News Local/State

U Of I Professor Details Public Money Going To Athletics

Picture of 100 dollar bills.

A University of Illinois professor says millions of dollars in taxpayer money is going to U of I athletics each year. Pictures of Money/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

University of Illinois media professor Jay Rosenstein has been a longtime critic of the amount of money spent on athletics on the Urbana campus.

Now he’s published a series of articles that show that millions of taxpayer dollars are spent on U of I athletics each year, despite longtime claims to the contrary.

Rosenstein details how Illinois taxpayers are funding pensions for athletic retirees, benefits like health insurance for current athletic employees, and stadium renovations through student fees. He also says that some funds from the Illinois Monetary Award Program (MAP) are also being used to pay for past renovations.

Rosenstein spoke with Illinois Public Media’s Brian Moline about his findings, and what motivated him to start this project.

"It has to do with working at the University of Illinois for a long time," Rosenstein said, "and watching the ways our budget keeps getting cut."

U of I Athletic Director Josh Whitman told the News-Gazette that athletic department employees are state employees entitled to the same benefits as all other university employees.  

"I'm proud of the revenue model that we have for athletics," Whitman told the News-Gazette. "I understand that some people want to take issue with the funding of intercollegiate athletics. That holds more weight for schools funded much differently from ours."

He also says the $2.6 million that was paid out in athletic pensions last year is a small fraction of the $367 million paid out to retirees from the Urbana campus.