Category Archives: Basketball

Why Basketball Is Driving Conference Realignment For The Atlantic 10 Conference

Yesterday, the Atlantic 10 Conference announced that Butler University would join the conference on July 1, 2012–one  year earlier than anticipated.  Gaining Butler a year ahead of schedule grants the Atlantic 10 Conference the benefit of competing with 16 member institutions during the 2012-13 school year, before Temple and Charlotte depart the conference.  While this is definitely a perk for the conference, perhaps the biggest benefit the conference gains in Butler’s expedited admission is the chance to become a basketball powerhouse.

Although the Atlantic 10 Conference does not receive the same media recognition as BCS AQ conferences, in recent years, the Atlantic 10 has made its name as a conference which is consistently competitive in basketball.  Thus, it is no surprise that in selecting new institution members during the course of conference realignment, that the Atlantic 10 has aligned itself with some of the best-performing basketball schools in recent years:  Butler and VCU.

Much has been said about the roles that football and television contracts played and continue to play in conference realignment decisions.  However, one cannot turn a blind eye to the power of a strong basketball program when it comes to attracting conferences.  Although basketball does not have the monstrously large viewership numbers that football does, it does have a wide enough following to garner billion dollar contracts for the television rights to March Madness.  On top of the television contract negotiation potential strong basketball programs present, there is also the fact that the greatest portion of the revenue distributed by the NCAA is distributed to conferences based upon their team’s March Madness performance.  Given these factors, it is apparent why the Atlantic Ten Conference has based its stake in conference realignment not upon football prowess, but upon basketball.

As noted above, of the revenue distributed by the NCAA to conferences and member institutions, the greatest percentage goes towards something called the “Basketball Distribution Fund.”  Conferences receive payouts from the fund based upon their member institution’s performance in the Division I Men’s Basketball Championship over a six-year rolling period.  A basketball program earns one unit for each March Madness game they compete in, save for the National Championship game.  For the most recent year in which data is available, 2010-11, the NCAA distributed $479 million to conferences and member institutions through the Basketball Distribution Fund.  This amounted to 40.5 percent of all revenue distributed by the NCAA in 2010-11. 

The follow chart shows the number of Basketball Distribution Fund units that the Atlantic 10 Conference has earned over the last three years.  The chart depicts what the conference earned through its actual members’ performances in a given year, and also notes how many additional units that the conference could have earned if Butler and VCU were conference members in a particular year.

2010 Units Earned 2011 Units Earned 2012 Units Earned
Richmond 1 Richmond 3 St. Bonaventure 1
Temple 1 Temple 2 St. Louis 2
Xavier 1 Xavier 1 Temple 1
Butler 5 + NC Butler 5 + NC Xavier 3
    VCU 5 VCU 2
  2010 Total:  3   2011 Total:  6   2012 Total:  7
  With Butler and VCU:  8 + NC   With Butler and VCU:  16 + NC   With Butler and VCU:  9

When considering the chart above, the presence of Butler and VCU in the Atlantic 10 clearly generates additional revenue for the conference.  In 2010, three Atlantic 10 schools participated in March Madness:  Richmond, Temple and Xavier.  These schools accumulated three units for the conference.  Had Butler been an Atlantic 10 member in 2010, the conference would have nearly tripled its Basketball Distribution Fund units, while also receiving a payout for Butler’s National Championship game appearance.  If Butler and VCU were Atlantic 10 Conference members in 2011, the conference would have earned an additional ten Basketball Distribution Fund units and again, received a payout for Butler’s National Championship game appearance.  Similarly, in 2012, the Atlantic 10 Conference could have received an additional two Basketball Distribution Fund units had VCU been a member of the conference.

While the amount of revenue generated from basketball contracts and the Basketball Distribution Fund is meager compared to the amount of money football generates, not every conference can woo college football powerhouses to their stables through conference realignment.  Thus, what the Atlantic 10 Conference has accomplished through conference realignment is noteworthy.  Although it will lose a historically sound basketball program in 2014 when Temple leaves for the Big East, it has replaced that leaving member with two noteworthy programs.  Additionally, the Atlantic 10 has attracted two members which in recent years, the general public nationally has been interested in watching.  With young, charismatic coaches that also boast successful track records in Brad Stevens and Shaka Smart, Butler and VCU respectively have garnered Cinderella story followings across the country.  One can expect the Atlantic 10 to capitalize upon this should either team have similarly successful March Madness runs in the future.

