Category Archives: Finance

Is There a Bubble in College Football?

On Tuesday, I joined Jason Anderson on ESPN Louisville to discuss whether there’s a bubble in college football that’s ready to burst and what the reported new Big Ten television deal with Fox tells us about the current state of both college football and sports on television.

Listen here:

Which SEC Programs Rely the Most on Donors?

Which SEC Programs Rely the Most on Donors-It’s been awhile (ok, five years – sorry, I’ve been busy) since I’ve looked at which SEC donor bases have the deepest pockets.

I wrote a piece today for Forbes on Missouri’s reduction in donations following a tumultuous fall in Columbia, and as part of that piece I pulled contribution numbers for all of the SEC schools (except Vanderbilt, which is a private institution not subject to public records requests).

Here’s a look at the numbers for fiscal year 2014:

  Donations Total Revenue % of Revenue from Donations
Alabama $32,196,689 $153,234,272 21%
Arkansas $21,276,161 $96,793,972 22%
Auburn $39,409,078 $113,716,004 35%
Florida $42,962,368 $124,611,305 34%
Georgia $31,866,597 $103,495,587 31%
Kentucky $19,058,601 $96,685,489 20%
LSU $49,333,582 $133,679,256 37%
Mississippi State $13,942,877 $62,275,111 22%
Missouri $20,113,654 $83,718,587 24%
Ole Miss $15,898,757 $75,849,000 21%
South Carolina $30,203,751 $98,619,479 31%
Tennessee $26,773,796 $107,499,732 25%
Texas A&M $36,312,515 $119,475,872 30%
Vanderbilt N/A N/A N/A

Keep in mind: in most cases donations come in through a foundation or booster club and are then transferred to the athletic department. The numbers here represent only what was moved into the athletic department, which may not represent all monies collected. In some years you’ll see large transfers because of a new facility being constructed. So, the amounts do vary somewhat from year-to-year.

Here’s what I find most interesting, however, now that I’ve got some new numbers to compare to the numbers I had five years ago. Despite other revenue categories growing (especially television), 12 of the 14 SEC programs have become more dependent on donations as a major source of revenue since I last did this study.

Here’s a look at how donations, and the percent of revenue that was derived from donations, have changed for each school since fiscal year 2010:

  FY 2010
Donations
FY 2010
% of Revenue from Donations
FY 2014
Donations
FY 2014
% of Revenue from Donations
Alabama $33,739,056 26% $32,196,689 21%
Arkansas $13,124,754 17% $21,276,161 22%
Auburn $29,731,122 32% $39,409,078 35%
Florida $39,350,660 34% $42,962,368 34%
Georgia $27,354,228 30% $31,866,597 31%
Kentucky $13,161,669 17% $19,058,601 20%
LSU $38,255,521 34% $49,333,582 37%
Mississippi State $0 0% $13,942,877 22%
Missouri* $13,454,020 22% $20,113,654 24%
Ole Miss $5,375,438 12% $15,898,757 21%
South Carolina $23,987,283 30% $30,203,751 31%
Tennessee $27,936,952 24% $26,773,796 25%
Texas A&M* $20,512,889 25% $36,312,515 30%
Vanderbilt N/A N/A N/A N/A

*Missouri and Texas A&M were in the Big 12 in fiscal year 2010

No doubt, you’ll notice that Mississippi State reported $0 in contributions in fiscal year 2010. I explained that more in-depth five years ago when I wrote my last piece, but essentially it was because the athletic department didn’t need to pull any money over from its booster organization that year.

I’ve spoken with development folks in athletic departments in the past who were concerned that the larger television deals and conference networks would make donors think their money wasn’t need anymore, but clearly they’ve done a good job retaining those donors thus far.

Source: all financial data presented here is from reports each school files annually with the NCAA

College Football Playoff Payouts Might Favor Some Conferences

How much money will conferences make from the College Football Playoff this year?

Can Leonard Fournette fetch a historic amount for his game-worn jersey at auction?

And is Ohio State out of line with its ticket price increase for next year’s Michigan game?

I have the answers in my latest segment for Campus Insiders:

Continue to Campus Insiders to read my blog with more details

Football and Basketball Financially Support Every Other Sport

Football and Basketball Support Every Other SportIn case you haven’t heard me say it before, football and men’s basketball are essentially the only opportunity an athletic department has to make money.

Every once in awhile I run across a baseball program that breaks even (or even makes a few bucks), but it’s rare. Even more rare: Nebraska volleyball turns a profit. So, while there are exceptions, trust me when I say they’re few and far between.

