With the new EMU budget comes renewed discussion and concern about how much money EMU and similar schools are dumping into athletics, particularly football. From annarbor.com, see “Eastern Michigan University athletics’ $10.73M operating budget reliant on general fund.” Of that budget, $9.24 million come from the general fund of EMU, but really, it’s a lot more than that because that operating budget doesn’t include the $7.1 million in scholarships that EMU gives to athletes. So really, we’re talking more like of $16.5 million a year out of the operating fund to run sports at EMU.
Hurons! Emus! Eagles!
Here’s a passage from the annarbor.com piece that sums it up well the problems for me:
“I think it’s clear that Eastern Michigan University spends too much money on athletics,” said EMU business professor and head of the school’s faculty union Howard J. Bunsis during the Tuesday regents meeting. “The dream of filling Rynearson stadium… is never going to happen.”
He added: “The faculty is not against sports… but we just think it’s too much money.”
EMU’s athletic department has the highest level of general fund support of any athletic department in the MAC, according to a USA Today database.
University President Susan Martin has been a strong supporter of EMU’s athletic programs, saying sports create a dynamic college experience for students and are on their way toward becoming more self-supporting.
“We’re a Division I program and we do spend money on athletics, but certainly it’s fair to say that we hope the revenue-generating sports can generate more revenue,” Martin said, also projecting changes to the MAC will bring in more money from TV spots.
I think Howard is absolutely right: I’m not against college sports per se, I just think that EMU is in no position to pay for it. And part of the problem is this frankly delusional quote from President Martin: we are never ever ever going to generate any significant amount of revenue from TV spots or anything else. Certainly my business-minded colleagues in Welch Hall would agree that if you have to spend over $16 million to garner a $1-2 million from TV spots, appearance (e.g., paid to lose) fees, tickets, etc., etc., then that is not “revenue.”
Two other things to contemplate along these lines. First, from a loyal reader comes “Researchers show students subsidizing college sports at alarming rates in some conferences,” which links to the more informative/interesting Bloomberg News piece “How Poor Students Subsidize Unworthy College Sports.” The amount of money students pay through their fees to pay for athletics at places like EMU is enormous of course, but the surprise here is the extent to which students at places like EMU seem unaware of how much of their student fees are going to pay for athletic programs that have little to do with their education. Read both, especially that Bloomberg piece– interesting stuff.
And second comes this handy NCAA Financies Infographic from USA Today. A couple of “fun facts” from this I learned in about five minutes:
- Of the 228 Division I programs listed here, only seven report no subsidy to the athletic budget from tuition and fees, and only 27 have a subsidy of less than 5%.
- EMU ranks 24th on this list for the highest percentage of tuition and fee subsidy at 83.61%. Yikes.