Postseason Financial Losses Not Limited to Football

Last Updated on July 20, 2011

Florida vs. Alabama (by Flikr user TipsterHog)

Much has been made of the fact that so few football programs make money on their bowl appearances. Between the tickets required to be purchased and the travel expenses, most programs are happy to break even and many lose money.

What if I told you it’s not a phenomenon confined to football?

It turns out football is no different than baseball or gymnastics. I’ve been looking through audited financial statements from a number of schools lately and something caught my eye on the University of Florida’s. Quite a few of Florida’s sports teams made postseason appearances and virtually every one of them cost the athletic department more than was made.

Here’s a breakdown by sport:

SEC Championship




Bowl Game




Men’s Basketball   
SEC Tournament




NCAA Tournament




SEC Tournament




NCAA Regionals




NCAA Super Regionals




NCAA Championships




SEC Championship (Men’s)




SEC Championship (Women’s)




NCAA Championship (men’s and women’s)




Men’s Golf   
SEC Championship




NCAA Championship




Men’s and Women’s Swimming  
SEC Championship




NCAA Championship




Men’s and Women’s Track   
SEC Championship




NCAA Championship




Women’s Golf   
SEC Championship




NCAA Championship




Women’s Basketball   
SEC Tournament








Women’s Soccer   
SEC Championship




NCAA Championship




Women’s Volleyball   
NCAA 1st/2nd Rounds




NCAA Regional




SEC Championship




NCAA Regionals




NCAA Super Regionals




NCAA Championships




Women’s Gymnastics   
SEC Tournament




NCAA Regionals




NCAA Championship




ALC Championship




Similarly, Ohio State’s budget shows losses of $462,000 from participation in championship events and athletic tournaments, not including revenue from its bowl distribution from the Big Ten and NCAA distribution from the men’s basketball tournament.

The only time schools receive revenue from NCAA postseason competition is when they are the host school, with the exception of basketball. Florida was lucky to have held a number of events in Gainesville during the 2009-2010 school year, but you’ll see even then they generally lost money. Any profit made at these NCAA tournaments I’m told is little if any and goes to the NCAA. As someone who religiously watches the College World Series every year, I’m surprised to learn that teams don’t earn money for their appearances.

I don’t share this information to defend the bowl system, but to explain that it’s common for athletic departments to lose money when one of its teams participates in postseason competition. I understand bowls generally make more money than these other NCAA tournaments and competitions, so I’m not directly comparing the situations. I’m only trying to share with you the fact that athletic departments lose money on just about every postseason endeavor. It’s not something I’ve seen widely discussed, and I always strive to bring you as much information about the business of college sports as possible.

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  • Ben
    July 20, 2011

    I believe the NCAA reimburses schools for travel, room, and per diem expenses for the participants. I think part of the problem is that schools bring more administrators and fans than necessary (donors, coaches spouses, etc.) and pay for it. I know Ohio State tried to cut bowl expenses to try and get a bigger chunk of the revenue back home than if they went for a few extra days, etc.