This weekend the group of NCAA Division I FBS conferences known as the “Power 5” and the “autonomy schools” approved long-talked about changes to their Division I governance laws. Reports from this year’s convention via USA Today showed that while they passed, it was not without disagreement.
The “cost of living” amendment passed 79-1 with the lone vote against raising concerns about the residual effects of such a change. It allows for schools to cover incidental costs associated with college in addition to tuition, room, and board. A proposal to allow for student-athletes to be able to receive guaranteed four-year scholarships barely passed, with representatives from the SEC and Big 12 among those arguing against the concept. These votes are significant for UAB as a member of Conference USA given comments made by league commissioner, Britton Banowsky, before the beginning of the academic year suggesting members schools were prepared to pay athletes the full cost of attendance. A look at publicly available numbers tell a different story.
The Chronicle of Higher Education published a report in March 2014 titled “An Era of Neglect.” The accompanying database was the one referenced by Yellowhammer News in the post published in September and cited previously in this series. Below is a table showing data compiled from both that database and one maintained by USA Today since 2005 showing revenues, expenses, and subsidies for public colleges and universities participating in collegiate sports. Ours extracts data from the USA Today database while adding two additional pieces — the percentage of the overall budget for the institution compromised of state appropriations and the change of percentage between where it was in 1987 and in 2012 — from the Chronicle for Higher Education’s database. A decision was made to focus on member schools in both Southeastern Conference and Conference USA to provide context and perspective. Adding the numbers in the last two columns together (and remembering to add the number in the last column instead of subtracting, so, for example, taking 29.9 and 26.1 — and NOT -26.1 — for Florida) will give you will allow you to determine the institution’s total state appropriation in 1987 (56% for our example).
|School||Total Revenue||Total Expenses||Total Subsidy||% Subsidy||% overall budget from state, 2012||% +/- 1987-2012|
|Middle TN St.||$27,667,552||$28,716,516||$19,613,161||70.89||25.6||-41.6|
It’s worth noting that UAB saw the smallest reduction in state appropriations among the schools with records available (both Vanderbilt and Rice are private institutions). They received the third lowest state appropriation percentage-wise in C-USA while providing more than 64% in subsidies to athletics (the sixth highest amount by percentage in the conference). There are also four member schools in C-USA in 2013 with expenses exceeding revenue (Marshall, Middle Tennessee St., UT-San Antonio, and Western Kentucky). The school with the second highest subsidy by percentage in C-USA (Old Dominion, 73.35%) is one of three in Virginia that may be specifically affected by proposed legislation mandating that its 15 state-funded institutions derive no more than 70% of their athletic budgets from student fees and other subsidies from their general budgets. Schools participating in the Football bowl Subdivision would not be able to spend more than 20%, meaning they could potentially be forced to withdraw from C-USA (as reported late last week on PilotOnline.com). It would also prevent student fees and tuition from being raised solely for the purpose of funding athletics.
It makes sense to revisit NCAA president Mark Emmert’s comments after the announcement of the discontinuation of three athletic teams at UAB — via video — and in light of the collected data.
CORRECTION – 5:15 p.m., 1/19/2015: An earlier version of this post stated that UAB had the eighth highest athletic subsidy in Conference USA. It has the sixth highest.