College sports money: Top 10 earners, spenders, and more


As it does every year, USA Today combed through a horde of college finances to produce data on which schools make, spend, and receive the most money.

USA Today combed through a horde of NCAA financial data to give us a comprehensive breakdown of university athletics finances, revealing Texas and Ohio State as the two most lucrative programs of 2012 - as well as the two programs that spend the most money on sports.

The data includes 228 public institutions, going through their revenue and expenses, and was linked to a report by Steve Berkowitz, Jodi Upton, and Erik Brady about how few athletic departments actually generate enough money to support their programs. Only 23 departments in the survey were self-sufficient, all of which came from BCS conferences, as did all 13 schools whose athletics generate more than $100 million.

Here's a look at some of the tops in various categories, per the USA Today data:

Total revenue

  1. Texas, $163,295,115
  2. Ohio State $142,043,057
  3. Michigan, $140,131,187
  4. Alabama, $124,899,945
  5. Florida $120,772,106
  6. Texas A&M, $119,702,222
  7. LSU, $114,787,786
  8. Penn State, $108,252,281
  9. Oklahoma, $106,456,616
  10. Auburn, $105,951,251

Also over $100 million are Wisconsin, Tennessee, and Florida State. Texas and Oklahoma are the only schools in the top 15 that aren't in either the SEC or Big Ten.

Highest expenses

  1. Texas, $138,269
  2. Ohio State, $124,419,412
  3. Michigan, $115,200,187
  4. Alabama, $108,204,867
  5. Penn State, $107,389,258
  6. Florida, $105,102,198
  7. Iowa, $104,275,206
  8. Wisconsin, $102,275,206
  9. LSU, $101,989,116
  10. Tennessee, $101,292,015

You'll notice a lot of the same names here, including the top four in order. Iowa, Wisconsin, and Tennessee enter the top 10 here, while Auburn, Oklahoma, and Texas A&M leave. No other schools spend more than $100 million..

Most subsidized schools (FBS)

  1. UNLV, $32,596,860
  2. Rutgers, $27,996,056
  3. Air Force, $27,503,590
  4. UMass, $24,375,673
  5. Eastern Michigan, $24,298,925
  6. Central Florida, $22,412,407
  7. Houston, $21,343,858
  8. FIU, $21,011,935
  9. Ohio, $20,671,381
  10. Buffalo, $20,119,546

This is sort of the gist of the story - a lot of athletic departments get a lot of money from their respective universities, states, or from student fees. As in, over $20 million worth. Not surprisingly, they're generally not schools that make a lot of money from TV revenue.

Unsubsidized athletic departments

  • Texas
  • Ohio State
  • LSU
  • Penn State
  • Oklahoma
  • Nebraska
  • Purdue

With the exception of Purdue and Nebraska, they're all members of the $100 million/top-10 earners club.

I highly recommend combing through the USA Today data, which compiles a lot of interesting stuff about how schools got and spent money. For example, we learn who gets a lot of money from rights distribution, who from donations, and who from ticket sales -- and the story itself is worth a read.

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