For every dollar top colleges and universities spent recruiting athletes for their men’s basketball teams, they spent 58 cents recruiting for their women’s teams.
On travel for games, including lodging and meals, the same colleges and universities spent 62 cents on women’s basketball for every men’s dollar spent.
They also spent 73 cents on the dollar on women’s versus men’s basketball equipment, despite virtually no difference in gameplay.
The findings come from a first-of-its-kind analysis by USA TODAY of financial data from 107 of the nation’s most recognizable public universities over the 2018-19 and 2019-20 fiscal years. Data were drawn from revenue and expense reports colleges file annually with the NCAA, which USA TODAY and the Knight-Newhouse Data project at Syracuse University obtained through open-records requests and made available here:
The analysis examined spending at colleges in the NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision, the association’s top competitive and financial level. Data were unavailable from 22 FBS private universities, which are not subject to open records laws and did not voluntarily release their reports, and from University of Pittsburgh and Temple University, which are exempt from Pennsylvania open records laws despite being publicly funded. Pennsylvania State University is included in the analysis because it releases its reports voluntarily.
This dataset shows fiscal-year spending on recruiting, travel and equipment for men’s teams and women’s teams in the six sports in which more than 40 of the 107 schools examined sponsored both a men’s team and a women’s team during both the 2018-19 and 2019-20 school years, with baseball and softball being considered as one pairing. The other five are basketball, tennis, golf, soccer, and swimming and diving.
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Track and field was not included in the analysis because the reports did not differentiate between spending by the outdoor track, indoor track, and cross country teams, and many schools sponsor all three sports for women but only one or two of them for men.
Other sports such as gymnastics, lacrosse, and hockey are excluded from the analysis because fewer than 10 teams sponsored men’s and women’s teams. While baseball and softball are being considered as a pairing, baseball teams often have larger rosters than softball, resulting in greater spending totals for baseball.
The data table above shows spending by each school and sport-pair in each of the three spending categories. Select a spending category from the dropdown menu – and optionally, a sport-pair, school, state, or conference affiliation – and sort the data by spending on men, women, the difference between men’s and women’s spending, or the ratio of spending on men to women. By default, the table is sorted by the spending difference from greatest to least.
Dollar amounts shown in the table represent the total amount spent by the school over the two-year span. The figures are aggregate, two-year totals where both years of data were available for both teams. Some spending categories may not appear for some teams because the school did not report data for, or did not sponsor a team in, one or more years. The dollar amounts are not adjusted for inflation. Conference affiliations are based on the conference in which the team participated in 2019-20 and in some cases are different from the school’s primary or football conference affiliation.
Schools have the discretion to report that some amounts within a given category cannot be attributed to any specific team. Many do so. For instance, 86 of the schools reported non-allocated equipment spending. About two-thirds reported non-allocated travel and fewer than half reported non-allocated recruiting expenses. Non-allocated expenses are excluded from the table, which only displays spending allocated by sport and gender.
In an effort to standardize schools’ reporting, NCAA staff members have worked with the National Association of College and University Business Officers and other higher-education finance experts to formulate definitions for each category, which are provided below. Still, some schools interpret the reporting rules slightly differently.
Covers transportation, lodging and meals for prospective student-athletes and institutional personnel on official and unofficial visits, telephone call charges, postage and such. It includes the value of use of the institution's own vehicles or airplanes as well as in-kind value of loaned or contributed transportation.
Amounts for 2019-20 may be lower than those for 2018-19 because, in March 2020, the NCAA imposed a ban on in-person recruiting for Division I coaches due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, schools were advised by the NCAA to suspend any official and unofficial visits to campus from prospective athletes.
Covers air and ground travel, lodging, meals and incidentals (including housing costs incurred during school break period) for competition related to preseason, regular season, postseason. Amounts incurred for food and lodging for housing a team before a home game should be included. Costs of the schools’ own vehicles or airplanes, as well as the in-kind value of donor-provided transportation, also should be included.
Amounts for men’s teams and women’s teams in the same sport pairing could be affected by factors including one team advancing to conference, NCAA or other postseason play in a year in which the other did not. In addition, there may be a year in which one team participated in a foreign event or tour and the other did not. NCAA rules allow a team in any sport to participate in a foreign tour once every four years.
Equipment, uniforms and supplies
Covers items provided directly to the teams, including the value of in-kind sports equipment. Amounts for men’s teams and women’s teams in the same sport pairing could be affected by factors including durable goods for one team being purchased in a year prior to 2018-19 or after 2019-20.
With the University of Louisville, one of the schools specifically cited in the story accompanying these figures, the university erroneously reported as men’s basketball equipment spending a total of $427,226 that actually was spent on an allotment of tickets for the Atlantic Coast Conference men’s basketball tournament in 2018-19. The error was discovered by USA TODAY after obtaining detailed financial records through an open-records request and additional reporting.
The numbers cited in the story excluded that amount for reader clarity. The numbers in this dataset are shown as Louisville reported them to the NCAA for consistency with the numbers shown for other schools, which also are as the schools reported them.
For questions about the data, email Kenny Jacoby at email@example.com and Steve Berkowitz at firstname.lastname@example.org.