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Fan Rewards Go Social

Rewards programs are not new. Whether for pumping gas, swiping your credit card or booking a flight, companies have long sought to incentivize consumer loyalty. Think about it: between commercials, people in booths at the airport and internet pop-up ads, rewards programs are becoming ubiquitous.

College athletics fan rewards programs, where athletics departments give out prizes based on attendance at various sporting events, are also nothing new. Recently, a new trend has developed in this arena, one that seeks to combine the rewards concept with social media. Social media fan rewards programs have been popping up around the country, including schools like Oregon, Florida State, Duke and Penn State, among many others.

The premise is simple: fans are already interacting via social media outlets like Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare and Instagram, often immediately before, during and immediately after athletic contests. Schools utilizing this technology are now providing a platform for fans that makes it easy for them to interact and engage (and spread the good word of the athletics department), while also garnering points to be used for free swag (and who doesn’t like free swag?).

One of the earliest adopters of these programs was Baylor, whose Baylor Bold Rewards program kicked off at the beginning of the 2011 academic year. At the time Associate AD John Garrison stated that, “With so much of our communication moving to social media, we felt this rewards program would be the way to get beyond our ‘friends’ to our friends’ friends.” The program has generated over 22 million social media impressions over the course of a year. That ability to expand a fan base is a big reason these programs have themselves gone “viral”. It’s about rewarding fans for spreading your message about your brand to their friends. Now, not only are more and more schools getting into the act, but conferences are as well, with the Big Ten Network, Horizon League and SWAC all launching their own iterations recently.

Two of the leaders in this burgeoning industry are Row 27 and Lodestone Social. Row 27 was responsible for Baylor’s groundbreaking program and also offers a number of other social marketing tools through their Fanmaker App Suite. Each company boasts long lists of clients from major programs, and each promises to galvanize a fan base through social media while dangling the carrot of the potential monetization of those social media initiatives. Lodestone Social’s pitch is to, “unite the void between social media efforts and revenue, connecting the passion of the crowd to the power of your team.”

One recent example of this “unity” is when Ole Miss and Mississippi State jointly announced in September that C Spire Wireless had signed on to become the official wireless partner of the universities’ social media rewards programs. The sponsorship will allow fans who participate in the Ole Miss Social Rebels and Hail State Social Rewards programs to interact with C Spire Wireless and earn additional rewards and giveaways, and also allow both universities to better engage their fans during games through their smart phones. It is believed to be the first program of its kind in the country, but is not the only way to make money from social media efforts. For example, in 2011 the University of Michigan made $376,478 in revenue from Facebook referrals alone.

Not everyone is impressed with social media fan rewards programs, however. A recent post on the digital and social media blog Digital Hoops Blast questioned if social media rewards programs are necessary at all. The three arguments made to support this notion are: 1) that these programs cause schools to lose focus on creating and sharing amazing content by focusing instead on points, 2) these programs dictate what social networks are better for fans to engage in by skewing the point scheme (more for a like on Facebook than a retweet on Twitter for example), and 3) the automation that totals up points to decide who your best fans is impersonal, which is counterintuitive to how you would want to connect with your best fans.

Those are great points but ultimately these programs are not going to go away. If Michigan, Ole Miss and Mississippi State were able to monetize their social media efforts, you can bet others across the nation with similar or even larger social media footprints are in the process of forming similar partnerships. Rather than the latest tech trend these programs appear to be an extension of what athletics departments have been doing with “traditional” fan rewards programs for years. For this reason look for companies like Lodestone Social, Row27 and others to continue to saturate the market, and for a social rewards program to come to a university near you (if it hasn’t already happened).

BCS Payouts vs. March Madness Payouts

Quite frequently in the debate over the BCS there are comparisons to March Madness. Proponents of moving to a playoff system point to the approximately $771 million a year (beginning in 2011) March Madness generates in television alone (previously an average of $545 million). Meanwhile, the BCS bowls will generate just $125 million beginning in 2011 (previously$96.4 million per year ).

While it’s true March Madness generates more television revenue overall, that doesn’t necessarily mean more money for each athletic department. A total of $452,200,000 was distributed by the NCAA in 2010-2011, and less than half of all monies distributed went back into the athletic department with no strings attached (via the Basketball Fund). Here’s the breakdown:

Basketball Fund ($180,467,000): Monies are distributed based on a six-year rolling period. Institutions receive one unit for each appearance, not including the championship game. Each unit was worth $239,664 in 2010-2011.

