Financing College Sports – Part 3

SFN: This entry is too good to get lost in the middle of a lot of the news that we’ve had breaking in recent days, so we are moving it back to the front of the blog to make sure that the community sees it.

If your attitude going into this latest entry on financing college sports can be described as “skeptical” or “questioning”, then Part 1 and Part 2 of the series have served their purpose. In this installment, I’ve sliced up the data from Equity in Athletics into relatively small chunks so that we can look at specific areas of interest for the entire ACC.

This entry will feature a lot of tables and relatively little commentary. The next planned entry in this series will feature a more in-depth discussion of sports financing at NC State. The purpose of this entry is mostly intended to put the easily available facts on record and to provide a quick (but potentially flawed) perspective on sports finances across the ACC.

Let’s start off with a brief summary of the athletic teams fielded by the ACC schools:
– The rifle team at NC State is the only coed team in the conference.
– In men’s sports, all ACC schools field teams in baseball, basketball, football, track, and tennis
– In women’s sports, all ACC schools field teams in basketball, tennis, track, volleyball

NOTE: It appears that all track teams, including cross country, are combined for accounting purposes at EIA for both the men’s and women’s teams.

Additional funded sports for men and women are summarized in the following tables:

“Funded” sports is a bit of a misnomer. Pretty much everyone here knows that the NCAA allows 85 scholarships for football and 13 scholarships for men’s basketball. But the NCAA also has established limits for every sport, some of which make little/no sense. For instance, baseball is allowed 11.7 scholarships. (Wouldn’t you love to know how they came up with a fractional scholarship allotment?) If anyone is interested, I found a list from 2005 on NCAA maximum scholarships that I’ve summarized here.

Weird question of the day: How do they work the meals for an athlete on 1/2 scholarship?

If you go through UMD’s pages at EIA, you will find cheerleading expenses mentioned several different times…but without its own separate line item. If you pull up the maximum scholarship listing just above, you will see that cheerleading is not included…which I’m assuming means that cheer leading scholarships are not allowed (or maybe recognized) by the NCAA. [Insert rant against fem-nazis here.] Based on the time spent in practices and at games for at least two sports, I see nothing wrong with having the cheerleaders on scholarship and using the numbers (male and female) in the bizarre Title IX calculations/reporting.

If anyone has any specific knowledge about funding for cheerleaders, please educate us in the comments. I do know that the Dance team is listed as a club sport (which means they have to raise whatever funding they need) and this brings us to the next foot note:

I had no idea that there were unfunded or club sports at NC State until I went to an NC State hockey match in VA several years ago. In fact, there’s quite a long list of club sports that have been organized at NC State. It appears that these club sports were formed in addition to the intramural leagues that were popular when I was in school. If this impression is wrong, then please correct me in the comments.

If you drill down into a school’s data at EIA, you can come up with a list of participants broken down by each sport. The main reason that I mention this breakdown, is that the list shows that the participation numbers includes walk-ons for each sport. (This distinction will become important a little further down.) Here is a summary table breaking down the number of athletes at each school:

Side Rant
From time to time, some idiot (see Vitale, Dick) will start droning on about the need to pay college athletes a stipend to cover expenses beyond tuition, meals, housing, and books. If you feel that way and want to move beyond my “idiot” classification, then at least make some effort to include the total cost of paying all scholarship athletes (or justification for limiting the scope) in your discussion. As we saw with Title IX, if you issue a royal decree to direct athletic dept expenditures, that decree will most likely be met by eliminating existing teams rather than generating more income. [/rant]

In the athletic participation tables at EIA, there is a distinction made between “total athletes” and “unduplicated athletes”. It sounds like the difference between those two totals would be the number of athletes that play more than one sport. While a discussion on two-sport athletes has no effect on our investigation into financing, I’ve included a summary because I found the number of two-sport athletes quite surprising:


Here is a table summarizing athletic aid provided by each ACC school:

Since the participation numbers include walk-ons, it is difficult to determine exactly how much an athletic scholarship costs at each school. But by keeping the men’s and women’s calculations separated, we know that the higher of the two numbers will be closer to what a scholarship actually costs. (But even then, the number will probably be low.)

