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SEC schools averaged $130M in revenue, and more from the updated money rankings

College athletic departments bring in a wide range of revenue.

LSU v Texas A&M Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images

USA Today’s annual list of public Division I program finances is out.

Texas A&M ranks No. 1 for the second year in a row, after a slew of donations toward Kyle Field renovations pushed the Aggies ahead of the total non-rival Longhorns last year. A year earlier, Nike’s Phil Knight almost single-handedly put Oregon at No. 1 over Texas.

The rest of the top schools are exactly whom you’d expect: big schools with generational fan bases; schools that are often good at football and another sport or two.

Let’s look at the conference level and then throw conferences together into groups as well:

NCAA Division I conferences, ranked by average public school 2015-2016 revenue

Rank Conference Average revenue Leader (overall)
Rank Conference Average revenue Leader (overall)
1 SEC $132,926,762 Texas A&M (1)
2 Big Ten $116,142,464 Ohio State (3)
- P5 conference $108,482,437 Texas A&M (1)
3 Big 12 $108,389,342 Texas (2)
4 ACC $98,188,650 FSU (18)
5 Pac-12 $86,764,968 Oregon (23)
- FBS conference $72,719,150 Texas A&M (1)
6 AAC $55,848,775 UConn (46)
- DI conference $42,470,494 Texas A&M (1)
7 MWC $40,825,795 San Diego State (56)
- G5 conference $36,955,863 UConn (46)
8 A-10 $32,363,603 UMass (70)
9 C-USA $31,594,925 Old Dominion (64)
10 MAC $30,353,849 WMU (72)
11 CAA $28,386,913 JMU (59)
12 Sun Belt $26,155,973 Arkansas State (68)
13 Big West $23,541,264 Hawaii (67)
14 MVC $22,804,854 Wichita State (101)
15 AEC $21,666,990 Stony Brook (90)
16 Big Sky $17,596,467 Sacramento State (110)
- Non-FBS conference $17,538,797 JMU (59)
17 Summit $16,100,568 North Dakota State (121)
18 SoCon $15,672,701 East Tennessee State (142)
19 A-SUN $15,232,208 Kennesaw State (123)
20 WAC $14,960,400 New Mexico State (114)
21 Big South $13,978,320 Coastal Carolina (112)
22 OVC $13,553,498 Eastern Kentucky (146)
23 Southland $13,415,616 Sam Houston State (129)
24 Horizon $13,373,953 Illinois-Chicago (143)
25 MEAC $9,545,606 Delaware State (173)
26 SWAC $8,587,791 Alabama State (163)
P5/FBS/DI/G5/Non-FBS averages based on overall conference averages, not individual school averages USA Today

Based on per-team average revenue, the SEC leads the way. Six SEC teams rank in the top 10, and all 14 are in the top 34. The SEC also has seven of the 13 public schools cited by USA Today as taking in zero subsidy money.

The Big Ten isn’t as far ahead of the Big 12 as you might think. That’s one part the Big 12 including Texas and Oklahoma and one part the Big 12 having four fewer mouths to feed.

The ACC and Pac-12 appear to be at a little bit of a disadvantage among football Power 5 conferences (though since these numbers can only include public schools, they don’t include big-money athletic departments like USC’s and Duke’s; including Vanderbilt would also drag the SEC down a bit.) The ACC should be getting a boost soon with the launch of its own ESPN network.

The American tops all non-power conferences, with the FCS Atlantic 10 and Colonial ranking ahead of some FBS leagues.

A few things to remember:

  • College sports accounting is fuzzy and often rigged to make schools look poorer than they are.
  • This only includes public schools.
  • This counts schools where they were last year, not next year. Coastal Carolina’s moving up to the Sun Belt, for one.
  • Some schools are members of more than one conference. New Mexico State and Kennesaw State, for example, make money off football, unlike the other members of their primary, non-football conferences.