Dig into the cost of college sports


The NCAA is a reporter’s friend when it comes to digging into the money spent and generated by college sports. The NCAA requires each school to annually file a detailed report, containing everything from coaching salaries to how much money in student fees are used to pay for sports.

The NCAA does not share the information. And private schools generally don’t release it. But the reports public schools can be obtained through public records requests at the individual schools. What we found in a 2015 series is that for many Division I schools, close to $1,000 a year in student fees per student (or other university help) is being used to support athletics, and coaching salaries are going up faster than even the cost of tuition.

Check out our 12-part series to get ideas about what you might find in analyzing the reports for schools in your area.

Also, 2016 update.

Analyzing success in the NFL Draft


Few things in sports are analyzed as deeply as the NFL draft, especially in victory-starved and football-crazed Cleveland. But the discussion is almost always based on debating which players will be NFL stars by rating their talent.

We took a different twist in 2012, looking back at what has worked. We set the scale high – finding an All-Pro. This gave us a clear way to judge players from year to year. What we found said a lot about why teams are successful. The teams with the best records over the last decade also were the most successful on draft day, despite not always drafting as high. Accumulating a lot of top 100 picks seemed to be key. The Browns were among the worst on both draft day and on the playing field.

Take a look at what we found, including the likelihood of finding All-Pros in each round of the draft, and position-by-position trends (hint: All-Pros receivers were picked higher than any other positions).

The cost to non-athletes for Division I college sports

We took a dive into the funding of Division I NCAA sports and found that – outside of Ohio State – every other public school in Ohio is dipping into student fees, general funds or other public sources to operate their sports programs.

On average, it amounts to about $700 per student on campus – directly through mandatory student fees or other sources. Supporters say NCAA sports at the top level add to campus life and elevate the profile of places like Kent State, Akron and Cleveland State. Others question such spending, especially the part that goes to six-figure coaching salaries in some sports.

Read our award-wininng package on money in college sports. You’ll find details about all the Ohio Mid-American Conference schools, plus Cincinnati, Cleveland State, Wright State and Youngstown State. The private schools declined to share their information.

What’s the value of an NFL running back these days?

Running backs used to be the stars – or at least co-stars with quarterbacks – in the NFL.

Remember Earl Campbell, Walter Payton, John Brockington, Franco Harris and others? It seems that every good team in the 1970s and early 1980s had a star running back. Not so anymore.

As talk in Cleveland ahead of the 2012 NFL Draft began to focus on potentially picking Alabama running back Trent Richardson high in the first round, we took a look at today’s value of an NFL running back, researching records going back to the AFL-NFL merger in 1970.

What we found is that running backs are less likely to go high in the draft, and good teams have become far less likely to depend on the run. Read our findings and associated graphics.