I’ve seen comments recently about State not spending enough money on recruiting. I don’t know what those posts were based on, but this table doesn’t support that conclusion.

I was surprised to see GT at the top of of this table. The number gets even more surprising if you look at recruiting expenses on a per athlete basis.
[Insert obligatory strip club comment here.]

Earlier this year, Tomahawk Nation had an article on football expenses and a discussion tying spending with success. I generally love the work that they do, but didn’t care much for their take on this subject.

If you look over the football expenses/revenues, you will see that BC and UM have the highest FB expenses in the conference. Now consider:
– While we don’t have actual numbers, who would you guess has the highest travel expenses?
– Scroll up to the athletic aid table, and you will see that BC and UM fall near the top of the conference in scholarship cost as well.
– Go back to Part 2 and see where coaching salaries are often obscured in the numbers presented at EIA.

Bottom line:
If you want to talk about recruiting costs and success, I’ll listen.
If you want to talk about head coach’s salary and success, I’ll listen.
If you want to talk about assistant coaches combined salaries and success, I’ll listen.
But I’m not interested in talking about total expenditures and success.

I would really like to pull back the layers and look at a number of those issues, but the numbers simply aren’t available. However, UNC and NCSU have essentially the same scholarship costs and should have roughly the same travel expenses….so how do these two schools compare?

Now I know that the Chief has had to endure a lot of medical hardships to non-starters, but I would love to have a detailed explanation of this table. It just seems that at some point, penny pinching is going to affect the product put out on the field. I would love to know where that point is and where State falls in relation to that point.

I was surprised to see that Duke’s BB program ended up in the red. If you flashback to our annual discussions on OOC strength of schedule, Duke’s is always near the top in the conference while State’s is always near (or at) the bottom. I wonder if State just schedules the cheapest opponents possible? (Presuming of course that there is SOME reason for State’s ridiculous schedule year after year.)


1) It looks like BC’s accounting practices in men’s and women’s basketball are two more examples of how things are reported differently from school to school.

2) It doesn’t appear that GT and WF have included scholarship funding as revenue for the women (and thus probably not for any of their teams). This difference illustrates once again that there are no consistent rules for the financial reporting summarized at EIA.

3) How many rants have you read over the years about the evils of big-time college athletics or a discussion about the “absurd” salaries paid to the top college football and basketball coaches. With all of the concern about spending on college sports, have you ever read a rant about the money that is spent on women’s basketball with virtually no revenue generated? I wonder why not?

4) I’ve often wondered exactly why the expenses for women’s basketball are so much higher than for the other non-revenue sports. Other than out-right waste, the only thing that I’ve ever thought of is that the travel expenses (ie flying to nearly every game?) are much higher than for the other sports. Any thoughts?

Wouldn’t you love to see a break down of the miscellaneous columns?

Dave Glenn is not on my list of approved information sources, so I would have missed this interview with Debbie Yow if not for a posting in our forums. Listening to this interview is what gave me the push to start on this series since it confirmed some of my suspicions. It also serves as a nice segue into the next installment which will focus on a more detailed discussion on NCSU finances.

I’ve transcribed the important parts of the interview (starts at around the six minute mark):

Part of DY’s response to a generic “first impressions” question:

…One thing right off the bat is that their budget is one of the smallest budgets that I’ve ever seen per sports expenditure. That’s how I would judge it for 23 sports. This is very lean, I would say too lean [of an] operation. We’ll work on that and see how we can generate some additional revenues…

DG’s follow-up comment/question:

When we look at the big picture of college athletics, obviously booster donations are a big part of paying all of the bills these days. We know on the one hand that NC State has one of the most populated booster organizations. But we know on the other hand in terms of total dollars, that the Wolfpack is not as high on that list. How can you change that equation where you keep the passion and the participation, but you raise even more money?

