How Expensive is an NCAA All-American?

With the recent demise of Boise State's wrestling program and discussions about budgets, we took a dive into the cost of operating a NCAA Division I wrestling program during 2015-2016.

For the sixty nine teams in the database, average total expenses were roughly $886,000.   University of Iowa has the most expensive program and spent more than twice that of the 20th most expensive program at University of Virginia.

Twenty Most Expensive Division I Programs
Source: US Dept. of Education

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Not surprisingly, these same programs did well at the NCAA Championships that year, capturing 57 (71%) of the All-American awards.  Four of the twenty most expensive programs didn't not have an All-American in 2016.

Twenty Most Expensive Division I Programs -- All-American Awards
Source: NCAA

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From this data, it's easy to calculate a cost per All-American.  On average, the top 20 most expensive programs invested about $500,000 to generate an All-American during the 2015-16 season.

Twenty Most Expensive Division I Programs -- Cost Per All-American
Source: US Dept of Education, NCAA

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As it turns out, many of the most expensive programs are also pretty efficient at making All-Americans.  Virginia Tech, tenth in total expenses, was the most efficient at $229,351 per All-American in 2015-16.

Twenty Most Efficient Division I Programs -- Cost Per All-American
Source: US Dept of Education, NCAA

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What doe all these numbers mean? Wrestling is under siege -- witness Boise's demise -- and budget is part of the discussion.  Knowing your "numbers" and improving spending efficiency might be important in battles that are sure to come.



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