Print

March 23, 2015 - Knight Commission Updates Athletic and Academic Spending Database

The Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics has updated its Athletic & Academic Spending Database for NCAA Division I to include the most recent academic and athletic data from the 2012-2013 academic year.

The database provides unprecedented access to academic, athletic and football spending data for more than 220 public universities.

The Commission created the database to advance its goal of providing more transparency for athletics finances in the context of spending related to the institution’s educational mission. The database can be accessed at spendingdatabase.knightcommission.org. Users can view graphs, sort data, and download their own files for individual universities, conferences, or NCAA subdivisions.

These data and the continuing trends validate the concerns expressed in the Knight Commission's 2010 report that, without a commitment to the type of financial reforms promoted in that report, escalation in spending on coaching salaries, facilities and other aspects of athletics would continue at rates disproportional to growth in academic spending, and the “predictable result” at a majority of Division I institutions would be increased reliance on institutional subsidies and on athletics fees paid by all students. In a 2009 Knight Commission study, FBS presidents strongly voiced similar concerns about the kind of change that is needed at the conference and national levels to contain the athletics arms race and to address critical issues of financial sustainability.

Access to the database is available HERE.

1. Spending Patterns on Academics, Athletics and Football

The trends highlighted below focus on the most recent six fiscal years in this reporting cycle in order to include a five-year rate of change in the trend analysis. The database tool allows for a quick analysis using any number of years beginning with the 2004-05 fiscal year through 2012-13 (the most recent year for which academic spending data is available):

  • Over the 2008-2013 fiscal years, in every Division I subdivision, athletic spending grew at a faster rate than academic spending on a per-capita basis. The gap is largest among those institutions competing in the FBS and smallest among those institutions without football.
  • Over the 2008-2013 fiscal years, academic spending at institutions in the FBS grew just 2% per capita after adjusting for inflation, while athletic spending per athlete grew 18% and football spending per football player grew 40% without considering spending on athletic scholarships.
  • Over the same time period (2008-2013), academic spending at institutions in the FCS decreased 2% per capita after adjusting for inflation, while athletic spending per athlete grew 17% and football spending per football player grew 8% without considering spending on athletic scholarships. Division I schools without football had the smallest gap between changes in academic and athletic spending as academic spending per student decreased 2% and athletic spending per athlete increased 13%.
  • Considering the growth over all the years available in the database (2005-2013), academic spending at institutions in the FBS grew just 8% per capita after adjusting for inflation, while athletic spending per athlete grew 45% and football spending per football player grew 81% without considering spending on athletic scholarships.

2. Trends in Institutional Funding for Athletics

  • Changes over time.  Over the most recent five-year change in this reporting cycle (2008-2013), in every Division I subdivision, the growth in institutional funding to athletics per athlete was greater than the growth in academic spending per student. However, within the FBS, institutions in the top two spending quartiles decreased their reliance on institutional funding through student fees and other sources since they were able to generate more athletics revenues.
    • When adjusted for inflation, from 2007-2008 to 2012-2013, institutions in the top two spending quartiles experienced a significant decrease in institutional funding for athletics calculated on a per athlete basis: a 19% drop in the highest FBS spending quartile and a 10% drop in the second highest FBS spending quartile. The bottom two spending quartiles in the FBS experienced an increase in institutional funding for athletics calculated on a per athlete basis, 32% in the third highest spending quartile, and 20% in the lowest spending quartile. Institutional funding for athletics calculated on a per athlete basis increased 27% in the FCS, and 12% for Division I institutions without football.
  • Comparison of actual amounts spent in 2013. In 2013, the bottom two FBS spending quartiles were spending between 2.5 and 5 times as much on institutional funding for athletics calculated on a per athlete basis as were the top two spending quartiles.

View and link to a report for the prior two bullets to embed and use in blog posts and other media: http://spendingdatabase.knightcommission.org/reports/5835a093

3. Comparisons of 2013 Amounts Spent on Athletics

  • In 2013, the actual amount spent on a per athlete basis differs significantly among Division I institutions. 

