Ohio’s $186 million public investment in college sports: covering criticisms and benefits, with school-by-school details

The state of Ohio is not included in the totals. They are for Akron, Bowling Green, Cincinnati, Cleveland State, Kent State, Miami, Ohio, Toledo, Wright State, and Youngstown State. (Rich Exner, cleveland.com)

CLEVELAND, Ohio – With the exception of the state of Ohio, a portion of the cost of attending major Ohio public universities covers the cost of exercising.

Last year, the grant totaled $ 186 million for the 10 schools that are not raising enough money to fund athletics through ticket sales, television deals, donations to the sport, and other sources in the sporting departments.

Often times, the grant comes in the form of mandatory tuition fees that are charged to anyone who enrolls for classes. In other cases, school fees or other non-athletic university resources are used for athletics.

When you add it all up, the average cost of Department I sports programs at these 10 public universities is nearly $ 1,000 per year per student on campus, regardless of whether they play sports. This was found by cleveland.com when analyzing the financial reports that the schools submitted to the NCAA.

Subsidies calculated based on the use of tuition fees and other general university support and the number of full-time equivalents. (Rich Exner, cleveland.com)

Cost per student

The grant during the 2017-2018 school year averaged $ 1,359 per student at the financially troubled University of Akron and just $ 717 at Wright State University.

Elsewhere in Northeast Ohio, the average grant averaged $ 769 per student in Kent State, $ 845 in Cleveland State, and $ 1,028 in Youngstown State. This was calculated by cleveland.com using total sports grants and the number of full-time equivalents (two half-time students count as one).

Ohio State University, with its 100,000-seat soccer stadium and huge TV deals through the Big Ten, is the only school in Ohio that can pay its sports bills entirely with sports money.

For the other 10 schools combined, 62 percent of the $ 302 million spent on exercise was paid for through college tuition or other non-athletic sources, according to cleveland.com.

Grant share of the total budget for the school year 2017-2018. (Rich Exner, cleveland.com)

Question the investment

Such spending is “completely irresponsible” in the context of budget constraints for academics, said John McNay, professor of history at the University of Cincinnati and president of the Ohio Conference of the American Association of University Professors.

“Maybe the governor or the legislature should act,” McNay told cleveland.com via email. “Legislators are always talking about the need to improve the accessibility and affordability of our public facilities, and here is a case where our universities are working in exactly the opposite direction.”

“Too often government agencies have focused on tinkering with the classroom, but that’s not where the financial problem lies. Administrative bloat, grandiose construction projects, and sports departments that pose financial problems are the areas where the problems lie. “

Justification of the investment

Sports investments are defended on several fronts, including marketing value to schools and improving student life in and out of the classroom.

“We believe we are providing many benefits to the institution, including national / regional media exposure that strengthens the university’s brand and in turn has a positive impact on student enrollment, alumni relationships, institutional fundraising, school pride and community relationships,” said Ohio University sports spokesman Mike Ashcraft said in an email.

Of the six Mid-American Conference Schools in Ohio, the Ohio University grant for its exercise program is the lowest, accounting for 55 percent of the total. At the upper end of these schools is Akron with 70 percent.

Total sports spending for the 2017-2018 school year. (Rich Exner, cleveland.com)

Sports spending has increased 47 percent since 2010

According to cleveland.com, spending on the 10 sports programs has increased three times the rate of inflation since 2010, increasing 47 percent from $ 206 million to $ 302 million.

Still, growth has slowed to just over 3 percent over the past two years – close to the rate of change in the federal consumer price index.

This reflects the national trend for schools not competing at the highest level of football, said Amy Perko, who is closely following these questions as chief executive officer of the Knight Commission of Intercollegiate Athletics.

“There is pressure to reduce reliance on tuition fees and institutional funding,” Perko said in a telephone interview. “Where we have seen more growth are those schools that compete in football and are unable to generate the level of it.”

