And I also agree that football, even at a school the size of and recruitment strength of an OU, pulls in far more ticket-buying fans than does any other sport there, with the possible exception of basketball. But, sadly for OU, its tuition-paying students and Ohio taxpayers, the MAC requires its members to play Division I in all sports if it wants to play Division I in any sport. That means good basketball or baseball or track schools in the MAC are required to field expensive football operations. There isn’t a school in the MAC whose football program generates a true profit. They are all heavily subsidized by general education-operating funds. And as OU’s provost acknowledged, the academic administrations of these schools have bought into the athletic departments’ arguments that their sports programs lend a level of exposure to the schools (during that 30-second bowl game commercial?) that they otherwise couldn’t get. Still, in an echo of the much larger balance-the-budget struggle going on in this country, it probably would do well for universities to rethink their athletic spending so that it more properly balances with their academic mission. But that’s just my thought and I realize  do not have all the answers — or even any of them.  

  • freda peoples

    you’re mostly right, but unfortunately it is all but impossible to go to the NFL or NBA without going through the college athletic developmental league. that’s my main issue with college sports as it is.

  • Keygirlus

    I’m a coach’s kid, and even I have to say it is time to cut back on the excessive spending in collegiate sports. Schools are for education. Ohio State University is a Big Ten school, and one of the exceptions in not losing money in its football program, let alone other sports. Of the thousands of universities out there, only a very few programs at a very few schools ‘pay their own way’ to the extent that Ohio State did that year, a profit of $82,414.00, a whopping 1.1% of their yearly football budget, not exactly a resounding success. They would have made more on the 7.5 mil if they had bought CD’s at my local bank.

  • Matt Kliot OU Alumnus ’06

    Why did PBS film in Prof. Steve Hays Classroom, and not interview him? He is one of the most knowledgeable and outspoken opponents of The administrations policies which include cutting Educational programs, while increasing Administrative salaries and running Intercollegiate sports deficits?

  • Frank N. Blunt

    Consider all the wealth and resources siphoned from other activities that would benefit the educational institution, faculty, students, citizens, as well as the community if not for the exploitation and pillaging of our social institutions. College sports, especially football and basketball, are merely another heist where systemic corruption abuses rule of law to provide unjust indulgences or undue exceptions that allow devious beings to evade transparency and accountability so that they can exploit social institutions, public property, resources, and citizens; while obtaining inordinate profit, power, or prestige they forsake the primary roles, objectives, and the foundations of venerable educational establishments while espousing propaganda and rhetoric about the menial or inordinate benefits and dubious service that seemingly contribute to the public good, communities, and citizens. The current vogue of conference realignment is not only unjust but unrealistic on a logistical standpoint and economically unsustainable yet so long as the pseudo-patriotic kleptocrats and their corporateering cronies can have the public accept all the risk and expense …
    Ever consider the distribution of the revenue? I’ll bet it’s just as rife with disparity as the other injustices and socio-economic conditions in ScAmerica. Especially since the social institutions are being exploited and pillaged by kleptocrats, corporateers, and their cronies that serve their own self-interests regardless of conflicts, the socio-economic consequences, or burden upon communities and citizens.
    Autonomy, opacity, evading prosecution or penalty for blatant corruption, exempt from any legitimate or restrictive oversight as well as exempt from taxes or making a return to the public since they abuse non-profit status even while being indulged with public revenue and other resources while exploiting public property as collateral or employing it for their own beneft while transferring operating expenses, risk, and debt burdens onto the public.
    The despotic oligarchs and pseudo-patriots have found another dream opportunity. Just like ScAmerica has corrupted and ruined the once noble experiment of a Democratic-Republic government where due representation has been forsaken and the Constitution is ignored to abuse rule of law at all levels of society across the nation; those issues along with compromising medicine, security, natural resources, abandoning any real means of production let alone the manufacturing base for the sake of indulging fiat financing and perpetual social instability, while finding a pot of gold by declaring war on this, that, and many other supposed problems that only lead to more corruption, problems unresolved, indebtedness, injustice, and disparity.
    This issue is long overdue for intervention. It’s only one of many greater social concerns of this nation and the communities. Not only does this serious matter reflect how suspect the popular values and their influences have become, but indicates the dubiousness of priorities and how secular entities are exploiting public resources, communities, and citizens for their own self-interests while abusing public trust and forsaking the public good. The broad matter is an egregious injustice that transcends merely socializing risk while privatizing profit but further indicates how irresponsible, ethically challenged, and morally bankrupt pseudo-patriots have become as they not only create local problems in communities and for citizens but exacerbate the faltering prestige of the nation on a global scale.
    I am aghast about the inattention, ignorance, disregard, apathy, and complicity about the matter. Obviously, ScAmerica doesn’t do prevention very well. The growing prevalence of corruption, incompetence, injustice, ignorance, apathy as well as fear are among many unsavory characterizations of this era. They have adversely affected the capability and well-being if not overwhelmed the resolve of citizens to adequately, let alone forcefully, deal with injustice and social inequity so that evil and irresponsible people promote instability that creates unfortunate events so that they may capitalize but causes suffering, disparity, and disruption of livelihoods or well-being of many other innocent people.
    All of that compromised or forsaken just for football … really?