The myth that college sports pay for themselves was dispelled a long time ago. A few schools do manage to pay for all of their athletics programs from the proceeds of football and men’s basketball —24 of the 230 public universities engaged in Division I sports, to be precise—and they all play in one of the five biggest conferences.
But for the rest, the athletics department is a drain on other resources. A new investigation by a couple of Presbyterian College economists, Jody Lipford and Jerry Slice found that it often comes out of the pockets of students, one way or another, especially at private schools. For private universities that play Division I sports but don’t have traditionally powerhouse football programs (Notre Dame and Stanford may be the only longstanding private football powerhouse programs in the country), such as Duke or Wake Forest, students may be paying over $10,000 per year in tuition and fees to support athletics.
Schools without football do better in athletic costs. Public schools can offset costs with appropriations from taxpayers (yea, team?), so costs to students are less. Lipford and Slice also found that the size of the schools matter. Lots of interesting stuff.