I wondered why Williams reports $6.3 million in annual spending on athletics to alumni but only $4.2 million to the federal government. Chris Winters ’95, director of institutional research, provides this answer.

To understand this difference it is first necessary to understand the purpose of the EADA (Equity in Athletics Disclosure Act). The EADA is a law and accompanying regs, passed as part of the 1965 Higher Ed Act, that requires coed colleges and universities that receive federal student aid (Pell, Perkins, fed work study, etc.) and that have intercollegiate athletics to disclose certain statistics about their athletic programs. The EADA is primarily concerned with gender equity in sports participation and spending.

Like most federal mandates the EADA attempts to impose a one-size-fits all set of definitions onto thousands of very dissimilar collegiate athletics program. From my perspective, the EADA definitions are more applicable to large public universities than small liberal arts colleges. For example, the EADA folks always question why we have such little “revenue” from our sports. We have to explain to them every year that, with very few exceptions, we do not sell tickets or charge gate fees to our events, nor do we sell naming rights to stadiums, or do any of the other stuff that brings in direct revenue to many university athletic programs.

But I digress, suffice it to say that the EADA’s purpose in life is to capture the cost of fielding intercollegiate teams and no more. Basically, they try to capture the full cost of what it takes to field any given (male or female) intercollegiate team. The main categories of expenses they care about are compensation, travel, recruiting, equipment, insurance, and a handful of others. They do not care about the many other things that you and I might consider to be integral parts of a quality college athletics program but that do not contribute to fielding intercollegiate teams.

On the other hand, the $6.3 figure that we report in our operating expenditures table DOES care about all those other things. The $6.3 is the total expenditures that fall under what we think of as the Athletic Department’s bailiwick. In order to tie the EADA’s reported 4.2 million to the opex’s reported $6.3 million we would need to add back things like the Outing Club, Mountain Day, some student wages (lifeguards and monitors and such), the cost of all the new equipment for the recent fitness center renovation (expensed as a one-time blip), and a bunch of other expenses. However, the majority of the difference is in the allocated cost of salaries and wages to the physical education program. For example, if a coach spends 20% of his time in PE responsibilities, then 20% of his compensation is NOT reflected in the EADA total but IS reflected in the opex total.

Those are the key differences. Hope that helps.

Thanks, as always, to Chris for taking the time to answer our questions. This all seems perfectly sensible. More comments below:

Am I the only one surprised by the magnitude here? Just how much do the Outing Club and student life guards cost? Note also that there have been some interesting changes over time.

Year  Institution Total Men's  	Total Women's  	Not Allocated  	Grand Total
2003 	Williams $1,501,144 	$1,178,190 	$1,255,655 	$3,934,989
2004 	Williams $1,328,711 	$1,153,596 	$3,215,446 	$5,697,753
2005 	Williams $1,480,361 	$1,207,344 	$3,341,423 	$6,029,128
2006 	Williams $1,504,220 	$1,337,172 	$1,349,316 	$4,190,708
2007 	Williams $1,593,583 	$1,387,822 	$1,236,491 	$4,217,896
2003 	Amherst $1,412,735 	$1,051,022 	$386,634 	$2,850,391
2004 	Amherst $1,599,168 	$969,504 	$436,024 	$3,004,696
2005 	Amherst $1,700,077 	$1,277,730 	$491,960 	$3,469,767
2006 	Amherst $2,054,821 	$1,333,163 	$877,524 	$4,265,508
2007 	Amherst $1,992,344 	$1,479,648 	$1,026,251 	$4,498,243

Apologies for the formatting. Here (xls) is a file with all sorts of data from similar schools downloaded from IPEDS.

To be clear, I am not an expert on this data and may have screwed all of this up.

But . . . it sure looks like something is going on. Amherst and Williams have similar amounts and trends on spending on female athletics. That makes sense, I guess. We have similar numbers of female teams and athletes. Spending is up a lot over 5 years, but at a rate that is similar to other college spending.

The male spending for Amherst is also reasonable. But is it plausible that Williams had almost zero growth in spending on mens athletics over 5 years? That in 2007 we spent 20% less than Amherst? That doesn’t make much sense to me.

And, obviously, there is some strange stuff going in in the Not Allocated (to specific teams) spending at Williams. Was a whole bunch of money misclassified in 2004 and 2005? Or was there some big policy change in 2006? Even if we assume that the data for 2004 and 2005 is messed up, I don’t find it plausible that Williams was spending less than 10% more on athletics in 2007 then it was in 2003.

As usual, I don’t expect any sort of malfeasance here. Definitions change. People make mistakes. And so on. I just go into this detail because it demonstrates how hard it is to answer a relatively simple question: How much does Williams spend on athletics and how has that spending changed over time?

No villains, just mysteries.

Print  •  Email