Study Finds Rutgers, NJIT Spending Increased More for Athletics Than Academics

NJ Spotlight News | December 6, 2013 | Education, Sports
Both Rutgers and NJIT increased spending on its sports programs more than it did for its academics.

By Desirée Taylor
Senior Correspondent

Between the tackles and the touchdowns, Division One universities like Rutgers invest millions of dollars in their sports programs. A recent study compared sports spending to the money Division One schools devote to academics. The gap surprised some students.

“I think you can definitely see the trend. It is not just at Rutgers. It just seems that in general, higher education and huge universities have become more like corporations, opposed to institutions dedicated to higher learning,” said student Hannah Roe.

At Rutgers, spending for academics per student increased from about $19,500 in 2005 to more than $21,000 in 2011. That’s a 12 percent increase according to an online database from the Knight Commission. Compare that to athletic spending — up more than 100 percent — from about $48,000 per student in 2005 to almost $100,000 in 2011.

“I am not at all surprised. There has been a tremendous push and commitment to increase the stature of the football program and it has been clear in the time that I have been here for 20 years that there is no limit to hat we will spend to make this happen,” said Mia Bay, Rutgers Professor.

Rutgers isn’t the only university that’s spending more on sports. The Knight Commission database shows that, over the same period, athletic spending per athlete grew at a faster rate than academic spending per student in every Division One subdivision, and the widest gaps occurred at schools with football programs.

“The commission believes that there is a spending problem in college sport. And as we see more revenues coming into the system especially for those schools that are members of conferences, that have just signed large media contracts. The history has been that the revenues have really gone to facility development and coaches salaries,” said Knigh Commission Executive Director Amy Perko.

But Rutgers sports enthusiasts say with football transitioning to the Big Ten, officials expect that will lead to a $200 million windfall, plus prestige and other benefits.

“I love sports. It’s all about school spirit. I feel liek it really brings the student body together,” said students James Mansbach.

“The thing with spending for athletics is that it’s a want rather than a need,” said student Ashishek Choudury.

No one in the president’s office nor the Rutgers athletic office would comment on camera or offer a statement today. Meanwhile, students say they will keep a watchful eye on the spending here because it’s their futures at stake.