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Sizable spending, revenue for UConn athletics

Study shows Big East schools spend almost six times more on sports than on academics

Campus Correspondent

Published: Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Updated: Friday, August 23, 2013 17:08

Basketball training facility

RACHEL WEISS/The Daily Campus

The $32 million basketball training facility site near Gampel Pavilion is pictured above. The facility, designed to keep UConn athletics from falling behind in revenue, will include practice courts for each team, study areas, two computer labs, a video editing suite, a hydrotherapy room, a dining area, an alumni locker room and two film-viewing rooms.

UConn, like other schools with Division I athletic programs, spent three to six times more on athletes than regular students, according to a 2013 report by the Delta Cost Project at the American Institutes for Research.

According to the report, Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) institutions including UConn spent about $92,000 per athlete to every $14,000 per student. This means in 2010, schools with teams in the Big East spent 5.8 times more on student-athletes than regular students.

UConn’s athletic department uses about 16 percent of its budget for athletic scholarships. That money comes from the department, not the university, according to the Hartford Courant.

Jossimar Sanchez, a senior UConn soccer player who will go on to play Major League Soccer for New England Revolution, said, “A lot of athletes come from a background where they need athletics just to come to college. They’re getting a free education but they give back to their community so much.”

The Delta Cost Project determined that most FBS schools’ athletic departments are not self-funding and therefore costly to the students, the institution and the state. UConn, however, is an exception.

UConn’s 24-team athletics program proved to be self-sufficient in 2011. The football team brought in $1.6 million in revenue. Similarly, the men’s basketball team made $3.9 million in revenue, breaking the mold of FSB schools that typically rely on the football team for a financial boost. UConn’s women’s basketball team also broke the mold, taking in $3.8 million in revenue.

Mike Enright, UConn’s associate director of athletic communications, told the Hartford Courant, “We’re self-sufficient... We also support recreation, all the intramurals, for instance.”

According to the 2013 UConn Fact Sheet, UConn’s tuition prices for in-state students have gone up by about 14 percent since 2010. Those increases are actually intended to help hire faculty and reduce class size. The additional money is not meant for athletic funding.

A successful athletics program often means better name recognition and prominence for a university, the report said. In the short term, a school may experience a boost in applications, enrollments and campus spirit. The jump typically lasts only one or two years. The study referred to a winning program as “priceless ‘advertising’ for colleges and universities, reaching potential students, donors and politicians.”

But, the report went on, “most of the recent studies on alumni giving find little connection between athletic success and fundraising” from alumni.

But that won’t stop Sanchez from giving back to UConn in the future. He said he plans to donate to the university once he starts earning money in his professional soccer career.

“UConn’s been four great years,” Sanchez said. “Giving back is the least I can do to help out future students - both athletes and non-athletes.”

Sanchez said he approaches every game with the mindset that he’s not playing just for himself, but for his community, his fellow students and the fans. He noted that the athletes aren’t just athletes, but students, too. He said he hopes people recognize the hours student-athletes at the school put in to both academics and athletics.


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