Academic Enhancement ($22,461,000): Each Division I institution gets $66,000 to use for academic support service for student-athletes.

Conference Grants ($8,115,000): Each conference receives $261,744 less an agreed upon amount remitted to the regional officiating advisors program. Funds must be used to improve officiating, enhance conference compliance and enforcement programs, drug abuse education, enhancement of opportunities for ethnic minorities, and development of gambling education programs.

Sports Sponsorship Fund ($60,155,000): Each school’s share is determined based on the number of varsity sports sponsored. Points begin with the 14th sport (the number required in Division I), and $30,091 is distributed for each sport above thirteen. These monies may be directed to individual institutions or to the conference for distribution, as decided upon by each conference.

Grants-In-Aid Fund ($120,309,000): Each school’s share is determined based on the number of grants-in-aid awarded. These monies may be directed to individual institutions or to the conference for distribution, as decided upon by each conference.

Student Assistance Fund ($59,738,000): This fund also consists of the Special Assistance Fund and the Student-Athlete Opportunity Fund. For the Student Assistance Fund, all athletes are eligible to receive these funds, even if they have exhausted eligibility or no longer participate due to medical reasons. These monies are distributed to the conference who decides how to allocate. This fund is to be used to assist student-athletes with financial needs that “arise in conjunction with participation in intercollegiate athletics, enrollment in an academic curriculum or that recognize academic achievement. The Student-Athlete Opportunity Fund is distributed by conferences based on the formula used for sports sponsorship and grants-in-aid. The Special Assistance Fund is to be used to meet student-athlete financial needs of an emergency or essential nature for which other financial aid is not available.

Supplemental Support Fund ($955,000): Used to support campus-based initiatives designed to foster student-athlete academic success at eligible limited resource institutions.

At the end of the day, most conferences receive larger payouts from the BCS than March Madness when it comes to money going back into the athletic department with no strings attached. Below is a look at the payouts for the past four years. Totals in red reflect conferences who received a larger payout from basketball than football for the given year. You should also note the football payouts indicated for the non-AQ conferences (Mountain West, Mid-American, Sun Belt, C-USA and Western Athletic) are based on the payout from the BCS before the agreement between the conferences to split BCS money equally between all non-AQ conferences kicks in. Also, these numbers do not include payouts for non-BCS bowl games.

ACC 2006-2007 2007-2008 2008-2009 2009-2010
Football $18,088,675 $18,324,992 $18,672,725 $19,787,058
Basketball $14,149,120 $15,090,053 $15,863,538 $18,220,902
Difference  $3,939,555 $3,234,939 $2,809,187 $1,566,156
Big 10 2006-2007 2007-2008 2008-2009 2009-2010
Football $22,588,675 $22,824,992 $23,172,725 $24,287,058
Basketball $13,087,936 $13,561,946 $13,803,338 $15,332,222
Difference $9,500,739 $9,263,046 $9,369,387 $8,954,836
Big 12 2006-2007 2007-2008 2008-2009 2009-2010
Football $18,088,675 $22,824,992 $23,172,725 $19,787,058
Basketball $14,325,984 $15,663,093 $16,275,578 $17,109,871
Difference $3,762,691 $7,161,899 $6,897,147 $2,677,187
Big East 2006-2007 2007-2008 2008-2009 2009-2010
Football $18,088,675 $18,324,992 $18,672,725 $19,787,058
Basketball $14,856,576 $16,618,160 $19,365,880 $23,109,436
Difference $3,232,099 $1,706,832 ($693,155) ($3,322,378)
Pac 10 2006-2007 2007-2008 2008-2009 2009-2010
Football $18,088,675 $18,324,992 $18,672,743 $19,787,058
Basketball $11,849,888 $12,606,880 $13,391,298 $14,665,604
Difference $6,238,787 $5,718,112 $5,281,445 $5,121,454
SEC 2006-2007 2007-2008 2008-2009 2009-2010
Football $22,588,675 $22,824,992 $23,172,725 $24,287,058
Basketball $13,087,936 $14,708,026 $15,657,518 $15,110,015
Difference $9,500,739 $8,116,966 $7,515,207 $9,177,043
Mountain West 2006-2007 2007-2008 2008-2009 2009-2010
Football $3,529,600 $3,724,000 $9,788,800 $9,878,710
Basketball $3,183,552 $4,011,280 $4,120,399 $3,999,710
Difference $346,048 ($287,280) $5,668,401 $5,879,000
Mid-American 2006-2007 2007-2008 2008-2009 2009-2010
Football $1,964,800 $1,508,000 $2,094,400 $2,139,355
Basketball $1,945,504 $1,910,133 $1,442,140 $1,333,237
Difference $19,296 ($402,133) $652,260 $806,118
Sun Belt 2006-2007 2007-2008 2008-2009 2009-2010
Football $1,443,200 $2,062,000 $1,529,600 $1,559,570
Basketball $1,061,184 $1,146,080 $1,854,180 $2,222,061
Difference $382,016 $915,920 ($324,580) ($662,491)
C-USA 2006-2007 2007-2008 2008-2009 2009-2010
Football $2,486,400 $2,616,000 $2,659,200 $2,719,140
Basketball $7,782,016 $8,213,573 $9,064,879 $8,507,523
Difference ($5,295,616) ($5,597,573) ($6,405,679) ($5,788,383)
Western Athletic 2006-2007 2007-2008 2008-2009 2009-2010
Football $9,008,000 $9,170,000 $3,224,000 $7,798,925
Basketball $3,006,688 $3,247,227 $3,090,300 $3,110,886
Difference $6,001,312 $5,922,773 $133,700 $4,688,039

