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Who is Atop the Big East in Basketball Revenue?

 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.

In Part III of our assessment of college basketball financials herein, we disaggregate a bit further and take a look at teams within the Big East Conference.

Indeed, the Big East is a financial beast.  Its 16-team conference generated the most conference revenue from men’s basketball among any conference in the country, topping $154 M in revenue for the 2009-10 season.

And due to its size and proficiency in getting a high percentage of teams into ”The Big Dance”, the conference makes quite a bit of money from March Madness.  According to NCAA financial data, over the last 6 years the Big East has earned $98.6 M in March Madness money based on their conference’s collective postseason performance.  This amounts to $15.1 M per year, best among all other Division I basketball conferences.

So with that as a framework, let’s further review the financials of individual schools within the Big East.  And 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. D.o.E.


Big East schools average $9.6 M from men’s basketball with a median of $7.2 M.

Louisville and Syracuse earned the most revenue from men’s basketball among Big East schools by far.  Louisville generated 169% more revenue than the league average while Syracuse earned 90% more than the average.

It helps when your schools rank 3rd (Louisville) and 2nd (Syracuse) nationally with respect to attendance, as these schools did during the 2009-2010 season.

4 schools made less than $5 M.  Cincinnati, Rutgers, and South Florida each generated revenues between $4.5-4.9 M.  And Notre Dame generated the least amount of revenue, just above $4 M.

Louisville $25,890,003 2.69
Syracuse $18,309,470 1.90
Marquette $13,877,475 1.44
West Virginia $13,306,654 1.38
Pittsburgh $13,117,849 1.36
Georgetown $10,074,618 1.05
Connecticut $7,745,145 0.80
Villanova $7,652,470 0.79
St. John’s $6,741,298 0.70
DePaul $6,528,661 0.68
Providence $6,460,838 0.67
Seton Hall $6,215,923 0.65
Cincinnati $4,927,771 0.51
Rutgers $4,634,026 0.48
South Florida $4,588,627 0.48
Notre Dame $4,051,468 0.42
MEAN $9,632,644 ***
MEDIAN $7,196,884 ***

When you factor in men’s basketball expenses, Louisville and Syracuse are the only 2 schools that earned profits in excess of $10 M, and only 3 other schools (Pittsburgh, West Virginia, Marquette) earned profits above $5 M.

The average men’s basketball profits reported was $3.5 M, the median profits was $1.45 M, and the only school reporting losses (albeit minimal losses) was Notre Dame.

Louisville $25,890,003 $9,089,769 $16,800,234
Syracuse $18,309,470 $8,086,376 $10,223,094
Pittsburgh $13,117,849 $6,046,724 $7,071,125
West Virginia $13,306,654 $6,377,761 $6,928,893
Marquette $13,877,475 $8,185,030 $5,692,445
Georgetown $10,074,618 $7,393,234 $2,681,384
Providence $6,460,838 $4,696,862 $1,763,976
Villanova $7,652,470 $6,117,021 $1,535,449
South Florida $4,588,627 $3,215,424 $1,373,203
Cincinnati $4,927,771 $3,754,077 $1,173,694
Connecticut $7,745,145 $6,940,903 $804,242
Rutgers $4,634,026 $4,495,147 $138,879
DePaul $6,528,661 $6,528,661 $-
Seton Hall $6,215,923 $6,215,923 $-
St. John’s $6,741,298 $6,741,298 $-
Notre Dame $4,051,468 $4,060,565 ($9,097)
Mean $9,632,644 $6,121,548 $3,511,095
Median $7,196,884 $6,296,842 $1,454,326


Next we analyze what percentage of revenue generated from men’s sports is generated by basketball.  Call this a “basketball reliance” metric.

Clearly, this percentage will be higher for schools without football.  Marquette is a perfect example of this, as nearly 63% of their revenue from men’s sports stem from men’s basketball.  Only Georgetown and Louisville rely on men’s basketball more heavily within the Big East.

