Hazing News

Niagara Falls; Chico plays hardball with softball; Hartwick bares no more; and Limestone cracks

The women’s lacrosse club at Niagara University north of Buffalo was penalized for alcohol use during a rookie initiation. Story is here.

Hazing is the topic of the day (along with Duke lacrosse) as Hartwick, Limestone and Chico State punish miscreants. Story is here. 

By Hank Nuwer

Hank Nuwer is the Indiana-based author of Broken Pledges: The Deadly Rite of Hazing, High School Hazing, Wrongs of Passage and The Hazing Reader. He has written articles or columns on hazing for the Sunday Times of India, Toronto Globe & Mail, Harper's Magazine, Orlando Sentinel, The Chronicle of Higher Education and the New York Times Sunday Magazine. His new book is Hazing: Destroying Young Lives from Indiana University Press.

2 replies on “Niagara Falls; Chico plays hardball with softball; Hartwick bares no more; and Limestone cracks”

Hank: The Duke lacrosse story surfaced as a result of inappropriate behavior. I think the greater theme is the incredible importance which universities like Duke attach to their athletic programs. Maybe it’s time to consider de-emphasizing athletics. Does Duke or any other universe really need to recruit a bunch of players who apparently don’t even participate in college life but keep to themselves? What’s that all about?

Rob: I have to agree. In addition to the schools which give elitist status to athletes so they don’t really exist as student-athletes but as modern gladiators, there are the financial pressures on Second and Third-tier (athletically) schools.

This article in the Indianapolis Star is most compelling. Thanks for writing, Rob. Hope you’ve been well.

March 30, 2006

Colleges play, public pays
$1 billion: That’s how much university general funds and students contributed to athletic departments last year

By Mark Alesia
John Rouse has had season tickets for football and basketball for about 25 of the 30 years he’s been teaching political science at Ball State University. He recently donated money to Furman University’s football program in memory of his father.

Big moneymaker: The University of Michigan leads the Big Ten when it comes to the adjusted bottom line, and the popularity of the football team is largely responsible for that. – ERIC GAY / Associated Press 2005 file photo
The financial information used in this database came from university athletic budget reports for the 2004-05 school year that were required by the NCAA. They were obtained by The Indianapolis Star through freedom-of- information requests to the 215 public schools that compete in Division I. There were 164 responses, more than 76 percent.

(Requests also were sent to Division I’s 112 private schools, which had no obligation to release the information. None did. In addition, state law in Pennsylvania and Delaware does not require public schools to comply.)

The form is an improvement on what had been required by the NCAA. For the first time, schools had to be in full compliance with new accounting procedures created by the association in an effort with the National Association of College and University Business Officers. Improvements included better category definitions, new categories and review by the schools’ chief financial officer before submission.

These data are also much more detailed than what is commonly available to the public through the federal Equity in Athletics Disclosure Act, which is designed to monitor compliance with Title IX.

Note: The numbers are presented here as they were reported to the NCAA. No attempt was made to change or research anomalies. The NCAA does that. Also, schools sometimes differed in how they reported information. For example, some placed all contributions in the “non-program specific” category, while others broke them down by football, men’s basketball, etc.

Database contributors: Matt Moore, Mark Nichols, Chris Phillips, Ole Morten Orset, Ben Thomas, Jimmy Trodglen and Kandra Branam helped compile the data.

Just sign on to, and you can see the complete athletic budgets for the 164 universities that responded to The Star’s public-records request. In a few easy steps you can compare schools — in football, basketball and other sports — in each of the form’s 37 categories, and rank schools nationwide or by conference. Examples of what you can find:

The total compensation for the coaching staffs in this year’s Final Four: Florida ($2.16 million), UCLA ($1.39 million), LSU ($1.28 million) and George Mason ($461,000).

The top spenders in football recruiting: Tennessee ($837,000), Georgia Tech ($618,437) and Nebraska ($525,337).

The top ticket sellers in Big Ten men’s basketball: Indiana ($5.5 million), Illinois ($5.3 million) and Wisconsin ($4.8 million).