Division I Subdivisions and FBS Spending quartiles

Median total athletic spending per athlete

1st FBS Spending quartile (highest)

$166,328

4th FBS Spending quartile (lowest)

$60,782

Institutions with FCS football teams

$38,362

Institutions without football

$40,950

View and link to a report for the previous bullet and chart to embed and use in blog posts and other media: http://spendingdatabase.knightcommission.org/reports/a75be68d

  • In 2013, the actual amount spent on a per athlete basis, without scholarships, shows big differences among Division I institutions. Even at institutions in the FBS, sharp differences are revealed with programs in the highest spending quartile spending more than 3 times more per athlete than programs in the lowest spending quartile in the FBS. 

Division I Subdivisions and FBS Spending quartiles

Median athletic spending per athlete without scholarships

1st FBS Spending quartile (highest)

$148,400

4th FBS Spending quartile (lowest)

$45,700

Institutions with FCS football teams

$27,400

Institutions without football

$29,600

View and link to a report for the previous bullet and chart to embed and use in blog posts and other media: http://spendingdatabase.knightcommission.org/reports/7ee792ab 

4. Coaching Salaries

  • The growth in coaching salaries continues to be a big factor in athletic spending growth rates: among the five conferences with the largest athletics budgets, median coaching salaries increased as much as 44% in inflation-adjusted terms over the most recent reporting cycle (2008-13). Over the same time period, median coaching salaries at FBS schools rose 34%, median coaching salaries at FCS schools rose 17%, and median coaching salaries at Division I schools without football rose 19%.

View and link to a report for the previous bullet to embed and use in blog posts and other media: http://spendingdatabase.knightcommission.org/reports/677ca00a

5. Annual Athletic Debt Service and Total Athletic Debt Outstanding

  • Annual Athletic Debt Service Growth. Looking at the most recent years in this reporting cycle (2008-2013), the growth in athletic debt service as reported by institutions from the five conferences with the largest athletic spending budgets is significant. When adjusted for inflation, median spending on athletic debt service among the programs in the five highest-resourced conferences increased by as much as 124%; over this same time, the FBS median increase was 30%; at FCS schools, the median increase was 42%.
  • Annual Athletic Debt Service Amounts. Among the five top spending FBS athletic conferences, in 2013, median athletic debt service was as little as $4.6 million and as much as $9.7 million.

View and link to a report for the previous two bullets to embed and use in blog posts and other media: http://spendingdatabase.knightcommission.org/reports/788e1ad2 

  • Total Amount of Debt Outstanding on Athletic Facilities. In addition, the medians for the total debt outstanding on athletic facilities for the five top spending athletic conferences ranged between $58.3 million and $124.2 million in 2013. View and link to a report for the previous bullet and chart to embed and use in blog posts and other media: http://spendingdatabase.knightcommission.org/reports/12228ed2 

6. Comparing amounts spent on athletics per athlete to amounts spent on academics per student.

  • Comparing academic spending per student and athletic spending per athlete in 2008 and 2013, there has been an increase in every FBS athletic conference, except the Mid American Conference. This is a significant increase since the Knight Commission originally cited these data and metrics in its 2010 Restoring the Balance report.

2013 to 2008:  Comparing today to Figure 2 in Restoring the Balance report

FBS Conferences and DI Subdivisions

Academic Spending per FTE Student, 2013

Athletic Spending per Athlete, 2013

2013: Athletic Spending per Athlete compared to Academic Spending Per Student

2008: Athletic Spending per Athlete compared to Academic Spending Per Student

Southeastern Conference

$14,515

$190,536

13.1

10.8

Big 12 Conference

$16,172

$153,158

9.5

9

Pacific-12 Conference

$16,191

$125,036

7.7

6.2

Conference USA

$12,472

$94,327

7.6

5.7

Atlantic Coast Conference

$17,541

$127,489

7.3

6.6

FBS MEDIAN

$14,979

$107,149

7.2

6.3

Big Ten Conference

$19,685

$135,874

6.9

6.8

Conference formerly classified as Big East* (Included schools that are now in other FBS conferences)

$19,958

$126,144

6.3

4.8

Mountain West Conference

$13,749

$82,851

6.0

5.1

Western Athletic Conference

$11,070

$63,739

5.8

5.1

Sun Belt Conference

$10,668

$54,107

5.1

4.3

Mid-American Conference

$14,867

$58,118

3.9

4

FCS MEDIAN

$12,649

$38,362

3.0

2.6

DI No Football

$13,457

$40,950

3.04

2.6

View and link to a report for the previous bullet and chart to embed and use in blog posts and other media: http://spendingdatabase.knightcommission.org/reports/281fd62c