NCAA expenses and revenue across gender and sport

Take home message: Women’s sports lose money and only men’s basketball/football are profitable. As the great movie Starship Troopers probed: “Would you like to know more?”

Recently, there has been growing investigations into NCAA school impropriety in form of athlete payment, and while the amount of actual money changing hands might not be perfectly reported, we are continuing our own investigation on how much money college sports and their respective universities truly spend and generate. We compiled a list of 24 different sports across 135 colleges and universities that field at least one of the athletic activities. While this included many smaller schools that did not generate much revenue, the average amount of money spent per year by institutions is upwards of $30 million. While most of these schools investigated have an average of 15000 undergraduate students and assuming the money comes from their tuition, thats an approximately $2000 burden per student.

The following represents spending and revenue as obtained by the Equity in Athletics for NCAA division I schools from 2003-2009. On average across all 135 universities only basketball and football make profit, and almost cover the loss in revenue from all other sports. (Of course many schools do make a significant overall profit.)
Expenses and Revenue of all NCAA sports
While greater than 80% of the schools have a team for baseball, basketball, track, football, golf, soccer, softball, tennis and volleyball, the other sports are much more rare. Regardless, averages posted were taken only on teams that existed.

Investigating female vs male sports, there is a large discrepancy in spending and earnings, though much of this might be due to the large impact that college football has.
Male and Female NCAA sports teams expenses and revenue

The increase in expenditure among women’s and men’s sports teams was 60% and 65%, respectively over the 7 year period. Interestingly, the women’s average revenue increased by 153%, a significantly larger gain than the mens’ 66%. Overall, all sports are trending upwards, and with the amount of money spent on facilities and athletes, the NCAA needs to possibly consider paying some of these “student” athletes and increase the transparency of all programs. Without proper intervention and with so much money on the line, college athletics might continue to see more instances where poor students attempt to make money in any way possible, as seen recently at big name schools such as Auburn and Ohio State.

Money definitely is a driving factor in college athletics, especially in basketball and football. Next Wednesday we’ll investigate more into detail the components of the expenses and revenues.

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