USA Today compiled a heap of data into neat tables to show just what college athletic programs cost their universities money to operate, and my is it fascinating. It is. We're not being sarcastic.
For instance, in 2010, there were eight schools that finished the year by costing their respective institutions a grand total of zero dollars of subsidy. A few are not surprising: Ohio State, LSU, Nebraska, Texas, Texas A&M, and Oklahoma are all big money programs whose revenues obviously offset any possible cost to their institutions. Purdue is also on that list, presumably because they cut the lights out at 9:00 p.m. to save on electrical bills and because they spend no money on anything ever.
The most jarring deficits for any conference, though, have to belong to the Mountain West. If you wonder why the financial argument for the Mountain West's inclusion in the BCS grinds to a sudden halt eight feet from the launch point, examine their subsidies paid into athletic programs from the schools. Only Utah can claim a seven digit net loss on athletics. The rest of the conference all posts 2010 tallies in the eight digit range, with UNLV reporting an astonishing $34 million subsidy to athletics from the school. See! Even locals lose in Vegas.
(The WAC's subsidies are also huge in terms of D-1 programs, but with a football conference spread from Ruston Louisiana to the Hawaiian islands, they would cost someone some serious cash.)