Overall, while the Atlantic 10’s conference realignment path was not driven by football, it appears that the conference has been successful in laying a new foundation for its future.

Moneyball Meets March Madness

Guest author: Dr. Michael Lorenzen

Dr. Michael Lorenzen is the principal owner of Collegiate Athletics Strategy Advising, a firm that provides advisement services to collegiate athletics administrators. He’s also a frequent guest contributor to

As we approach the most exciting and intense time of year for collegiate basketball, the amount of attention and financial stakes associated with March Madness should give collegiate athletic administrators an opportunity to reflect on the state of their programs.  Universities invest millions of dollars in basketball coaches and the dream of making it into the NCAA Tournament.  With 68 spots and 344 schools it seems as if there are many opportunities for schools to participate in the dance.

The financial challenges of maintaining basketball are not quite as frightening as football, given that teams carry a fifth of the players, have fewer coaches, and proportionately smaller scale needs for things like training facilities, equipment and recruiting.  Chartering airplanes multiple times per week can get pricey, but basketball doesn’t raise the same kind of red flags for administrators that the overwhelming price tag of big time football does.  It also holds out the promise of prominence and profit with Cinderella stories and quick turnarounds that are more difficult to find in football.

Nonetheless, there is real and substantial money involved and the coaching carousel will go into full swing as athletic directors evaluate what’s happening with the one program in their portfolio that has the potential to make money (at least for the 224 schools that don’t have Division I football).  As one athletic director recently asked me to start creating a potential candidate pool, I thought it might make sense to take an analytical swing at evaluating what kind of value various coaches bring to their schools.

Part of the genius of “Moneyball” was the application of well-considered statistics to a field of performance in a way that was very different than the norm practiced by insiders in the baseball world.  Billy Beane and others found ways to optimize their investment in players by considering tangible, quantifiable contributors to value that were nonetheless not the sorts of things that baseball people consider.

With college coaches, the metrics most people point to are win-loss records, post-season appearances, championship wins, and, to a lesser degree, academic performance.  In order to dig a little deeper, I pulled together some easily research-able measures that would indicate objectively the kind of value that coaches contribute.  I included number of wins, Sagarin rating, total compensation (including bonus), attendance, and program profitability (total revenues minus total expenses), all using data from the 2011 season.  I experimented with different weights and could easily be convinced to adjust them, but for the purposes of this analysis I used the following:

Wins               20%

Sagarin          10%

Attendance   15%

Profitability    55%

I made an effort to scale each measure up or down to create comparable ranges (e.g. wins are in the 20 range and salaries are in the millions), so wins were multiplied by 10,000 and Sagarin by 3,300.  That yielded what I’ll call a “performance value”, which was a number in the millions for most programs.

To evaluate the value that each coach brought, I then applied that performance value number to the compensation number, yielding a “performance value per dollar of compensation”.  All of that math ended up yielding numbers that ranged from a high of 4.97 (Jim Boeheim at Syracuse) to a low of .05 (Leonard Hamilton at Florida State) for the 68 teams that were in the 2011 Tournament and have publicly available salary data for their coaches (10 did not).

Granted that a snapshot from a single season is not statistically compelling compared to a trend over several years, but given the short time horizons under which coaches often operate the results still reveal some interesting conclusions.

The first slide, below, looks at some of the iconic coaches in the NCAA–all men who one might predict to deliver outstanding value given their records and salaries.

All had fairly successful seasons from a competitive, profitability, and attendance perspective and their value numbers give an idea of what “good” performance might look like.

Next up we have the top 10 performers, which tells a different story than that of the icons listed above.

The reason that all of these coaches have dramatically higher value ratings than their iconic colleagues is mostly that their salaries are substantially lower (with the exception of Sean Miller at Arizona).  They deliver significant value in terms of wins, attendance, and overall profitability of their programs but they take a much smaller piece of the upside for themselves.  If I’m an athletic administrator, my interpretation is that they are generating a very good return for my investment in them.

