The Cost of Breaking the Top Twenty in Division I Wrestling

Expenses associated with men's college wrestling are publicly available from the US Department of Education.  Team points earned at the championship, as a measure of program performance, is also available.  We wondered if there's a relationship between investment and performance using these two available metrics.  And we also acknowledge that these metrics can be problematic. There are many ways to measure success and investment, some of which are difficult to quantify.  We chose these two metrics because they're available and, in the case of expenses, consistently surveyed and reported. Many would agree, we think, that team points earned in the championship is a measure of program success.

Team points and program costs over the period 2013-14 through 2016-17 for the Top 20 Division I teams in 2018:

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Total Expenses

We used four years of expenses to smooth out any year-to-year aberrations.  We also wanted to account for the multi-year effort required to earn team points at a specific championship.

Here's a look a the total expenses sorted in ascending order, least to most expensive:

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Team Points for Top Twenty

And, here's a look at team points earned for this group:

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Cost per Team Point

Dividing expenses by team points earned at the 2018 championship, we get:

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Wow, the cost for a team point is all over the map.

Investment v. Performance

Perhaps a better way of looking at costs v. team points is:

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Eyeballing the data (and you might eyeball differently), looks like there's a set of teams for which increased investment is resulting in higher performance measured by team points:

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Another eyeballing shows a set of teams that are spending way more than South Dakota State and achieving roughly the same results:

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Admittedly, as we said in the intro, this is just one way to look at cost-effectiveness of a Division I wrestling program. There are other, perhaps better ways.  We used available data, reliably collected and reasonably applied which is a good start.

Click here to get all these charts in PDF format.

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