How does the school's athletic program affect you as a student in any meaningful way?
I believe they are under the false impression that their tuition is going towards athletics programs instead of their education. Which is a pretty hard thing to prove either way. However I can say with some certainty that those athletic programs do a pretty fine job of paying for themselves, having been to many college games at The Big House (UoM) it only holds 110K, and with tickets being about 100 bucks a piece well, you can do the math on that one.
I go to a public institution, and our budget is easily available. It's not hard to prove at all--it's an established fact that our athletics program is draining far more funds than it is bringing in. Rutgers' athletics department has a deficit of $27 million. Individual sports might make money, but the program overall is being supported by tuition dollars, not by their own revenue.
We also spend more on our athletics department than any other public institution in the country, with 40% of the budget coming from institutional subsidies ($8.5 million was directly from student fees). Our spending on the program has increased by $27 million per year. And all this time, we've had salary freezes and layoffs for professors, reduced section numbers with increased class sizes, a very tangible turn in favor of lectures over normal classes or seminars, and a significant increase in the number of classes taught by grad students.
We are also facing a significant issue when it comes to faculty who are increasingly uninterested in remaining at the University. Many of our programs are some of the best in the nation, and the tenured professors could easily get jobs at other prestigious universities. They all took a pay freeze two years ago, and did so willingly. But they are also getting less work than they used to on top of it, because they are more expensive to utilize than grad students.
End result? MANY of our top professors are becoming increasingly disinterested about remaining at the university. This won't affect me directly, but it WILL hurt future students.
When our current president took office, he gave them a large spending increase, but mandated that sports needed to be self sufficient within 5 years. That was a decade ago, and they are still costing the university money.
If we had been funneling $27M more per year into maintaining the integrity of our academics in the economic downturn, things wouldn't be so clearly different where academics are concerned.
So, no, I'm not confused. The Rutgers budget issues are well known, and they are a large part of why our president resigned this year.
Maybe the athletics program COULD produce revenue. But not with the university increasing its spending on the program so much every year. There's no chance they'd close that gap for a very long time.