Today, I wrote a piece for Outkick the Coverage on FoxSports.com, and I made the case that Ohio State should raise football ticket prices when the market can bear it, because football is the best opportunity to make money for the 15 men’s sports, 17 women’s sports and two mixed teams which all operate at a loss (men’s basketball being the only other exception).

I wanted to give you a closer look at the numbers though. Particularly for those of you who don’t work in intercollegiate athletics, you might not fully understand how the economics work. Generally speaking, football and men’s basketball support every other sport within an athletic department.

Here’s a look at each sport’s revenue and expense numbers at Ohio State for 2014-15:

Revenue Expense Net Revenue
Men’s Sports
Baseball $500,745 $2,129,235 -$1,628,490
Basketball $22,647,562 $8,400,976 $14,246,586
Fencing $28,785 $584,138 -$555,353
Football $72,338,036 $31,950,998 $40,387,038
Golf $445,313 $568,366 -$123,053
Gymnastics $114,202 $963,158 -$848,956
Ice Hockey $696,082 $2,354,838 -$1,658,756
Lacrosse $927,863 $1,960,437 -$1,032,574
Rifle $0 $38,836 -$38,836
Soccer $175,574 $1,017,069 -$841,495
Swimming and Diving $273,022 $1,121,355 -$848,333
Tennis $44,282 $1,041,700 -$997,418
Track and Field, X-Country $98,315 $1,278,248 -$1,179,933
Volleyball $57,473 $900,973 -$843,500
Wrestling $925,472 $1,697,959 -$772,487
Other $0 $42,315 -$42,315
TOTAL $99,272,726 $56,050,601 $43,222,125
Women’s Sports
Basketball $713,617 $3,541,305 -$2,827,688
Fencing $28,787 $578,923 -$550,136
Field Hockey $100,150 $1,014,646 -$914,496
Golf $444,660 $690,385 -$245,725
Gymnastics $109,717 $1,456,215 -$1,346,498
Ice Hockey $83,023 $1,736,959 -$1,653,936
Lacrosse $69,213 $1,170,987 -$1,101,774
Rifle $0 $38,837 -$38,837
Rowing $48,205 $1,734,986 -$1,686,781
Soccer $218,549 $1,358,293 -$1,139,744
Softball $152,017 $1,330,635 -$1,178,618
Swimming and Diving $96,008 $1,136,163 -$1,040,155
Tennis $34,743 $980,240 -$945,497
Track and Field, X-Country $89,976 $1,435,552 -$1,345,576
Volleyball $246,128 $1,769,877 -$1,523,749
Other $24,388 $620,714 -$596,326
TOTAL $2,459,181 $20,594,717 -$18,135,536
       
Mixed Teams
Rifle $29,935 $243,805 -$213,870
Other $176,611 $190,359 -$13,748
TOTAL $206,546 $434,164 -$227,618

If you want a bigger picture look at the overall revenue and expense numbers for the athletic department, including how much is donated back to the university. check out my piece on Outkick the Coverage on FoxSports.com.

New stipends put spotlight on colleges’ math

COA

The start of a new school year ushers in a new financial reality for college athletic departments and, with it, questions about the hot new statistic in college sports: cost of attendance, or COA.

Schools use cost of attendance to determine a student’s need for financial aid, and federal law dictates the types of expenses that can be taken into account when a financial aid department determines its COA figure for the academic year. Athletic departments have traditionally provided grants-in-aid to cover a majority of COA components — tuition, books, room and board — but NCAA rules have prohibited them from covering travel/transportation and personal and miscellaneous expenses.

In January, however, the power five conferences — the ACC, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac-12 and SEC — granted the ability to offer student athletes stipends to cover the full cost of attendance, and the other Division I football conferences followed suit.

And that’s where the questions come in. The methods that financial aid offices use to determine figures for travel and personal expenses differ from school to school. Different methods mean some schools offer larger stipends than others, creating a new point of differentiation in the hypercompetitive world of college athletics recruiting.

The change sparked a debate about whether the system could be manipulated to provide higher COAs, and the accompanying recruiting advantage, for some schools.

Click here to continue reading my piece in last week’s SportsBusiness Journal (no subscription required).

Travel Stipends for NCAA Final Fours and College Football Playoff a Huge Success

NCAA and CFP Travel StipendsLast year, the NCAA did something unprecedented: they approved a pilot program to provide travel stipends to the parents or guardians of men’s and women’s basketball student athletes participating in the Final Four (up to $3,000 per student athlete) and National Championship (an additional $1,000 per student athlete).

The program also authorized the College Football Playoff to provide up to $3,000 per student athlete for the College Football Playoff National Championship, although the CFP ultimately adopted a $2,500 per student athlete stipend program.

