(This post has been updated with data available December of 2019.) All things being equal, why not play for a college that spends more money on its softball program? Of course, all things are rarely equal and money doesn’t guarantee a winning record. But who knows, maybe while scrolling through the schools, looking to see which ones are higher or lower than you expected, you might come across a school you hadn’t previously considered. I wouldn’t use it to reduce your choices, unless all things being equal, but it just might expand your horizons. The table below shows the average college softball expenses from 2013 to 2017 for D1 softball programs.
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There are a few things to keep in mind when looking at the data on college softball expenses. Probably the most important is that there is a good chance that it contains errors! If something looks “off” it could just be a data entry error. It’s been known to happen.
What You Need to Know About the Data
Then there’s the little warning posted by the Office of Postsecondary Education (OPE) that states “Please note that valid comparisons of athletics data are possible only with study and analysis of the conditions affecting each institution.” In other words, you might not be comparing apples to apples.
OPE defines expenses as:
All expenses attributable to intercollegiate athletic activities. This includes appearance guarantees and options, athletically related student aid, contract services, equipment, fundraising activities, operating expenses, promotional activities, recruiting expenses, salaries and benefits, supplies, travel, and any other expenses attributable to intercollegiate athletic activities
What they’re trying to say is that some schools travel more because of distance, some because of playoffs but it’s all included under expenses. “Athletically related student aid” at private schools will be more than that at public schools because public schools are cheaper. See some of the issues?
I used five years of data on college softball expenses to try to minimize the effect of any out of the ordinary expenses that show up just for one year. But still, user beware.
Who Spends the Most?
For the following comparisons I’m using the total expenses, not just the operating or “game day” expenses. The Office of Post-secondary Education (OPE) defines operating expenses as:
All expenses an institution incurs attributable to home, away, and neutral-site intercollegiate athletic contests (commonly known as game-day expenses), for (A) Lodging, meals, transportation, uniforms, and equipment for coaches, team members, support staff (including, but not limited to team managers and trainers), and others; and (B) Officials.
Operating expenses are a subset of all expenses which is the first definition I listed. Theoretically, you would expect private schools to have higher expenses because of high costs associated with scholarships. However, as you will see, that’s not necessarily the case.
D1 Colleges that Spend the Most on Softball
The five-year average college softball expenses by school ranged from a low of $183,488 to $3,006,454. The five-year average for D1 softball programs was $876,272. The University of Oklahoma is the only institution with an average over $3 million. Fourteen universities had averages over $2 million for the period with Florida, Auburn, Michigan, LSU, and Washington taking the next five top slots.
Only the university of Maryland Eastern Shore had a five-year average under $200,000. A total of ten schools had averages between $200,000 and $300,000 with the bottom five being: University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, Coppin State, Alcorn State, Mississippi Valley State, and Savannah State.
The 202 public universities averaged $912,100 over the five-year period while the 92 private schools averaged $798,887. Of course, these averages don’t account for any factors such as conferences or size that could also affect the averages.
D1 Conferences that Spend the Most on Softball
Among D1 conferences, the average five-year expenses was $858,068 with lowest conference average at $312,530 and the highest at $2,089,493. The SEC was the only conference with an average over $2 million. Six conferences had averages over $1 million with the Big 12 ranking second overall followed by the Pac-12, Big 10, ACC, Big East, and AAC.
The Southwestern Athletic Conference and Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference had the lowest averages, both under $400,000. The Ivy Group had the third lowest average with the only conference in the $400,000’s. The next five conferences had averages in the $500,000’s.
The table shows two numbers-Operating Expenses and All Expenses. Operating expenses covers only “Game Day” expenses. Again, the following data from the Office of Postsecondary Education (OPE) will have the issues I mentioned earlier. You can see the most recent data available for all college softball programs in the DIY College Rankings Softball Spreadsheet.
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Average D1 College Softball Expenses for 2013-2017