The money is still on college athletics

Sports still get the lion’s share of money at colleges and universities.

The purpose of attending college is usually to get an education, but many schools spend more per student-athlete than they do per full-time student, according to an American Association of University Professors report. Comparing the pre-recession 2005-06 school year to the post-recovery 2011-12 school year, two-year colleges have trimmed spending on students in general, but increased it 35 percent for athletes. Public and private four-year universities have increased spending per student, but not as much as for student-athletes.

Increases per student-athletes vary widely across NCAA divisions. Surprisingly, the largest increase was at Division III schools that don’t have football teams.

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Coaches of college sports have received handsome increases, especially when compared with their professorial peers. The surprising finding in the report was that golf and tennis coaches, usually not thought of as college “money” sports, had increases at least three times the size of most professors. Not surprising is the finding that basketball and football coaches at Division I universities are leading the pack.

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Although pitting coaches against professors on salary may not be completely fair since professors are more plentiful, if the highest-paid professors were studied, they would probably still lag way behind coaches. At doctoral universities, professors averaged an increase of 4 percent. Football coaches averaged a 93 percent increase and basketball coaches a 102 percent increase. That’s a lot of salary ground to cover.

Pam Tobey is the graphics editor of the Morning Mix Web team at The Washington Post and a member of the Presentation Desk’s Information Design graphics team.
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