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Athletics vs. Academic Spending

The Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics’ new report centers mainly on a variety of recommendations intended to close the gap between academics and athletics. But the report, “Restoring the Balance: Dollars, Values, and the Future of College Sports,” also includes several compelling graphics that illustrate the divide.

One that caught my attention appears in the first few pages of the report. It charts, from 2005 to 2008, median spending per athlete alongside median academic spending per student. Athletics spending during that time period increased by 38 percent, to $84,446; spending on academics increased by 20 percent, to $13,349. Take a look:

The report includes another chart worth a peek that compares academic and athletics spending among the 11 conferences in Division I-A. Not surprisingly, the Southeastern Conference tops the list for sports spending: In 2008, the conference’s member universities spent a median of $144,592 per athlete, nearly 11 times more than what those institutions spent per student ($13,410). Even the last conference on the list—the Mid-American Conference—still spent four times more per athlete ($48,139) than it did per student ($12,032).

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