The graph’s below establish the obvious in a sort of complicated way, but in a nutshell, they say: the academic performance of student athletes is, on average, inversely proportionate to the revenue and expenses associated with their sport.
That is, football players probably are, indeed, more athlete than student; and mixed rifle team members are certainly more student than athlete (at least by comparison to football players).
The (rev/apr) coefficient above gives a ratio measure of revenue in terms of corresponding APR (academic progress rate: “an APR of 900 is a statistical prediction that 40 percent of a school’s men’s basketball players will graduate. A 925 APR predicts a 50-percent rate, and so on.”). In a perfect world, that of the amateur athlete who is equal parts student and athlete, the ratio of APR gain (loss) to Revenue gain (loss) would either be somewhere closer to 1:1 or else just completely inelastic with respect to revenue. Instead, what we see at UNR and across the NCAA, is APR’s inflating as revenues decrease, or revenues increasing as APR’s decrease, however you wanna look at it. Ratios of 5:1 are common in some sports, ratios of 20, 50 and 100:1 are more like those you’ll see at top 25 basketball and football programs (they’ll be the ones in the top left and right quadrants of many of the diagrams).
Think of it this way: the UNR rifle team has a near-perfect APR of 1,000. In a system that rewarded that sort of thing, the rifle team would also have a perfectly large budget. But, simply put, no one likes to watch the rifle team and I don’t blame them. So that might partially explain the revenue side of the ledger, sort of, but the expenses side is trickier.
That’s why I did a (coaches salary/apr) curve as well. Obviously, universities and the NCAA can’t just allocate revenue strictly on the basis of academic progress. If they did, Winkelvoss-ian crew guys would be getting much more attention than academically ineligible centers at the Final Four, and nobody wants that. But they also don’t have to continue paying their coaches outrageous salaries, or just generally shelling-out boatloads of money to programs that have shown a chronic unwillingness or inability to care about academic measures of success.
Instead, they could just pay all their coaches the same (or nothing, like their players) and in this sense, at least, avoid the impression that universities themselves have actively incentivized a perverse trade-off between APR and revenue. As it stands, however, universities will buy a little more coaching/TV rights/exposure and they’ll pay for it with a little less APR.
That universities continue to do these things, consciously or otherwise, is the reason that the (sal/apr) curve below looks remarkably similar to the (rev/apr) curve above [see (2)].