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Colleges Increasing Spending on Sports Faster Than on Academics, Report Finds

Using data from the United States Department of Education, the N.C.A.A., and its own surveys, the association paints a sobering picture in its report, titled “Losing Focus,” of a sector in which the growth in educational spending trails far behind that of athletic spending — especially at community colleges and Division II and III institutions.

From 2004 to 2011, community colleges’ inflation-adjusted educational spending — on instruction, public service and academic support — declined, while their athletic spending increased 35 percent per athlete, the report said. Overall spending per student grew 2.6 percent. Inflation-adjusted athletic spending also increased, by 24.8 percent, at public four-year colleges in all divisions in those years, while spending on instruction and academic support remained nearly flat, and public service and research expenditures declined, the report said. Their overall spending per student grew 1.6 percent.

The fastest growth in athletic spending was at Division III schools without football programs, where median inflation-adjusted spending for each student-athlete more than doubled from 2004 to 2012.