Monthly Archives: April 2011

How Does the Mid-American Conference Stack Up Financially?

After writing about the football finances of the SECBig Ten, ACCPac-10, Big 12, and Big East, it’s time to turn to the non-AQ conferences.  I showed you Conference USA earlier this week, so now it’s time for the Mid-American Conference.

The numbers are drawn from schools’ reports to the U.S. Department of Education on the state of their athletic departments’ finances for July 1, 2009 to June 30, 2010. See the note at the end for more details on the data.

Before we look at football revenue in the Mid-American, let’s take another look at the averages for the six AQ conferences:

Football Revenue:

SEC ($49.9m)

Big Ten ($40.6m)

Big 12 ($35.4m)

Pac-10 ($24.6m)

ACC ($20.9m)

Big East ($18.8m)

We saw that Conference USA’s average football revenue was about half that of the lowest AQ conference, the Big East, at $9.3 million. The Mid-American is going to come in at barely over half of Conference USA and just over a quarter of the Big East’s number at $5.5 million. 

While the gap in Conference USA from highest to lowest was about $9.6 million (compared to huge gaps like $57.8 in the SEC and $52.1 in the Big Ten), the gap in the Mid-American is just $4.8 million: Read the rest of this entry

Student Ticket Prices in the Big Ten

Michigan Student Section - Taken by Flickr user grgbrwn

After looking at student fees at various universities, many of you were interested to see the relationship between student fees and student ticket prices.

The Big Ten had the least number of universities relying on student fees of any conference. I previously discussed how that might be related to football revenue. Perhaps it’s also related to ticket demand, however, with many of the Big Ten schools having strong football and men’s basketball programs.

So, when students are paying little, if anything, in student fees to the athletic department, how expensive is it to attend a game?

School Student Activity Fee Football Student Ticket Price Basketball Student Ticket Price Packages Availability
University of Illinois $2,961,577.00 $99.00 $156.00 $134 for Block I season football tickets, which includes t-shirt, kickoff party and more  
University of Iowa $525,707.00 $175.00 $75.00   If more applications received than football season tickets available, priority given to those who completed application by certain deadline.
Indiana University $23.00 $30.00 N/A $270 for dual football-basketball season package  
University of Michigan $0.00 $250.00 $99.00-$125.00   Students must be registered for at least half-time in the fall for football season tickets. For away games, there is a lottery if more applications received than tickets available.
University of Minnesota $0.00 $91.00 $131.00    
Purdue University $0.00 $119.00 N/A $250 for dual football-basketball season package  
University of Wisconsin $0.00 $174.00 $220* *$110 for half-season basketball tickets with two different 9-game packages available Football tickets are first-come, first-serve, not lottery style. Undergrads go first with 1,700 tickets held for grad students who begin purchasing two weeks later.
Ohio State University $0.00 $165.00 $132.00   Availability for football season tickets based on seniority and FT status. Basketball season tickets only include Big Ten games and opening night. Students may also order one ticket each to remaining games for $16/game. Only 1,400 student season tickets available for basketball.
Michigan State University $0.00 $136.00 $171.00   Availability for football season tickets based on seniority and FT status
Penn State University $0.00 $218.00 $59.00   Released for sale based on class (senior, junior, etc.) until sold out
Northwestern University N/A Free with tuition Free with tuition   Young alumni season tickets available for football and basketball.

Those with student fees providing revenue to the athletic department didn’t have the cheapest student tickets in the conference. Illinois did come in below the average $145 price tag on football season tickets at $99, but Iowa outpaced the average at $175. In Iowa, as in most places, it’s likely a product of demand. Last season was the first season Iowa is believed to have sold out their entire football season prior to the start of the season.

Four schools in the Big Ten charged more for basketball season tickets than football: Illinois, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan State. The average price for basketball season tickets in the conference as a whole was just $20 less than football season tickets.

I came across several other interesting options and practices when it comes to student tickets. Several universities have options for the spouse of a student to purchase a season ticket at a price higher than students but lower than the general public, but only if tickets remain after student tickets are fulfilled. Iowa lists a “student guest” ticket at the same price as a season ticket for the general public, but presumably it would allow the guest to sit in the student section. It also carries an “if available” caveat, and based on the earlier discussion on last year’s ticket sales, I would say it’s unlikely these are available.

Indiana University has “Young Alumni” football season tickets available for $30 (the same price as current students) if you’ve graduated in the last three years.