I think it’s interesting to note that AQ football conferences are bringing in more from March Madness than non-AQ football conferences. Some of that has to do with the smaller size of some of the non-AQ conferences, but it’s still rather sizeable disparity. Nonetheless, I imagine people still find the March Madness system more digestible because it is a playoff system and because payouts are based on number of appearances.

Special thanks to my research assistant Eric Heckman for helping me compile the data.

ACC Basketball Financials Heavily Skewed by UNC and Duke

If you read this site regularly or follow me on Twitter, you know that I am in Ireland from May 17-25th. While I’m away, I’m sharing with you the work of Patrick Rishe, my collegue at SportsMoney on This is the fourth of a series of pieces Patrick did for SportsMoney on college basketball finance. You can find all of my pieces on football finance here.

By: Patrick Rishe

Part I of our coverage of the economics of college basketball compared the revenues of the top 14 rated Division I conferences as listed by the RPI ratings. And Part II provided an overview of the top revenue generating basketball programs in the country.

Part III of our assessment of college basketball financials took an in depth look at the college basketball financials of the Big East Conference. Part IV of our assessment of college basketball financials took an in depth look at the college basketball financials of the Big Ten Conference.  Based on data from the 2009-10 academic year, we saw that (a) the average Big Ten school earned $12.5 M in revenue with Wisconsin topping the list at $17.6 M, (b) men’s basketball revenues grew roughly 214% from 2003 to 2009 largely due to the advent of The Big Ten Network, and (c) the conference generated approximately $138 M in revenues which is 2ndbest among BCS conferences behind the Big East.

Part V of our look at college basketball financials herein focuses on the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC).

Recall from our earlier pieces that the financial data for these programs comes from the U.S. Department of Education and is for the 2009-10 academic year.  For reasons described in the afore-linked pieces, this data is highly robust and credible as schools must report their financials to the U.S. Department of Education.


ACC schools average $11.6 M from men’s basketball, but the median is more than $2 M below the mean at $9.2 M.

This is because Duke and North Carolina greatly skew the mean.  Both ranked among the top 5 revenue-generating programs for the reporting year as they respectively earned 130% and 77% more revenue than the league average.

No other ACC team generated men’s basketball revenues above the league average, and 4 schools (Boston College, Miami, Clemson, and Florida State) earned at least 30% below the mean.

Duke $26,667,056 2.30
North Carolina $20,551,168 1.77
Maryland $10,739,282 0.92
North Carolina State $10,354,157 0.89
Virginia $9,788,223 0.84
Virginia Tech $9,252,293 0.80
Georgia Tech $9,143,914 0.79
Wake Forest $9,064,780 0.78
Boston College $8,026,369 0.69
Miami $7,081,121 0.61
Clemson $7,054,691 0.61
Florida St $5,756,857 0.50
MEAN $11,611,187  
MEDIAN $9,252,293  

Not surprisingly, Duke and North Carolina are also far above their conference peers in terms of profits.

Duke earned $14.3 M in men’s basketball profits for the reporting year, North Carolina earned $13.9 M, and then the next closest school was NC State at $7.2 M.  The league average was roughly $5.3 M.

