US universities spend on sports while cutting elsewhere

03 Sep 2010

 Interesting front-page article in today's New York Times about how US universities are boosting their spending on sports at a time of general cutbacks because of its value as a marketing tool.

The article focuses on a case-study of the University of Florida,where the athletics director has a budget of $95 million, the use of three private planes, and a personal salary of $1.2 million. It says Florida has raised its sports budget by 6% even though it has been through a $150 million reduction in state funding, which has seen 139 faculty and other staff laid off between 2007-2010.

Because university sports are shown on local and national TV they offer an important show-case for recruiting campuses. According to the NY Times, the TV focus is now spreading beyond the big sports, like football and basketball, to 'minor' sports such as lacrosse and softball.

When I was on a fellowship at the University of  Michigan a few years back, the university's (American) football team used to attract crowds of well over 110,000 for home matches. They were also shown on TV, which brought in useful income as well as showcasing the university.

Any chance of Oxford and Cambridge televising its 'varsity soccer, hockey and croquet matches?. 

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