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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:

Big East Dollar Amount Percent of Revenue
University of South Florida $13,026,289.00 33.24%
University of Connecticut $8,626,506.00 14.74%
Rutgers University $8,441,092.00 13.15%
West Virginia University $4,102,845.00 6.61%
University of Louisville $1,929,017.00 3.04%
University of Cincinnati $0.00 0.00%
Syracuse University N/A N/A
University of Pittsburgh N/A N/A

Three of the top four recipients of student activity fees are in the Big East: South Florida, UCONN and Rutgers. South Florida posts both the highest dollar amount and the highest percentage of total revenue being supported by student activity fees.

The ACC and Big East have a couple of things in common: they are the two conferences with the least average football revenue amongst AQ conferences and they are the top two conferences for average student activity fee receipts. Does this further provide evidence for the assertion in my post this morning that football success, at least on the revenue side, can supplant the need for student activity fees in the athletic department budget?

Let’s take a look at where each conference finished in terms of average football revenue compared to where they finished for average student activity fees.

Here were the final averages for football revenue in each conference:

SEC ($49.9m)

Big Ten ($40.6m)

Big 12 ($35.4m)

Pac-10 ($24.6m)

ACC ($20.9m)

Big East ($18.8)

And here are the average student activity fees received by schools in each conference:

ACC ($6,128,959)

Big East ($6,020,958)

SEC ($2,584,528)

Pac-10 ($1,305,806)

Big 12 ($894,568)

Big Ten ($348,731)

Do you think there’s a correlation? What do you expect to see when it comes to the non-AQs? (Coming next week.)

I’ll leave you with a list of schools in the AQ conferences who turned a profit in the athletic department without relying on student activity fees (without regard to whether they received other institutional support): Alabama, LSU, Arkansas, Michigan, Purdue, Wisconsin, Ohio State, Michigan State, Penn State, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Texas, Texas A&M, Washington, and Arizona. No school in the ACC or Big East reports not using student activity fees and also turning a profit in the athletic department. Now there’s some food for thought.


  • 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