While football season is behind us, the amount of money generated by the NCAA and its schools remains of interest to us. Thanks to our friend Wesley Turner, we have acquired data on all NCAA Division I schools for total football revenue and expense. Much of the data can be further investigated at USA today’s website, and when available at Equity in athletics .
As would be expected, the big name football factories spend the most money on football related expenses, but the amount of profit that is generated on average per year is staggering. Over the 7 year period of 2003 till 2009, the top 10 schools (Texas, Georgia, Florida, Notre Dame, Michigan, Alabama, Penn State, LSU, Auburn and Ohio State) generated more than $30 million in profit per year. Texas which generates on average almost $50 million a year, has seen incredible sustained growth. In 2003, their profit margin was $34.6 million. In the year 2009? $68.8 million!
In the past year, there was a large push by the Pac 10 (12) to extend to 16 teams by including Texas and 3 other Texas/Oklahoma schools. This push while stated as an opportunity to further increase quality of games, is rather purely monetary, with the BCS conference teams further fighting for their share of this amazingly large money base. The following graph displays the average football related expenses and revenue for 117 Div I schools from 2003-2009. Sorted by expense from top down, it is easy to see how the rich remain rich while the “little sisters of the poor” scrap for a piece of the pie.
We further investigated the location of each school, and how the US spends its money on college football. The colors represent revenue while the red numbers represent expense. Amazingly the state of Alabama is at the top for college football revenue, though the state remains generally poor in GDP/GSP related measures.
The NCAA is setup to be a non-profit organization, and while it is generally believed that football helps pay for other sports and school/conference expenses, the link here is missing. In fact 40 teams averaged a loss in money through football over the 7 year period. Its no wonder that some schools are willing to travel into SEC country year in and year out for a hefty payday even though its another guaranteed loss.
In the coming weeks, we will try to investigate expenses/revenue for other sports and see where the money trail takes us.
March 31 edit: If interested, you can also find a post detailing sport by sport expenses/revenue as well as gender differences in college sports .