Sports News

A glow of pride and a lot of money

By Justin Pope

The payoff of the 1996-97 bang-up year for Cardinal athletics was a healthy glow of pride and invaluable publicity around the country.

The cost, however, was a little more tangible: $30 million to run Stanford’s 33 varsity sports by providing them with the best coaches, equipment and facilities and to fund 260 full-ride scholarships. Whether you consider that figure a bargain or a costly operation, it’s a fact of life in the ‘90s.

Ballooning television dollars and pressure for gender equity are among the factors that have revolutionized college athletics in the last 25 years. Intercollegiate sports can no longer exist apart from the often troubling influence of money. Funding even a mediocre program requires business sense; funding one of the nation’s most enviable is a big-time enterprise.

Remarkably, except for a small fee the athletic department receives for making its facilities available to university staff, Stanford’s athletic program runs without a penny from university general funds. Even rival schools that don’t award athletic scholarships can’t make that claim.

“The schools that are like us ­ Harvard, Yale, Princeton ­ all give significant general fund subsidies to athletics,” said Athletic Director Ted Leland. But Stanford’s athletic department not only foots the bill for more than $7 million in scholarships annually, it also has to make budget on operating expenses.

The formula is simple: aggressive fundraising, big-time football and some Silicon Valley-style capitalism.

Fundraising supports the scholarships. Of the $7.5 million in athletic grants awarded this year, $4.5 million will come from endowed funds. The

The Business of Sports (Plain text)

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