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Self-Sustaining Athletic Departments: More Than What Meets the Eye

Yesterday the list of self-sustaining athletic departments came out. The good news is the number grew to eight more schools than last year. The bad news is the number is 22. That’s just shy of 10% of all public Division I institutions.

Here’s a look at the 22 schools who turned a profit in the athletic department without having to rely on student fees or other forms of support from the university (including government funds):

School
Total revenue
Generated revenue
Allocated revenue
Total expenses
Difference
Oregon
$122,394,483
$119,709,341
$2,685,142
$77,856,232
$41,853,109*
Alabama
$130,542,153
$125,562,153
$4,980,000
$98,961,214
$26,600,939
Penn State
$106,614,724
$106,614,724
$0
$88,041,921
$18,572,803
Michigan
$106,874,031
$106,640,861
$233,170
$89,133,850
$17,507,011
Oklahoma State
$106,362,128
$100,708,922
$5,653,206
$83,748,207
$16,960,715
Iowa
$88,735,093
$88,209,386
$525,707
$74,438,196
$13,771,190
Texas
$143,555,354
$143,555,354
$0
$130,436,534
$13,118,820
Oklahoma
$98,512,287
$98,512,287
$0
$87,678,199
$10,834,088
Georgia
$89,735,934
$86,533,389
$3,202,545
$77,250,831
$9,282,558
LSU
$111,030,795
$111,030,795
$0
$102,326,769
$8,704,026
Kansas State
$53,436,790
$50,201,682
$3,235,108
$42,337,682
$7,864,000
Florida
$117,104,407
$112,693,506
$4,410,901
$105,824,376
$6,869,130
Texas A&M
$82,774,133
$82,774,133
$0
$75,941,926
$6,832,207
Arkansas
$78,072,620
$76,377,647
$1,694,973
$71,801,905
$4,575,742
Purdue
$61,653,561
$61,653,561
$0
$58,365,143
$3,288,418
Michigan State
$83,545,892
$83,545,892
$3,348,785
$78,162,447
$2,034,660
Nebraska
$73,483,733
$73,483,733
$0
$71,738,068
$1,745,665
West Virginia
$62,030,104
$57,774,867
$4,255,237
$56,607,917
$1,166,950
Indiana
$69,287,811
$66,905,296
$2,382,515
$65,796,415
$1,108,881
Virginia Tech
$63,613,464
$56,706,913
$6,906,551
$55,738,633
$968,280
Ohio State
$123,174, 176
$123,174, 176
$0
$122,739,754
$434,422
Washington
$64,034,410
$61,851,895
$2,182,515
$61,640,598
$211,297

The chart is courtesy of USA Today.

You know I like to give you more than what most media spoon-feeds you, so here are some thoughts and questions not covered in the USA Today article:

  • Why are some of these schools still taking in student fees when they’re turning a profit? I’ve detailed for you before which athletic departments take in student fees (SEC, Big Ten and Big 12; ACC, Big East, Pac-10). Offenders here: Georgia, Florida, Oregon, Iowa, Oklahoma State, Kansas State, Virginia Tech, and West Virginia. I’m not including Indiana who shows a negligible $23.00 in student fees.
  • This chart does not tell the whole story. It gives a very skewed view of what is going on at these schools. For example, both LSU and Ohio State write checks back to their universities. I recently showed you how Ohio State gave $1 million to library renovation last year, one of nine such payments over a nine-year period, amongst other funds given back to the university. This money is treated just like any other expenditure when it comes to the chart above. So, while Ohio State may appear to be at the bottom of this list, there are plenty of schools above it who have shown no evidence giving back to their university for anything other than required expenses. Also, props to my alma mater, Florida, for donating over $6 million back to the university last year to help cover cuts in its operating budget passed down from the state.
  • The focus of the USA Today piece and much of the commentary I’ve heard about it today is how many schools are out-spending their means. What I see is a clear case for why Division I football is too inclusive. Florida International will never be able to compete against Alabama in football. Period. There’s no reason for them to be in the same Division. 

What are your initial thoughts on seeing the chart above?

About Kristi Dosh

Kristi A. Dosh is the founder of BusinessofCollegeSports.com 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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49 Comments

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