But he’s not happy that Ball State’s athletic department receives $3.6 million from general university funds, not to mention $6.9 million in student fees. That accounts for nearly 70 percent of the athletic department’s operating revenue.
Rouse would like to see more of that money go to academics.
“We can accredit the football team (in NCAA Division I-A), but not the master’s program in public administration,” he said. “It would take $150,000 for two more professors. It takes five. We have three. I’m a fan, but when it begins to infringe on my own teaching function in my own department, I start to have reservations.”
Ball State is hardly alone. Athletic departments at taxpayer-funded universities nationwide receive more than $1 billion in student fees and general school funds and services, according to an Indianapolis Star analysis of the 2004-05 athletic budgets of 164 of the nation’s 215 biggest public schools. Without such outside funding, fewer than 10 percent of athletic departments would have been able to support themselves with ticket sales, television contracts and other revenue-generating sports sources. Most would have lost more than $5 million.
Additionally, taxpayers indirectly subsidize athletic departments because college sports are exempt from federal taxes, based on their tie to education. The exemption particularly benefits big schools, which receive up to 40 percent of their athletic revenue from donations, most of which are tax-deductible. At Indiana University, for example, donations constitute 21 percent of revenue; at Purdue, 27 percent.
Also untaxed is the massive amount of television money that fuels college sports. All told, that’s hundreds of millions of untaxed dollars.
Critics find this inappropriate. They say college sports have largely become a business of mass entertainment — such as this weekend’s Final Four in Indianapolis– that shouldn’t receive an education-based tax exemption. In a time of rising tuition and stagnant state support for higher education, they say sports shouldn’t be propped up by so much money generated outside athletic departments. Some students have fought sports-targeted fees, including at IU, which will discontinue the requirement for the 2006-07 school year.
“The subsidies grossly overestimate the role of intercollegiate athletics in higher education,” said Andrew Zimbalist, a Smith College professor and leading sports economist. “This should be something that absorbs a much smaller share of outside resources.”
Supporters of big-time college sports also have concerns. While the NCAA staunchly defends its educational, nonprofit purpose, saying 95 percent of its revenue is returned to athletic departments in services and direct payments, President Myles Brand isn’t happy about the growth rate of sports spending, and the effect that could have on academics. In his State of the Association speech in January, he said the current path is “not a long-term sustainable approach.”
“These problems mean that the universities will have to increase their subsidy to athletics,” said Brand, who declined to be interviewed for this story. “Some subsidy, in almost all cases, is required, and that is acceptable. But the greater the subsidy, the less funding is available for core academic activities of the university.”
Middle Tennessee State’s Sidney McPhee — among the school presidents Brand commissioned to study sports issues, including finances — said spending is OK at its current level. But he added that if the growth rate continues apace, it would present “more difficult choices on resource allocations which may threaten academic undertakings. This is really a critical point. . . . There are some serious issues that we need to be addressing.”
Increasingly, these issues are being addressed by reform groups, at the highest levels of the NCAA, even in congressional hearings. They are complicated issues, yet it comes down to simple questions:
Who’s paying for college sports? And at what cost?
Buying benefits
Defenders of system say sports boost schools’ profiles.
Data for The Star’s analysis were obtained through public-records requests to 215 public schools that compete in Division I. (Private schools are not subject to public-records requests, and none of the 112 in Division I chose to divulge its athletic budget.) Previously the NCAA, college sports’ Indianapolis-based governing body, released this information only in aggregate.
General university support — which could include maintenance, tuition waivers, security and utilities — and direct government payments to athletics totaled $541 million for the 164 schools that responded to the survey. Student fees, usually mandatory but often giving students free entrance to games, totaled $507 million.
With those two items removed from the forms’ bottom line, the number of schools that reported breaking even on athletics dropped from 115 to 15. The average deficit is $5.7 million. Among the money-losers were Indiana and Purdue, and two schools in this weekend’s Final Four, UCLA and George Mason.
Economists who studied The Star’s findings cautioned that comparing bottom lines is difficult because of inconsistencies in what schools report. They also stressed that no accounting form is perfect.
At the same time, many thought at least some of the deficits were probably greater. They were skeptical that athletic departments fully accounted for the use of services funded by the general university, including administrative time and services.
University and athletic administrators interviewed for this story defended the system. Like Brand, they said sports is an integral part of education. They pointed out that money from men’s basketball and football provides opportunities for athletes in low-profile sports. They say sports in general are a sound investment in marketing, alumni relations and campus spirit and can have a positive economic impact on the community.
“Division I athletics gives you an opportunity to achieve national recognition that you could work 50 years on the academic side and never achieve,” Ball State President Jo Ann Gora said. “When alums come back, they don’t sit in an English class. Maybe they should, but they don’t.”
Many, including Brand, also note that athletic department budgets are a relatively small amount of the overall budgets at big schools. In 2001, it was about 3.5 percent in Division I-A (comprising the largest football-playing schools), according to the latest NCAA research.
Yet there plainly are concerns. Brand said recently that sports spending is growing two to three times faster than university spending as a whole. According to USA Today, athletic expenses in Division I-A increased about 8 percent per year from 2002-03 to 2004-05.
Former Michigan President James Duderstadt, a member of the U.S. Secretary of Education’s Commission on the Future of Higher Education, said it’s “well-accepted” that, at a large state university, the cost to the school per student is from $10,000 to $25,000. Yet some big schools such as Florida and Louisiana State, which will compete in this weekend’s Final Four, average more than $100,000 in athletic expenses per athlete.
“It’s an interesting way to look at university priorities, isn’t it?” Duderstadt said.
Big tax break
Donors and schools benefit from tax exemption.
Subsidies for sports affect schools in different ways. At the biggest schools, the amount of student fees and school support is usually small — 0 to 15 percent of the athletic budget. The much bigger factor is the tax exemption, because so much of the big schools’ sports money comes from booster contributions.
Often these are in the form of required payments for the right to purchase skyboxes and premium seating at games. Eighty percent of such payments are tax-deductible.
All told, if the $714 million in donations to the 164 athletic departments were taxed, it could generate nearly $100 million in federal revenue, experts say.
Without the tax deduction, economists say, donations would decrease dramatically.
“I sure don’t want to take money away from the University of Texas; any subsidy for a university is good,” said Michael Granof, an accounting professor at Texas and a board member of the Coalition On Intercollegiate Athletics (COIA), a group of faculty senates working on sports issues. “But from an equity standpoint, it isn’t fair that wealthy people can treat their personal entertainment expenses as a charitable donation.”
Further, tax-exempt bonds give schools favorable financing when building stadiums and arenas, something Duderstadt said “helps fuel the arms race.” Donations for stadiums, such as the $14 million for Ball State’s football stadium renovation, are 100 percent tax-deductible.
Then there’s the money collected by the NCAA and conferences, most of which is returned to athletic departments. In 2004-05, the NCAA took in $500 million in revenue, more than 90 percent of which came from CBS’ contract to televise and market the men’s basketball tournament for $6 billion over 11 years. The Big Ten Conference received $121 million in revenue.
It’s difficult to determine how much of that would be taxed if the NCAA and Big Ten were treated as for-profit businesses, experts say, because it’s unclear how much could be written off as a business expense.
College sports have been tax-exempt since schools began competing in the late 1800s. The NCAA was granted the same exemption in 1956, when it was just starting to learn about the commercial potential of televised football.
