By: Matthew Denhart & Michael Malesick
As the college football season is getting underway, all the talk recently has focused on reports that college players attended a Miami Beach party thrown by 49ers running back Frank Gore at which professional agents were present (and perhaps helped fund). If true, this of course would be a violation of sacrosanct NCCA policies that forbid amateur college athletes from financially benefiting from their sports participation. But who cares? We have argued that by-and-large, major college athletics have greatly deviated from their "amateur" ideal and that players should be paid for their services anyway.
Data provided by USA Today and the U.S. Department of Education suggest that the real intercollegiate athletics (ICA) scandal is the amount of money used to subsidize sports in the first place. CCAP has argued this subsidy acts as a tax on scarce educational resources and that serious reform is needed.
Increasing college access to lower income groups through Pell grant assistance is a major national objective. Yet, how serious is this commitment relative to subsidizing ICA? We have explored this question, and our findings are not very encouraging.
Dividing ICA subsidy outlays by Pell grant outlays for 2008 (the most recent year data are available) shows that at the 99 public FBS schools, the average ratio was 59 percent. This means that, on average, more than half as many resources are devoted to ICA than to funding Pell grants for students. In a sample 108 schools from the FCS and "No Football" divisions, the ratio is even worse at 108 percent, meaning that at these schools, on average, more money is devoted to subsidizing athletics than to Pell grants.
Some schools are worse than others. Listed below are the top 10 most egregious offenders in the FBS and FCS/No Football:
1. U of Virginia (289%)
2. U of Wyoming (240%)
3. U of Nevada-Reno (186%)
4. Miami U (OH) (161%)
5. Louisiana Tech U. (146%)
6. U of Alabama-Birmingham (138%)
7. Eastern Michigan U. (127%)
8. U of Maryland (124%)
9. U of Connecticut (123%)
10. Ball State U (122%)
1. Citadel (667%)
2. U of Delaware (564%)
3. College of William & Mary (490%)
4. James Madison U (486%)
5. Manhattan College (415%)
6. VMI (386%)
7. Longwood U (325%)
8. U of New Hampshire (268%)
9. Delaware State U (251%)
10. Coastal Carolina U (244%)
Topping the FBS list is the University of Virginia, where Pell grant outlays were only $4.1 million compared to ICA subsidies close to $11.9 million. At the nation's oldest public institution, William and Mary, ICA subsidies were over $9.5 million while Pell grant outlays were much lower at around $1.95 million.
While America's political and academic leaders espouse the noble goal of increased access, their funding priorities do not match the rhetoric. As college tuition continues to climb, funding for athletics has likewise grown. Perhaps the NCAA should be investigating this scandal rather than fretting over the partying habits of college athletes.