Tuesday, November 25, 2008

How much of a Priority are Intercollegiate Athletics at Division 1 Schools?

By Robert Villwock and Matthew Denhart

We have developed ratios for the salaries of head football coaches in the Division 1 Football Bowl Subdivision compared to the salaries of university presidents. This ratio gives a good indication of where universities put priorities in regards to athletics and other activities within the university. The data are for the 2006-7 year.

Keep in mind that according to the US Department of Education's Equity in Athletics Data, only 3.2 percent of college students participate as student athletes in Division 1 Football Bowl Series sports. If football makes up half of that percentage (an extremely generous estimate) then 1.6 out of every 100 students benefit from the coaching (instruction) given by these coaches. Though these coaches and their programs bring back revenue to the university, only 19 athletic programs had generated revenues in excess of expenses in 2006. College coaches are not expected to teach class because they must focus on the next week's gameplan, though a football team plays only 12 games a year with an additional game if the team qualifies for bowl competition.

Iowa's head football coach makes 9.35 times the salary of the president.
If salary is any indication of how much a school values its football program compared with other activities within the university, then these numbers are even more shocking. Below are listed the 25 schools with the highest ratios of head football coach salaries to the salary of that university's president.



Student athletes and the general student body both seem to be the victims in this case as they are footing the bill for most of the head coach and university presidents' salaries. To be fair, donations to athletic programs (especially the really good sports programs) make up a portion of the costs and occasionally
the university receives subsidies from the government to help offset those costs, but what are the opportunity costs associated with these expenditures?

Would large donations or other revenue streams that currently go to a university athletic department be given to the business school to pay for new computers? Or to a chemistry lab for new equipment?

Some student athletes are forced to decide between choosing a difficult major or continuing on with athletics because of the time commitments associated with both choices. As the NCAA continues to reform its academic standards, more and more athletes are forced to make this decision.

An unintended consequence of cracking down on academic performance is the prevalence of athletes taking easy majors to ensure academic eligibility. According to 2002-2003data, while less than 1 percent of undergraduate students at Auburn majored in Sociology, over 26 percent of the football team majored in that subject. This trend is seen at several other universities across the country.

While this trend is apparent, there are exceptions to this rule.

Again, we would like to congratulate Myron Rolle, a student athlete at Florida State University, who was one of 32 Rhodes Scholars chosen over the past weekend. Though he apparently received criticism last year from assistant coach Mickey Andrews for skipping Monday practice to go to a physics lab, he was able to overcome it to win the most prestigious scholarship in American Higher Education. We would also like to congratulate Christopher Joseph, another varsity football player from UCLA who was also chosen as a Rhodes Scholar.

Robert Villwock and Matthew Denhart are both undergraduate students at Ohio University and research associates of the Center for College Affordability and Productivity.

3 comments:

Cowboy said...

Wow - Good job guys. That's a real eye opener. Also almost unbelievable. I say "almost" because not much about higher ed surprises me anymore.

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Cowboy said...

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