Now, critics say, sports have strayed too far from their nonprofit purpose of education to qualify as a charity. They note that the NCAA pays high salaries — Brand makes $870,000 — and competes with for-profit pro sports leagues in areas such as television and sponsorships.
“In the case of big-time college sports, the activity itself is becoming increasingly non-educational,” said University of New Haven Professor Allen Sack, a starter on Notre Dame’s 1966 national champion football team. “But as long as Myles Brand can argue that the University of Michigan is under the same umbrella as (small schools such as) Wesleyan University, he can cloak the issue.”
University of Illinois law Professor John Colombo, who testified before Congress last year on nonprofit tax law, supports the status quo.
“College athletics can seem squirrelly to some and nothing more than a very successful minor league for the pros, but those programs also pull in tens of millions for athletic opportunities for other students (in lower-profile sports),” Colombo said. “Who am I to say that’s a bad thing? It could be a good thing.”
The tax exemption has withstood challenges over the years, but the issue won’t go away. Duderstadt, who says the exemption is college sports’ “Achilles’ heel,” was recently interviewed by a staff member from the House Ways and Means Committee about possible misuse of the exemption. The Chronicle of Higher Education reported that two other college officials were also interviewed. The committee is looking into all nonprofits on issues such as executive compensation.
During a 2004 congressional hearing on college sports, Rep. Cliff Stearns, R-Fla., said, “They all benefit from the tax code, raking in millions of dollars through the commercialization of sports. If we went to their not-for-profit status, that would change this dramatically.”
Last year, when the NCAA added a 12th game to the regular season for football, a money-making move, the COIA said it would “increase pressure for . . . re-examining the tax-exempt status of intercollegiate athletics.”
Answering written questions intended for Brand, NCAA Chief Financial Officer Jim Isch wrote, “The standard by which tax-exempt status is measured is not the amount or source of revenues. The standard is how revenues from any and all sources are used to further the purpose of the organization.”
He added that 95 percent of the NCAA’s money goes to schools “as services or direct distributions to support athletics as an educational component of the campus.”
Students’ money
Fees get mixed review from those paying them.
Dustin Pittman, a student senator at East Carolina University, wants his school’s athletic department to be able to compete with richer rivals such as North Carolina and Duke.
To that end, he championed a $50 increase in student fees for athletics, which will raise the amount to $438 per student next year. All of that will go to sports.
“Student fees is the most readily available source of funds,” Pittman said. “A competitive athletic program does a lot for the university. It gives East Carolina University a better image. We don’t pay every time our name is on ESPN or in a newspaper. But that can pique someone’s interest.”
High, sports-targeted student fees are common at the so-called “mid-major” schools, which don’t receive big TV money. In general, the fee for sports is a portion of a larger student fee that covers services such as recreation centers, campus speakers and student organizations.
The average collected in student fees for sports by schools in the six BCS conferences — those that constituted the original football Bowl Championship Series, such as the Big Ten — was $1.4 million. The average outside that group was $3.6 million.
At Miami of Ohio, the average student pays $635 a year to the athletic department in mandatory fees. At James Madison, it’s $1,186, although the school says the general student body uses athletic department facilities.
The fee at Ball State is $412. For that, students receive free access to all games, but Student Government Association President Asher Lisec said a relatively small number take advantage of that. She said she’s glad to hear talk from Ball State officials of lowering the fee.
“If you look at the number of students we have involved in NCAA athletics, it’s not a very high percentage,” Lisec said. “So that’s $6.8 million in student fees going to a select few students.”
But it isn’t just midsize schools reaching into students’ pockets. Chris Cameron, opinion editor of the Daily Tar Heel at North Carolina, described himself as a “huge” basketball fan. But he objected when the athletic fee at his school increased $50 to $248 for next school year. It was $98 two years ago.
“I think it’s completely ridiculous that they’re making us pay that,” Cameron said. “At least a tuition increase has a direct impact on the quality of the academic education.”
IU instituted a controversial student fee for athletics in 2004-05, which brought in $1 million, but it will be rescinded before the 2006-07 academic year.
Questions have also been raised about the general university money that finds its way to athletics. Some economists and accountants are skeptical that everything shows up on the athletic budget — for instance, use of the university attorney and rent for buildings.
“The simple fact is that the athletic department enjoys subsidies in many areas where other departments at the university must pay explicitly,” said Rodney Fort, a Washington State professor who co-edited the book “Economics of College Sports.”
On the other hand, COIA board member Granof gave an example of athletics benefiting the general university financially. A board member of the University of Texas bookstore, he said sales had increased $5 million since the team’s national championship in football. That goes to the university, not the athletic department, Granof said.
Isch, the NCAA’s financial officer, noted that school support and student fees constitute “closer to 100 percent” of revenue for athletic departments in smaller Division II and III schools and that “there is no logical reason” why Division I should be held to a different standard.
Critics respond by saying the extravagant facilities and high salaries in Division I are out of proportion with the rest of the university, and far beyond what is found in lower divisions.
Getting a better handle on outside financial support is something the presidential task force is working on, said University of Hartford President Walter Harrison, chairman of the NCAA’s executive committee.
“We’re not attempting to proscribe what schools should do,” Harrison said. “But we do want to see a kind of transparency.”
“Unique to America”
Schools provide entertainment at level not seen elsewhere.
Several people interviewed said education isn’t just what happens in a classroom, it’s an overall campus experience.
“Athletics has an important role, not as important as our academic mission, but it has been an important part of higher education from the very beginning,” said Purdue President Martin Jischke, a member of the NCAA Division I board of directors.
Harrison, who used to work at the University of Michigan, said universities give taxpayers more value than just teaching students in a classroom. He mentioned working with corporations to drive the economy. Sports is another example, he said.
“What value does the state of Indiana realize by Indiana and Purdue having nationally known, if not internationally known, athletic programs?” Harrison said. “I’d argue there is some value to that. How to put a dollar figure on that and to what extent it should be supported is the question.”
Zimbalist, who has published 14 books, including “Unpaid Professionals: Commercialism and Conflict in Big-time College Sports,” said, “I don’t think there’s any empirical evidence that says the overall quality of a school improves as a result of having a Division I athletic team or even a successful Division I team.”
Duderstadt argues that “if sports is part of education, and if it’s a meaningful part of education, university support is appropriate. What’s not appropriate is commercial-level entertainment.”
Football and men’s basketball, he said, “are not about opportunity. They’re designed to entertain the public and generate dollars.”
Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany mentioned all of the positives of college sports and then finished with a dash of cultural commentary.
“Essentially, it’s a very important part of higher education, whether that’s right or wrong,” Delany said. “It’s unique to America. And it ain’t going anyplace.”
Here is a snapshot of how athletic departments at state and Final Four universities benefit from general school support, student fees and college sports’ tax exemption.
Because athletic departments at “mid-major” universities such as Ball State and George Mason receive far less than big schools in TV money and donations, they depend more on general university funds and services, as well as sports-targeted student fees, to cover costs.
% from
INDIANA University Student fees Total athletic revenue government
SCHOOLS government support (Per student) (in millions) funding
Purdue $677,000 None None $51.3 1%**
Indiana $684,000 $1 million ($30) $37.9 4%
Indiana State $1.9 million $4 million ($340) $8.7 68%
Ball State $3.6 million $6.8 million ($412) $15.1 69%

