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Empirical assessments of NCAA competition

On Spending:

In 2003, NCAA/EADA data suggest that operating athletic spending represented roughly 3.8% of total higher education spending for D1-A schools. By comparison, the share was roughly 3.3% in 2001.

These spending shares exclude capital spending. Including capital spending for both athletics and the overall university budget modestly raises the share of total spending attributed to athletics, but does not alter the fundamental conclusion that athletic spending represents a small share of total institutional spending.

On inequality:

A common measure of inequality is the Gini coefficient, which would equal one if one school accounted for all spending and zero if spending were the same across schools. Increases in the Gini coefficient represent increased levels of inequality and vice versa.

Between 1993 and 2003, the Gini coefficient for D1-A football spending rose from 0.23 to 0.30. The Gini coefficient for D1-A basketball spending also rose sharply, from 0.24 to 0.30.

On fluctuations in spending across schools:

More than 30% of the schools that were in the top quintile of D1-A football spending in 1993 were no longer in the top quintile by 2003. More than three-fifths of the schools in the middle quintile in 1993 were no longer there in 2003; less than two-fifths had moved up and one-fourth had moved down.

[B]etween 1993 and 2003, an increase in operating expenditures of $1 on football or men'’s basketball in D1-A was associated with approximately $1 in additional operating revenue, on average.

[There is] no robust statistical relationship between changes in operating expenditures on football and changes in football winning percentages between 1993 and 2003.

[There is] no relationship - either positive or negative - between changes in operating expenditures on football or basketball among D1-A schools and incoming SAT scores or the percentage of applicants accepted.

These are the carefully stated conclusions of an ongoing study by Jonathan Orszag of Competition Policy Associates and Peter Orszag of Brookings. Although commissioned by the NCAA, the study is written in the spirit of factual assessment. On controversial issues the Orszags frequently conclude that hypotheses favorable to the NCAA are "not proven."

Kudos to Chris Clapp, a former Clemson student (and a fine one), who contributed to the report, and thanks to CollegeAthleticsClips for the link.