Two of the most interesting things I found, however, were via University of Michigan (although some other universities have similar practices). First was the ability to buy tickets to away games. The following chart was on Michigan’s website showing the price and number of tickets student season ticket holders could purchase for away games:

GAME Price per ticket LIMIT
Northwestern $50 2
Michigan State $75 1
Iowa $70 2
Illinois $65 None

Students at Michigan also have the ability to transfer a student ticket to a non-student. According to Michigan’s website, students can purchase a validation sticker (price not yet determined for 2011) which allows them to transfer their student ticket to a non-student.

Big Ten fans, have I missed any other unique or unusual  aspects of student tickets at your university? What are your thoughts on the numbers presented?

*Please note, I’m going to do a separate piece on schools with revenue-generating hockey programs in the coming weeks. I’ll discuss hockey ticket prices and revenue then.

Thanks to my research assistant Andy Haugan for helping with this piece!

Student Fees for Non-AQ Schools

This morning I showed you the Top 25 Recipients of Student Activity Fees in the BCS, and last week we looked at each school in the SEC, Big Ten and Big 12 and the ACC, Pac-10 and Big East.

Below is a breakdown, by conference, of every school in a non-AQ conference. Remember, “N/A” means the school is either private or otherwise immune to open records request, whereas “0″ means the athletic department does not receive student fees. Also, numbers are from the 2009-2010 school year.

Conference USA

School Student Fees % of Total Revenue
University of Central Florida $17,466,918.00 44%
East Carolina University $10,441,783.00 32%
University of Memphis $7,666,067.00 19%
Univ of Southern Miss $6,056,608.00 31%
University of Houston $4,728,620.00 14%
UTEP $4,189,751.00 16%
Marshall University $4,150,759.00 18%
Univ. of Alabama – B’ham $3,454,483.00 14%
Rice University N/A N/A
SMU N/A N/A
Tulane University N/A N/A
University of Tulsa N/A N/A

Mid-American Conference

School Student Fees % of Total Revenue
Ohio Univ $16,460,250.00 69%
Univ of Akron $16,199,911.00 67%
Miami Univ (OH) $13,786,549.00 53%
Kent State $10,516,660.00 54%
Univ of Toledo $9,824,257.00 49%
Bowling Green $9,497,261.00 50%
Ball State Univ $9,221,400.00 46%
Northern Illinois Univ $8,333,419.00 38%
Univ of Buffalo $7,439,422.00 29%
Eastern Michigan Univ $1,572,843.00 6%
Central Michigan Univ $0.00 0%
Western Michigan Univ $0.00 0%

Mountain West Conference

School Student Fees % of Total Revenue
San Diego State Univ $10,220,740.00 31%
Colorado State $4,774,723.00 18%
Univ of Utah $4,168,754.00 14%
UNLV $2,287,676.00 4%
Univ New Mexico $1,608,093.00 4%
Univ of Wyoming $1,156,548.00 4%
USAF Academy $428,142.00 1%
BYU N/A N/A
TCU N/A N/A

Sun Belt Conference

School Student Fees % of Total Revenue
Florida Intl Univ $15,635,778.00 71%
Florida Atlantic Univ $8,877,456.00 55%
Middle Tennessee State $6,848,065.00 33%
Western Kentucky $6,437,652.00 28%
Univ South Alabama $5,680,478.00 35%
Univ North Texas $5,007,059.00 49%
Univ Arkansas Little Rock $3,627,665.00 38%
Arkansas State Univ $2,832,773.00 30%
Troy Univ $712,380.00 5%
Univ Louisiana Monroe $362,045.00 3%
Univ Louisiana Lafayette $0.00 0%

Western Athletic Conference

School Student Fees % of Total Revenue
San Jose State $4,683,122.00 23%
Utah State $3,700,874.00 19%
Boise State Univ $2,980,056.00 8%
New Mexico State $2,613,320.00 10%
Univ Nevada Reno $2,333,116.00 10%
Univ Idaho $2,218,219.00 14%
Univ Hawaii $0.00 0%
Louisiana Tech Univ $0.00 0%
Cal State Univ – Fresno N/A N/A

Top 25 Recipients of Student Activity Fees in BCS

Student Section at UCF Football Game

Last week I showed you the top recipients of student fees in the AQ conferences. That list changes dramatically when you consider non-AQ schools. Here are the top 25 recipients of student activity fees in the BCS based on dollar amount:

