In an article for the Buffalo News, Jay Tokasz has reported yet another example of how our institutions are spending exorbitant sums to subsidize intercollegiate athletics—at the expense of academic programs and students.
Here are the opening paragraphs from Tokasz article, “Small Crowds, Big Subsidy for UB Sports”:
“The price of pursuing athletic glory continues to climb at the University at Buffalo. And footing much of the bill are students who don’t suit up for games, or even attend them.
“UB spent $31.3 million in 2013-14 to operate its Division I athletics program. The spending grew by 18 percent over five years.
“Three-quarters of the athletics budget, nearly $24 million, was subsidized with students’ fees and with general university funds, which primarily are composed of tuition and state tax dollars. Earned revenue from game ticket sales, royalties, ‘guarantee’ games and NCAA distributions from tournament play accounted for less than a quarter of the Athletics Department budget.
“Compared with other public university athletic programs, the amount of UB’s subsidy for intercollegiate sports was the ninth-largest in the country.
“University officials defend the subsidy as an investment in building a highly competitive athletics program that will enhance the experience of attending UB for all students, not just athletes.
“But amid surging college costs and student-debt levels, some students and faculty members have started questioning the university’s emphasis on Division I sports. The increased spending on athletics has happened as university officials curbed some academic spending. The university’s largest academic unit, the College of Arts & Sciences, currently has a hiring freeze, because administrators said they don’t have the money to add faculty. The college has experienced enrollment declines, and its budget this year is down by $3.5 million from 2014-15.
“’Part of the reason the money isn’t there is the university has chosen other priorities in the way it spends its money,’ said Kenneth Dauber, a professor of English, who has been critical of athletics spending. ‘It seems a really backwards sense of priority. What justifies that, given what the mission of the university is?’
“With the $23 million subsidy to athletics, the university easily could hire 225 more faculty members or cut tuition by more than $1,000 for all undergraduates, he said. . . .”
The complete article, which is substantial, is available at: http://www.buffalonews.com/city-region/university-at-buffalo/small-crowds-big-subsidy-for-ub-sports-20151128