3 Takeaway's from the Women's College Sports Market Report
Observations from the NCAA's newly released Title IX/Women's Sports data report.
Hope you had a great weekend and are ready to close out June strong (what!).
Last week, the NCAA released a report called “The State of Women in College Sports”.
I read through it so you don’t have to.
Let’s Dive In 👇
State of Women’s Sports
The glaring takeaway is that the number of women competing at the highest level of college athletics continues to rise.
So does the funding gap between men's and women's sports programs.
47.1% of participation opportunities were for women across Division I in 2020 compared to 26.4% in 1982.
Amid that growth, men's programs received more than double that of women's programs in allocated resources in 2020 – and that gap was even more pronounced when looking at the most profitable revenue-generating sports such as football.
But this might be the reason why…
Oklahoma Case Study
The Sooners, at the University of Oklahoma, brought in over $159M in sports revenue last year. However, their expenses were nearly identical, only creating a net profit of $150,000.
And going a layer deeper…
The women’s softball team at Oklahoma is one of the most successful teams in college sports, regardless of gender.
They have 5 NCAA championships in just the last decade and consistently pack out their stadium.
But once you dig into their balance sheet you realize it’s not all roses and butterflies.
Last year, the University of Oklahoma women’s softball program paid out $4,322,219 in expenses (including $1M to head coach Patty Grosso) while making $2,418,462 in total revenue. The program lost money, $-1,903,757 to be exact.
So one of the highest-earning women’s teams in all of collegiate athletics still loses nearly $2M a year.
Meanwhile, Oklahoma’s athletic department spends nearly 10x more on football with expenses at $43M.
But it makes sense because last year they turned a profit of $51M after totaling almost $94M in revenue.
Let’s carry on.
As we just saw, schools are investing a huge amount of resources in the moneymakers.
The gender gap in funding approached nearly 3-to-1 when examining expenditures from recruiting to coach compensation. And that gap isn't new, even with increased expenditures for women across all three divisions.
All of this points to the business that college sports have become.
The difference between median total expenses for men's and women's programs at FBS schools has grown from $12.7 million in 2009 to $25.6 million in 2019.
Title IX compliance can be measured in multiple ways, including whether the overall program's gender breakdown is proportionate to that of the general student body.
The study found Division I athletics couldn't match that standard when examining data from 2020; women accounted for 54% of the undergraduate student body in Division I compared to that aforementioned 47.1% rate.
But here’s what’s crazy to me…
Lack of Women in Leadership Spots
The percentage of women's teams led by female coaches declined from better than 90% in 1972 to 41% in 2020 (among all three divisions).
As the amount of money in women’s sports goes up (although not proportionally as we saw) more men get hired as coaches.
I’ve always found this strange. But money talks, and if you can become a D1 head women’s basketball coach you’re probably going to have a larger paycheck than you would being a head coach for a men’s team at any other level.
And another interesting fact…
23.9% of collegiate athletic directors were women in 2020.
This has stayed about steady since the 1980s.
Women’s sports are getting increased funding, media attention, and love from the general public.
I’ll be outlining this in an upcoming article, but if anything, the NCAA report has shown us that college sports are a business and money will go to where it is likely to earn the highest ROI, meaning men’s sports such as football and basketball.
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Thanks for reading today!
I have a cool piece coming on Wednesday. Stay tuned.