Spending on men's and women's athletic programs has doubled over the past decade across all three NCAA divisions, and the greatest gap between the two can be found in Division I, according to a report released Wednesday marking the 45th anniversary of the Title IX ruling that bars discrimination based on gender.
The 60-page report, released by the Indianapolis-based NCAA, suggests some progress has been made in a number of areas when it comes to participation, diversity and equality among college athletes, their coaches and their athletic directors. But it also found stark gaps remain even as spending has climbed to record levels.
Division I athletic departments spend on average about twice as much on their men's programs than their women's programs, though schools without football spend nearly the same on each (about $5 million).
The report said the difference was even greater among schools in the top-tier Football Bowl Subdivision, or FBS, which spent an average of $27.3 million on men's sports in 2015—up from $12.8 million in 2005—and an average of $45,000 more on male athletes than women in 2015. The average spending on women's teams at FBS schools went from $5.5 million to $10.5 million during that same span.
Much of that money is dedicated to the gridiron, with FBS schools dedicating 60 percent of their men's athletic budget on football—three times as much as men's basketball.
Some other takeaways from the report:
According to the report, 330 Division I men's teams have been cut while 803 women's team were added since 1988. No details are included, but scores of wrestling, men's tennis and men's gymnastics programs have been dropped over the past 30 years. The University of Buffalo recently booted men's soccer, men's swimming and diving, and baseball in a cost-cutting move. In 2011, California's baseball team was forced to raise $9 million in donations to avoid being dropped.
Get in the game
The NCAA said male and female athletes continue to set participation records each year. From 2002-2016, male athletes gained some 65,000 "participation opportunities" and female athletes almost 58,000. Men still make up 56.5 percent of all college athletes across all three divisions.
Since 1982, the year the NCAA began sponsoring women's championship sports, participation by women in athletics has gone from just under 30 percent in Division 1 to 46.7 percent in 2016. The NCAA also said female athletes across all NCAA divisions are more racially and ethnically diverse than they were in 2000-01.
Football is king
Schools with an FBS program spend 44 percent of their budget on men's teams compared with just 18 percent for women's teams. The report also found that FBS schools spend 75 percent of their coaching compensation budgets on men and 70 percent on recruiting dollars on men's teams. Though the disparity is smaller in FCS—41 percent spending on men's teams to 26 percent on women's teams—it's clear that football has a major impact on spending equality. Division I schools that don't sponsor football spend almost equal amounts, with men getting 35 percent of the budget and women 32 percent.
FBS schools, however, rely on far less institutional financial support for athletics, on average, than non-FBS schools because they use football revenue to support other sports.