Duke $26,667,056 $12,286,475 $14,380,581
North Carolina $20,551,168 $6,647,459 $13,903,709
North Carolina State $10,354,157 $3,104,152 $7,250,005
Maryland $10,739,282 $5,160,381 $5,578,901
Georgia Tech $9,143,914 $3,873,987 $5,269,927
Wake Forest $9,064,780 $4,196,104 $4,868,676
Virginia Tech $9,252,293 $4,790,553 $4,461,740
Clemson $7,054,691 $4,217,341 $2,837,350
Miami $7,081,121 $4,651,481 $2,429,640
Virginia $9,788,223 $7,390,325 $2,397,898
Florida St $5,756,857 $5,126,393 $630,464
Boston College $8,026,369 $8,026,369 $0
MEAN $11,123,326 $5,789,252 $5,334,074
MEDIAN $9,198,104 $4,958,473 $4,665,208


Due to both the strength of their basketball program and the relative weakness of their football program, Duke generates nearly 39% of their total revenue from men’s basketball.  This is one of the largest “basketball reliance” statistics among Division I BCS schools.

      MBB Rev as
Team MBB Rev Tot Rev % of Tot Rev
Duke $26,667,056 $68,536,289 38.9%
North Carolina $20,551,168 $67,613,805 30.4%
Wake Forest $9,064,780 $42,253,156 21.5%
Maryland $10,739,282 $51,641,771 20.8%
North Carolina State $10,354,157 $50,335,991 20.6%
Georgia Tech $9,143,914 $46,983,216 19.5%
Virginia Tech $9,252,293 $58,115,929 15.9%
Miami $7,081,121 $56,084,064 12.6%
Boston College $8,026,369 $64,502,395 12.4%
Clemson $7,054,691 $57,562,999 12.3%
Virginia $9,788,223 $81,841,632 12.0%
Florida St $5,756,857 $75,209,179 7.7%
MEAN $11,123,326 $60,056,702 18.7%
MEDIAN $9,198,104 $57,839,464 17.7%

Alternatively, schools with a greater history in football relative to basketball (e.g. Florida St, Virginia, Clemson, Boston College, and Miami) have much smaller “basketball shares”.  Florida State, with the most storied football history, only generated 7.7% of their revenues from men’s basketball.

To this point:

Clemson $7,054,691 $30,994,503 4.39
Miami $7,081,121 $24,631,029 3.48
Virginia Tech $9,252,293 $31,155,870 3.37
Florida St $5,756,857 $18,958,861 3.29
Georgia Tech $9,143,914 $24,870,064 2.72
Boston College $8,026,369 $19,184,902 2.39
North Carolina State $10,354,157 $22,018,738 2.13
Virginia $9,788,223 $19,004,653 1.94
Wake Forest $9,064,780 $10,227,922 1.13
Maryland $10,739,282 $11,540,368 1.07
North Carolina $20,551,168 $22,077,550 1.07
Duke $26,667,056 $16,109,324 0.60
MEAN $11,123,326 $20,897,815 2.45
MEDIAN $9,198,104 $20,601,820 2.39

This shows that (a) the average football revenue for ACC schools was $20.9 M per school for the reporting year, and (b) ACC schools averaged $245 in football revenue for every $100 in men’s basketball revenue.

Other interesting points on this topic:

-        4 ACC schools (Clemson, Miami, Virginia Tech, Florida State) generate at least 3 times as much revenue from football than men’s basketball;

-        Duke actually generated more revenue from men’s basketball than football, perhaps one of the only schools among BCS Division I programs for which this is true.


ACC 2009 2003 Ratio
MBB REV $133,479,911 $98,850,529 1.35
WBB REV $13,783,701 $6,047,077 2.28
ALL REV: MEN+WOMEN SPORTS $420,234,244 $323,565,900 1.30
MBB Rev as % of Total 31.8% 23.5% 1.35
WBB Rev as % of Total 3.3% 1.4% 2.28
Basketball as % of Total 35.0% 32.4% 1.08

Comparing aggregate conference revenue data from 2003 to 2009 and controlling for inflation by measuring both years in constant 2009 dollars, we can surmise that:

- Men’s basketball revenues have grown roughly 35% during that span while women’s basketball revenues have increased by 128%;

- Men’s basketball comprised nearly 32% of the conference’s revenue from men’s and women’s sports in 2009, the largest percentage of any of the 3 conferences analyzed thus far;

- Jointly men’s and women’s basketball comprised 35% of aggregate revenue from men’s and women’s sports in 2009, only up 8% from 2003 but rivaling the Big East for the highest “share”.

That basketball is such a high percentage of total revenues in the ACC speaks to (a) the immense popularity and tradition of college basketball on Tobacco Road and (b) the relatively weaker football revenues generated collectively among ACC schools.