1 University of Central Florida $17,466,918.00 44%
2 Ohio Univ $16,460,250.00 69%
3 Univ of Akron $16,199,911.00 67%
4 Florida Intl Univ $15,635,778.00 71%
5 Miami Univ (OH) $13,786,549.00 53%
6 University of South Florida $13,026,289.00 33%
7 University of Virginia $12,160,103.00 15%
8 Kent State $10,516,660.00 54%
9 East Carolina University $10,441,783.00 32%
10 San Diego State Univ $10,220,740.00 31%
11 Univ of Toledo $9,824,257.00 49%
12 Bowling Green $9,497,261.00 50%
13 Ball State Univ $9,221,400.00 46%
14 Florida Atlantic Univ $8,877,456.00 55%
15 University of Connecticut $8,626,506.00 15%
16 Rutgers University $8,441,092.00 13%
17 Northern Illinois Univ $8,333,419.00 38%
18 University of Memphis $7,666,067.00 19%
19 Univ of Buffalo $7,439,422.00 29%
20 Florida State University $6,919,449.00 9%
21 University of North Carolina $6,859,868.00 9%
22 Middle Tennessee State $6,848,065.00 33%
23 Virginia Tech $6,533,756.00 10%
24 Western Kentucky $6,437,652.00 28%
25 Univ of Southern Miss $6,056,608.00 31%

Only six on the list come from AQ conferences and all are either from the ACC or Big East. It’s also interesting to note that five Florida schools and four Ohio schools are in the top 25, which I’ll discuss more below.

Perhaps more interesting than the dollar amount, which is certainly influenced by size of enrollment and amount of student activity fees charged per student, is which schools top the list in terms of the percent of total athletic department revenue being generated by student fees:

  School Student Fees % of Total Revenue
1 Florida Intl Univ $15,635,778.00 71%
2 Ohio Univ $16,460,250.00 69%
3 Univ of Akron $16,199,911.00 67%
4 Florida Atlantic Univ $8,877,456.00 55%
5 Kent State $10,516,660.00 54%
6 Miami Univ (OH) $13,786,549.00 53%
7 Bowling Green $9,497,261.00 50%
8 Univ of Toledo $9,824,257.00 49%
9 Univ North Texas $5,007,059.00 49%
10 Ball State Univ $9,221,400.00 46%
11 University of Central Florida $17,466,918.00 44%
12 Northern Illinois Univ $8,333,419.00 38%
13 Univ Arkansas Little Rock $3,627,665.00 38%
14 Univ South Alabama $5,680,478.00 35%
15 University of South Florida $13,026,289.00 33%
16 Middle Tennessee State $6,848,065.00 33%
17 East Carolina University $10,441,783.00 32%
18 San Diego State Univ $10,220,740.00 31%
19 Univ of Southern Miss $6,056,608.00 31%
20 Arkansas State Univ $2,832,773.00 30%
21 Univ of Buffalo $7,439,422.00 29%
22 Western Kentucky $6,437,652.00 28%
23 San Jose State $4,683,122.00 23%
24 University of Memphis $7,666,067.00 19%
25 Utah State $3,700,874.00 19%

Seven schools get at least half their budget from student fees, with students at Florida International providing more than 70% of the total revenue for the athletic department! If you expand the pool to schools receiving at least a third of their athletic department revenue from student fees, you’re up to sixteen schools. This time only one AQ school makes it onto the list: South Florida. While there’s certainly a trend in the non-AQ conferences for requiring student fees to fund athletics, there’s a definite pattern in Florida and Ohio.

I spoke with Brad Stricklin of University of Central Florida Read the rest of this entry

How Profitable is Football in Conference USA?

[UPDATE: Comments from Tulsa's AD Bubba Cunningham have been added as of 2:33 p.m, 4/26/11.]

After writing about the football finances of the SECBig Ten, ACCPac-10, Big 12, and Big East, it’s time to turn to the non-AQ conferences.  Since I have a loyal UCF following on Twitter, I promised to hit Conference USA first.

The numbers are drawn from schools’ reports to the U.S. Department of Education on the state of their athletic departments’ finances for July 1, 2009 to June 30, 2010. See the note at the end for more details on the data.