DY’s response:

Well I don’t think any of us know how much money is raised every year. I mean, how do we know that? The Wolfpack Club is separately incorporated. So at some point I’ll visit with their leadership and with Bobby Purcell and others and try to get a better understanding of exactly how much money is coming in every year because I really don’t know that right now. I only know what the transfer is for scholarships which would not represent the total amount of money that is coming in from fans for the athletic programs.

Past history has shown that trying to direct comments down a specific path is about as effective as herding cats. However, the next installment will focus on a more in-depth discussion on sports finances specifically at NC State. Most comments/questions specifically about NC State’s finances should probably be held until the next entry.

Part 1
Part 2
Part 4
Part 5

About VaWolf82

Engineer living in Central Va. and senior curmudgeon amongst SFN authors One wife, two kids, one dog, four vehicles on insurance, and four phones on cell plan...looking forward to empty nest status. Graduated 1982

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12 Responses to Financing College Sports – Part 3

  1. packplantpath 07/22/2010 at 9:34 AM #

    Do we think Yow is going to expand non-revenue sports? Bring back lacrosse? Maybe Field Hockey?

  2. Sam92 07/22/2010 at 9:42 AM #

    great job thank you.

    the justification i can see for stipends is that athletes spend a lot of time practicing/training for their sport so it’s harder for them to get a part time job. i had a part time job throughout my time at NCSU, but I know I couldn’t have done school, time commitment to a varsity sport and the job

    the other thing about these numbers is that it does show that there are just fewer dollars to work with for us than most of the other schools in the ACC, and money always makes a difference – hopefully Debbie Yow can raise some more dough

  3. VaWolf82 07/26/2010 at 8:09 AM #

    Personally, I doubt that DY will immediately jump in and try to expand the non-revenue sports. When you look at WVA’s entries that have summarized the lack of accomplishments across NC State’s entire athletics program, you see that there are alot of things that need to be done to improve our existing sports. I’ve also seen nothing in any of her reported comments with various media outlets that makes me think that adding new sports is anywhere near the top of her to-do list.

  4. acc 10k 07/26/2010 at 9:19 AM #

    Several comments – I’ll break them up for readability:
    Most of the really weird scholarship totals in men’s sports come from the fact that ~20 years ago, as a response to concern about Title IX lawsuits, there was a 10% across the board cut in scholarship allotments for all men’s “dollar-count” sports (that is, sports not football or basketball, where scholarships can be split among several people). Thus baseball is at 11.7, used to be 13. Men’s track / cross country gets 12.6, used to be 14. Around the same time (don’t know if it was exactly then) football was reduced over a four-year period from 95 to 85, and basketball was cut from 15 to 13, but may have had a stop at 14 along the way.
    All of this was of exactly ZERO utility in actually satisfying Title IX requirements, since it did not address any of the three things that could actually be used to show progress and/or compliance. It may have helped indirectly – schools who were saying “the only way we can comply is to cut our men’s budgets, and then our competition will outspend us” could force their richer competitors to cut men’s budgets as well.

  5. acc 10k 07/26/2010 at 9:20 AM #

    Love the $92 we spend on rifle recruiting!

  6. acc 10k 07/26/2010 at 9:37 AM #

    The two-sport athlete count has to be including cross country and track athletes. I am almost certain that most of the schools are counting athletes who do both indoor and outdoor track (which are two separate sports according to the NCAA, though they share a scholarship allotment with cross country). I cannot see any other plausible way that schools can get into or near triple digits for multi-sport athletes without counting this way, which would include virtually every person on the track & field roster.
    If you think about any other plausible combination – football with track, baseball, or basketball; soccer with track – you could count the people doing it at a given school on two hands. I spent a long time around the track program, and even at the peak there were never more than a half-dozen football players participating. There is absolutely no way there are over 100 athletes at any school participating in what most people would consider to be two DIFFERENT sports.
    It is possible some schools are aggressive in including athletes on the roster of a second sport if they just MIGHT work out with the team sometime. Which you wouldn’t normally do with men unless you were sure, because most schools are trying to boost their WOMEN’S numbers. But if you saw a school that was really serious about football, and that had high men’s two-sport numbers, they might be listing a LOT of guys on the track roster just to get around the limitations on how many hours they can work out in the spring.
    One thing this says for sure is Duke, Wake, and probably Maryland are counting differently than everyone else. (Even UNC is suspiciously low if they are counting track athletes, and ridiculously high if they aren’t.) The only consistent definition of two-sport athlete that could give you 170 at Clemson and zero at Duke is “Classes are so hard for him, it’s like a second sport.”

