Friday, October 3, 2008

NCAA Women's Rowing

The University of Iowa's women's rowing team has cancelled their meet here in Iowa City. The women take on almost all of the rest of the Big 10 on October 7th. The women's rowing team finished 24th in the nation last year, so I will miss seeing a nationally ranked rowing team here in Iowa City.

One of the things that grabbed my attention is that the Southeastern Conference does not compete in women's rowing. Here is a list of all NCAA Division I schools that compete in women's rowing and while the University of Tennessee does have a team, they do not compete as an Independent. The Big 12 does compete in women's rowing, but very few schools have teams. This got me to thinking - why don't more NCAA schools compete in women's rowing? Looking at the overall expenses is not out of line with most women's sports and the number of women who participate in rowing is much higher than other NCAA women's sports. Maybe there are not a lot of high schools competing in rowing, but that should not make much difference. Maybe there are not a lot of venues for NCAA schools to practice or hold meets for women's rowing. That should be a more significant entry barrier. Here at Iowa, the women practice at the Coralville Reservoir, which should be a relatively cheap venue as opposed to a new indoor swimming & diving facility.

In terms of the average sports fans, the biggest stage for rowing is the Olympics, and US women's rowers won one gold (women's eight) and one silver (women's single sculls) in 2008 and the US overall finished tied for 3rd in the overall Olympic rowing medal count with three total medals (the men's eight won a bronze). I wonder what would happen if there were more NCAA women's rowing programs in terms of performance at the Olympics in women's rowing.

Turning to my continuing series on NCAA finances from 2005-2006 academic year, let's look at NCAA women's rowing. As you can see - compared to other NCAA women's sports, the number of participants is much higher and per student losses are much lower - maybe there are economies of scale (in terms of losses) with NCAA sports. For Iowa the loss per rowing student is right on par with the Big 10 conference and close to both the ACC and the Pac 10, but higher than the Big East conference and the other 11 Division I NCAA schools in the other category.

School Number Revenue Expense Loss Loss/Student
Iowa 64 $326,453 $918,741 -$592,288 -$9,255
Big 10 100.6 $164,985 $1,128,432 -$963,446 -$9,480
ACC 62.5 $151,741 $883,637 -$731,896 -$11,343
Pac 10 81.7 $183,130 $859,401 -$676,271 -$9,030
Big East 61.5 $266,035 $741,018 -$474,983 -$7,305
Other 65.7 $340,487 $837,429 -$496,942 -$7,142

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