Most Utah colleges rely heavily on subsidies to fund sports

Utah State football vs. Utah

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — The University of Utah is the only public college in the state that doesn’t rely heavily on state money and student fees to fund its athletic programs, an audit finds.

The other seven colleges received at least half of their revenue from the subsidies in 2014, the state report found. Some of them, such as Salt Lake Community College and Utah Valley University, get nearly nine out of 10 dollars in revenue from the subsidies.

In total, the schools received $56 million in subsidies last year, accounting for 45 percent of total revenues.

State auditor John Dougall said the study was done to provide information and transparency about where the money comes from to pay for athletic teams on the campuses, the Deseret News reports (http://bit.ly/1HNvbas). It does not offer any recommendations or address any problems.

“Part of our job is to try and help them track the money so they can express their will to what extent they agree or disagree with various decisions,” Dougall said. “Policymakers and the public should look and ask the questions: to what extent should NCAA athletics be subsidized, and to what extent should students be required to subsidize those sports?”

The University of Utah is the outlier in the state. The Salt Lake City-based university brought in $56.5 million in revenues, but only 17 percent of that came from the subsidies. The Utes play in the Pac-12 Conference, one of the so-called Power-5 conferences that sit atop the college athletics hierarchy.

The only school even remotely close to that profile is Utah State University in Logan, a member of the non-Power-5 Mountain West Conference. The Aggies took in $25 million in revenues last year, with a little more than half of that, $14 million, coming from the subsidies.

The other public schools in Utah bring in far less money in revenues and rely much more on the subsidies, which include tuition waivers, student fees and state funds:

— Weber State: $13.4 million in revenues, 66 percent from subsidies.

— Utah Valley University: $11.2 million in revenues, 86 percent from subsidies.

— Southern Utah University: $9.7 million in revenues, 73 percent from subsidies.

— Dixie State University: $5.4 million in revenues, 66 percent from subsidies.

— Salt Lake Community College: $2.0 million in revenues, 88 percent from subsidies.

— Snow College: $1.7 million in revenues, 78 percent from subsidies.

Brigham Young University is not included in the study because it is a private school owned by the Mormon church.

Students at Southern Utah University pay the most per student in student fees, at a rate of $1,165 each. The next highest rate is at Utah State, where students pay $709 each. On average, college students at these schools paid about $483 each in student fees to help fund their school’s sports teams.

Students at the University of Utah paid just $304. But the lowest burden is on Salt Lake Community College students, who only paid $99 each.

Southern Utah University spokeswoman Ellen Treanor told the Deseret News that school officials are considering options to lower that burden on students. One idea is to find a way to generate more money from ticket sales.

The amount paid per student in Utah to help fund athletic programs has increased by about $25 each year since 2012, past reports show.

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