But make no mistake…these financials are wildly skewed by the 2 programs at the top of the table.  Duke and UNC.

Many thanks to Saint Louis University Sports Business students Bryan Beasley, Jacob Fish, Brett Goldman, Jeff Tiedman, Jordan Erk, and Andrew Moses for their contributions to this article.


Follow Patrick on Twitter @ SportsDocRock or visit

Duke, Louisville and UNC are College Basketball’s Financial Heavyweights

Image via Getty Images by @daylife

If you read this site regularly or follow me on Twitter, you know that I am in Ireland from May 17-25th. While I’m away, I’m sharing with you the work of Patrick Rishe, my collegue at SportsMoney on This is the fourth of a series of pieces Patrick did for SportsMoney on college basketball finance. You can find all of my pieces on football finance here.

By: Patrick Rishe

Duke University is the top revenue generating men’s basketball program in the country, generating over 160% more revenue than the national average among other BCS basketball programs.

In Part I of my review of college basketball financials entitled “Revenue Comparisons Among Division I Men’s Basketball Conferences” using financial data for the 2009-2010 academic year, we saw that:

- The Big East Conference was the only conference that generated over $150 M in men’s basketball revenue;

- The Big Ten and ACC were the only other conferences that generated over $133 M in men’s basketball revenue;

- Only 3 conferences (Big Ten, ACC, SEC) generated over $10 M in men’s basketball revenue per school.

In Part II of my analysis of college basketball financials herein, I analyze which BCS-conference schools generate the most revenues from men’s college basketball.

In Pictures: The Top Earning College Basketball Coaches

Similar to my first report, the data reported herein was obtained from the U.S. Department of Education. Federal statute requires schools to report the financials for their athletic departments, and it also helps define itemized expense and revenue categories which builds uniformity in data reporting.  This makes for a robust data source.  The most recent data available is for the 2009 academic year.


There are 6 BCS Conferences (Big East, Big Ten, Big 12, ACC, Pac 10, SEC) with a combined 73 teams.

The average BCS Men’s Basketball program generated $10.1 M in revenue.  The median revenue was significantly lower at $8.8 M, which suggests (as we’ll soon see) that some teams near the top of the distribution were significant outliers and were well above the national average.

The table below ranks all 73 BCS teams in terms of their men’s basketball revenue reported in 2009, and calculates a ‘ratio’ between that team’s revenue relative to the national mean.

Rank Team MBB Rev Index
1 Duke $26,667,056 2.64
2 Louisville $25,890,003 2.57
3 North Carolina $20,551,168 2.04
4 Arizona $19,285,038 1.91
5 Syracuse $18,309,470 1.82
6 Wisconsin $17,666,311 1.75
7 Kentucky $16,781,239 1.66
8 Indiana $16,570,158 1.64
9 Ohio St. $16,190,723 1.61
10 Michigan St. $16,138,167 1.60
11 Kansas $16,116,502 1.60
12 Texas $15,602,348 1.55
13 Arkansas $15,515,830 1.54
14 Illinois $14,413,222 1.43
15 Marquette $13,877,475 1.38
16 Minnesota $13,733,316 1.36
17 West Virginia $13,306,654 1.32
18 Tennessee $13,301,579 1.32
19 Pittsburgh $13,117,849 1.30
20 UCLA $12,353,487 1.23
21 Oklahoma State $12,085,306 1.20
22 Washington $11,481,376 1.14
23 Alabama $10,766,327 1.07
24 Maryland $10,739,282 1.06
25 NC State $10,354,157 1.03
26 Florida $10,184,136 1.01
27 Georgetown $10,074,618 1.00
28 Northwestern $10,048,801 1.00
29 Virginia $9,788,223 0.97
30 Auburn $9,588,191 0.95
31 Missouri $9,540,265 0.95
32 Virginia Tech $9,252,293 0.92
33 South Carolina $9,190,794 0.91
34 Vanderbilt $9,182,578 0.91
35 Georgia Tech $9,143,914 0.91
36 Wake Forest $9,064,780 0.90
37 Texas A & M $8,853,325 0.88
38 Iowa $8,796,540 0.87
39 Oklahoma $8,626,247 0.86
40 Arizona St. $8,591,421 0.85
41 Penn St. $8,384,315 0.83
42 Georgia $8,331,515 0.83
43 Michigan $8,321,413 0.83
44 Mississippi State $8,205,804 0.81
45 Boston College $8,026,369 0.80
46 Purdue $7,791,967 0.77
47 Connecticut $7,745,145 0.77
48 Villanova $7,652,470 0.76
49 Kansas State $7,259,800 0.72
50 Iowa State $7,182,665 0.71
51 University of Miami $7,081,121 0.70
52 Clemson $7,054,691 0.70
53 California $6,967,208 0.69
54 Ole Miss $6,821,532 0.68
55 LSU $6,767,009 0.67
56 St. John’s $6,741,298 0.67
57 DePaul $6,528,661 0.65
58 Providence $6,460,838 0.64
59 Seton Hall $6,215,923 0.62
60 Stanford $6,191,021 0.61
61 Nebraska $6,022,208 0.60
62 Florida State $5,756,857 0.57
63 Baylor $5,737,350 0.57
64 Texas Tech $5,092,921 0.51
65 Oregon St. $4,938,930 0.49
66 Cincinnati $4,927,771 0.49
67 Rutgers $4,634,026 0.46
68 South Florida $4,588,627 0.46
69 Notre Dame $4,051,468 0.40
70 Colorado $3,587,371 0.36
71 Washington St. $3,544,745 0.35
72 USC $3,535,629 0.35
73 Oregon $3,240,150 0.32
  MEAN $10,083,959  
  MEDIAN $8,853,325  

