The 2014-15 athletic department financial database was released this month at USA Today. It won't get the average fan's blood pumping by any stretch, but it's an intriguing look at how the college athletic money machine churns. These numbers do not typically include those of private institutions, which are not required to disclose financial information.
Before we look at the individual school numbers, here are the average revenue, expenses, and profit numbers broken down by conference. As one would expect, the SEC is bringing in more revenue and profit than any other conference in the country, and it's not particularly close. The Big Ten comes in at No. 2 in terms of revenue, but is only No. 4 for profit because it has the highest average expenses in the country.
|Conference||Avg. Revenue||Avg. Expenses||Avg. Profit/Loss|
The SEC makes a per-team average of about $14 million more in revenue than its closest peer and $12 million more in average profit after expenses.
And yes, that's the Pac-12 coming in with an average loss of over $1.5 million last year. It's difficult to attribute these numbers to one cause, but they are due in large part to the revenue numbers the Pac-12 Network is generating, coming in well below even the most conservative estimates when the network launched. The Pac-12 Network only has 11 million subscribers entering its fourth year, compared to the 66 million SEC Network (which charges a larger fee) had in its first year of operation.
Here is the full breakdown of every power conference school, excluding private institutions. Let's look at some of the more interesting points, starting with the top 10 schools on the list.
|Ohio State||Big Ten||$167,166,065||$154,033,208||$13,132,857|
|Penn State||Big Ten||$125,720,619||$122,271,407||$3,449,212|
The first thing you'll notice here is the distance between Texas A&M's revenue and profits and everyone else's. This is likely due to an influx of donations related to the renovation of Kyle Field and will subside in the same way Oregon's did after getting a massive donation from Phil Knight last year. Those donations pushed the Aggies above rivals Texas, something that surely enrages some Longhorn fans to the point of proclaiming how little they care and that they actually find it funny.
As for the rest of the SEC, the league did just fine. The conference ended up with four of the top seven, five of the top 10, and 10 of the top 17 teams on this list, with the only outliers falling outside that range being Missouri, Ole Miss and Mississippi State.
The Big Ten programs pull in a good amount of money, and those numbers are set to increase when they begin playing under their new media rights deals. The conference is reportedly nearing a sale of half its TV package to Fox and bringing in $250 million a year, and that's just for half the Big Ten's rights. More is coming.
If you move to the bottom of the list, you see why the Pac-12's revenue numbers are in the state they're in. The bottom four Power 5 schools are all Pac-12 teams. Of the eight programs that lost money in 2015, four of them are in the Pac-12.
|Kansas State||Big 12||$75,323,278||$67,316,209||$8,007,069|
|Iowa State||Big 12||$75,283,516||$75,209,309||$74,207|
Over in the Big 12, Texas and Oklahoma are predictably high in the national revenue rankings, at Nos. 2 and 8, respectively. But there's a significant gap before you find the next-highest Big 12 team, which is Oklahoma State at No. 26. Kansas is next at No. 28, which, hey, Kansas!