Highest Net Income Amongst Athletics Departments

Last Updated on March 25, 2012

To conclude this week’s series, BusinessofCollegeSports.com will list in order the athletics departments earning the highest net income  in 2010-11.

Issue has been raised by some over the classification of revenue minus expenses in this series as “profit,” since athletics departments are nonprofit organizations.  It should be noted, that in the disclosures to the Department of Education, the athletics departments do not report either profit or net income.  Rather, they report their revenues and expenses.  For this series, profit/net income was calculated by subtracting the total expenses reported from the total revenues reported.

As noted above, the data was obtained from the Department of Education and is for 2010-11.  The data from the Department of Education is by no means perfect.  Throughout this series, net income was calculated by subtracting the “grand total expenses” from the “grand total revenues” that the athletic department reported to the Department of Education.  Expenses in this instance included:  head and assistant coach salaries, athletically related student aid, recruiting expenses, operating (game-day expenses) and “not allocated” expenses.  The expenses faced by athletic departments, however, may be greater than those reported in this snapshot provided by the Department of Education.  For example, an athletic department may have capital expenses outside of those expenses included in the report.  This all being said, this data is the only data publicly available for both public and private institutions.  Thus, it at least provides some insight into athletic department revenues, expenses, and net income before taking into consideration additional expenses, like capital projects.

In 2010-11, 48 athletics departments in BCS AQ conferences generated a positive net income.

SchoolAthletic Department Net Income
Conference
Alabama$31,684,872.00SEC
Penn State$31,619,687.00Big Ten
Michigan$26,649,499.00Big Ten
Texas$24,317,815.00Big 12
Kansas State$23,395,408.00Big 12
Notre Dame$19,147,710.00Big East
Ohio State$18,630,964.00Big Ten
Oregon$16,433,642.00Pac-12
Oklahoma State$14,365,376.00Big 12
Michigan State$13,512,269.00Big Ten
Arkansas$11,285,623.00SEC
LSU$10,401,982.00SEC
Florida$10,056,601.00SEC
Georgia$9,575,569.00SEC
Oregon State$954,682.00Pac-12
Oklahoma$8,064,477.00Big 12
Purdue$6,773,110.00Big Ten
Mississippi State$6,306,583.00SEC
Virginia$6,038,664.00ACC
Vanderbilt$5,767,543.00SEC
Iowa$5,296,068.00Big Ten
Indiana$5,293,816.00Big Ten
Nebraska$5,170,608.00Big Ten
Virginia Tech$4,314,760.00ACC
Louisville$3,952,601.00Big East
Auburn$3,484,657.00SEC
Texas A&M$3,224,429.00Big 12
Texas Tech$3,124,246.00Big 12
Kentucky$3,122,674.00SEC
Miami$2,763,826.00ACC
Washington$2,330,501.00Pac-12
Illinois$1,815,596.00Big Ten
Colorado$1,763,633.00Pac-12
Arizona$1,524,374.00Pac-12
Utah$1,147,160.00Pac-12
South Carolina$762,726.00SEC
Syracuse$717,817.00Big East
North Carolina$660,231.00ACC
Wisconsin$655,421.00Big Ten
Duke$567,207.00ACC
Maryland$263,711.00ACC
Clemson$216,318.00ACC
North Carolina State$192,151.00ACC
California$181,167.00Pac-12
Missouri$143,588.00Big 12
Iowa State$121,686.00Big 12
Connecticut$94,522.00Big East
Tennessee$14,447.00SEC

In previous posts from this series, you’ll remember that every Big Ten athletics department ranked in the top-50 for revenues and expenses.  However, neither Minnesota nor Northwestern achieved a net income above zero.

The conference with the highest percentage of members having a positive net income was the SEC.  All but one SEC member (Ole Miss) generated a positive net income in 2010-11.  The SEC was also home to the athletics department with the highest net income of any BCS AQ school, Alabama.  However, the ten schools generating the greatest net income in 2010-11 are from a mix of conferences.  The only conference not represented in the top-10 is the ACC.

Conference# of Athletics Departments% of Conference
ACC850%
Big 12880%
Big East425%
Big Ten1083.33%
Pac-12758.33%
SEC1191.60%

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32 Comments
  • Lang
    March 21, 2012

    You routinely see reports (typically in connection with arguments about whether to pay student-athletes or not) that go something like this: “Only 12-14% of FBS programs even make money.”

    Do your stats effectively call into question such statements? Do you have an estimate of the number of athletic programs percentage-wise that turn a profit?

