As the college sports arms race escalates. . .

Budgets for men’s and women’s non-revenue college sports are exploding — Ohio State AD Gene Smith estimates salaries in Olympic sports have “tripled” in the past decade and a half. As Joe Drape and Katie Thomas report for The New York Times, there are plenty of bonuses and incentives on the line, and all the way down the line:

Still, overall spending on sports has increased among universities with big-time programs, according to the N.C.A.A. In 2008-9, athletic programs in the Football Bowl Subdivision increased their spending by nearly 11 percent over the previous year. At the same time, universities also increased their contribution to athletics, by 28 percent. That spending came even as the economic recession forced institutions to make painful cuts.

“The reason, university officials say, is the emphasis on sports pays off: athletics serve as the ‘front porch’ of a university, a powerful marketing tool that generates free advertising on ESPN and the sports pages.”

Remember this as the search for ever-more football TV rights money continues. And when you hear the same purveyors of the college sports landscape quoted above wax poetic about the glories of “amateur” athletics.

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