Ohio State athletics generates big money for university and community

A Wall Street Journal article from Oct. 19, “Inside college sports’ biggest money machine,” seemed to express surprise that the university with the largest enrollment in the nation would also have an athletics department with the largest annual budget.

Yes, Ohio State University’s athletics budget is huge $109 million.

But the Buckeyes’ big budget is not dragging down the university.

The school has built world-class athletic facilities at substantial cost, but every dollar the department spends has been generated by the Athletics Department itself.

Those facilities attract world-class athletes, and those athletes generate good will and plenty of philanthropic dollars for the university. That money helps to keep the Athletics Department among the nation’s elite, but the money also is used to benefit other areas of the university.

By being self-supporting, the department neither needs nor takes money from the university’s academic mission. On the contrary, it contributes to academics, most notably by paying for all athletic scholarships and tutoring for athletes. It also helped pay for renovations to the main campus library, with is open to all 52,000 students on the campus.

The profits generated by the football and basketball teams make it possible to field teams in 34 other sports. The University of Texas, which spends about $2 million a year less than OSU, fields about half as many teams.

The Athletics Department pays for its own utilities, security, maintenance and other operating costs, lightening the burden on the university’s budget.

On top of all that, OSU’s sports budget generates an almost dollar-for-dollar boost to the central Ohio economy. And there’s the generous helping of civic pride that comes with having top-tier teams to root for year in and year out.

Yes, a lot of dollars are spent on Ohio State athletics. But they don’t come out of the university’s coffers, and those dollars enrich everything the university offers, with plenty of side benefits to the OSU community, central Ohio and the entire state.