  • Craig Pintens
    March 22, 2012

    The numbers for the University of Oregon are slightly misleading. We had debt service of just over $16M during this reporting year, resulting in a lot different number than reported.

  • Bo
    March 23, 2012

    Why do you even use the term “profit” as this gives an appearance of bias? Non-profits typically use the term “excess revenues” or “revenue surplus.”

    On another note, it would be very interesting to see how much students pay in athletics fees at these schools.

  • Kendrick
    March 23, 2012

    Guys, first off what you all need to realize is that this is a BLOG. It is their personal beliefs with no evidence to back it up. Just use your logic when looking at this report. Kansas State at #5? Please explain how in the world they even turn a profit, much less a $23 m profit? They have Vanderbilt at the 20th most profitable athletic department. Vanderbilt does not even have an athletic department. After studying this same subject for 5 years, I know that there are only 9 schools that actually have a profitable athletic department. Ohio State (has been #1 every year for a very long time), Texas, Florida, Alabama, Michigan, Oregon, Penn State, Stanford, and Notre Dame.

    • David Goodall
      March 24, 2012

      You forgot Wisconsin. They sell out every football game and have sold out every basketball game for 15 years. They have led in College Hockey attendance forever…

    • Derrick James
      March 26, 2012

      Your comment makes me think you havent done much research.

      the SEC leads the country in attendance in football and basball, and per size of Arena, it leads in mens and womens basketball (NCAA website). And the word athletic department is only a command structure. Your individual teams still have budgets instead of one AD giving them a budget.

  • Devin Gould
    March 23, 2012

    Way to go Kansas State… Should have a party in Manhattan “The Little Apple”/Aggieville with some of these proceeds!!

  • Kevin O'Neill
    March 28, 2012

    Revenue data used for this analysis is not reliable.

    The government collects expense data for measuring Title IX compliance. The forms the schools file have a space for revenue, but it’s the expense data that has to be accurate for compliance, not the revenue data.

    Some schools take providing revenue data more seriously than others. For example, DePaul reported men’s basketball revenue in the amount of $6,467,709 compared to Notre Dame’s $3,977,728. Same conference. Same proportional share of Big East NCAA Tournament money. Same share of Big East TV money. Average home game attendance within 100 of each other… Do you think DePaul’s program had $1.5 million more in product licensing than Notre Dame had?

    Louisville reported basketball revenue as $40,887,938. Do you really believe UL made more than 10 times what ND made from basketball when the lion’s share of revenue comes from a TV contract they have in common?

    Then there’s Seton Hall’s report. SHU reported men’s basketball expenses of $6,812,231 and men’s basketball revenue of $6,812,231. Really? It just worked out as a breakeven year right down to the last dollar? I don’t think so. Syracuse also broke even to the dollar. What are the odds that two programs in the same conference would do that?

    The expense numbers in the EIA data should be pretty accurate. The revenue numbers are fairly worthless.

  • mwaal
    May 14, 2012

    The data from the Department of Education is by no means perfect. It is their personal beliefs with no evidence to back it up. Just use your logic when looking at this report. Vanderbilt does not even have an athletic department. And the word athletic department is only a command structure. Your individual teams still have budgets instead of one AD giving them a budget. Same proportional share of Big East NCAA Tournament money. Syracuse also broke even to the dollar. The revenue numbers are fairly worthless. Notify me of new posts via email.Hope you like my post on بنات today.

  • chat
    September 8, 2012

    personal beliefs with no evidence to back it up. Just use your logic when looking at this report. Vanderbilt does not even have an athletic department. And the word athletic department is only a command structure. Your individual teams still have budgets instead of one AD giving them a budget. Same proportional share of Big East NCAA Tournament money. Syracuse also broke even to the dollar. The revenue numbers are fairly worthless. Notify me of new posts via email.Hope you like my post

  • شات مصر
    September 22, 2012

    im with this post .the SEC leads the country in attendance in football and basball, and per size of Arena, it leads in mens and womens basketball (NCAA website). And the word athletic department is only a command structure. Your individual teams still have budgets instead of one AD giving them a budget. .. thank you

    • منتديات
      November 12, 2012

      im with this post .the SEC leads the country in attendance in football and basball, and per size of Arena, it leads in mens and womens basketball (NCAA website). And the word athletic department is only a command structure. Your individual teams still have budgets instead of one AD giving them a budget. .. thank you

  • kyle
    December 20, 2012

    How about the SEC 91.60% that is great.