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Bill Radke: As the NCAA meets this week in Atlanta, there is talk of tight college budgets, of course. But Marketplace's Brett Neely reports big schools are still spending big money on sports.

Nick Saban: You know, you can't accept being average, you can't accept anything but the best.

Brett Neely: That's Alabama coach Nick Saban after winning the BCS National Championship last week. He was talking about football, but that philosophy has fuelled a massive increase in college spending on sports.

Athletic spending rose more than 40 percent between 2004 and 2008, according to the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics. That's not sustainable, says commission co-chair Gerald Turner:

Gerald Turner: About 80 percent of programs in the country do not break even.

But Turner, who's also president of Southern Methodist University, says colleges have to pick and choose where they spend their money. So many are cutting college sports that don't generate the big bucks -- like tennis, fencing, and lacrosse.

Turner: What you've seen over the last 20 years is a huge number of sports being eliminated on our college campuses.

And the recession has accelerated that process.

I'm Brett Neely for Marketplace.