Ohio State’s $119 million athletic budget

My friend sent sent me this link to SI on Campus to show me this photo of her from last year’s Ohio State-Michigan game [I like that the caption labels her as an OSU student ;)].

Then, I decided to read the Wall Street Journal article about how Ohio State spends triple the amount on athletes than it does per undergraduate on education. The article paints quite the picture of Ohio, the state, in contrast to Ohio State the athletic business:

Here in Columbus, the OSU athletic department is a gold-plated island in a region getting roiled by harsh economic forces. The lavish program is the most vivid example of how college sports have turned into a humongous business and created a parallel universe of high-living in the world of academia. OSU’s athletic budget, which has grown 46% in five years, has expanded despite a prolonged downturn in the Ohio economy and several rounds of public-funding cuts to higher education. The state’s median household income fell 9.3% between 2000 and 2005, one of the worst declines for any state during that span.

Ohio has the nation’s highest rates for foreclosures and delinquent mortgages, and during the second quarter of 2007, 22.9% of Ohio homeowners with subprime loans were over 90 days late — almost twice the national average, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association in Washington, D.C. The state is home to two of the five poorest cities in America — Cleveland and Cincinnati, both of which had more than 25% of residents living below the poverty line in 2006, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.


Ohio State was one of just 19 schools to turn a profit on athletics in 2006, according to data collected by the NCAA. OSU says its athletic department is self-sufficient — it uses sports revenues to pay for its teams and operations. It doesn’t draw from the same budget that’s used to fund academic departments. How much the athletic department spends is determined by how much it brings in, not by how much the university decides to give it. A 2005 economic-impact study, commissioned by OSU, estimated that the school’s sports program pumps over $100 million a year into the local economy, with more than a third coming from Buckeyes fans’ spending on hotels, food, parking and shopping.

A significant chunk of the athletic department’s budget is spent in ways that benefit the school’s general fund. This year, the athletic department will spend $12 million on scholarships or “Grant-in-Aid” to pay for athletes’ tuitions. A few years ago, the department contributed $5 million to help fund renovations to the campus’s main library. OSU’s sports program is also among the few that pays for all maintenance, security and operating costs at its facilities. (The utilities bill at the football stadium last year: $731,309.) In addition, the athletic department transfers about $1.7 million to the school’s academic-support center to pay for tutors and “life skills” workshops for athletes. “I think we’re paying somebody $25 an hour to tutor physics,” says Mr. Smith.

Oh to have that tutoring gig!

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1 Comment

  1. mapgirl
    October 25, 2007 at 11:36 am

    Good for OSU on making their team economically self-sufficient. There was always a lingering resentment at my school that the athletes were leaches. (We are Div I in only one sport. The rest are Div III.) I especially hate our new stadium. It’s pretty, but honestly, I would rather have the money go to our medical school for cancer research. I suspect our intellectual reputation would remain intact with or without the Div I athletic team.

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