Wednesday, May 31, 2006

We're now less than 24 hours away from the beginning of the Women's College World Series. One last topic I'd like to explore before the start of play is the participating schools' athletic budgets.

The Indianapolis Star newspaper compiled what it calls the NCAA Financial Reports Database, which provides revenue and expediture information -- broken down into fairly fine-grained categories -- for a large number of NCAA schools. It's actually a lot of fun to poke around in the database, which you can access via the above link. You can select schools, and for each school, switch between "Revenue Statement" and "Expense Statement."

I first viewed the database several weeks ago after hearing about it through -- what else -- a sports discussion board. As I was going back to look at it earlier today, I was hoping that information would be available specifically for softball, but that wasn't the case. As you can see, the breakdowns are only for football, men's basketball, women's basketball, and "Other." We thus won't be able to see what the eight WCWS schools spend on softball, but we can still look at overall athletic budgets, which probably give some indication of how well softball is funded at a given institution. Here are the overall athletic expenditures ("Total Operating" expenses), ranked in descending order:

University of Texas, Austin $82,400,829

University of Tennessee $71,783,012

University of Alabama (Tuscaloosa) $56,989,608

UCLA $46,010,599

University of Arizona $40,760,160

Arizona State University $39,749,018

Oregon State University $36,106,183

Northwestern University -- Unavailable, as private schools not required to disclose (see link to database above for explanation)

I encourage those of you who are fans of schools not listed above to check out your institution's expenditures. If, as seems likely, the amount is less than some or all of the schools above, maybe you won't feel so bad about your team's failure to make it to Oklahoma City.