THE PROBLEM? $25,000

College student debt has quickly grown into a national crisis. The average total debt for students graduating from the University of Illinois, Urbana was $25,000 in 2012. Tuition and fees at UIUC have increased 74% over the past decade.


A 25% tuition cut for either all in-state JUNIORS or SENIORS* will dramatically help Illinois families and students afford college, graduate with less debt, and make the taxpayer dollars that go towards financial aid go even further.
(*base tuition and fees for juniors, base tuition for seniors.  the savings could be implemented in different ways too.)


That’s correct: tuition for either all in-state Juniors or Seniors can be lowered by 25% with

  • no cost to the taxpayers
  • no additional funds from the state legislature
  • no salary cuts for any U of I employees
  • no jobs cut for any U of I employees – not professors, researchers, administrators, staff, clerical and maintenance staff – no one
  • no cuts to academic programs, majors, courses
  • no cuts to the athletic department salaries, staff, or sports

HOW? ESPN (mostly)

As everyone knows, the amount of money pouring into college sports these days is like water flowing from a wide open faucet. In nearly every state in America, the highest paid public employee is either a college head football or basketball coach. Here in Illinois, it’s both. Three of the highest paid state employees in all of Illinois are:

1.  Lovie Smith, Univ. of Illinois Head Football Coach – $2 million (first year)
2. John Groce, Univ. of Illinois Head Basketball Coach – $1.8 million
4. Josh Whitman, Univ. of Illinois Athletic Director – $600,000

With that kind of money floating around the athletic department, it’s safe to say that financially, they’re doing just fine. And, incidentally, the Univ. of Illinois athletic department contributes no money to the University.

The revenue for the athletic department comes from a variety of sources. But the biggest single source is the Big Ten Conference & the NCAA. Every team in the Big Ten receives an annual lump-sum payment from the conference as its share of revenue from TV contracts, the NCAA, Bowl game payments, and other income.

This Conference/NCAA revenue has grown dramatically and steadily year after year. Over the past decade, it has increased by a factor of SEVEN, a total increase of $23 million per school (see graph below).

conf-ncaa income2

This year, the NCAA signed an unprecedented television contract with ESPN. The network will pay the NCAA $7 BILLION dollars to broadcast the new college football playoffs.

(headline from the New York Times)

ny times college 7 billion headlinemod

That money is being split among all the schools, with the members of the power conferences getting the largest share. Adding in the estimates from the future new Big Ten TV contract, it is estimated that the Conference/NCAA revenue for all Big Ten teams will almost double, to nearly $50 MILLION per school by 2017!  The graph below shows what an absolutely stunning increase that is.



So, with athletic departments already awash in cash, why not share this incredible windfall to help solve the tuition problem? This involves absolutely NO CUTS to the athletic department. It can continue to pay all the same salaries it is paying now. It can continue to operate exactly as it is today. It will even get a raise in revenue. It just won’t be getting all of this new, additional money.

While it is rare, sharing athletic revenue with academics is not unheard of.  The University of Texas, the country’s most profitable football operation, gave $8.3 million of its football revenue to the institution in 2011-12, after giving $9 million in 2010-11.
(source: USA Today, 2/9/13)

The key questions are: WHAT SHOULD BE THE PRIORITY?
The wealthiest employees in the state and on the campus, or over seven thousand Illinois families and students who need some financial relief?
The athletic department, who can already afford to pay the three highest state employee salaries in Illinois, and six out of the ten highest salaries at the Univ. of Illinois, Urbana? Or, thousands of working families and students throughout the state struggling to afford college and stay out of crippling debt?  (details on athletics finances)

usa today headline

 “The University of Illinois in June announced a massive fundraising campaign for financial aid assistance, its latest effort to help struggling students pay for college.
     But a potential source of money remains committed to the university division so flush it basically operates independently: the athletics department, which has a $75 million operating budget.”                                                              – Chicago Tribune

It is a simple question of fairness.


Why don’t we share this cash windfall?  Isn’t that the most fair outcome?
•  Give the athletic department a 10% increase in its conference income
•  Use the remaining approx. $20 million to LOWER TUITION FOR EITHER ALL ILLINOIS JUNIORS or SENIORS by 25% (Here’s the math)

The “20 FOR 25 PLAN”


A WIN – WIN – WIN for everyone.