1/22/2010 Athletics budget

Fact Checker here.

I am surprised -- to put it mildly -- that the lead in the Chronicle today is not President Brodhead's trip to China and Duke's international expansion. Originally, Mr Brodhead had reserved January 21 to deliver, finally, his annual address to the faculty in the Academic Council forum, but alas, that frequently illuminating event, usually held in October, is put off again.

I begin with a thank you to Professor Hain for spawning healthy debate in the Academic Council. No matter what you think about the role of athletics at Duke, there is not enough informed discussion.

Now... some specifics on Coach K's salary. It is not, as the Academic Council's chair is quoting as saying, ten times that of a professor.

According to the American Association of University Professors, for the 2008-09 academic year, nine month contract, Duke's full professors on average made the following:

Male $163,000 (above the 95th percentile)

Female $152,400

Now as for the men's basketball coach, the latest figures available are for 2007-08, when he earned $3.7 million. Duke was prepared to pay him approximately ten percent more, but this was forfeited. Fact Checker believes this would have been a bonus had the team won championships.

Let's go back to the 2002-2003 school year. Coach K received $800,000 in base and an expense account, unexplained in documents that I have seen, of $617,028. For 2003-04 he received a modest raise.

Enter the Lakers in the fall of 2004. After Coach K decided to remain at Duke he received a 50 percent hike. In fairness, and Fact Checker is fair, I note the expense account got trimmed at this time, but apparently use of a corporate jet got added. Even though Mr Trask said all this is transparent, believe me you cannot find out squat.

In the next year, K received an additional hike of $1 million a year. And in the year after that he received yet another increase of $1 million a year.

That's right. Back to back raises of $1 million a year. Just like the history and French professors!

$3.7 million in 2007-08. Statistics like this are buried in Form 990 of the university's tax return, on page 60 of 88 of the 2007-08 filing in case you want to do some research of your own. Luckily you have Fact Checker!

I do not know if Coach K saw his salary freeze during the fiscal crisis -- as faculty members did -- or if his contract specified an increase. Watch for Fact Checker to report on that in April, along with confirmation of Coach Cut's initial salary.

The above of course is not Coach K's entire financial package: Duke and he get intertwined in endorsements (Nike for example). Plus all of his other activities that build on the Duke brand.

We do not know if, for example, the Nike deal in outfitting our teams and in gaining endorsement, is included in K's university salary, or if Nike may cut a check directly to him. The same applies to the Fuqua motivational program that coach K conducts annually ($1600 a guest) which Fact Checker believes is handled by a subsidiary corporation.

What the hell am I doing as a Fact Checker. I should have been a basketball coach!!!

"...the athletic department makes the money it needs to operate, except for the University subsidy." Seriously? That is such a coincidence because I make all the money I need to build a new mansion!! (except for $14.6 million). What kind of argument is that? It's *only* costing this many million. Athletics, as a tangential projection to the mission of this university, should have to be completely self-sustaining as a very bare-minimum condition of them being allowed to continue at all.

It's time to stop following our traditions with a blindfold on. Some of them make sense, others, like athletics, do not. There is no logical reason ("logical" being the operative word) not to seriously consider completely abolishing all athletic programs at Duke if they do not allow everyone to participate (as in intramurals/club sports), *especially* if these programs are, in effect, stealing our money.

Aside from the direct financial effects of the athletics programs - the income from ticket and gear sales, etc, vs the outlays in equipment, staff, those parts of scholarships which would not otherwise be covered for students under Duke's financial aid package, etc. - I wonder if there might be some way to quantify the secondary and tertiary impact our varsity programs have on the institution (and, in this context, on its finances). For example, what is the secondary PR effect and how much would that cost without DI sports? What kind of institutional loyalty - again in this context measured in dollars though that is not the only way such a thing should be measured - comes about as a result of participating in or observing our DI teams? What additional monies come in through vending - or to the City and County of Durham from visitors specifically coming in to watch our DI teams? Of the University Subsidy - how much of that would otherwise come from financial aid for those students who would attend Duke and not be on athletic scholarships; how much of it is made up of funds from other divisions that only get those funds because of an attachment to or appreciation of our DI programs?

