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Penn Athletics has a series of wide-ranging funding gaps across a variety of sports, according to an analysis by The Daily Pennsylvanian of publicly available data. This includes significant disparities in the salaries of men’s and women’s coaches, recruiting expenses, and the costs of game-day and other operations. 

Most notably, the average head coach for a men’s team earned upwards of 40% more than the average head coach for a women’s team in between July 2021and June 2022. Furthermore, the total recruiting expenses for men’s teams are over twice as much as those for women’s teams. 

According to Karen Weaver — a professor in the Graduate School of Education who specializes in college athletics — this gap is not unusual throughout the collegiate sports scene. Weaver noted that “51 years after Title IX was signed into law, we’re still struggling with this.”

The data used in the DP's analysis ranges from July 2021 through June 2022 and is publicly disclosed by Penn to the United States Department of Education under the Equity in Athletics Disclosure Act. The data was pulled from the Department of Education’s website via their Cutting Tool. 

Since this data is self-reported by Penn and the University is a private institution, ascertaining certain nuances, including the salaries of individual program’s head coaches, is not possible. Additionally, several other databases — including that of the Knight Commission, a nonprofit dedicated to promoting equity and the educational mission of collegiate athletics — only include limited information for Penn and most other private schools. 

"There is an awful lot of room in there for lack of clarity,” Weaver said. “The largest databases … are almost all public institutions. So it’s really hard to look inside the private institutions.” 

In response to a series of questions from the DP, Penn Athletics and Recreation wrote that most of their programs' funding comes from "University support and philanthropy," and other sources of income include "recreation memberships, racquet sports, ticket sales for intercollegiate events and the Penn Relays, sponsorships, and rentals." 

"Penn Athletics does take efforts to ensure equity in pay for coaches in similar roles between men’s and women’s teams. There are some pay differentials that are driven by the employment market," their statement added. "The limit on the number of assistant coaches and their status is determined by the NCAA and Ivy League. Two examples of what creates differences in recruiting and operational expenses for programs are the size of the team and the equipment needs of the program."

Coaches' salaries

One particular area of disparity comes from the salaries of both head and assistant coaches at Penn. For men’s teams, there are 15 head coaches, who made an average of $168,346 in fiscal year 2022. In contrast, the 14 head coaches of women’s teams made an average of $111,613 that same year — amounting to a 41% gap in pay between the two. 

Differences in pay also extend to assistant coaches. In this period, 45 assistant coaches of Penn's men’s teams earned an average salary of $52,060. Meanwhile, 27 assistant coaches of the University's women’s teams had an average salary of $41,617. While this disparity is not equal to that of head coaches, it still amounts to a 22% difference.

Beyond this, while each team has only one head coach, there are some differences in their status within the university. Most notably, in fiscal year 2022, the men’s lacrosse head coach was a full-time institution employee assigned to the full-time team. However, the women’s lacrosse head coach, despite holding the same employee status, was only assigned to the team on a part-time basis. 

According to both Weaver and sociology professor Janice Madden, these pay disparities often boil down to the presence of a marketplace for coaching services in men’s versus women’s sports. For certain men’s sports, there has been a development into a “robust, mature marketplace” for coaching talent, while this emphasis is lacking on the women’s side, according to Weaver.

Madden noted that while men's and women's coaches are "the same quality," the external labor market is gender differentiated.

“It's easier to get talented women at cheaper prices than talented men,” Madden said.

Beyond just salaries, the DP's data analysis shows that there are as many men coaching women’s teams than there are women coaching women’s teams. While all 15 head coaches of men’s teams are men, only seven out of 14 women’s head coaches are women. 

This trend extends to assistant coaches as well, where there are just four women assistant coaches of men’s teams out of 57 total — equating to just 7% — but 15 out of the 39 assistant coaches for women’s team’s, or 38%, are men. 

Madden believes that these disparities trace back to lower levels of coaching and playing sports, where men often outnumber women. 

“Historically, there's been more male participation in sports than female participation,” she said. “So there's probably more male coaches out there than women coaches, so the men coaches probably would prefer to work for the men's teams because they generally pay higher salaries. But there's more of them around, [so] the men are being hired into women's sports.”

Total expenses

In areas beyond coaching, there exist differences in the expenses of men’s and women’s teams. For example, men’s teams had recruiting expenses of $532,248 in fiscal year 2022, which is more than double the $238,181 spent on recruiting for women’s team’s.

Weaver said she believes that this difference is often based in the historical sense that men’s sports had more potential to generate revenue than women’s sports, and therefore deserved a higher emphasis on recruiting top talent. However, she does foresee a shift, especially given the marketing potential of women’s basketball stars like Iowa’s Caitlin Clark or LSU’s Angel Reese.

These differences extend past recruiting and into operating expenses as well. There, all men’s teams spent over $3.1 million in this period, which is 49% more than the women’s teams, whose expenses totaled just under $1.9 million. Even without football — which accounts for over $650,000 of operating expenses — there is still around a 25% difference. 

Certain sports have even wider gaps, though. For example, men’s lacrosse had $413,849 in operating expenses, while the women’s team had just $159,948. Even adjusting for the women’s team’s smaller roster, men’s lacrosse still cost nearly $4,000 more on a per-player basis. 

Overall, of the 10 sports that field a men’s and women’s team, the per-player operating expenses are over $200 higher for the women’s program in just one: soccer. In fiscal year 2022, women’s soccer spent $149,353 on operating expenses, and men’s soccer just $111,857. Given the women’s roster’s smaller size, this computes to a per-player difference of over $2,000. 

But soccer is the exception, rather than the rule at Penn. Men’s basketball has operating expenses $3,500 per player higher than women’s basketball, fencing spends over $1,000 more on its men’s team per player, and each men’s rower has approximately $1,800 more in operating expenses than their women’s counterpart. 

These trends continue when looking at the total expenses of programs. Men’s basketball cost Penn $1.79 million in this period, over 50% more than women’s basketball, which had total expenses of just $1.04 million. 

Excluding basketball and football, the expenses of all men’s sports totaled approximately $6.07 million, while the women’s teams had expenses of just $5.07 million — an 18% difference. When football and basketball are included — with its $2.99 million of expenses that make it just under half as expensive as all the women’s teams combined — the total costs of $10.85 million for men’s teams versus $6.10 million for women’s teams comes out to a staggering 56% difference. 

Looking forward

Overall, this data suggests that across the board Penn spends more money on its men’s teams than its women’s teams. In total, men’s teams paid coaches $4.87 million in fiscal year 2022, which is 58% higher than the women’s teams’ cumulative $2.69 million. Recruiting, operating, and non-subset expenses all exhibit significant disparities between men’s and women’s teams. 

Weaver notes that some change is occurring at the highest echelons of college athletics, especially with very high head coaching salaries for women’s basketball, gymnastics, and softball, headlined by Dawn Staley’s historic $3.2 million annual salary to coach South Carolina women’s basketball. But the question remains whether any of these changes have yet to reach Penn. 

Senior reporter Imran Siddiqui contributed to this story.