Which SEC Alumni Have the Deepest Pockets?

Last Updated on April 19, 2011

I’ve shown you which SEC schools are making the most from football, but which athletic departments are making the most from donor contributions?

 SchoolContributions% of Total Revenue
1University of Florida$39,350,660.0034%
2Louisiana State University$38,255,521.0034%
3University of Alabama$33,739,056.0026%
4Auburn University$29,731,122.0032%
5University of Tennessee$27,936,952.0024%
6University of Georgia$27,354,228.0030%
7University of South Carolina$23,987,283.0030%
8University of Kentucky$13,161,669.0017%
9University of Arkansas$13,124,754.0017%
10University of Mississippi$5,375,438.0012%
11Mississippi State University$0.000%

Note that Vanderbilt’s numbers are not available because it is a private institution and not subject to open records requests.

I’m guessing one of the first things you noticed was Mississippi State not showing any contributions for the 2009-2010 school year. I spoke with Steve Corhern, the Assistant AD for Business Operations at Mississippi State University, and asked why they had shown contributions in past years but not in 2009-2010. Turns out it’s good news: the athletic department didn’t need the money! Contributions come into the athletic department at Mississippi State through the booster club, the Bulldog Club. For 2009-2010, he athletic department did not need a distribution from the Bulldog Club because their SEC distribution was larger than in the past due to increased television money and covered their needs. The 2009 season marked the beginning of a new 15-year $2.25 billion contract with ESPN and a new 15-year $825 million deal with CBS.

My only question for Mississippi State fans is whether you really see this is as good news. Are you excited the athletic department didn’t need to dip into booster funds, or do you wish they had in order to spend more on certain areas?

Aside from Mississippi State, the most interesting part of these numbers is the percentage of total athletic department revenue for which they account. As you can see, at nearly half the schools 30% or more of their athletic department revenue comes from donor contributions.

How does winning championships in football and basketball improve donor contributions? Florida received $29,851,297 in donations during the 2005-2006 school year before going on to win two national titles in basketball in 2006 and 2007 and two national championships in football in 2006 and 2008. Although less than their 2009-2010 total shown above, donations accounted for roughly the same percentage of revenue in both sets of data. The impressive part of these numbers is raising nearly $10 million more from 2005-2006 to 2009-2010 in the face of a recession.

How important are these donations to athletic department survival? Take a look at how the contributions might play a part in the total athletic department profit (as reported by each school to the Department of Education):

Univ. of Alabama$43,997,335.00
Univ. of Georgia$11,716,208.00
Univ. of Florida$11,280,031.00
Louisiana State Univ.$7,668,809.00
Univ. of Arkansas$6,270,715.00
Vanderbilt Univ.$4,189,329.00
Univ. of Tennessee$4,058,980.00
Univ. of Kentucky$3,444,386.00
Mississippi State Univ.$1,862,405.00
Auburn Univ.$1,702,657.00
Univ. of South Carolina$1,696,725.00
Univ. of Mississippi$0.00

The three schools who received the most in donor contributions finish in the top four in terms of total athletic department profit.

I think the real question here is this: how much do donor contributions drive the success of a school?

As a side note, the total athletic department profit reported to the Department of Education is very close to the same as that shown upon review of the documents obtained through public records request.

In the future, I’ll also be taking a look at which schools rely on student fees to supplement their athletic department revenue.

*Numbers were obtained from open records requests and reflect the 2009-2010 school year.

Follow Kristi on Twitter @SportsBizMiss!

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

  • chris
    April 19, 2011

    I wonder to what degree these numbers are skewed by size of school. Florida and LSU are both significantly bigger undergrad populations then most of the rest of the SEC. I’d be very interested to see per capita numbers on giving.

  • Gator Ted
    April 19, 2011

    One would think Auburn University would be higher on this list considering Lord Lowder runs that university like a mob and the fact that QBs to them cost over $180k. Then again, this is donations to the “school” itself, the rest is is donated to football players.