Today in NC State History: Controlling the cost of college sports

November 26, 2013
By Bill Krueger

historyIconIt’s not uncommon to hear complaints that college sports have become too much like a business, with a similar focus on the bottom line of wins, losses and making money. Such laments often bring a yearning for the good old days — a time when college sports were were about nothing more than friendly competition, school pride and the values of teamwork.

But how far back does one have go back to find such good old days?

On this day in 1951 — more than 60 years ago — a front-page article in the Technician spoke to concerns then that college sports were becoming big business. The reason for the concern was the money that NC State was spending on college athletics — $417,799 was the athletics budget for 1950-51.

“When the half-million mark is reached, sports becomes big business,” read the article. “As such, intercollegiate sports at State have brought with them intricate problems of finance. There has been considerable discussion in the nation’s press about the profit-loss relationship of sports.”

The story broke down how the money was being spent at State, with basketball getting $174,490 and football getting $132,370. A total of $79,200 was paid in salaries.

1951footballprogram“In this day of $20.00 shoulder pads and $19 football shoes, it is not surprising that the cost of the sports are so high,” read the article. “However, the most significant factor in the cost is the growth in the size of the teams.”

The story noted that the football team had grown from 20 members in 1930-31 to 90 players in 1950. The basketball team had grown from 15 players to 35 over the same time period. The number of scholarships in the two sports had grown from eight to 88.

The concern seemed to be less about the amount of money being spent, but in making sure that it was accounted for properly. The story noted that the only auditing of athletic expenditures had been done at the end of seasons, but that the Athletic Council had adopted a policy to audit the spending after each game. It was hoped that more frequent audits would give the university better control over costs associated with athletics.

“The new control is not expected to raise the profit side of the picture, but through its more analytical aspects it is expected that a good deal of money will be saved,” read the story.

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