Tag Archives: NYU

Football Not Required: Most Powerful Colleges Who Dominate Financially Without Athletics

I can’t change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination. – Jimmy Dean

There seems to be an acute misconception among many HBCU alumni these days that a college or university simply can not be successful or powerful without football. The craze created by the “success” of Deion Sanders at Jackson State University and the thought of replicating it at Bethune-Cookman University with Ed Reed has sent the athletic debate into a piranha like feeding frenzy. Despite realities that every college with a major football program all spend more on research than they do on athletics, something not true at many football crazed HBCUs is perpetually disturbing. The University of Texas which many hold up as an example of how much money can be made on sports spends approximately $310 million annually on auxiliary enterprises (i.e. athletics), but spends $610 million annually on research. The thirteen institutions that comprise the University of Texas system spend $686.2 million on auxiliary enterprises, but spends $3 billion on research. If the priority is not clear, then it should be. But many will and have argued that they are able to do that because of football (of which there is no data to support the notion). It leads many HBCU alumni to believe that without athletics and football on the Division I level in particular that a college or university can not succeed financially. So we took a look at America’s most powerful colleges who have no football team or Division III football, but are among the nation’s largest endowments and research spenders. Based on the theory held by most HBCU alumnus, none should be financially well off. However, actual correlation between endowments and research expenditures of colleges and universities would say otherwise.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Division III Football)

Endowment: $27.5 billion

National Rank: 6th

Research Expenditures: $949.0 million

National Rank: 29th

Washington University in St. Louis (Division III Football)

Endowment: $13.5 billion

National Rank: 13th

Research Expenditures: $989.2 million

National Rank: 25th

Emory University (No Football)

Endowment: $11 billion

National Rank: 15th

Research Expenditures: $852.9 million

National Rank: 31st

New York University (No Football)

Endowment: $5.6 billion

National Rank: 26

Research Expenditures: $1.1 billion

National Rank: 23rd

Williams College (Division III Football)

Endowment: $4.2 billion

National Rank: 29

Research Expenditures: $4.9 million

National Rank: 417th

Carnegie Mellon University (Division III Football)

Endowment: $4.0 billion

National Rank: 32

Research Expenditures: $402.4 million

National Rank: 70th

California Institute of Technology (No Football)

Endowment: $3.8 billion

National Rank: 36

Research Expenditures: $438.6 million

National Rank: 62nd

Amherst College (Division III Football)

Endowment: $3.8 billion

National Rank: 37

Research Expenditures: $213.8 million

National Rank: 115th

Wellesley College (No Football)

Endowment: $3.2 billion

National Rank: 43

Research Expenditures: $6.3 million

National Rank: 387th

University of Rochester (Division III Football)

Endowment: $3.2 billion

National Rank: 44

Research Expenditures: $409.3 million

National Rank: 67th

Again, these ten institutions either have no football or play football on the Division III level, which is the lowest of the NCAA levels. Yet, all ten institutions constitute a presence among America’s Top 50 college and university endowments. Each institution by itself has an endowment larger than all HBCUs combined. It is safe to say that their lack of emphasis on athletics has provided the use of those funds for investment in building their infrastructure of research and entrepreneurship. The Kaufmann Foundation in 2016 highlighted just how impactful MIT’s focus on research and entrepreneurship has been. At the time of the report Kaufmann found that, “MIT alumni have launched 30,200 active companies, employing roughly 4.6 million people, and generating roughly $1.9 trillion in annual revenues. That revenue total falls between the world’s ninth-largest GDP, Russia ($2.097 trillion), and the 10th-largest, India ($1.877 trillion), according to 2013 data on those and other countries from the International Monetary Fund.” Those revenues in 2016 are greater than African America’s buying power ($1.6 trillion) today. The number of those employed by MIT alumni companies alone would be equivalent to over 20 percent of African America’s labor force.

The reality that all of these ten schools have larger endowments than all HBCUs combined and four of them have larger research budgets than all HBCUs combined, but also that all ten of them spend less than HBCUs do on athletics combined is telling. Because athletics is what we see the most it is the thing that we equate with the most power and fortune, when in reality it is often what you do not see that is actually the most powerful and provides wealth. There is a stark difference between rich and wealthy and there are no wealthy athletes either individually or institutionally. Our continued use of limited resources chasing low hanging fruit that we think is high is a detriment to our long-term sustainability. With colleges and universities in far better financial condition than many HBCUs closing down there is an overdue reckoning coming to higher education institutions and those who do not have their financial houses not just in order but are focused on the fundamental building blocks that are necessary for an institution to remain relevant and add value to society is acute. Whether we like it or not, athletics is a luxury and an entertainment, and for institutions with the limitations in resources that we have it is potentially one of the most reckless uses of those limited resources. These schools are models of what is possible of success and power when institutions of higher learning – imagine that – focus on the development of a people’s mind. Minds that can solve problems, create intellectual property, form companies, and more to the benefit of the HBCU ecosystem far longer than a body can and at much greater impact.

Source(s): NACUBO, NSF