Along with the monetary considerations comes those of what impact abolishing DI programs would have on the student body. Duke has 26 teams, 245 Full-time-equivalent scholarships, and hundreds of DI athletes. What would it mean to the institution if DI sports went away entirely? How many of those students would have still pursued their education at Duke without being able to simultaneously pursue their excellence in athletics? How do you quantify that impact?

I don't know the numbers or how broad the impact is, but I think such considerations must be taken into account when analyzing the institution as a whole.

I'd like to know the breakdown of how much the mens basketball program brings in vs how much it costs....I hate when people jump on the coaches in money sports simply because they make the most....the mens basketball program likely brings in much more money to the athletic dept than it costs the school to operate....its the other programs that drain the budget without providing substantial income

this whole issue came up last year in connecticut with jim calhoun's famous 'not a dime back' tirade....and he's right.....the state stood behind calhoun simply because, though he is likely the states highest paid employee, he brings in 8 million a year (or whatever the number is)....the people the faculty should be aiming at is the cost of the sports teams that run in deficit....obviously the answer isn't to cut all the sports that don't make a profit....because that would leave us with mens basketball.....

but I think Dr. G is right here, the amount of 'intagibles' (to use a sports term) that the athletics dept bring in which don't show up on the stat sheet might be worth the 15 mil it costs the university each year....

does anyone thing coach K coaching the olympic team doesn't bring huge amounts of free publicity to duke? he might be the universities best recruiter, not just of athletes, but of students

This is the sort of arrant pedantry up with which I will not put.


This cycle of arguments gets kind of old (mine included) so I'll keep this brief. The basic point is: if Duke is going to suffer greatly from it not being able to rely on its athletic programs for free ad space, then Duke isn't doing a very good job. The only reason we put up with this is because sports are a very culturally acceptable idea. We also got free advertising when one of our seniors last year posed semi-nude for Playboy Magazine. We could probably get students to go around Durham graffiti-ing "DUKE" everywhere just the same. Is this the kind of advertising you want? NO, because those actions, unlike sports, are considered morally questionable.

But should the cultural moral value be the only criteria for what makes advertising appropriate or justifiable? It seems to me like we would like to advertise ourselves on who we are, not by whatever means possible. Take a quirky example: What if Duke were in a different predicament where it chose to spend $15 million/year printing its name on toilet paper, and it was discovered that if Duke stopped printing its name here then the university would encounter serious ramifications. I would probably ask: How great a university is it if it has to rely on printing simply its name on toilet paper in order for it to succeed?

While I recognize that these two things--sports and toilet paper--are somewhat different in nature, I believe the analogy is accurate because both are morally sound actions, yet are unrelated to the university's mission of education. Just because one is more common than the other doesn't mean it's any "better".

Finally, if we're going to say that sports can stay only because they are useful, this begs the question: are they the *most* useful way to get advertising. Perhaps it would be better if Duke started a national donut business and made blue donuts in order to get publicity. It seems like it would be quite a coincidence to me if we found out sports actually were the best possible way of the nearly infinite possibilities. (Then we could return to the question of whether Duke should sink itself to relying on donut sales for ads.)

One other idea for using that money to "effectively" advertise: give every freshman $9000 off their tuition....

OK - T-12 - to continue your analogy - if Duke abolished toilet paper from campus, how many students would show up? :-D

A bit more seriously, you focused your last post on the advertising but did not cover what it would mean with respect to the student population if we became an institution at which students would be unable to participate in the highest levels of sport *and* the highest levels of academic achievement. The PR value is useful, but not - in my opinion - the *sole* positive characteristic of having a DI athletics program.

Seriously considering abolishing the program necessarily means seriously considering the full gamut of advantages and disadvantages of the program to the institution. It also means looking at those aspects from the myriad perspectives of the broad-spectrum "target community" that would make up a vibrant and enriching Duke University - from those whose benefits from and contributions to the community in their roles as students, staff, administrators, alumni, visitors, faculty, etc, would generate a rich and varied place - rather than from the narrow confines of our own, potentially orthogonal, agendas.

Important statistics from Fact Checker

Fellow Dukies, your Fact Checker has dug up some more material for you to consider. This is from Duke's 2009 filing to insure compliance with the federal Equity in Athletics laws. You would never know it from the numbers I am about to give you, but this is designed to even the playing field so our female athletes get just as much support as male.