Significant points to note:

- The Top 3 schools financially in men’s basketball (Duke, Louisville, North Carolina) are the only schools that (A) generated over $20 M and (B) earned at least 100% more men’s basketball revenue relative to the national average.

Duke and Louisville truly stand out, generating 164% and 157% more than the national average, respectively.

- 13 schools generated at least 50% more revenue from men’s basketball than the national average.

The Big Ten leads the way with 4 of those teams (Wisconsin, Indiana, Ohio St, Michigan), then 2 each from the ACC, Big East, SEC, and Big 12, and only 1 Pac 10 school (Arizona).

- Conversely, there are 9 schools that generated at least 50% less revenue from men’s basketball than the national average.  Not only are 4 of those 9 schools from the Pac 10 (Oregon, USC, Washington St, Oregon St), but another of these 9 schools (Colorado) will be joining the Pac 12 next season.

Indeed, we see why Larry Scott, new Commissioner of the Pac 12 Conference, was hired to infuse new life, vitality, and aggressive revenue-seeking behavior into this entity.


Likely linked to the creation of The Big Ten Network which launched in August 2007, the Big Ten has shown the most growth in men’s basketball revenues since 2003.

The table below compares men’s basketball revenue for the entire conference in 2009 to 2003.  It corrects for inflation by using CPI data from 2009 and 2003 to calculate the 2003 revenues in “2009 dollars”.  Lastly, a “growth ratio” is calculated to see the growth in “real revenues” from 2003 to 2009.

Conference 2009 2003 2003 (in 2009 $) Growth Ratio
Big Ten $138,054,933 $37,708,837 $43,976,630 3.14
$98,323,694 1.57
Big East $154,122,296 $88,058,061 $102,147,351 1.51
SEC $124,636,534 $73,261,482 $84,983,319 1.47
Big 12 $105,706,308 $67,572,143 $78,383,686 1.35
Pac 10 $80,129,005 $54,537,074 $63,263,006 1.27

4 of the 6 BCS conferences have seen real growth rates in men’s basketball revenue between 35-57%.

However, the Big Ten has seen the greatest growth by far.  Their conference revenues from men’s basketball are 214% greater than in 2003 after adjusting for inflation.

Data like this makes it clear why conferences want their own sports networks.

If any of the conferences could use a cable network to promote its own sports league, its the Pac 10.  At 27% growth, their men’s basketball revenues have grown the least over that 6 year span.

Please be sure to check back in later this week as our look into the Economics of College Basketball continues, including a more detailed look at individual conferences.

Many thanks to Saint Louis University Sports Business students Bryan Beasley, Jacob Fish, Brett Goldman, Jeff Tiedman, Jordan Erk, and Andrew Moses for their contributions to this article.


Follow Patrick on Twitter @ SportsDocRock or visit

School-Specific Broadcasting Revenue

Yesterday I showed you how each conference’s television contracts compare in terms of first and second tier rights fees. I didn’t cover third tier rights because they’re so hard to track down. Some third tier rights are bundled by the conference as a whole and sold to regional networks while others are retained by each individual school and sold to a local or regional network.