Before we look at football revenue in Conference USA, let’s take another look at the averages for the six AQ conferences:

Football Revenue:

SEC ($49.9m)

Big Ten ($40.6m)

Big 12 ($35.4m)

Pac-10 ($24.6m)

ACC ($20.9m)

Big East ($18.8)

The average in Conference USA is predictably smaller than the AQ conferences. In fact, it’s half that of the Big East, who came in the lowest of the AQs. Here’s the breakdown by school:
 
  Football Revenue
University of Central Florida $15,173,200.00
SMU $12,493,293.00
Rice University $12,355,180.00
University of Memphis $11,557,329.00
East Carolina University $9,627,578.00
UTEP $9,549,083.00
University of Houston $7,719,733.00
Marshall University $7,462,672.00
Univ. of Alabama – B’ham $6,811,742.00
Tulane University $6,686,956.00
University of Tulsa $6,340,835.00
University of Southern Miss. $5,605,441.00
 
University of Central Florida, who would #25 in the final BCS standings in 2010, brought in revenue exceeding quite a few AQ schools: Maryland ($11,540,368), Wake Forest (10,227,922), Vanderbilt ($14152,061), Baylor ($14,355,322), UCONN ($14,400,371) and Cincinnati ($13,325,304). UCF also saw more revenue from football than Utah ($14,690,174), who is moving into the Pac-10 this year.
 
One reason for that revenue could be that UCF is the second largest university in the country behind Arizona State. Except, it doesn’t seem to be ticket sales driving UCF to the top of the pack. Read the rest of this entry

Why an Antitrust Suit is Unlikely to Bring Playoffs to College Football

Twice last week on Twitter I asked if you were tired of hearing about antitrust suits because I was considering writing a piece about why one brought against the BCS wouldn’t result in a playoff for college football. Despite hearing the word “antitrust” for months in conjuntion with the NFL, the unanimous response was that you wanted to hear more if it concerned what a suit would mean to college football as we know it.

If you’ve read my work, you probably know I like to play devil’s advocate on this topic. I believe an antitrust suit brought against the BCS has a slim chance of being successful and, more importantly, that even if it were successful, it would not result in a national championship playoff.

I can hear you already, “But, Kristi, the current system isn’t fair.” Therefore, it must violate antitrust law, right? Wrong. To understand, I need you to take off your fan hat and put on your CEO hat. College football is a business, like any other sport. It is run in a way that makes the most money for the people at the top. I have no idea why many fans think the sport’s power brokers – the top conference commissioners, TV partners, bowl officials - would voluntarily change to a system that would provide them with fewer benefits. They care about control and money, and they have both under the current system.

And here’s the key argument: Read the rest of this entry

Ten AQ Programs Who Rely the Most on Student Activity Fees

Here’s a little bonus for the weekend if you liked the stories on which programs rely the most heavily on student activity fees (SEC, Big Ten and Big 12 breakdown here – ACC, Pac-10 and Big East breakdown here).

The top ten schools by dollar amount:

1 University of South Florida $13,026,289.00 33.24%
2 University of Virginia $12,160,103.00 14.86%
3 University of Connecticut $8,626,506.00 14.74%
4 Rutgers University $8,441,092.00 13.15%
5 Florida State University $6,919,449.00 9.30%
6 University of North Carolina $6,859,868.00 9.42%
7 Virginia Tech $6,533,756.00 10.27%
8 Auburn University $5,261,604.00 5.68%
9 Georgia Tech $4,643,368.00 8.39%
10 North Carolina State University $4,200,610.00 8.49%

The top ten schools by percent of total revenue:

1 University of South Florida $13,026,289.00 33.24%
2 University of Virginia $12,160,103.00 14.86%
3 University of Connecticut $8,626,506.00 14.74%
4 Rutgers University $8,441,092.00 13.15%
5 Mississippi State University $4,000,000.00 10.49%
6 Virginia Tech $6,533,756.00 10.27%
7 University of North Carolina $6,859,868.00 9.42%
8 Florida State University $6,919,449.00 9.30%
9 North Carolina State University $4,200,610.00 8.49%
10 Georgia Tech $4,643,368.00 8.39%

In both cases 9 of the 10 are ACC and Big East schools. SEC programs Auburn and Mississippi State fill out the final slot in each.

As I showed you yesterday, the ACC and Big East average the least fooball revenue out of the AQ conferences. Now you see they lead in reliance on student activity fees. Coincidence? I think not.