Ticket revenue as a share of total sports spending during the 2017-2018 school year. (Rich Exner, cleveland.com)

An income landscape very different from that of the state of Ohio

Fundraising within the sports department has proven difficult for schools outside of the large conferences – conferences that often benefit from huge television deals and ticket monies.

Ohio State University, for example, received $ 43 million in sports media rights and $ 69 million in ticket sales last year.

Ohio State’s ticket revenue would not only cover the entire sports bill at another Ohio public university, but also the combined sports budgets for Kent State ($ 30 million) and Akron ($ 37.1 million).

The state of Ohio raised $ 59.4 million from soccer ticket sales alone.

In contrast, ticket sales for all sports were $ 181,467 in Cleveland State, $ 467,408 in Kent State, $ 560,787 in Youngstown State, and $ 1.4 million in Akron.

Budget highlights for four universities in northeast Ohio. Cleveland State does not have a soccer team. (Rich Exner, cleveland.com)

A cheaper alternative to major college football

A cheaper alternative is not to compete in football – choosing between Cleveland State and Wright State – or competing in a lower league like Youngstown State.

YSU sets up an FCS-level football team formerly known as Division I-AA. Coaches tend to be paid less and there are fewer football scholarships (a maximum of 63 instead of 85) compared to FBS-level programs like Akron, Kent State, and Ohio State.

Youngstown State’s total sports spending ($ 15.9 million) is roughly half that of Kent State ($ 30 million) and Akron ($ 35.9 million).

However, Youngstown State has more teams (19) than Kent (18) and Akron (18) and will expand to 21 teams over the next two years, adding men’s swimming and diving and women’s lacrosse.

“That level of football has worked very well for us as an institution,” said sporting director Ron Strollo during a telephone interview. “It helped our brand. And financially, it didn’t weigh on us, which it means for some of the (higher) FBS schools.”

Strollo said an outside study commissioned by the school found that YSU’s 2016 trip to the FCS national championship game resulted in $ 55 million in print media awareness for the university.

The marketing and brand value of sport is often contested by people who are critical of investments.

But Strollo offered another financial advantage. The athletes, who otherwise may not be in Youngstown State, spend money on food on and off campus, and often pay at least some of their tuition.

Strollo said about 70 athletes at YSU usually receive full scholarships.

In 2017-18, the school said it split 197 scholarships among 340 athletes. Another 64 athletes did not even receive some sports scholarships.

Even so, the school used $ 10.9 million in student fees to cover its bills.

Photos by Gus Chan of The Plain Dealer, AP and Kent State University.

The public discussion

Perko of the Knight Commission said transparency in the release of budgets is important to the ongoing discussions on intercollegiate athletics.

The Commission recently set up a national database of school-related details for the 2016-2017 school year.

Regardless, the commission, co-chaired by former Kent State and Bowling Green President Carol Cartwright, has advocated better medical care for athletes and new formulas to distribute a portion of the NCAA’s shared income to academics To tie success.

McNay, head of the Ohio Professors Organization, said, “We would never argue about not doing sports.”

“Every department and college must live within their budget or face cuts,” McNay said. “The result has been academic mission damage by starving our departments and universities so that funds can be diverted to areas other than our academic mission. As we regularly share with our students, ask where your money is going. “

School to school details

Scroll below for more information on each Ohio program. You can also find a ranking of the Big Ten schools by money.

Rich Exner, cleveland.com

Learn more about Akron’s sports budget

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Find out more about Bowling Green’s sports budget

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Learn more about the Cincinnati sports budget

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Learn more about the Cleveland State sports budget

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Find out more about the Kent State sports budget

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Learn more about Miami’s sports budget

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Learn more about the Ohio University sports budget

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Find out more about the Toledo sports budget

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Learn more about the Youngstown State sports budget

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More details on Wright State’s sports budget

More information on Wright State’s sports budget will follow shortly.

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Rich Exner, data analysis editor for cleveland.com, writes about numbers on a variety of topics. Follow @RichExner on Twitter. For data-related stories, visit cleveland.com/datacentral.

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