Report Shows Increasing Subsidies for Sports at Ohio Public Universities

Mar 14, 2019

An analysis of Ohio’s major public universities shows that the schools have been increasingly spending more to subsidize athletic programs, with a total of $186 million last year for ten schools, excluding Ohio State.  WKSU’s Kabir Bhatia spoke with Rich Exner, data analysis editor at Cleveland.com, about the trends he’s seeing in the numbers on athletic spending.

At the University of Akron, Bowling Green, University of Cincinnati, Cleveland State, Kent State, Miami University, Ohio University, University of Toledo, Wright State and Youngstown State, there is not enough money coming in from ticket sales, TV contracts or donations to pay for athletics.

The subsidies – averaging 62 percent of the athletic budget – come from fees charged to all students, regardless of whether they play sports, according to financial reports filed with the NCAA.

The amount last year ranged from an average of $1,359 per student at Akron to $717 at Wright State, and spending has increased by three times the rate of inflation since 2010.

Ohio State University is the only Ohio school able to pay its sports bill with money from sports.

Exner says many readers have wondered why the fees are in place, given the already high cost of college.  But he says many schools cite the promotional value of having a sports program, while certain alumni do not want to see programs cut.  As an example, he cites the University of Akron’s plan to re-activate its baseball program next year with a $1 million donation from a UA baseball alum.

Exner’s Cleveland.com report on athletic spending at ten Ohio public universities is available here.