Can We Compete?: UNCW’s Struggle to Compete with University Athletic Budgets

With the rising success of the UNCW’s men’s basketball team, there is a greater challenge of keeping up with other North Carolina Universities. Whether it’s equipment or uniforms, most NC universities have much larger budgets than UNCW.

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Over the past few years, the UNCW athletic department has struggled to increase their budget. There have been threats of cutting programs and pausing construction projects that led many students to start fundraising for athletic programs. After fundraising efforts and the success of our baseball and men’s basketball teams, the cutting of programs has stopped and the construction that was on pause was completed over the past couple years. From 2010-2015, UNCW has increased their athletic budget by 9.9%, which is the smallest increase from any Division I program in North Carolina. This small increase was due to a rise in student fees, smarter budgeting, and the success of our sports teams.

So what kind of budgets are we competing with? As of 2015, our athletic budget rose to 13 million. That may sound like a lot, but when you put it next to Chapel Hill’s 89 million, it’s almost nothing. While Chapel Hill does have a larger student population and much larger fan base than UNCW, most of their spending is met with higher student costs. While most of Chapel Hill’s athletic home games are free for students, they do have to pay for men’s basketball games. Given that that is one of the most popular athletic teams at their schools, many of their students will pay the cost to cheer on their teams. Meanwhile, UNCW allows students to attend home games for free and men’s home basketball games are free to the first 1,000 students. Although most of these games are free, our student section is usually fairly small and unenthused compared to Chapel Hill.

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While fan size and student fees are small factors in the overall athletic budgets, UNCW saves money in many other areas. From 2010-2015, we increased our ticket sales, contributions, licensing, per-athlete spending, boosting our baseball budget, and coaches salaries. While UNCW landed close to last on many of these spendings lists but ranked 4th in student fees or the money that is taken out of our tuition. UNCW also saves a significant amount of money with our lack of a football team.

As we continue on with a good possibility of more success with our baseball and men’s basketball team, do you think that we should increase our athletic budget even more? Do you think that there is a positive correlation between Chapel Hill’s large athletic budget and their overall success in athletics? Is it worth our time to try to compete with larger university’s budgets or should we continue to save money where we can? Either way, we should continue to support our athletic teams especially seeing that about half of the athletic budget is funded by our tuition.

-Sam Ruark