  7. acc 10k 07/26/2010 at 9:47 AM #

    One thing to look at on expenses for the marquee sports is how often they have to fly – which for football means 100 or so people (and I assume a charter, so really 80 or 120 would cost the same.) NC State usually has five road games per year, and frequently two of them are in NC, which means bus. I would even guess UVa and Clemson are bus trips, just because there is no real airport close enough to justify flying. Assuming everyone is counting their scholarships as expenses, Miami and BC should have the highest costs. They have to fly everywhere, and their scholarships are much more expensive than the public schools. But you are right, State and Chapel Hill ought to have very similar expense reports. It would be interesting to know how much of the difference (and scaled to team size, it is much bigger in basketball) is accounting, and how much is real differences in expenditures.

  8. VaWolf82 07/26/2010 at 10:49 AM #

    The two-sport athlete count has to be including cross country and track athletes.

    Maybe. But then why didn’t every school have about the same number of two-sport athletes?

  9. VaWolf82 07/26/2010 at 11:25 AM #

    Rough out-of-state travel time from Google Maps

    UVa or VT – 4 hours
    Clemson or UMD – 5 hours
    GT – 7 hours
    FSU – 10 hours
    BC or UM – 13 hours

  10. acc 10k 07/26/2010 at 11:53 AM #

    The two-sport athlete count has to be including cross country and track athletes.

    Maybe. But then why didn’t every school have about the same number of two-sport athletes?

    That’s why I said some schools have to be counting differently. GT only has 7 sports for men and 6 for women (actually 9 and 8, because the NCAA counts cross country and indoor & outdoor track as three sports). They can’t get to 14 multi-sport athletes, much less 114, if they aren’t count track athletes who participate in more than one season.
    One thing I did not think of before, is the some schools may also not count a CC/ind.track/out.track person as more than one athlete in the FIRST table. That would appear to be the case with Wake, which has much lower total numbers than other schools. It could also be the case with Duke, which is middle of the pack on the “athletic participation” count but has many more sports than most schools.
    I could also imagine someone deciding to count cross country and track as participating in two sports, but lumping indoor/outdoor track into just one sport. Nothing on the table jumps out to me suggesting an ACC school does it this way.
    And I just can’t explain Maryland’s two-sport numbers at all. Way too many men to not be counting track double-dippers, but not nearly enough for them to be counting the whole track team (or even the whole cross country team, with just the 8 women.) If it was a high school, I’d suggest it is one of those places where the basketball coach makes everyone run cross country in the fall to “get in shape for the season.”

  11. hball57 07/27/2010 at 1:29 PM #

    You wonder about the expenditures for Women’s Basketball compared to other Non-Revenue sports. I would contend that is an apples to oranges comparison. I would think the comparison would be with a simliar sport (Men’s basketball) as the expenses should be similar. The schedules are similiar (more games than most non-revenue sports, similar scholarship types and number, etc.), so if your WBB expenses are half or less than MBB you should be doing a good job financially with the program.

    I am not a “paying athletes” kind of guy, but I am in favor of a “full cost of attendance” type of person (which an athletic scholarship doesn’t actually do) or allowing student-athletes to keep their Pell Grants if the qualify for them. A few schools accross the country do that but the vast majority don’t.

  12. VaWolf82 07/30/2010 at 9:20 AM #

    You wonder about the expenditures for Women’s Basketball compared to other Non-Revenue sports. I would contend that is an apples to oranges comparison.

    Why is it apples to oranges? Why would you spend over twice as much on women’s BB as you do for any other women’s sport?

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