"That’s the cost of doing business in this league."
November 23, 2015 7:30 PM Subscribe
Playing in the Red: College athletic departments are taking in more money than ever – and spending it just as fast — a Washington Post report on how perennial NCAA powerhouses and aspiring contenders alike are using student fees to pay for exploding athletic department budgets.
Big-time college sports departments are making more money than ever before, thanks to skyrocketing television contracts, endorsement and licensing deals, and big-spending donors. But many departments also are losing more money than ever, as athletic directors choose to outspend rising income to compete in an arms race that is costing many of the nation's largest publicly funded universities and students millions of dollars. Rich departments such as Auburn have built lavish facilities, invented dozens of new administrative positions and bought new jets, while poorer departments such as Rutgers have taken millions in mandatory fees from students and siphoned money away from academic budgets to try to keep up.
"College sports is big business, and it's a very poorly run big business," said David Ridpath, a business professor at Ohio University and board member for the Drake Group, a nonprofit advocating for an overhaul of commercialized college sports.
"It's frustrating to see universities, especially public ones, pleading poverty . . . and it is morally wrong for schools bringing in millions extra on athletics to continue to charge students and academics to support programs that, with a little bit of fiscal sense, could turn profits or at least break even."
Some purchases, Benedict acknowledged, were optional, like two new twin-engine jets: a six-seat 2008 Cessna Citation CJ2+ ($6.4 million) and a seven-seat 2009 Cessna Citation CJ3 ($7.8 million), each bearing a blue and orange "AU" insignia on its tail.
The jets are used primarily by coaches to criss-cross the country meeting with recruits, contributing to Auburn's recruiting costs nearly doubling in a decade, from $1.6 million to $2.7 million.
"If you want to be in recruiting at this level, private planes are utilized," said Benedict, who pointed out most of Auburn's competitors also own jets.
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