It’s a fact that most Kentuckians love college athletics. And with an 8th national championship just having arrived in the bluegrass, fans are more than willing to show their support. But how many of them know that a large part of the costs are coming out of their own pockets?
The state of Kentucky has eight public universities. In order to keep their sports programs running, almost $50 million a year comes from state tax money and student tuition fees.
Spending on athletics has remained strong even with tremendous cutbacks in state funding. This puts more of a financial burden onto students. Since 2006, state lawmakers have cut spending on public higher education by $105 million.
The NCAA has compiled a list of 22 Division I schools that are self-sustaining. And most Kentucky fans would be surprised to find out that UK wasn’t on it. Those that did make the cut included rivals Indiana, Alabama and Georgia.
According to 2010 data from the Council on Postsecondary Education, UK collects $700,000 in student fees annually for athletics. These fees let students attend most college sporting events and enter the lottery for men’s basketball tickets. But UK’s $82 million athletics budget is mainly supported by revenue from football and men’s basketball.
Athletics budgets are growing nationwide, but it’s hard to believe most people will be complaining about higher taxes when “bleeding blue” is such a large part of Kentucky life.