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Opinion | Miami athletics faces a difficult funding decision

By Editorial Board
On February 18, 2013

According to analysis by The Miami Student, Miami University is projected to spend more than $43,000 per student athlete, an increase of 13 percent from 2008 to 2012.

The university will spend more than $15,000 per general student this year, increasing 0.14 percent over the same time period.

The projected $28,600 gap in student-athlete to student spending is based off the number of student athletes and the number of total undergraduate and graduate students at the university. Much of the athletic budget is funded by general student fees, which are projected to make up 66 percent of the budget for Miami's Intercollegiate Athletics this year.

The Miami Student editorial board feels the disparity on spending between student athletes and general students is a systemic issue among all Division I schools.

Over the years, we have seen colleges devote more and more money to athletics. Universities with Division I athletic programs find themselves in the situation where they must spend more on athletics to stay relevant and competitive. However, not all schools have the means to spend enormous sums on athletics.

These schools, including Miami, find themselves facing a Catch-22. To have teams that are successful, schools need to spend money. But to make money from athletic programs, a school needs successful teams.

The editorial board realizes that the only way Miami's athletics program can hope to compete with other Division 1 schools is to get caught up in the spending game that attracts talented recruits and improves athletics campus-wide.

Yet, this may be something the university cannot afford to do.

The board recognizes the delicate position that the university is in. On one side, the pressure to spend on athletics is due to a long-standing systemic problem in college athletics, which pressures universities to spend large sums in hopes of recruiting talent on the field. However, given the major financial losses reported by Miami's athletic program, and the relatively minor success of some of the university's largest sports programs, this may not be the most efficient investment of student fees.

This brings us to the $28,000 gap in spending among student-athletes and students. The board understands that student-athletes require more funds than a general student due to the athlete's use of university equipment, coaching and academic resources. At Miami, student-athletes are truly students as well as athletes as has been shown in the athlete's consistently high GPA. These athletes use Miami's resources to become leaders in the community and after graduation.

However, many non-student-athletes are heavily involved in the community and become wonderful leaders. But these students are not financially supported in the same manner as student-athletes. Miami produces superb student leaders, and we believe all these leaders should be equally supported by the university.

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