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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Column: Sports funding wasteful, unjustified

    Each year, the Office of Postsecondary Education within the U.S. Department of Education releases a public report of the athletic expenditures and revenues for all institutions of higher learning that receive Title IX funding. By providing customized reports specific to individual institutions, the OPE reports underscore the magnitude of what has become a multibillion-dollar industry: collegiate sports. 

    As a recipient of Title IX funding, the UA submitted an OPE report last year, reporting numbers that, on their face, are shocking. 

    The UA spent $2,242,892 on men’s basketball in 2013, $140,181 per player. In contrast, it spent $41,006 per women’s basketball player.

    To support a massive roster of 105 players, the UA shelled out a staggering sum of $4,385,601 for football.

    What accounts for these huge sums?

    “It costs much more to put on football and men’s basketball games than any women’s sport,” said Ross Cobb, senior associate athletic director for business operations. “Women’s home attendance is significantly lower, so parking costs alone accounts for nearly $800,000 of expenses for men’s basketball and football.”

    Furthermore, certain sports are far more expensive than others.

    “Football equipment can cost upwards of $1,000 per athlete,” said Erika Barnes, the senior associate athletic director. “Football team travel costs are also huge, simply because no women’s sport has those numbers. It would be extremely difficult to find commercial flights for all those people — it is more reasonable to charter them.”

    Plus, as both officials pointed out, the market drives salaries. Men’s basketball head coach Sean Miller’s high pay is justified by the revenue he and his sport bring in.

    They also emphasized that schools throughout the Pac-12 Conference, and indeed across the nation, report similar expenses and revenues.

    And they’re right.

    The University of California, Los Angeles, spent $85,747 per men’s basketball player and $29,295 per football player in 2013. Arizona State University spent $70,986 and $47, 413, respectively. Moving outside the Pac-12, the University of Kentucky devoted an incredible $201,946 per men’s basketball player. In short, most schools spend astronomically more money on men’s basketball and football than they do on any women’s sport.

    The mantra that pervades Division I NCAA sports is “equitable, not equal.”  Title IX requires that universities provide males and females “equitable” opportunities for participation in athletics, “equitable” funding that reflects the costs associated with respective sports, “equitable” treatments and benefits.

    The law does not require “equal” funding for men’s sports and women’s sports. Such a requirement would be unreasonable, because clearly certain sports are more expensive than others.

    Unfortunately, the mantra has been used to justify the outlandish costs associated with men’s basketball and football.

    It is important to acknowledge that men’s basketball and football bring in revenue to athletic departments that supports other programs, both men’s and women’s. But when average students are struggling simply to pay for tuition and graduates are entering the work force thousands of dollars in debt, it is both excessive and unjust for any university to spend upwards of $140,000 on any single athlete — man or woman.


    Elizabeth Hannah is a neuroscience & cognitive science sophomore. Follow her on Twitter.

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