Tuesday, May 09, 2006

College Teams Play and the Public Pays

There is no doubt that college athletics is big business, so big that most universities need student fees and general school funds to help field teams. At the 164 biggest taxpayer-funded universities, more than $1 billion was pumped toward athletic budgets in 2004-05, according to a recent analysis by the Indianapolis Star. Without the outside funding, fewer than 10% of the athletic departments would have been able to support themselves, and most would have lost more than $5 million. There are stand-alone winners. Georgia, with its 92,020-seat Sanford Stadium, pictured above, leads the list, followed by Michigan, Kansas and Louisiana State. The paper has compiled the results in a database, and you can check your school by clicking here. And what would a player be worth to a university? The paper takes a stab at that question by using North Carolina and Illinois, the teams that advanced to the 2005 basketball title game, as an example.

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