What I can show you is what each school is showing as revenue for broadcasting rights (television, radio and internet) through their responses to open records requests. This is separate from the money they receive from conference distributions, so it shouldn’t include any broadcasting money received from conference-wide media rights contracts.

The chart below is every school for which I have a value and represents the 2009-2010 school year. Those not listed either showed $0 or did not have to respond to open records requests (either because they’re private or protected by state laws).

1 University of North Carolina $11,171,458.00
2 University of Alabama $8,444,674.00
3 University of Kentucky $7,743,327.00
4 University of Florida $7,450,000.00
5 University of Kansas $7,276,988.00
6 Louisiana State University $7,012,730.00
7 Oklahoma State University $6,395,000.00
8 University of Tennessee $6,293,621.00
9 Oregon State University $6,267,671.00
10 University of Georgia $6,231,392.00
11 University of Wisconsin $5,547,740.00
Auburn University
13 University of Nebraska $4,393,529.00
14 University of Missouri $4,081,549.00
15 Virginia Tech $3,769,583.00
16 Kansas State University $3,263,941.00
17 Iowa State University $2,608,896.00
18 North Carolina State University $2,470,750.00
19 Penn State University $2,362,500.00
20 Ohio State University $2,329,462.00
21 University of South Carolina $1,829,000.00
22 University of Connecticut $1,749,796.00
23 University of Louisville $1,675,000.00
24 University of Mississippi $1,658,650.00
25 University of Iowa $1,500,000.00
26 Georgia Tech $1,254,876.00
27 University of Washington $1,248,599.00
University of Illinois
29 University of Cincinnati $1,000,000.00
30 University of Arkansas $950,000.00
31 Clemson University $920,000.00
32 Michigan State University $660,025.00
33 University of South Florida $588,298.00
34 Washington State University $562,098.00
35 West Virginia University $404,284.00
36 Florida State University $349,869.00
37 University of Texas $338,171.00
38 University of Minnesota $324,000.00
39 University of Oklahoma $317,361.00
40 University of Colorado $155,528.00
41 University of Oregon $108,452.00

Because I know fans enjoy arguing about which conference is better, here are the averages for each conference (keep in mind, however, each conference has one or more schools whose numbers aren’t available):

SEC: $4,750,091

ACC: $2,848,077

Big 12: $2,620,997

Big Ten: $1,389,879

Pac-10: $1,169,546

Big East: $902,896

Don’t give these averages too much weight in terms of comparing conferences. Tough to really compare the conferences, because the third-tier rights left for each school to sell individually varies greatly by conference based on what third-tier rights have been packaged by the conference as a whole.

If you’re interested in seeing a conference-by-conference breakdown, follow the jump…

Read the rest of this entry

Televison Contract Breakdown

UPDATED INFO AVAILABLE: Kristi has posted an updated breakdown of the television contracts on (5/10/12).

My search for details on all of the current television deals for each conference in one place failed. Which must mean needs to compile all the details in one easy-to-find place, right?

To understand the chart, you first need to understand the types of rights available. Here is a very general explanation. First-tier rights are for football and/or basketball games broadcast nationally. Second-tier rights are for football and/or basketball games not selected by the first-tier rights holder. Third-tier rights are any games not selected by the first or second-tier rights holders and rights for all sports other than football and basketball. These rights are often sold on a per-school basis (not negotiated by the conference as a whole) and often go to regional networks (like Comcast Sports Southeast, Raycom, or SportsNet New York) or can be reserved for networks like the Big Ten Network and the Texas Longhorn Network.

All that being said, deals are now being done for multiple tiers. For example, the Pac-12′s new deal with ESPN and Fox covers first and second tier rights. Meanwhile, the ACC’s new deal that begins this fall covers football,  men’s and women’s basketball, Olympic sports and all conference championship games. Basically, it’s an all-inclusive package with a sublicensing arrangement in place with Raycom for games not broadcast by ESPN.

