Report: Georgia State students paid nearly $90 million in fees over past 5 years to prop up sports

If you wonder about high student fees at Georgia public colleges, look to sports programs and empty seats

A new in-depth investigation by the Chronicle of Higher Education and Huffington Post reveals many public college students are subsidizing sports at their schools. Of the 201 athletics departments at the public campuses studied, just about two dozen cover their expenses through ticket sales, TV revenue or donations.

How do the rest stay afloat? By turning to students to carry the costs, according to The $10 Billion Sports Tab: How College Students Are Funding the Athletic Arms Race.”  In the past five years, public universities funneled more than $10.3 billion in mandatory student fees and other subsidies into sports programs.

The story focuses on Georgia State University’s effort to build a new football program, in large part by using fees paid by all students at the downtown Atlanta campus.

Notice anything missing from this photo of a September GSU football game? PHOTO / JASON GETZ

Notice anything missing from this photo of a September home GSU football game? Fans. PHOTO / JASON GETZ

With GSU as the chief example, the report notes subsidy rates are “highest at colleges where ticket sales and other revenue are the lowest — meaning that students who have the least interest in their college’s sports teams are often required to pay the most to support them.”

The story states:

The Panthers, now in their sixth season, haven’t given fans much reason to celebrate. In the 2013 and 2014 seasons, competing at the highest level of the National Collegiate Athletic Association, the team recorded just a single victory. Average attendance last year was among the 10 worst in the NCAA’s top level. Yet Georgia State’s 32,000 students are still required to cover much of the cost. Over the past five years, students have paid nearly $90 million in mandatory athletic fees to support football and other intercollegiate athletics — one of the highest contributions in the country.

A river of cash is flowing into college sports, financing a spending spree among elite universities that has sent coaches’ salaries soaring and spurred new discussions about whether athletes should be paid. But most of that revenue is going to a handful of elite sports programs, leaving colleges like Georgia State to rely heavily on students to finance their athletic ambitions.

At Georgia State, athletic fees totaled $17.6 million in 2014, from a student population in which nearly 60 percent qualify for Pell Grants, the federal aid program for low-income students. The university contributed an additional $3 million in direct support to its sports programs. All told, those subsidies represented about three-fourths of the athletics budget.

It’s a great report and worth reading. Take a look. The piece has an interactive database where you can look at athletic funding at each of the 201 colleges. Among them is Kennesaw State University, which put $42 million of student fees into its sports programs over the last five years.

 

Reader Comments 0

10 comments
An American Patriot
An American Patriot

C'mon folks, so you get rid of football in HS, Colleges, Universities, etc., what will you really accomplish?  I'll tell you.  As most of you know, football is the engine that drives the train.  Without it, there would be no, or very few interscholastic sports teams because of the $$$$$$$$$ factor.  Also, there's the collateral damage......kids quit school and start doing something else.  Opportunities are taken away from them such as scholarships to play sports in colleges; however, if there is no football in colleges, they're doomed.  Although I agree that some semi-pro teams could evolve and take up the slack.  But, you see where I'm going.  You have to have Football in HS's, Colleges and Universities in order to ensure that all the other sports survive, for they wouldn't were it not for the money.  Once again, you cannot get rid of Football.  Too many lives would be ruined.  It behooves everyone to support HS's and places of higher learning.  It's absolutely necessary.  It's a big economic engine. 


NOW PLEASE READ THIS BECAUSE I'M NOT GOING TO SAY IT MANY MORE TIMES

AVJ
AVJ

I went to GSU as an undergrad back in the 90s and again for my Master's in the 2000s. The school sent out a survey polling students about getting a football team. I voted an absolute NO.  If you want football, go to UGA.  GA State wasn't built for that.  I knew back then it was a mistake to start a football team, because then we had to fund a whole lot of other sports for the students who couldn't play football and fund ALLLL the stuff that comes along with that.  I saw my fees go up semester after semester, making it very hard to afford the tuition anymore.


Thanks a lot to all the GSU students who voted for football back in the 2000s (all sarcasm intended).  :-)

redweather
redweather

I'm surprised this blog article hasn't gotten more comment.

OriginalProf
OriginalProf

In 2008 a great many of the GSU faculty opposed the entire idea of a football team as over-extending the University's obligations, but the new President just loved the idea of having a football team.He assured everyone that student fees would not go to support the football team. Now what? And the University is bidding to get Turner Field for its football stadium? Oy vey.

Wascatlady
Wascatlady

Where does the money go? How many administrators and other camp followers does the $90 M support?

Peaches30305
Peaches30305

Really embarrassing with the product they put out on the field every Saturday.

USMC2841
USMC2841

If we're looking at questioning sports that don't pay their own way can we repeal the title IX mandates?

gapeach101
gapeach101

@USMC2841

Works for me.  Let's also  eliminate the 82% of college football programs that don't make a profit.

"According to Jeff Benedict and Armen Keteyian, authors of The System: The Glory and Scandal of Big-Time College Football (2013),figures from the 2010-11 academic year show that only 22 of the 120 top-tier football programs broke even or made a profit.  That means that while these big-time teams generate millions of dollars of revenue, the cost of running such programs usually exceeds that revenue.  To put that more starkly, even within the so-called top tier, 82% of college football teams actually take away money from the university’s budget, rather than generate net revenue. "

http://www.ethosreview.org/intellectual-spaces/is-college-football-profitable/

USMC2841
USMC2841

@gapeach101 @USMC2841 I agree that not all schools benefit from having football programs.  As a GSU alum my wife has stated that she wished they had a football team when she was there.  She feels as if it would have added to her college experience.  The article however only calls out college football.  I would guess that those programs are the most costly to the schools but would also guess they have the most impact on enrollment and in some rare cases carry the economic load for other programs.  It's not as if all of the money from the fees supports football.  GSU's website lists six men's sports programs while they have nine women's.

JeffreyEav
JeffreyEav

Ga state gets the whole fee if you take a full load or just one class. I know. I've paid it.