Recent news coverage of the UW’s hiring of a new football coach, coupled with of the state’s ongoing budget problems, has led to questions about how funding for athletics does (or doesn’t) affect the broader university budget. People are free to differ about the role and cost of major college athletics. It’s important that the debate be grounded in the facts.
• The University of Washington Athletic Department is one of only a handful of Division I college athletic programs that is fully self-supporting. With the exception of a small amount of state-mandated Title IX scholarship funding, the UW athletic department generates all the revenue that supports its $60 million per year operation.
• Athletic department funding is derived from ticket sales, corporate sponsorships, and private donations.
• The football program is the primary revenue generating sport at the University of Washington, supplying almost 85% of the department’s total revenue. Other than football and men’s basketball, all other sports at the University of Washington operate at a loss. Therefore, without a profitable (and successful) football program, the University of Washington would not be able to support the 21 other sports that involve more than 700 student-athletes.
In recruiting a new head football coach, the UW had to pay a competitive salary in a very competitive conference. That said, Coach Sarkisian will be only the fourth highest paid coach in the Pac 10 conference.
Bottom line: Having top coaching talent at the UW doesn’t cost a dime of state money. But it is essential to keeping football revenues healthy — revenues that allow the UW to offer opportunity to a wide range of student athletes.