Total expenses - just about everything including coaches salaries are embraced here. And total revenues.

Men's basketball cost $13,873,859
revenues $11,842,009

Women's basketball $3,159,268
revenue $322,882

Football cost $15,746,727
revenue $9,029,583


Number of players

Men's Basketball 14
Women's Basketball 12

Football 111

All intercollegiate sports
Men 372
Women 244


Head coaches Average salary
11 head coaches for men, 11 for women
Includes bonuses. Does not include benefits.

Average salary men
Average salary women


Annual cost of scholarship, grant or financial assistance specifically to athlete. Does not include a portion of assistance that accrues to all students generally.

Men's teams $8,118,602 for 61 players
Average per player $133,091

Women's teams $5,227,671 for 39 players
Avereage per player $134,042


Recruiting expenses

All men's teams $769,474
All women's teams $320,908


Operating expenses. All expenses attributable to "day of game", home, away and neutral site, including lodging, meals, transportation, uniforms.

Men's basketball $5,516,953
Per player $394,068 (correct figure!!)✔

Women's basketball $1,161,924
Per player $96,827

Football $5,869,292
Per player $52,877

Other notable per player costs

Men's golf $20,619
Women's golf $20,190
Women's tennis $29.074

Total operating expenses - "day of game"

Men's teams $13,174,776
Women's teams $3,080,923


Thank you for reading Fact Checker.

Michael, I think this issue will become clearer if you look at sports in a more objective way rather than accepting the cultural assumptions that make them acceptable. Also, let's talk more about ethics than about effect.

First, to your question "If Duke abolished toilet paper from campus, how many students would show up?" Short answer: at least one, namely me. Longer criticism: just because I use the words "toilet paper" doesn't mean that you also using them is in any way related to the original analogy, which is focused more on a concept than on individual words. I was really referring to advertising, but, if you want me to take your point seriously: I will have to go out on a limb here and posit that the existence of toilet paper on campus is more central to the goal of acceptable living conditions (and therefore more relevant to the mission) than is a university without sports teams. But I would gladly pay for my own toilet paper if you were to insist.

Second, let's look at the statement: "Seriously considering abolishing the program necessarily means seriously considering the full gamut of advantages and disadvantages of the program to the institution." Logic here = bad. Your statement is only true if you are also willing to give up the premise that a university should allow anything that is to its "advantage". But where then is the room for academic integrity?

Contrary to popular belief, a university, like any institution, is not a place for an infinite number of "good" things. Our purpose is not: "Do whatever, so long as it's good." While the definition of "good" here would be highly contentious if we were to debate it out, luckily, there is no need. Instead, a university does have a unique purpose, that is, a mission to do something specific through a specific means, which looks more like this: "A university should do whatever is good at X by Y." Thus, if athletic programs are not good at X or not achieved through Y, even if they are good at P by Q, we don't need to "[consider] the full gamut of advantages of the program to the the institution," because they are irrelevant! My argument is that athletics are part of neither X nor Y and therefore should be discontinued, despite any "benefits" of a more general sense.

A job for you to prove me wrong would come up with a set of X and Y that would include a place for athletics. (And as a further challenge, to come up with a set of X and Y that would justify a $15 million athletic subsidy.) Here's my formulation of what you are intuitively working with:

"A university should do whatever is good at achieving any type of culturally sanctioned success by any culturally-justifiable moral means."

- Which is crappy, so hope that I'm wrong.

FactChecker, thanks for those last stats. I really enjoyed going through them. The average coach salaries and the per player "day of game" costs were particularly stunning.

I find it interesting that female coaches actually make less on average than female professors but male coaches make 3.5 times more than male profs. I'll make the implicit, intuitive argument here explicit as well:

- Salaries are an accurate indicator of institutional value
- Coaches, on average, have higher salaries than do professors
- Thus, Duke values its coaches more than its professors

What's wrong with this argument? Obviously if you're going to find a grudge, it's going to lie somewhere within the first premise, but even that seems pretty solid to me.

It's kind of funny (in an upsetting sense) that when I'm calling for the abolition of athletics that Duke is actually paying the coaches more than the professors. To me, this simply highlights how, in some respects, our institution is influenced by culture and tradition more than it is by reason (which, in my opinion, is one of the very things a university was created to protect!).

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