Finally, if I am an administrator at a small school with limited resources, I might look for coaches who are delivering good value in return for compensation that fits within my budgetary parameters.  Here is the list of the top 10 value coaches who made less than $250,000 in 2011:

Eddie Biedenbeck had a remarkable year and the administration at UNC-Asheville should be tickled with the overall value that he and his team delivered.  There is a nice grouping of coaches ranked #32 to #42, all of whom would cost a school less than $200,000 per year and still have the potential to deliver value.  It is worth noting that the scale of that value in terms of gross profits or attendance will not be comparable to what a Duke or Syracuse might seek.  However, if you’re representing a school with an overall budget that is a fifth or less of those universities, you might do well to focus on terrific value as a starting place for your coaching search.

College Basketball Revenue and Game Attendance

Previously, listed the top-100 most profitable Division I programs.  While the majority of the most profitable programs were football programs, some were surprised to learn that 41 of the top-100 most profitable programs were basketball programs.

So, what is driving college basketball revenue?

The clearest answer is arena attendance at games.

Each year, the NCAA publishes attendance data for all NCAA men’s basketball teams.  Amongst other things, the data ranks the top-100 programs which had the highest attendance at home games, by the team’s average attendance per game.  Stacking this data up against the most profitable NCAA basketball programs depicts that there is a direct correlation between the revenue (and subsequently, profit) that a team generates and attendance at home games.  Out of all of the basketball programs that ranked within’s top-100 most profitable programs, all but one (Northwestern) also fell within the NCAA’s top-100 average game attendance.

The chart below depicts:  Respective school’s 2010-11 revenue, how their subsequent profit ranked amongst’s top-100 most profitable programs, 2011 home game attendance figures (total and average), and 2011 NCAA ranking for home game attendance.

School 2010-11 Revenue Ranking 2011 Attendance (Total/Average) Ranking
Louisville $40,887,938.00 16 (458,463/21,832) 3
Duke $28,917,329.00 26 (158,338/9,314) 48
Arizona $21,209,980.00 28 (232,561/13,680) 20
North Carolina $19,672,012.00 31 (287,155/19,144) 4
Ohio State $17,020,807.00 32 (302,498/15,125) 13
Syracuse $19,017,231.00 34 (423,924/22,312) 2
Wisconsin $16,353,313.00 42 (275,680/17,230) 7
Indiana $17,804,586.00 43 (274,663/15,259) 12
Illinois $15,408,818.00 45 (253,623/15,851) 10
Minnesota $15,141,713.00 47 (225,105/13,241) 24
Texas $16,437,705.00 53 (246,044/13,669) 21
Michigan State $16,479,208.00 56 (221,955/14,797) 15
Tennessee $13,785,893.00 59 (341,130/18,952) 5
Oklahoma State $12,262,241.00 61 (167,144/10,447) 39
North Carolina State $10,490,494.00 62 (220,457/13,779) 19
Northwestern $11,018,639.00 63 (89,955/5,291) N/A
Pittsburgh $13,574,317.00 64 (195,182/10,843) 36
UNLV $10,123,168.00 65 (225,301/13,241) 23
Kentucky $18,557,243.00 66 (354,046/23,603) 1
Missouri $11,084,210.00 69 (200,022/11,112) 34
Marquette $15,568,569.00 70 (280,545/15,586) 11
Arkansas $14,608,513.00 73 (225,794/11,884) 29
UCLA $11,621,364.00 74 (139,670/7,759) 65
Maryland $10,965,638.00 75 (268,380/14,910) 14
Washington $10,474,040.00 77 (154,392/9,650) 45
Penn State $9,485,900.00 78 (134,221/7,457) 70
Alabama $11,016,184.00 80 (208,668/10,983) 35
Purdue $9,396,189.00 81 (222,659/13,916) 17
Michigan $9,154,689.00 82 (202,157/10,640) 37
Georgia Tech $8,543,269.00 83 (97,253/6,095) 85
Wake Forest $8,261,666.00 87 (174,781/9,199) 49
Georgia $8,718,363.00 88 (131,998/8,250) 60
Texas A&M $9,786,655.00 89 (153,001/9,000) 50
Clemson $7,705,630.00 91 (140,917/8,289) 59
South Carolina $7,849,818.00 92 (177,254/10,427) 41
Virginia Tech $7,858,609.00 94 (142,907/8,932) 52
Mississippi $7,175,223.00 97 (108,120/6,360) 82
Mississippi State $6,914,565.00 98 (97,069/5,710) 94
Utah $6,220,172.00 99 (126,331/8,422) 58
WVU $7,968,819.00 100 (172,934/11,529) 33

