Yale spent close to $38 million on athletics in the 2014 fiscal year, the second-highest total in the Ivy League. That total, though, may be somewhat deceptive.
According to data published by the U.S. Department of Education, the Athletics Department spent $37,624,262, second only to Penn’s $41,814,447 and far above the Ivy League average of $27,129,322. Of that total, Yale spent $17,479,117 directly on teams.
While that figure was the second-highest in the Ivy League, Yale expenses ranked in the bottom half of the Ivy League for several sports, including basketball and track.
However, the University spent the second-most in the conference on football, shelling out $3,224,275 — the highest number for any sport. Columbia, a school that has not won a football game since November of 2012, recorded $3,226,259 in expenses. For comparison, Harvard spent $2,738,301 last fiscal year.
Associate director of athletics sports publicity Steve Conn said the football team played a game at Cal Poly in 2013-2014, a trip that may have caused the football team’s expenditure total to be higher than usual.
“Any time you take a team across the country, it’s going to cost a lot of money,” Conn said. “If you compared our expenses to other teams that took a trip across the country, you’d probably find similar data.”
For the three years prior to 2013–14, however, Yale’s football program recorded the highest expenses in the Ivy League. Over the past five years, Yale football has averaged $2,952,342 in total expenses, more than any other Ancient Eight program.
Director of athletics Tom Beckett said that comparing budgetary numbers between schools is often not an “apples-to-apples” comparison because of differences in facilities and the reporting of data.
“We have a rink, we have a golf course, we have a tennis center that are under the auspices of the athletic department,” Beckett said. “Some schools that do have those kinds of facilities, they’re in the budget of the university. Comparing operational dollars across the league, I think it’s pretty uniform.”
Echoing Beckett’s statement, associate athletic director Forrest Temple, who heads the department’s business office, suggested that the $37 million total for Yale athletics may be misleading. A large portion of Yale’s reported expenses included costs that other schools do not report as athletics expenses.
“We report a statement that is tied to the official Yale [financial] statement, and that does include roughly $20,000,000 of building expenses [and other funds], not just [money] allocated to teams,” Temple said. “And we also include our recreation program.”
All athletics budgets on the DOE website are broken down into two categories: expenses allocated by gender or sport, and those not allocated to any sport. Temple’s explanation of building and recreational expenses applies to the unallocated funds category.
After subtracting these unallocated funds from the grand total, Yale still recorded the second-highest tally of expenses that were specifically allocated to teams, but with a lesser degree of difference — $17,479,117 compared to an Ivy League average of $15,314,875. Harvard’s total of $17,635,598 was the only larger number.
When asked about Yale’s team-allocated expenses, Temple said that he could not draw conclusions about Yale in comparison to other schools.
He did note that the department recorded a surplus of $474,701, which no other Ivy League school did. The department generally spends every dollar of its revenue, approximately half of which comes directly from Yale and half of which comes from varsity team revenues, recreation program revenues, annual giving and annual yield on its endowments.
“[The surplus] is a bit unusual, but last year we had a very good fundraising year, and we didn’t have any unusual expenses,” Temple said. “That created some fund balances at the athletic director’s discretion for the allocation to teams.”
Yale reported $20,145,145 of unallocated expenses, nearly twice as much as every other Ivy League school except for Penn, which reported $28,627,930 in unallocated expenses. Yale’s online report includes a caveat that direct building expenses account for $10.6 million of this category.
Recruiting expenses, salaries, promotional activities, public safety officers and other team-allocated costs add up to the total team-allocated amount that ranked second in the conference. Recruiting costs alone were just $913,805, a figure that ranks sixth in the Ivy League, ahead of only Brown and Penn.
The department’s total pales in comparison to that of Division I schools that offer scholarships. The University of Texas, Austin had the largest expenditures of any athletic department in the 2013–14 fiscal year, spending $145,984,816.
Under the Equity in Athletics Disclosure Act, all co-ed colleges that receive funding for federal student aid and have an athletics program must provide specific athletics data, primarily budgetary data, to the public.
Clarification: Feb. 5
A previous version of this story mistook the word “auspices” for the word “hospices” in a quote attributed to Tom Beckett. It has been revised accordingly.