Around the Web

Here are some interesting stories about business in college sports floating around the web to start your weekend:

  • The BCS has delayed their decision regarding the Fiesta Bowl’s status. I still say odds are at least 50-50 the Fiesta Bowl is out and the Cotton Bowl takes its place at Jerry’s World.
  • Utah’s Attorney General says he’ll file an antitrust suit against the BCS in the coming months. Check back on this site next week for my thoughts on why an antitrust suit won’t bring a playoff to college football.
  • Boise State’s AD speaks out against the BCS and urges university presidents to educate themselves on the money they’re losing.
  • Iowa State is going to make a BIG statement with their new video board. Does anyone else think it makes the poor stadium look small?
  • Kansas State is installing new turf which can lower surface temperatures on the field by 18 percent. I’m betting Florida and LSU would never consider such a thing – they like to watch their opponents suffocate from the humidity!

Which Programs Rely on Student Activity Fees – Pt 2

This morning we took a look which athletic departments in the SEC, Big Ten and Big 12 rely on student activity fees. The big recipients, however, are in the ACC and Big East. Before we get to them, however, let’s take a look at the Pac-10:

Pac 10 Dollar Amount Percent of Revenue
University of California – Los Angeles $2,750,481.00 4.45%
University of California – Berkeley $2,146,402.00 3.10%
Oregon State University $2,142,702.00 3.85%
Washington State University $1,862,522.00 4.73%
University of Oregon $1,544,344.00 1.26%
University of Washington $0.00 0.00%
University of Arizona $0.00 0.00%
Arizona State University $0.00 0.00%
Stanford University N/A N/A
University of Southern California N/A N/A

In terms of average amount of student fees received, the Pac-10 comes in at $1.3 million, which puts it ahead of the Big Ten and Big 12. As we saw in the SEC, Big Ten and Big 12, top football revenue generators in the Pac-10 didn’t rely on student activity fees, namely Washington and Arizona State. In addition, Washington turned a $2.4 million profit (according to Department of Education data) without reliance on these types of fees.

Two of our top five student activity fee recipients come from the ACC, where all schools who reported receive these fees to supplement the athletic department’s budget:

ACC Dollar Amount Percent of Revenue
University of Virginia $12,160,103.00 14.86%
Florida State University $6,919,449.00 9.30%
University of North Carolina $6,859,868.00 9.42%
Virginia Tech $6,533,756.00 10.27%
Georgia Tech $4,643,368.00 8.39%
North Carolina State University $4,200,610.00 8.49%
Clemson University $1,585,556.00 2.75%
Duke University N/A N/A
University of Maryland N/A N/A
Wake Forest University N/A N/A
University of Miami N/A N/A
Boston College N/A N/A

University of Virginia ranks second both in amount and percentage of total revenues. If you’ve read the piece on the finances of ACC football programs and overall athletic department finance, you’ll remember UVA led the conference in overall athletic department revenue even though they were below the midpoint for football revenue. That prompted me to call their athletic department and ask a few questions, wherein they revealed the high dollar amount they receive in student activity fees. Upon finding out that conference opponent Georgia Tech only received roughly a third of that amount, I decided to begin work on this piece.

There does seem to be some correlation between the average student activity fee received by schools within a conference and where that conference falls in terms of average football revenue. Before we look at that, however, here’s how the Big East stacks up: Read the rest of this entry

Which Programs Rely on Student Activity Fees?

Student Section at The Swamp

I’ve shown you how much schools in the SEC and Big Ten rely on alumni contributions, but what about student activity fees?

I came across this issue while researching for my ACC financials piece awhile back. I discovered that UVA’s athletic department received over $12.1 million in student activity fees, while Georgia Tech only supplemented their budget with $4.6 million. Which, of course, made me wonder: how much are programs relying on student activity fees?

This is a multi-part series, with this first installment focusing on the SEC, Big Ten and Big 12. Check back at 3 p.m. ET this afternoon for the Pac-10, ACC and Big East. Next week, I’ll cover the non-AQ conferences.

Data covers the 2009-2010 school year and is unavailable for private schools and a couple of others who did not report and would not comment. Unavailable data is marked with “N/A” and ”$0″ indicates the athletic department receives no portion of student activity fees. 

To give you context while you look at each conference, here are the five athletic programs who receive the most in student activity fees:

1 $13,026,289 – University of South Florida
2 $12,160,103 – University of Virginia
3 $8,626,506 – University of Connecticut
4 $8,441,092 – Rutgers University
5 $6,919,449 – Florida State University

With that in mid, let’s take a look at the SEC first: Read the rest of this entry