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Latest report shows uptick in equitable budget allocations

By Gary Brown

A new NCAA report on athletics finances by gender shows a commitment from NCAA schools to providing more resources to women’s teams. 

While men’s sports continue to generate more revenue and demand a greater share of expenditures overall, schools in all three NCAA divisions are literally “paying” more attention to their women’s programs. The 2010 NCAA Gender-Equity Report reveals a number of positive trends, including scholarship allocations for women’s teams that have increased at greater rates than those for men’s sports over the last seven years. That’s also the case with recruiting dollars.

The data from the latest iteration of the NCAA gender-equity report have been reformatted to more closely mirror the NCAA Revenues and Expenses of Intercollegiate Athletics Programs Reports. Results are gleaned from information institutions submit annually to the NCAA Financial Information System and are provided now using “median” values instead of “mean” as in the past. 

The revenues and expenses reports are done that way, too, which makes all of NCAA’s financial-based reports easier for campus and conference leaders to calculate and understand the real costs of intercollegiate athletics. Because the change from mean to median in financial reports wasn’t made until 2004 (and because of other significant changes in data collection and reporting that were made at that time), the gender-equity report uses that year as the baseline from which comparisons are made (as do the revenues and expenses reports).

The news for women’s sports is increasingly good. Since 2004, for example, scholarship allocations for Division I at the median have increased by 61.4 percent for women’s teams as compared to 56.2 percent for men’s teams. At the median, schools devoted $574,000 to women’s scholarships in 2010 compared with $317,100 in 2004. Men’s scholarship expenses went from $420,000 in 2004 to $740,600 in 2010.

Those allocations for women’s teams in Division II have increased by 81 percent since 2004, compared with an increase of 76.3 percent for men’s teams.

In recruiting, expenses at the median for Division I schools have increased by 46 percent for women’s teams (from $66,400 in 2004 to $96,900 in 2010) compared to 39.2 percent for men’s teams (from $121,800 in 2004 to $169,500 in 2010).

The comparisons are similar in Division II, where over the last seven years schools at the median have allocated 76.8 percent more toward recruiting for women’s teams in 2010 than in 2004 (from $8,400 to $14,800), compared to 68.4 percent more for men’s sports (from $13,200 in 2004 to $22,300).

In Division III, recruiting expenses have increased greatly for both genders – 111.8 percent for women’s teams and 116 percent for men’s.

The increases in scholarship allocations and other expenses likely relate to the jump in participation opportunities for women in general. The 2009-10 NCAA Sports Sponsorship and Participation Rates Report shows a total of 430,301 student-athletes, almost 10,000 more than the previous year, playing NCAA championship sports. Of that total, 57.1 percent are males, though the gap between male and female participation has decreased slightly in Division I over the last several years. There also have been more women’s teams in all three divisions than men’s since 1996-97. (The general undergraduate student body at NCAA schools in all three divisions is about 53.8 percent female and 46.4 percent male.)

Overall expenses, though, still weigh heavily on the men’s side of the ledger. In 2010, the median total expense for Division I schools was $6.8 million for men’s teams, more than $4.7 million of which went toward football. The median total expense for women’s teams was about $4.5 million.

Comparing total expenses by sport shows a more equal distribution. In basketball, for example, the media total expense for men’s teams in Division I was about $1.6 million, compared to about $1.2 million for women’s teams. Expenses for women’s teams exceeded those of men’s in sports such as track, swimming, volleyball, golf and gymnastics.

Most of the expenses go toward scholarships (about $2.3 million for men’s teams and $2.1 for women’s in 2010). The most unbalanced line items in expenses are for coaching salaries and benefits, where the median for men’s teams in Division I is about $900,000 for head coaches and almost $1 million for the cadre of assistants. Salaries for administrative staff on the men’s side also more than double those for women’s sports (about $183,000 for men’s sports and $72,000 for women’s). 

Again, football accounts for much of the disparity, with the median salary for head coaches at $344,700 and more than $831,000 going to assistants.

Not surprisingly, though, football and men’s basketball dominate the revenue side. Football, in fact, provides almost all of the generated revenues at the median in Division I ($2,096,500 of the $2,186,700 total). 

Women’s sports combined generates at the median about $318,000 at Division I schools. The biggest contributor is basketball (about $85,000). Men’s basketball, meanwhile, contributed at the median about $544,000.