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 Mountain West, let’s take another look at the averages for the six AQ conferences:
Big Ten ($40.6m)
Big 12 ($35.4m)
Big East ($18.8m)
Conference USA came in at roughly half of the lowest AQ conference (the Big East) at $9.3 million and the average Mid-American school brought in just over half the revenue of an average Conference USA school at $5.5 million. The Mountain West finishes as the most successful non-AQ conference in terms of football revenue at an average of $11.3 million.
Here’s each school’s revenue from football with the exception of the Air Force Academy, which does not have to report its numbers:
|Univ of Utah||$14,690,174.00|
|San Diego State||$10,884,119.00|
|Univ of Wyoming||$9,145,222.00|
|Univ New Mexico||$7,018,389.00|
If you remove TCU, Utah and BYU from the equation, as will be the case over the next two years, the average in the Mountain West falls to $8.0 million. This would still be good enough for second place behind Conference USA for the non-AQ conference bringing in the most revenue from football. If you add in members joining the Mountain West over the next two years (Boise State, Fresno State, Nevada and Hawaii), the average rises to $10.6 million. As a side note, Hawaii is only joining the Mountain West for football.
Here’s a look at what each school in the Mountain West is spending on football:
|Univ of Utah||$9,896,863.00|
|San Diego State||$9,584,060.00|
|Univ New Mexico||$7,018,389.00|
|Univ of Wyoming||$6,428,503.00|
The Mountain West again edges out Conference USA and tops the list of non-AQ conferences for expenditures on football at an average of $9.8 million. As you can see, however, the three schools spending the most are the ones who will be moving into AQ conferences in the next couple of years. Without them, the conference only averages $7.4 million. Add in the new teams joining the conference and the averages moves up to $8.7, which is the same as Conference USA’s average currently.
Here’s how the AQ conferences stacked up in terms of expenses on football:
Big Ten ($17.9m)
Big 12 ($15.8)
Big East ($14.6)
As you can see, the gap between AQs and non-AQs is not nearly as large when it comes to money spent on football as it is on money made on football. Although the income level for non-AQ conferences could be putting a ceiling on football expenses, the real difference is the money left over for other sports. Typically, football and men’s basketball are the only two sports who can generate revenue to support the other sports. Check out my previous post on the stark difference between AQs and non-AQs when it comes to how “other sports” are financially supported.
Predictably, football profits aren’t nearly as large in the Mountain West as in AQ conferences:
|Univ of Utah||$4,793,311.00|
|Univ of Wyoming||$2,716,719.00|
|San Diego State||$1,300,059.00|
|Univ New Mexico||$0.00|
These numbers are still good enough for best average in the non-AQs at $1.6 million over Conference USA’s $504,000. To give you some perspective, profit-leaders in the SEC, Big Ten and Big 12 all come in over $50 million.
As I illustrated in the piece on how other sports are financially supported, in the non-AQs it takes student fees, government subsidies and direct institutional support in order for the athletic department to break even or turn a profit. As you can see, only a couple of schools in the Mountain West show a profit in their athletic department:
|Athletic Dept Profit|
|Univ New Mexico||$0.00|
|San Diego State||$0.00|
|Univ of Utah||$0.00|
|Univ of Wyoming||$0.00|
NOTE: The data I have is from the U.S. Department of Education. Federal statute requires schools to report the financials for their athletic department (if they receive the Title IV funding, which all ACC schools do). The statute prescribes what should be included in each category on the report. For example, when we take a look at revenue the statute requires that it include gate receipts, broadcast revenues, appearance guarantees and options, concessions, and advertising. In terms of expenses, we’re looking at grants-in-aid, salaries, travel, equipment, and supplies.
It’s also important to note that this data is from July 1, 2009 to June 30, 2010, so we’re talking about the 2009 football season. Additionally, while these are the most complete numbers available for all Mountain West schools (a public records request wouldn’t get you financial information for the private schools), there is room for variance.
An official within an SEC athletic department provided me with the following qualifications to the data: ”For instance, some institutions may report debt service associated with their football stadium as direct football expenses, while others may show debt service as Other, Non-sport specific. The same goes for game day security, parking, cleanup, etc. which some may show as direct football expenses, while others may show as facilities costs – not directly attributed to football. I do believe total revenue and expense numbers are comparable, but when you break down the numbers into categories there is a lot of leeway for variances between institutions.”
Another variance that came to light in reviewing the SEC and Big Ten financials is that some schools do not attribute any of their broadcasting revenue to specific sports, but instead only include it in the Other, Non-Sport Specific category.
Nonetheless, this is the most complete data available if you want to compare all of the schools (public and private). Also, while the numbers may not allow for a perfect apples to apples comparison, they do reflect what each school chooses to show the federal government for purposes of proving their compliance with Title IX. Certainly interesting to view the numbers in that light.
Thanks to my research assistant Ben Perreira for helping compile the data.