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A Look At ACC Athletics Department Subsidies

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The USA Today just came out with a study illustrating the subsidies that Division I athletics departments receive from their universities. These athletic department subsidies include student fees, general fund payments from the university and direct payments from state governments. The paper used open record requests to gather this data, so private schools are not excluded (which means we can only get 3/4 of the ACC's subsidy picture).

Here's a look at the eight public schools in the ACC, sorted by percentage increase from 2006 to 2010:

Program 06 Subsidy 10 Subsidy Delta 06 Subsidy 10 Subsidy Delta
Georgia Tech 6% 12% 6% $2,921,804 $6,445,512 $3,523,708
Maryland 19% 25% 6% $10,671,622 $13,749,781 $3,078,159
Florida State 9% 10% 1% $6,833,852 $7,269,449 $435,597
Clemson 7% 8% 1% $3,603,426 $4,819,076 $1,215,650
North Carolina State 12% 12% 0% $5,805,730 $6,046,301 $240,571
Virginia Tech 13% 11% -2% $6,670,787 $6,906,551 $235,764
North Carolina 14% 12% -2% $8,927,221 $8,837,402 -$89,819
Virginia 17% 15% -2% $9,804,619 $12,160,103 $2,355,484

Georgia Tech and Maryland led the conference with a 6 percent increase in athletics department subsidies from 2006 to 2010. The only Big Six program who increased its subsidy more during the time period was the Big East's Cincinnati.

If you take a look at the numbers, Georgia Tech actually grew its subsidy between 2006 and 2010 more than the value of the 2006 subsidy. Georgia Tech, Maryland and Virginia all grew their subsidies by $2M or more from 2006-2010, and rank 7th, 8th and 9th among the Big Six in total dollar increase. Of the programs who increased their subsidies by a great dollar amount, three are from the Big East -- Cincinnati ($7.3M), Rutgers ($5.2M) and Connecticut ($3.9M) -- which makes sense given that the Big East had the worst TV contract over the years in the USA Today study.

On the other end of the spectrum are Virginia Tech, North Carolina and Virginia, who all saw their subsidies decrease on a percentage basis, down 2 percent.

Speaking of TV contracts, the ACC's new deal with ESPN doesn't take effect until this season, so none of that influx of cash is figured into these numbers. You would think that given that each ACC program is more than doubling the TV dollars from the previous contract that these subsidies will go down for the next reporting cycle. If history is a guide, not really sure that will play out exactly as one would think:

"The SEC's monster deal came into effect between the two school years studied here. Only four schools saw their subsidies drop on a percentage basis (and only one by more than a percentage point), and only two saw their subsidies decrease in actual dollar amount. Despite that huge influx of cash from the new TV contract, eight of the eleven public SEC member schools are taking more subsidies now than they did before the deal went into effect."

If you look at the SEC as an example, eight of the 11 public SEC schools are taking more subsidies, and that's after their new TV contract has been in place for two years. So despite an influx of cash from a new media rights deal, school's ADs are taking more and more. 

It will be interesting to see where the ACC falls on the subsidy spectrum after the next four year cycle. The TV money will help, but big time college athletics spending doesn't show any signs of slowing. It will also be interesting to see where the economic breaking point is, and what the NCAA looks like in a few shorts years with the financial gap widening between I-A and I-AA and between the BCS and the non-AQ conferences.

HT: Team Speed Kills