That all but one of the basketball programs which fell into’s top-100 most profitable programs fell within the NCAA’s top-100 attendance ranking is not coincidental.  Gate admissions generate serious revenue.  Consider the 2012 ticket prices for three schools which had some of the highest attendance ratings in 2011:

School Ticket Prices Ticket Revenue:  Low Ticket Revenue:  High
Kentucky $35.00 or $40 $12,391,610.00 $14,161,840.00
Louisville $35 $16,046,205.00
Tennessee $10 or $25 $3,411,300.00 $8,528,250.00

The figures above assume several factors:  1.  That 2011 ticket prices were the same as 2012 ticket prices, and that the school maintains all of the ticket revenue.  Additionally, it should be noted that in 2012, Louisville charged a higher price ($40) for tickets in its home game versus Memphis.  It is unclear whether that price was charged in 2011.

That being said, given the numbers above, it is possible that ticket sales amount for between 24.7 percent (Tennessee) to 76.3 percent (Kentucky) of a given basketball program’s 2010-11 revenue.  Thus, there is much to be said about how many fans a team draws into home games and how high of a revenue the team is able to turn in a given year.

How Much Money Do Conferences Earn From March Madness?

There is a mad amount of money to earn from the NCAA through March Madness.

In 2010-11, the NCAA distributed $478 million to conferences and member institutions.  40.5 percent of the revenue distributed by the NCAA was designated to something called the “Basketball Distribution Fund.”    This distribution percentage makes the Basketball Distribution Fund the largest area to which the NCAA directs funds for revenue distribution.

According to the NCAA’s website, “The basketball fund provides for moneys to be distributed to Division I conferences based on their performance in the Division I Men’s Basketball Championship over a six-year rolling period.”  For each March Madness game that a school participates in, except for the Championship game, the school’s respective conference earns a “unit.”  Each unit is worth a designated dollar amount.  According to the NCAA’s website, in 2010-11, each unit earned was worth approximately $239,664.00.  Thus, the further a conference’s teams go into March, the more money that a conference can earn from the NCAA’s revenue distribution system.  The NCAA suggests that conferences divide the payout they receive from the Basketball Distribution Fund equally amongst their member institutions.

As noted above, the Basketball Distribution Fund calls for revenues to be distributed based upon schools’ performances over six-year rolling periods.  However, the tables below demonstrate how accumulating wins during the course of one March Madness run can earn conferences a sizable amount of the revenue distributed by the NCAA.

First, consider how many units were earned by the respective participants of the 2011 Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament:

School 2011 Units Earned Conference
Akron 1 MAC
Arizona 4 Pac-12
Belmont 1 Atlantic Sun
Boston 1 America East
Bucknell 1 Patriot League
Butler 5 Horizon League
Cincinnati 2 Big East
Clemson 1 ACC
Connecticut 5 Big East
Duke 3 ACC
Florida 4 SEC
Florida State 3 ACC
George Mason 2 Colonial
Georgetown 1 Big East
Georgia 1 SEC
Gonzaga 2 WCC
Hampton 1 Mid-Eastern
Illinois 2 Big Ten
Indiana State 1 Missouri Valley
Kansas 4 Big 12
Kansas State 2 Big 12
Kentucky 5 SEC
Long Island 1 Northeast
Louisville 1 Big East
Marquette 3 Big East
Memphis 1 Conference USA
Michigan 2 Big Ten
Michigan State 1 Big Ten
Missouri 1 Big 12
Morehead State 2 Ohio Valley
NC-Asheville 1 Big South
North Carolina 4 ACC
Northern Colorado 1 Big Sky
Notre Dame 2 Big East
Oakland 1 Summit League
Ohio State 3 Big Ten
Old Dominion 1 Colonial
Penn State 1 Big Ten
Pittsburgh 2 Big East
Princeton 1 Ivy League
Purdue 2 Big Ten
Richmond 3 Atlantic 10
San Diego State 3 Mountain West
St. John’s 1 Big East
St. Peter’s 1 MAAC
Syracuse 2 Big East
Temple 2 Atlantic 10
Tennessee 1 SEC
Texas 2 Big 12
Texas A&M 1 Big 12
UCLA 2 Pac-12
UC Santa Barbara 1 Big West
UNLV 1 Mountain West
UT San Antonio 1 Southland
Utah State 1 WAC
Vanderbilt 1 SEC
VCU 5 Colonial
Villanova 1 Big East
Washington 2 Pac-12
West Virginia 2 Big East
Wisconsin 3 Big Ten
Wofford 1 Southern
Xavier 1 Atlantic 10

