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Cyclones Keep Punching Up

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USA Today has a story yesterday about the Rutgers athletic department’s profligate spending, and it’s an interesting read for a few reasons. First, it highlights the exploding budgets in college athletic budgets around the nation. This isn’t any secret; the arms race in college sports has been pushing spending through the roof in the past decade. But it also compares subsidized spending in 2010 to subsidized spending in 2006, showing which programs are becoming more self-sufficient and which programs are leaning harder on university & student-fee money over the past five years. 

Iowa State comes in at 30th lowest nationally in subsidized spending in 2010, both in dollar amount ($3,537,271) and in percentage of the entire athletic budget (8%). While that’s acceptably mediocre, that dollar amount is good for only sixth place in the Big XII, with the percentage coming in at eighth place. Not too surprising, considering the Big XII has three programs that are completely self-sufficient (Oklahoma, Texas & Texas A&M).


The good news for Cyclone fans is found in the improvement in athletic budget subsidization from 2006 to 2010. In 2006, 12% ($4,203,625) of the budget was subsidized, for a ranking of 61st lowest in the nation. In 2010, that number dropped to 8% ($3,537,271) and 30th lowest in the nation. Coincidentally, this report also covers Jaime Pollard’s tenure at ISU. Under Pollard, Iowa State’s athletic budget has increased by $9 million dollars (from $35 million in ’06 to $44.2 million in ’10) while dependence on subsidies has dropped significantly.


Compare that to, say, Oklahoma State’s athletic budget. In 2006, 2% of the athletic budget was subsidized; but in 2010, 5% of the athletic budget came from subsidies. This seems almost impossible with a donor like T. Boone Pickens in the stands. The man has given the OSU athletic department over $265 million to date, and the athletic department still needs to subsidize its budget with university fees. That’s probably why the old song says, “Mama don’t let your babies grow up to be Cowboys/Because they’ll be terrible at math and bankrupt your school.” That's how that song goes, right?