      MBB REV AS
Marquette $13,877,475 $22,161,737 62.6%
Georgetown $10,074,618 $24,377,817 41.3%
Louisville $25,890,003 $63,487,394 40.8%
Syracuse $18,309,470 $49,342,459 37.1%
Providence $6,460,838 $18,526,819 34.9%
Seton Hall $6,215,923 $19,223,666 32.3%
DePaul $6,528,661 $20,945,004 31.2%
West Virginia $13,306,654 $46,544,814 28.6%
Villanova $7,652,470 $27,688,127 27.6%
Pittsburgh $13,117,849 $49,218,556 26.7%
St. John’s $6,741,298 $32,098,344 21.0%
Cincinnati $4,927,771 $37,101,542 13.3%
Connecticut $7,745,145 $58,482,290 13.2%
South Florida $4,588,627 $39,190,939 11.7%
Rutgers $4,634,026 $55,564,642 8.3%
Notre Dame $4,051,468 $90,887,054 4.5%
MEAN $9,632,644 $40,927,575 27.2%
MEDIAN $7,196,884 $38,146,241 28.1%

In short, the data shows that the typical Big East school counted on revenue from men’s basketball as 27% of revenue from all men’s sports.

Only 4.5% of Notre Dame’s revenue from men’s sports come from basketball, lowest in the conference.  This isn’t surprising, given that Notre Dame generates so much revenue from football which they don’t have to share.

So it’s not a surprise that when you compare football to basketball revenues among Big East schools that have both sports, Notre Dame has the greatest disparity.

Notre Dame $4,051,468 $64,163,063 15.84
Rutgers $4,634,026 $19,494,261 4.21
South Florida $4,588,627 $16,562,391 3.61
Cincinnati $4,927,771 $13,325,304 2.7
West Virginia $13,306,654 $29,467,612 2.21
Connecticut $7,745,145 $14,400,371 1.86
Pittsburgh $13,117,849 $22,513,336 1.72
Syracuse $18,309,470 $19,152,691 1.05
Villanova $7,652,470 $5,228,231 0.68
Louisville $25,890,003 $15,537,276 0.6
Georgetown $10,074,618 $1,430,512 0.14
Marquette $13,877,475 N/A N/A
Providence $6,460,838 N/A N/A
DePaul $6,528,661 N/A N/A
Seton Hall $6,215,923 N/A N/A
St. John’s $6,741,298 N/A N/A
MEAN $9,632,644 $20,115,913 3.1
MEDIAN $7,196,884 $16,562,391 1.9

For Big East schools with football, the average football revenue was $20.1 M per school.  Furthermore, Big East schools averaged $310 in football revenue for every $100 in men’s basketball revenue.

For Notre Dame, however, they earn nearly 16 times more revenue from football than men’s basketball.  These sorts of things happen when you have your own network contract with NBC and you don’t have to share your football revenues with conference members as an independent.


Big East Conference-Rev 2009 2003 Adjusted Infl. Ratio
MBB Revenues $154,122,296 $102,147,351 1.51
WBB Revenues $32,204,543 $11,567,706 2.78
Total Rev : Men+Women $513,858,519 $291,220,649 1.76
MBB Rev as % of Total 30.0% 35.1% 0.86
WBB Rev as % of Total 6.3% 4.0% 1.58
Basketball as % of Total 36.3% 39.0% 0.93

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 51% during that span while women’s basketball revenues have  grown 178%;

– men’s and women’s basketball comprised 39% of aggregate revenue from men’s and women’s sports in 2003, but now only comprise 36.3% of revenue.  This is most likely due to disproportionately higher revenues for Big East football.

Note, however, that given the Big East’s relatively weaker football stature among the BCS conferences, you can be assured that this percentage will be even lower for conferences like the SEC and Big Ten.


Lastly, based on data from the NCAA on attendances for the 2009-2010 season:

– The Big East tournament ranked 2nd in average attendance per session in 2010 with 19, 375 fans (only the ACC was higher at over 23,000 fans per session);

– Big East games during the regular season draw an average of just over 11,000 fans, which places the conference 4th behind the Big Ten, SEC, and Big 12 for most regular season fans.

In the end, the Big East is indeed a financial beast among men’s basketball 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


  • Kristi A. Dosh is the founder of and has served as a sports business analyst and contributor for outlets such as Forbes, ESPN, SportsBusiness Journal, Bleacher Report, SB Nation and more. She is also the author of a book on the business of college football, Saturday Millionaires. Kristi is a sought-after consultant and speaker on topics related to the business of college sports and a former practicing attorney. Click to learn more



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