Some Universities Piling Up Millions in Deficits to Compete

    • Rutgers and UConn relied on multi-millions in assistance from taxpayers and students, per reports.
    • Student fees and institutional support are a common revenue stream even in the FBS.

Student fees and institutional support are a common revenue stream, but some schools relied on them for millions of dollars in assistance in 2020-21, recent reports found.

The deficit problem of Rutgers’ athletics program isn’t new, but a report revealed that its 2020-21 deficit of $73 million is larger than “any other public university in a major conference” in years.

  • To fill the gap, “fees, student aid, and university support” ballooned to close to $43 million.
  • The school also gave the department a $21.5 million loan.

Rutgers’ ailing balance sheet comes in a year where the Big Ten reportedly had “drastically” lower earnings than the SEC due to pandemic-related football decisions, but the school still received more than $31 million from the conference and the NCAA.

UConn, whose women’s basketball teams have won 11 national titles, has also suffered several years of budgeting woes, and reported a shortfall this year of $47.2 million. Student fees and institutional support bridged the gap.

Athletic Departments’ Aid

Football programs and athletic departments are often called the “front porch” of a university — potentially making financial support more of a marketing expense for schools.

In 2020, FBS programs received a median $8.5 million from government and school funds, according to the Knight Commission. They got a median $6.6 million from student fees.