The Business of College Sports and SJSU

College football is big business. That's by no means a secret. As in society there are the "haves" and the "have-nots." Inside Sparta takes a look at where San Jose State athletics stands compared to other school's programs.

In the Nov. 7 issue of Sports Illustrated there is a piece that presents a method whereby college athletes could be paid. It goes into extensive detail and includes allowing players to take advantage of endorsement deals to cutting the number of scholarship football players in order to fund other sports. What it doesn't do is suggest that the universities themselves should pay players. What we'll cover in this article is the finances SI reports on from four schools: Oregon, Louisville, Mississippi, and San Jose State

In a recent article by Inside Sparta it was pointed out that the reason San Jose State is exploring the option of adding another women's sport is because of Title IX and California state law that stipulates NCAA programs have a proportionate number of athletes, by gender, as the general school population. At SJSU that ratio is 52 percent women; 48 percent men.

Associate Athletic Director Liz Jarnigan made it clear that adding numbers is not something the department wishes to do at this time, precisely because of a lack of funding - there is no money to hire more support staff, so the school will need to rely on an already understaffed crew.. They are exploring other options, including switching out a men's sport for a women's team, but nothing has yet been decided.

San Jose State athletics has a surplus now of over $1 million, due largely to the fact that in 2010 it agreed to take a big payday with games at Alabama and Wisconsin. However, the department has been in the red for the last two seasons - for the 2009-2010 year SI claims the school reported a $452,648 deficit. For the 2010-2011 year the budget released by the school projects a deficit of $670.299. Precise figures were unavailable for 2004-2010 due to a glitch in the software schools used to report to the NCAA - it wouldn't allow the data to show a deficit. However, according to an estimate by SI, SJSU lost $3,217,608 over that time span.

SI reports that the athletic department at Oregon netted $44,538,251 in 2009-10. Of course a large part of that is due to the generosity of Nike founder and chairman Phil Knight, who has reportedly donated $300 million. Most, if not all, other schools don't have a Phil Knight to bankroll their athletic departments.

While Oregon is at or near the top of the food chain, plenty of their programs are operating at a substantial profit. The University of Michigan we see a net of around $16 million for 2010-2011. That is almost the total budget of the entire San Jose State athletics department and would be more than enough to fund the North End Zone project, which, in an interview with SJSU Senior Associate Athletic Director John Poch, will cost around $14 million.

That SJSU athletic budget is $17, 996,747 for 2010-2011. Revenues are projected to be $17, 326,447. The school projects the AD will receive $5,575,378 from the University and CSU Operating Fund, $4,325,569 from student fees, $2,160,00 from the Spartan Foundation, which funds the athletic scholarships, and $5,265,500 from athletic resources themselves - ticket sales, concessions, and parking to name a few.

You'll notice that the largest contributor to San Jose State athletics is the school and CSU system. At Michigan, the athletic department doesn't receive a dime from the school or the state system. Their entire athletic budget is funded by football and basketball. The Wolverines recently renovated historic Michigan Stadium to the tune of over $225,000. Funding for the came primarily from private sources, with the remainder coming from revenue generated by new seating in the form of sky boxes, according to the U of M web site.

The SI plan suggests cutting the number of scholarships available from 85 to 63, and claims that would save SJSU close to $900,000.

According to Jarnigan the SJSU athletic department would like to cut the total number of athletes from around 430 to 380, but she didn't say where such cuts would come from. While it's possible it could come from football numbers, it's highly unlikely. San Jose State football would face those cuts. The program, for the first time ever, can now field a team with the full compliment of 85 scholarship players. The fact the football team is now fully staffed could be another factor in forcing SJSU to add another women's sport in order to come into compliance with Title IX and state law.

Don Hoekwater is the Publisher of Inside Sparta. You are welcome to contact Don with any questions or suggestions at

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