Next, take a look at how many units respective conferences earned as a result of their member institutions’ performances during the 2011 tournament:

Conference 2011 Units Earned
ACC 11
Atlantic 10 6
Atlantic Sun 1
America East 1
Big 12 10
Big East 22
Big South 1
Big Sky 1
Big Ten 14
Big West 1
Colonial 8
Conference USA 1
Horizon League 5
Ivy League 1
Mid-Eastern 1
Missouri Valley 1
Mountain West 4
Northeast 1
Ohio Valley 2
Pac-12 8
Patriot League 1
SEC 12
Southern 1
Southland 1
Summit League 1

Given the number of units each conference earned in 2011 and the NCAA’s report that in 2010-11, each unit was worth approximately $239,664.00, one can surmise that 1/6 of each conference’s total Basketball Fund Distribution payout was equal to the number of units earned by their teams in 2011 multiplied by the unit payout amount.  A calculation of this is below:

Conference 2011 Earnings
ACC 2,636,304.00
Atlantic 10 1,437,984.00
Atlantic Sun 239,664.00
America East 239,664.00
Big 12 2,396,640.00
Big East 5,272,608.00
Big South 239,664.00
Big Sky 239,664.00
Big Ten 3,355,296.00
Big West 239,664.00
Colonial 1,917,312.00
Conference USA 239,664.00
Horizon League 1,198,320.00
Ivy League 239,664.00
MAAC 239,664.00
MAC 239,664.00
Mid-Eastern 239,664.00
Missouri Valley 239,664.00
Mountain West 958,656.00
Northeast 239,664.00
Ohio Valley 479,328.00
Pac-12 1,917,312.00
Patriot League 239,664.00
SEC 2,875,968.00
Southern 239,664.00
Southland 239,664.00
Summit League 239,664.00
WAC 239,664.00
WCC 1,198,320.00

Finally, the NCAA reported how much was distributed to conferences via the Basketball Distribution Fund in 2010-11:

Conference 2011Basketball Fund Distribution
ACC $18,214,465.00
Atlantic 10 $5,751,936.00
Atlantic Sun $1,437,984.00
America East $1,677,648.00
Big 12 $18,933,457.00
Big East $24,925,057.00
Big South $1,677,648.00
Big Sky $1,677,648.00
Big Ten $18,454,129.00
Big West $1,917,312.00
Colonial $3,355,296.00
Conference USA $6,950,256.00
Horizon League $4,553,616.00
Ivy League $1,917,312.00
MAAC $1,917,312.00
MAC $1,677,648.00
Mid-Eastern $1,437,984.00
Missouri Valley $5,032,944.00
Mountain West $5,032,944.00
Northeast $1,677,648.00
Ohio Valley $1,917,312.00
Pac-12 $16,057,489.00
Patriot League $1,917,312.00
SEC $15,578,161.00
Southern $2,156,976.00
Southland $1,677,648.00
Summit League $1,437,984.00
WAC $2,875,968.00
WCC $4,533,616.00

The big winner in terms of Basketball Distribution Fund distributions is the Big East.  Its known success in basketball has allowed it to accumulate a sizable number of units over the course of the past six years, such that it received the highest payout of all conferences in 2010-11.

While the Big East’s basketball prowess has allowed it to reap the biggest amount of the Basketball Distribution Fund pie, the Horizon League’s payout is an indicator of how the success of one team can boost a conference’s payout.  In 2010-11, only ten conferences (including all six of the BCS AQ conferences) received a higher payout than the Horizon League.  The Horizon League is home to the Butler Bulldogs, who have made it to the championship game the past two years.  As such, over the course of the last two years, Butler alone has earned 10 units for the Horizon League.  Given that most mid-major conferences only earn one unit in a given year, the results that Butler has been able to produce are noteworthy.

