Spending on college athletics took a big jump last year after the NCAA ruled that schools could pay for the "full cost of attending college" for student athletes, including some schools writing checks to supplements the athlete's scholarship.
Our partners at USA Today looked at spending of 230 public schools that compete in NCAA Division One sports. The average school spent 9% more in the 2015-16 school year than they did the year before, the largest single-year jump since 2010. The increase for 2016 includes rises in the traditional elements of an athletic scholarship — tuition, fees, room and board — plus the additional amounts for incidental expenses that athletes were allowed to receive for the first time.
“I don’t think it is a surprise of what it is costing athletic departments because their revenues have risen. We got this new expense category and we saw television contracts increase.” Forbes sports business analyst Kristi Dosh told First Coast News.
Local public universities including Florida, Georgia and Florida State ranked among the biggest spenders. Florida ranked in at 8th nationally, followed by Georgia at 15th and Florida State at 18th.
In 2016, UF took in over $141 million in total revenue while they spent just over $121 million. Georgia took in $124 million and spent $116 million while FSU brought in $114 million and spent about $115 million
The University of North Florida saw their athletics spending ending jump, from $11.7 million to $11.9 million. UNF's revenue was about equal to its expenses last year.
Altogether, 22 other public school athletics programs — all in the SEC, Big Ten or Big 12 — finished their 2016 fiscal years having met the NCAA’s benchmark for financial self-sufficiency, according to a USA TODAY Sports analysis of the athletics financial information schools annually report to the association.
An athletics program is deemed self-sufficient if the operating revenue it generates through its activities, including ticket sales, donations, TV rights and other income shared by conferences and the NCAA, exceed its operating expenses.
Even with the schools’ additional spending on athletes’ cost of attendance and their additional meals and snacks, the total of 23 “self-sufficient” programs has remained basically unchanged since 2010.
Information from First Coast News partner USA Today was used in this report.