Sports programs continue to inflate costs for North Dakota college students


Minot, North Dakota – The NCAA requires its member schools to make certain financial disclosures regarding athletic programs.

With these disclosures, the folks at USA TODAY

organized into a common database,

is debunking and busting the entrenched myth among sports fans that shows, especially high-profile ones like football and basketball, pay for themselves.

In most cases, they don’t.

These programs are heavily subsidized by students and taxpayers — including tuition and fees. As a result, they drive up the cost of higher education, for taxpayers and, more importantly, for students who seek it.

How much is our country

Approximately $1.78 trillion in student loan debt

Already subsidizing coaches’ lucrative salaries and stipends that benefit a handful of elite athletes on campus?

I don’t have an answer, but is anything over $0 really acceptable?

Given the soaring cost of earning a diploma?

For years, North Dakota higher education officials either ignored or downplayed the importance of these NCAA disclosures. But now, the folks at North Dakota State appear to be taking a proactive stance against them.

Rather than ignore the numbers, they acknowledge their importance. “We’ve seen these numbers before,” North Dakota State athletic director Matt Lasen told reporter Jeff Kolpak. “We did our own research on this, so the numbers are not surprising at all.”

Perhaps this is the influence of new NDSU president David Cook. His predecessor, Dean Bresciani, always placed athletics above the academic mission of the college.

Whatever the reasons for this shift, NDSU deserves credit for taking the numbers seriously and with relatively low levels of student and taxpayer subsidies, about 26 percent of the budget coming from subsidies.

That’s significantly lower than the University of North Dakota, which gets 48 percent of its budget from subsidies.

As you can see from these charts I prepared based on NCAA data collected by USA TODAY, NDSU has benefited greatly from increased revenue, no doubt largely related to the school’s recent football tournament. UND’s revenue also rose. Nonetheless, athletic subsidies at NDSU and UND continue to grow each year.

Neither school has used the revenue to ease the financial burden of athletics on campus budgets and ultimately on students and taxpayers. These burdens are increasing, and this is evident when we put subsidy amounts in the context of enrollment.

I divide the amount of subsidy received each year from college funds and student tuition for each school’s athletic program by the annual fall enrollment figures reported

Peking University



And put forward the sports cost per student per year.

At NDSU, the cost per student in 2022 will be $777, a 54 percent increase since 2012. At UND, the cost per student is much higher, at $1,085 per student in 2022, a 78% increase.

Keep in mind that these numbers do not include other campus athletic program spending.For example, last year NDSU opened

A $54 million soccer team training facility.

To be fair, the program is almost entirely funded by private donations, though you have to wonder if a school like NDSU puts as much time and energy into raising money for these programs as it does football, how well it can for its academics How much money the project has raised.

But this isn’t a problem unique to NDSU, UND, or North Dakota as a whole. When it comes to higher education, our society places more emphasis on sport than on education and research.

Sports distract from the core mission of our institutions of higher education and drain resources. But, because Americans love sports, we’ll never have those programs off campus.

However, we can focus on limiting their contribution to issues such as tuition and fee spikes.

Athletic programs should be paid for by fans and alumni donations, not taxpayer money or student loans.

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Rob Port is a journalist, columnist and podcast host for the Tribune News Service. He has an extensive background in investigations and public records. For two decades, he has covered politics in North Dakota and the upper Midwest. Contact him at Click here to subscribe to his Plain Talk podcast.


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