First-Tier Rights Term of First-Tier Rights Second-Tier Rights Term of Second-Tier Rights Total Per Year Average
Big 12  $480,000,000 (ESPN) 8 Years $1,170,000,000 (Fox) 13 Years $150,000,000
08/09-15/16 12/13-24/25
Pac-12 $3,000,000,000 (ESPN and Fox) for first and second-tier; 12 years (12/13-23/24) $250,000,000
ACC $1,860,000,000 (ESPN) for all-inclusive; 12 years (11/12-22/23) $155,000,000
SEC $825,000,000 (CBS) 15 Years $2,250,000,000 (ESPN) 15 Years $205,000,000
09/10-23/24 9/10-23/24
Big Ten $1,000,000,000 (ESPN) 10 Years $2,800,000,000 (BTN) 25 Years $212,000,000
06/07-15/16 07/08-31/32
Big East $200,000,000 (ESPN) 6 Years $54,000,000 (CBS) 6 Years $42,333,333
06/07-11/12 7/8-12/13

Some caveats are in order now that you’ve seen the chart. Keep in mind that the per year number is an average. It is not necessarily what each school gets each year. A number of these contracts have escalator clauses, including the new Pac-10/12 contract. In the early years of that contract, it will be $180 million per year (or $15 million per school) and in the later years it escalates, according to Larry Scott via conference call on Wednesday following the contract’s announcement.

Though it doesn’t fit in the chart, you can’t forget the money Texas is receiving for The Longhorn Network. They’ve been guaranteed $300 million over the next 20 years from ESPN. Similarly, the amount listed above for Big Ten Network revenue is a projected amount which could grow if the network exceeds expectations.

Deals for third-tier rights are too cumbersome to cover here. Some third-tier rights are bundled by conferences and sold to regional networks while others are retained by schools and sold individually to local or regional networks. More on that in a future post.

The next contract we expect to hear about is out of the Big East. Rumors of a new deal have been circulating lately and reports have it that they were close to a deal with ESPN but considering shopping on the open market. Numbers floating around for a deal with ESPN were in the $110-130 million range per year, which would more than triple their current contract. With the SEC, ACC and Pac-12 now all on the ESPN family of stations, can the Big East get a deal with enough exposure from them?

And what will happen with the Big 12′s first-tier rights? I’ve heard a lot of comparisons between their recent deal with Fox and the Pac-10/12′s  new deal announced yesterday with ESPN. I think it’s comparing apples to oranges. It should be no big shock that the Pac-10/12 would receive more money for their first tier rights than the Big 12 received for their second tier rights. Let’s wait and see what kind of dough the Big 12 commands when their first tier rights are up for grabs in the next few years.

UPDATE: I’ve posted school-specific broadcasting revenue from third tier rights sold individually here.

Special thanks to Mark Ennis of Big East Coast Bias for helping me track down the elusive value of CBS’s contract with the Big East!

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.

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

Money Not As Big in Big East Football

After writing about the football finances of the SECBig Ten, ACCPac-10 and Big 12, it’s time to turn to the Big East.  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.

  Football Revenue
West Virginia University $29,467,612.00
University of Pittsburgh $22,513,336.00
Rutgers University $19,494,261.00
Syracuse University $19,152,691.00
University of South Florida $16,562,391.00
University of Louisville $15,537,276.00
UCONN $14,400,371.00
University of Cincinnati $13,325,304.00

Not surprisingly, money isn’t as big in Big East football as the other BCS conferences. In fact, the biggest earner doesn’t even make as much as the average in the SEC, Big Ten or Big 12:

Football Revenue:

SEC ($49.9m)

Big Ten ($40.6m)

Big 12 ($35.4m)

Pac-10 ($24.6m)

ACC ($20.9m)

Big East ($18.8)

Despite the Big East’s overall average being the lowest amongst BCS conferences, there are several schools from other conferences making less than the lowest revenue generator in the Big East: University of Maryland ($11.5m), Wake Forest ($10.2m) and Washington State ($12.8m).

We’ll see the same when we take a look at expenses, as a number of schools from other conferences spend less than the most conservative spender in the Big East. The biggest surprise to me when looking at expenditures on football was how far down the list top-earner West Virginia fell.  Read the rest of this entry

ACC Football No Cash Cow

After writing about the football finances of the SEC and Big Ten, it’s the ACC’s turn.  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.

I don’t think the schools on top of the revenue list in the ACC will surprise anyone:

  Football Revenue
Virginia Tech $31,155,870.00
Clemson Univ. $30,994,503.00
Georgia Tech $24,870,064.00
Univ. of Miami $24,631,029.00
Univ. of North Carolina $22,077,550.00
North Carolina State $22,018,738.00
Boston College $19,184,902.00
Univ. of Virginia $19,004,653.00
Florida State Univ. $18,958,861.00
Duke Univ. $16,109,324.00
Univ. of Maryland $11,540,368.00
Wake Forest University $10,227,922.00

I also don’t think you’ll be surprised to hear that the average revenue in the ACC ($21m) is less than half that of the SEC ($50m) and only slightly better than half that of the Big Ten ($41m).  Read the rest of this entry