Where Should the Money Go?: Sports or Scholarships?

The University of Louisville is basking in the glory of winning the NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship last night. On Mike and Mike in the Morning (ESPN Radio & ESPN2) Mike Greenberg was upset that the NCAA would not allow the Louisville men’s basketball team to fly to New Orleans to watch the University’s women’s basketball team in the championship game tonight. He claimed that it was a ridiculous notion that attending the game was a special privilege that would in some way tarnish amateur college sports stars. Greenberg posted the following on Twitter:


Perhaps. However, there is another way to look at this issue. According to ESPN’s own data calculator, the University of Louisville subsidizes its athletics programs to the tune of $2.15 million per year. A (very) rough calculation of the costs of the team attending the game in NOLA would look something like this:

16 players, 1 head coach, 3 assistant coaches (there are more “aids” listed on the team’s website, but we’ll stick with these numbers)

Roundtrip flight from Atlanta to New Orleans: $377 each = $7540 (if they fly charter it would be more expensive)

Moderately priced double rooms for the players (a total of 8) and single rooms for the coaches:  $239 each = $2868

Expense money: the federal per diem in New Orleans is $71/day = $1420

This very conservative estimate adds up to $11,828.  According to the University of Louisville’s website, the cost for in-state tuition, room and board is $18,470 for 2013-14.  Consequently, instead of spending the money on a trip to a basketball game, those funds could be used to pay 2/3 of the cost of a full scholarship for a University of Louisville student. Perhaps this would be a better use of funds since the school is a state supported University.

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