WHY IS THERE A CHANGE IN HOW THE DATA IS REPORTED IN THE DATABASE?

In 2017-2018, the Knight Commission decided to make an enhancement to its financial database in order to better tell the story about revenues and expenses in college athletics.  The data comes from the same sources as previously, which are NCAA Financial Report forms, but instead is presented in profiles in this database as one year snapshots of institutional revenue and expense budgets.  The data provided is self-reported by institutions to the NCAA annually.  The data are presented in commonly referred to areas of institutional athletics budgets.  Users have the ability to review annual budgets, by category, dating back to 2005.  Academic spending data over time is also available.  Comparisons of data categories are available by institutions, conferences, subdivisions, and NCAA Division I-FBS spending quartiles, as well as by self-selected peer groups. Users also have the ability to generate trends in the data over time.

WHAT IS E&G AND WHY IS IT USED TO DEFINE ACADEMIC SPENDING?

The Education and General (E&G) spending is commonly considered as the total cost of education, and is the most common and understood metric for identifying the cost of an institution to fulfill its educational mission.

WHERE DOES THE DATA USED IN THE KNIGHT COMMISSION’S DATABASE COME FROM?

All of the data in the database are self-reported by institutions.

The academic spending estimates come from a special tabulation of the Delta Cost Project Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) Database, which was constructed from publicly available data that higher education institutions are required to report to the U.S. Department of Education through annual IPEDS surveys.

The athletic financial data were taken from NCAA financial reports filed by each institution with the NCAA.  For most schools in the database, athletic participation counts were drawn from data filed by each institution with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Postsecondary Education Equity in Athletics database.

WHY CAN'T I FIND ALL DIVISION I INSTITUTIONS IN THE DATABASE?

Data are included only for the NCAA Division I public institutions that provided athletic data in response to USA TODAY’s public records requests. Private institutions are exempt from disclosure requests as are several public institutions in the state of Pennsylvania. Military academies that operate their athletics programs through a private operating structure also are not subject to disclosure. Over the fiscal years covered in this database, the operating structures for the U.S. Military Academy (Army) and the U.S. Air Force Academy changed.

ARE THE DATA ADJUSTED FOR INFLATION?

Data shown on the profile pages are shown in current dollars and are not adjusted for inflation. However, data can be adjusted for inflation by checking the box "Adjust for Cost Inflation" on each web page. Data can also be adjusted for inflation using the custom reporting tool. Inflation adjustments use the Consumer Price Index (CPI).

WHY IS CPI USED TO ADJUST FOR INFLATION?

The Consumer Price Index (CPI) is the most widely used measure of inflation and is sometimes viewed as an indicator of the effectiveness of government economic policy. It provides information about price changes in the nation's economy to government, business, labor, and private citizens and is used by them as a guide to making economic decisions. In addition, the President, Congress, and the Federal Reserve Board use trends in the CPI to aid in formulating fiscal and monetary policies.

More specifically, “the average change over time in the prices paid by urban consumers for a market basket of consumer goods and services.” The CPI represents all goods and services purchased for consumption and classified by the Bureau of Labor Statistics for all expenditure items into more than 200 categories, including education and communication (e.g. college tuition, postage, telephone services, computer software and accessories).

WHY ARE MORE RECENT DATA NOT AVAILABLE? WILL THE DATA BE UPDATED?

Academic spending data used in this database are not reported to the U.S. Department of Education until one year following the current fiscal year (which ends July 31). Thus, there is a two-year delay in publishing the academic spending data used for this database. The most recent reporting year of athletic spending data are published as soon as the Knight Commission can make them readily available.

WHERE CAN I FIND DEFINITIONS FOR THE METRICS AND OTHER TERMS AS WELL AS THE METHODOLOGY?

Go to About the Data for all data definitions and methodology.

WHAT IS THE KNIGHT COMMISSION ON INTERCOLLEGIATE ATHLETICS?

The Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics was formed by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation in October 1989 in response to more than a decade of highly visible scandals in college sports. The Commission’s initial goal was to recommend a reform agenda that emphasized academic values in an arena where commercialization of college sports often overshadowed the underlying goals of higher education. Since 1989, the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics has worked to ensure that intercollegiate athletics programs operate within the educational mission of their colleges and universities. Visit www.knightcommission.org to learn more about the Commission’s recommendations and the measures that have been adopted by the NCAA, conferences and institutions.

WHAT ARE THE FBS SPENDING QUARTILES?

Spending quartiles are created by dividing the FBS subdivision into four sections (quartiles) based on the size of the institution’s expense budget in each year of the database. Quartile 1 schools have the largest athletics expense budget in a given year and Quartile 4 schools have the smallest athletics expense budget in a given year.

WHY IS THERE A LIMIT ON THE NUMBER OF COMPARISONS FOR GRAPHS IN THE CUSTOM REPORTING SECTION?

The display parameters limit graphs to no more than 30 variables each. However, more than 30 variables can be downloaded as raw data in a spreadsheet.

HOW DO INSTITUTIONS THAT CHANGE CONFERENCES OR SUBDIVISIONS IMPACT THE CONFERENCE AND SUBDIVISION MEDIAN CALCULATIONS IN CUSTOM REPORTING?

Data are calculated based on each institution’s conference or subdivision affiliation in each specific reporting year. Even though each institutional profile page notes each institution’s conference affiliation for the most recent fiscal year in the database, that institution may be included in a calculation for another conference in which it was affiliated in an earlier reporting year. Conference and subdivision profiles note the affiliation based upon the most recent fiscal year reported in the database. Note: Data are not provided for any year that an institution was classified in NCAA Division II.

WHY DON'T THE CONFERENCE LISTINGS REFLECT THE CURRENT INSTITUTIONAL MEMBERS?

An institution is shown on the conference profile page for the conference in which it is a member during the most recent fiscal year included in the database. However, institutional data are calculated in the FBS conference or Division I subdivision in which the institution was affiliated for that specific reporting year. Users can run a custom report to group new conference schools with its current conference.

WHY ARE DATA BEFORE 2005 NOT INCLUDED?

The NCAA made substantial changes in data collection and reporting beginning with the 2004 fiscal year. Thus, any comparisons with data prior to 2004 are not meaningful. This database uses data collected by USA TODAY, which includes data only beginning with the 2005 fiscal year.

WHY ARE SOME DATA MISSING?

A missing or broken line in a graph represents missing data or data not included.  In the tables, missing data or data not included are represented by a dash (-).  Data were not included for reporting years in which an institution may have been in Division II or in a Division I transition period. In football spending, there are reporting years during which some institutions did not offer football. In other cases, missing data were not provided on the institution’s financial report.

I NOTICED A POSSIBLE ERROR IN THE DATA. HOW CAN IT BE CORRECTED?

If you believe there is an error in the data your institution submitted in the cited public reports, please contact us.

HOW DOES THE DATABASE CONSIDER POSITIVE NET REVENUES THAT AN ATHLETIC DEPARTMENT MAY PROVIDE BACK TO THE INSTITUTION’S GENERAL FUND?

Beginning in the 2011 reporting year (2010-2011), the NCAA financial report provided more specific instruction to institutions about reporting funds the athletic department directed back to the university. These funds are separated from the operating expenses and are not considered in athletic spending totals in this database.

WHY ARE THERE SIGNIFICANT CHANGES IN SOME OF THE GROWTH RATES FROM YEAR TO YEAR AS SEEN IN CUSTOM REPORTING?

Some institutions interpret the NCAA financial reporting rules slightly differently despite efforts by the NCAA staff working with the National Association of College and University Business Officers to standardize the definitions and reporting.  For some institutions, significant changes in spending trends may represent a change in reporting rather than actual spending. In other cases, significant changes from one year to the next may represent actual spending patterns impacted by a variety of factors, like the start of a new academic program at the university (academic spending) or an addition of a new sport like football (athletics spending).

HOW SHOULD DATA FROM THE DATABASE BE CITED?

College Athletics Financial Information Database. (2019). Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics. www.knightcommission.org. Athletics Data Source: USA TODAY's NCAA Athletics Finance Database.