by Will Broussard, courtesy of Out of Bounds Magazine
USA Today recently published its annual report on 2014-2015 NCAA Division I athletic department revenues and expenses. A cursory scan of the report reveals nothing especially alarming to ardent followers of HBCU Division I athletics. All but one of the 21 HBCU Division I programs ranked in the report (Hampton University, Howard University and Bethune-Cookman University were not included in the report because they are private universities) are in the bottom 1/3 of the 231 programs listed. Flagship institutions in HBCU states like Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina and Virginia report revenues and expenses many times higher than HBCU.
Alabama State (at #162) leads the Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) in athletic spending, and Alabama State wins more championships than other SWAC programs each year. While Norfolk State (at #146) is listed as the highest-spending program in the Mideastern Athletic Conference (MEAC), I have reason to believe Hampton and Bethune-Cookman spend more (their tuition costs and salaries for staff alone suggest as much) and they are perennially strong programs across the board.
A favorite pastime of HBCU alumni and season ticket holders is lamenting the bygone era of HBCU athletic dominance and younger alumni and recruiters extolling HBCU virtues while wishing for a future in which the most talented black college prospects would enroll at HBCUs again; perhaps a spending comparison this stark puts such regrets and aspirations in perspective. However, the numbers do offer an encouraging look at how HBCUs compare versus their Division I institutional peers (southern Division I Football Championship Subdivision athletic programs and those in the NCAA Limited Resource Institution [LRI] category) and the data offers an opportunity to reflect on what athletic department spending at HBCUs generate — other than, of course, wins and losses.
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