How Much of a Drain are “Other Sports”

Last Updated on May 3, 2011

Last week we looked at the Top 25 recipients of student activity fees. As I researched, I was looking for a correlation between those who rely on student fees and football profit. Then one of you asked me how sports outside of football and men’s basketball impact a school’s athletic department budget. Around here, ask and you shall receive (within reason, of course)!

First, let me say that it is generally true that football, and sometimes men’s basketball, subsidizes a large portion of the expenses for other teams. It doesn’t matter if we’re looking at a team from Conference USA or the SEC. Accordingly, I pulled numbers for several of the top student fee recipients, both in terms of dollars and percentage, an SEC school, a Big Ten school and Cal-Berkeley because of their recent fundraising efforts to save five sports.

In the charts that follow, you will see a breakdown of the revenue and expenses for football, men’s and women’s basketball and the catchall for the rest of the varsity sports, “Other Sports”. I’ve also indicated how men’s teams are represented in the “Other Sports” category (with all track and field-related teams being counted as one sport) and how many total participants.

UCFRevenue ExpenseProfit
Men’s Basketball$2,279,998.00$2,134,978.00$145,020.00
Women’s Basketball$416,214.00$1,370,168.00-$953,954.00
Other Sports – Men’s (6)(238)$805,958.00$1,978,860.00-$1,172,902.00
Other Sports – Women’s (8)(227)$1,698,109.00$4,737,880.00-$3,039,771.00

As you can see, UCF turns a profit when it comes to strictly viewing team revenues and expenses thanks to profits from football and men’s basketball. This is before you add in their $17.5 million in student fees. However, it’s also before you add in costs like coaches salaries ($5.9m), recruiting ($559k), gameday operating expenses ($3.6m) and student aid ($5.7m). With those expenses included, it takes student fees, alumni contributions and other revenue from sources like licensing and advertising to allow UCF to turn an overall profit in the athletic department.

By contrast, Ohio University does not make enough from football or men’s basketball to cover the losses by other sports:

Ohio UniversityRevenue ExpenseProfit
Men’s Basketball$2,614,831.00$2,327,125.00$287,706.00
Women’s Basketball$1,149,723.00$1,427,734.00-$278,011.00
Other Sports – Men’s (6)(245)$1,884,051.00$1,928,829.00-$44,778.00
Other Sports – Women’s (8)(253)$4,363,211.00$4,732,698.00-$369,487.00

Ohio is already operating at a deficit before you add in coaches salaries ($4.1m), recruiting ($380k), gameday operating expenses ($2.6m) and student aid ($6.3m).

Florida Atlantic is in even worse shape, because they’re not even turning a profit on football:

Florida Atlantic Univ.Revenue ExpenseProfit
Men’s Basketball$379,745.00$1,205,402.00-$825,657.00
Women’s Basketball$121,177.00$922,597.00-$801,420.00
Other Sports – Men’s (8)(303)$340,689.00$1,663,949.00-$1,323,260.00
Other Sports – Women’s (8)(175)$432,511.00$2,603,570.00-$2,171,059.00

Add in coaches salaries ($2.8m), student aid ($4.0m), recruiting ($235k) and gameday expenses ($2.5m) and there’s over $17 million to cover.

Schools in AQ conferences are not immune. University of California – Berkeley has been trying to save five sports since last fall in their effort to cut institutional support under $10 million per year. Here’s a look at their problem:

Univ. of California – BerkeleyRevenue ExpenseProfit
Men’s Basketball$6,967,208.00$5,816,679.00$1,150,529.00
Women’s Basketball$2,183,820.00$2,981,083.00-$797,263.00
Other Sports – Men’s (12)(577)$4,770,156.00$8,459,403.00-$3,689,247.00
Other Sports – Women’s (13)(388)$7,907,079.00$10,592,018.00-$2,684,939.00

As you can see, the profit from football and men’s basketball is not enough to cover the other sports. Once you add in coaches salaries ($11.9m), student aid ($11.1m), recruiting ($1.0m) and gameday operations ($9.5m), you can see why the school might have been forced to look at making cuts. Let me also point out that Cal has 25 total teams, which is 8 more than you’ll see at Florida and equal to that you’ll see at Penn State below. The difference between Cal and Penn, however, is about $44 million in football profit and another $3.1 in men’s basketball profit. Bottom line: Penn State can afford to field 25 teams…perhaps Cal simply cannot.

As I’ve eluded to, things are a little easier in the SEC and Big Ten where football and men’s basketball make enough profit to cover all the other sports. Here’s a look at Florida:

University of FloridaRevenue ExpenseProfit
Men’s Basketball$10,184,136.00$7,908,661.00$2,275,475.00
Women’s Basketball$160,828.00$2,997,648.00-$2,836,820.00
Other Sports – Men’s (7)(303)$1,375,526.00$6,687,001.00-$5,311,475.00
Other Sports – Women’s (10)(248)$2,641,684.00$12,634,533.00-$9,992,849.00

You’ll notice that even at Florida, women’s basketball and men’s and women’s other sports operate at a deficit. Florida football and men’s basketball makes enough to cover not only that deficit, but also coaches salaries ($17.4), student aid ($7.5m) and recruiting ($1.4m) before having to dip into funds like alumni contributions and advertising/licensing/royalties. Although Florida’s athletic department receives income from student fees ($2.5m) and state support ($1.9m), it would turn a profit of over %6.9 million without those funds.

The same is true on an even larger scale at Penn State:, where there are 8 more men’s and women’s teams that at Florida:

Penn State UniversityRevenue ExpenseProfit
Men’s Basketball$8,384,315.00$4,147,124.00$4,237,191.00
Women’s Basketball$827,499.00$3,181,099.00-$2,353,600.00
Other Sports – Men’s (13)(478)$3,820,427.00$8,209,238.00-$4,388,811.00
Other Sports – Women’s (12)(351)$4,867,444.00$9,729,303.00-$4,861,859.00

The $43 million surplus left from football and men’s basketball after covering the other sports also covers coaches salaries ($9.4m), student aid ($11.1m), recruiting ($967k) and gameday expenses ($7.5m). At the end of the day, Penn State shows a $26.4 million profit without the aid of any student fees, direct institutional support or state support.

So, no matter whether you’re Ohio University or Penn State, football and men’s basketball are generally the only profit producing sports. When profits from those two sports aren’t large enough to cover the other sports and other expenses like recruiting and coaches salaries, schools generally have to rely upon student fees and other types of direct institutional support.

My question to you is if you think there is an issue here. Should non-revenue producing sports be cut? Should non-profit producing sports be cut? Let’s pretend there is no Title IX – what would you do with these athletic departments?

You may have also noticed that women’s “Other Sports” bring in more than men’s “Other Sports” at each and every school listed. In fact, it’s the case for all but two schools I looked up out of about twenty-five. The explanation deserves a post of its own, so check back later this week for more on that!

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  • Robert
    July 24, 2012

    Maybe, just maybe I could believe the revenue of Ohio State is 1/10 that of Penn State, maybe (not really). But OSU revenue is HALF that of Central Florida?! How is that possible? Hard to believe OSU revenue is 1/10 of PSU, especially since PSU revenue is in line with Florida. What’s up?

    • Kristi Dosh
      July 24, 2012

      That is Ohio University in the post, not Ohio State University.

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