Louisiana State None None None $60.9 0%
Florida $1.3 million $2.4 million ($45)*** $77.7 5%
UCLA $210,000 $2.3 million ($62) $46.0 6%
George Mason $1.6 million $7.5 million ($346) $11.0 84%
**Purdue says its department is self-sufficient and that the 1 percent is because of an accounting technicality. ***Fee is based on credit hours. Amount is for 12 credit hours for two semesters.
College sports are tax-exempt because they’re considered an education-based, nonprofit charity. That affects:
• Donations: Financial gifts required for the right to purchase seats and skyboxes are 80 percent deductible; donations receiving no benefit are fully deductible. This is where big schools especially benefit, because donations comprise much of their revenue — 21% at IU, 27% at Purdue, 35% at Florida.
• Financing: Tax-exempt bonds allow athletic departments to borrow money at below-market interest rates to build stadiums.
• TV money: None of the TV money in college sports is taxed. CBS’ contract to cover the NCAA Tournament is worth about $453 million this year.
Source: School filings to the NCAA obtained through public-records requests
These charts show the bottom lines for athletic departments at selected schools for 2004-05. Economists caution that bottom-line comparisons are difficult because of inconsistent accounting methods, but say it is still instructive to see the effect of removing such outside support.
Total operating revenue is all the money that flows into an athletic department, including student fees, school support and money generated by the department itself.
Reported bottom line is total operating revenue minus expenses.
Adjusted bottom line subtracts student fees and university and government support from the bottom line as reported to the NCAA.