Men’s and women’s basketball travel stipends

A month ago, the NCAA announced it would be extending the program for men’s and women’s basketball for a year, and then Tuesday the College Football Playoff followed suit and extended its program for another year.

Click here to keep reading my piece on Outkick the Coverage on FoxSports.com

Texas A&M Paying Tab for Ifedi’s Loss of Value Insurance

Schools pick up tab for insuranceLast year, Texas A&M discovered a new use of the Student Assistance Fund, a pool of money created out of revenue from the NCAA men’s basketball tournament and earmarked for student athletes with financial need. The fund has typically been used for expenses like trips home and clothing, but Texas A&M asked for a clarification last year regarding the insurance needs of student athletes and sparked a bit of a new trend when it spent $50,000-60,000 on a loss-of-value insurance policy for Cedric Ogbuehi.

Although disability insurance has been around for student athletes for quite some time, loss-of-value insurance is a newer phenomenon. Loss-of-value insurance pays out if a student athlete falls precipitously in the NFL draft due to an injury.

I wrote an in-depth piece for SportsBusiness Journal last year on this growing trend – which schools have purchased the policies, whether there’s any danger of depleting the SAF through the purchase of these policies and more – that you can read here (they’ve made it public, so you should be able to read even without a subscription).

Now Texas A&M is in the news again, with CBS Sports’ Dennis Dodd reporting the Aggies have purchased a loss-of-value policy for redshirt junior offensive tackle Germain Ifedi.

There are few cases of these policies paying out for student athletes, although former USC student athlete Marquis Lee is currently embroiled in a legal battle with Lloyd’s of London over his policy and the injury that led him to drop in the 2014 NFL Draft.

Want to learn more about loss-of-value insurance and how the SAF has been used previously to purchase policies, please read my article for SportsBusiness Journal.

College Football Playoff Revenue Makes Every Conference Richer, Except One

College Football Playoff, College Football Playoff RevenueWhich conferences benefitted the most from the transition to the College Football Playoff?

It depends on how you look at it.

The Mountain West saw the largest percentage increase in revenue from $3.6 million to $23.5 million, a 553 percent increase. It was the Pac-12, however, who saw the largest increase in pure dollar and cents with a $41.4 million increase.

Click here to continue reading my piece on Outkick the Coverage on FoxSports.com.

Full conference-by-conference financials for the College Football Playoff vs. the Bowl Championship Series now available here.

Obama Wants to End Tax Deduction for Donations to College Athletics

Obama wants to end tax deductionsThe new budget President Obama sent to Congress this week calls for an end to tax deductions for donations made to college athletic departments for season tickets or preferential seating, also known as seat-related contributions. Currently, 80 percent of these donations are tax deductible.

The administration claims people would pay an additional $2.5 billion in taxes over the next decade with this change.

No doubt, college athletics administrators will watch this development closely. Donations are the highest source of revenue in virtually every athletic department. Yes, even higher than those television contracts you hear so much about.

Here is a random sampling of schools throughout FBS to give you an idea of the revenue they generate from donations compared to their total distribution from their conference (television contract, championships, etc.) and the NCAA (March Madness):

School Donations NCAA + Conference Distribution
Alabama $34,233,035 $23,855,929
Louisville $28,935,662 $15,349,134
Michigan $31,285,461 $27,845,239
Texas $37,386,271 $21,740,373
Western Kentucky $3,379,547 $1,634,776
Utah State $2,962,548 $1,888,296
Central Florida $5,088,098 $3,333,291
Source: Reports filed by schools with the NCAA for the 2012-2013 school year
The numbers above include all contributions reported for the year, not just donations made as required for season tickets or preferential seating. However, those seat-related donations account for the majority of donations on a year-to-year basis according to the development folks I’ve interviewed.
Would fans still donate if they no longer received that 80 percent tax deduction? One athletic director told me for my book Saturday Millionaires a couple of years ago that he thought donations would drop by as much as half without the deduction.
Would fans really be willing to give up their seats and all the years of points they’ve built up if they weren’t getting the tax deduction? I’m sure there would be some at the lower end of the scale who might not see it as such a good investment anymore, but I’m not wholly convinced it would have a major impact on giving.  I’d love to hear from those of you working in development in the comments section!
As a side note, Obama’s budget plan also calls for an end to the use of tax-exempt bonds to build facilities for professional sports teams. The plan states debt to finance those facilities would be taxable if 10 percent or more of the facility is used for a private business (i.e., a professional sports team). Implementation is projected to be worth $542 million in tax revenue over ten years.
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