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Majority of Alabama universities slow spending on athletics compared to academics


By Jon Solomon

Five of the eight Division I public universities in Alabama experienced academic spending per student grow at a faster rate in 2012 than athletic spending per college athlete.

Every university continues to spend far more actual dollars per athlete than per student. But the latest data shows a course reversal, at least for one year, after every Division I school in the state had been spending more athletic dollars per athlete than academic dollars per student from 2007 to 2011.

The information comes from an analysis of the latest college sports spending database by the Knight Commission.

Auburn, UAB, Alabama A&M, Jacksonville State and Troy each had a higher spending rate on academics than athletics between 2011 and 2012. Alabama and South Alabama saw more spending growth on athletics. Alabama State’s rate was the same between academics and athletics.

Academic spending per student is defined as direct and indirect costs associated to educating students as calculated by the Delta Cost Project at the American Institutes for Research. Athletic spending per athlete is defined as total athletic operating expenses per unduplicated athlete, with data coming from USA Today’s database of NCAA financial reports.

During 2012, academic spending per student increased by 6 percent in the Football Bowl Subdivision and 1 percent in the Football Championship Subdivision. UAB, Alabama State, Alabama A&M and Jacksonville State exceeded their respective subdivision average; Auburn, Alabama and South Alabama were below the FBS average; and Troy equaled the FBS average.

Athletic spending per athlete increased by 8 percent in both the FBS and FCS during 2012. Only South Alabama and Alabama State exceeded their respective subdivision average. The other six schools were all below the national average.

Between 2007 and 2011, every Division I public university in Alabama averaged an annual athletic spending increase of between 5 percent and 11 percent. Last year, five universities spent less or the same amount per athlete as the previous year: Auburn, UAB, Alabama A&M, Jacksonville State and Troy.

SEC schools spent on average $262,468 in football operating expenses per scholarship football player in 2012, up 1 percent from the previous year. The SEC’s academic spending per student was $13,734, up 4 percent from 2011.

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