TOP 10 MONEYMAKERS (using adjusted bottom line)
University, Total Total % of operating
Student government outside operating revenue from Reported Adjusted
fees support support revenue outside support bottom line bottom line
Georgia 3,028,878 0 3,028,878 68,787,384
23,854,329 20,825,451
Michigan 0 0 0 78,424,186
17,037,042 17,037,042
Kansas 972,123 2,214,159 3,186,282 50,826,019
10,064,665 6,878,383
LSU 0 0 0 60,937,676
5,080,280 5,080,280
Texas A&M 0 839,348 839,348 64,180,453
5,307,357 4,468,009
Texas 1,673,928 1,353,382 3,027,310 89,651,682
7,250,853 4,223,543
Iowa 1,505,016 2,127,182 3,632,198 61,676,257
6,693,599 3,061,401
Alabama 2,550,605 0 2,550,605 62,287,192
5,297,584 2,746,979
Kansas State 566,752 2,382,288 2,949,040 39,884,220
5,489,599 2,540,599
Virginia Tech 5,840,958 324,469 6,165,427 45,730,485
8,265,356 2,099,929

Michigan 0 0 0 78,424,186
17,037,042 17,037,042
Iowa 1,505,016 2,127,182 3,632,198 61,676,257
6,693,599 3,061,401
Michigan State 0 3,154,288 3,154,288 62,170,147
3,829,293 675,005
Ohio State 0 5,429 5,429 89,700,979
120,674 115,245
Purdue* 0 677,093 677,093 51,325,446
-174,663 -851,756
IU 1,015,823 684,637 1,700,460 37,968,912
-836,320 -2,536,780
Illinois 2,749,207 1,959,500 4,708,707 48,396,763
481,223 -4,227,484
Wisconsin 0 5,454,018 5,454,018 75,814,552
95,510 -5,358,508
Minnesota 0 9,039,997 9,039,997 53,276,843
-595,248 -9,635,245

IPFW 1,186,708 1,308,842 2,495,550 4,118,372
-5,877 -2,501,427
IUPUI 1,655,317 1,553,862 3,209,179 3,851,577
13,030 -3,196,149
Indiana State 4,011,802 1,915,523 5,927,325 8,780,093
3,298 -5,924,027
Ball State 6,896,000 3,617,606 10,513,606 15,146,885
343,708 -10,169,898
*Purdue says its department is self-sufficient and its university support is because of an accounting technicality.
Note: Northwestern is a private school and Pennsylvania law didn’t require Penn State to release its information. Notre Dame, Butler, Valparaiso and Evansville are private schools.
Source: School filings to the NCAA obtained through public-records requests


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