So what can one take-away from these numbers?  The big picture here, is that with each round that a team advances into during March Madness, the bigger piece of the NCAA revenue pie it and its conference will share.

51-100 Most Profitable FBS Football and Basketball Programs

Over the past week, we’ve posted financials for every football and men’s basketball program in the FBS, with the exception of the military academies. Here are the links: ACCBig XIIBig EastC-USABig TenMACPac-12SECSun BeltMountain West and WAC. Yesterday we presented the Top 50 most profitable FBS football and men’s basketball programs.

Below you will find the 51-100 most profitable programs. The “% Invested” column shows how much of the specific sport’s revenue goes back into that specific sport.

Please read below before viewing the financials.

About the data: All of the data is from reports each school files with the US Department of Education. It is the only available data for both public and private universities. However, there can be variances in how each school chooses to report data. For example, each school can decide for itself whether to break out television revenue by sport or leave it in a generic revenue category, which causes variances. After speaking with dozens of schools the most common practice appears to be attributing the majority of television revenue to football and a portion to basketball. The most common split is 65/35.

There are also variances from year-to-year, so be careful when comparing this data to last year’s data. For example, Florida State’s football program showed a gain of approximately $14 million from ’09-’10 to ’10-’11. When contacted for comment FSU explained that in ’10-’11 they broke out contributions by sport, which they hadn’t done previously.

Although far from perfect, this data is the only available data for all Division I programs (with the exception of the military academies). We just want to make you aware of the possible variances and will let you draw your own conclusions.

Please note: we did not rank non-AQ schools last year, so those schools will not show a rank for ’09-’10.

10-11 Rank 09-10 Rank School 10-11 Revenue 10-11 Expenses  10-11 Profit  % Invested
51 62 Kansas State (Football) $19,731,620 $10,867,052 $8,864,568 55.07%
52 56 Northwestern Univ. (Football) $28,198,769 $19,430,675 $8,768,094 68.91%
53 60 University of Texas (Basketball) $16,437,705 $8,195,360 $8,242,345 49.86%
54 45 Indiana Univ. (Football) $24,230,741 $16,112,930 $8,117,811 66.50%
55 40 Univ of Arizona (Football) $25,448,212 $17,965,169 $7,483,043 70.60%
56 50 Michigan St. (Basketball) $16,479,208 $9,263,945 $7,215,263 56.22%
57 44 Georgia Tech (Football) $22,557,020 $15,463,243 $7,093,777 68.55%
58 66 Univ of California, Berkeley (Football) $24,328,784 $17,398,649 $6,930,135 71.51%
59 58 Univ. of Tennessee (Basketball) $13,785,893 $6,863,233 $6,922,660 49.78%
60 24 West Virginia University (Football) $19,960,732 $13,230,226 $6,730,506 66.28%
61 100 Oklahoma State (Basketball) $12,262,241 $5,658,993 $6,603,248 46.15%
62 52 North Carolina State (Basketball) $10,490,494 $3,947,120 $6,543,374 37.63%
63 67 Northwestern (Basketball) $11,018,639 $4,577,278 $6,441,361 41.54%
64 54 University of Pittsburgh  (Basketball) $13,574,317 $7,181,490 $6,392,827 52.90%
65   UNLV (Basketball) $10,123,168 $3,806,508 $6,316,660 37.60%
66 71 Univ. of Kentucky (Basketball) $18,557,243 $12,355,375 $6,201,868 66.58%
67 128 Vanderbilt Univ.  (Football) $22,455,110 $16,507,997 $5,947,113 73.52%
68 63 Purdue Univ. (Football) $18,359,413 $12,420,742 $5,938,671 67.65%
69 81 University of Missouri (Basketball) $11,084,210 $5,391,400 $5,692,810 48.64%
70 68 Marquette (Basketball) $15,568,569 $10,348,303 $5,220,266 66.47%
71   Boise State (Football) $12,950,605 $7,834,316 $5,116,289 60.49%
72 55 Univ of California, Los Angeles (Football) $23,017,910 $17,913,658 $5,104,252 77.82%
73 47 Univ. of Arkansas (Basketball) $14,608,513 $9,548,135 $5,060,378 65.36%
74 65 Univ of California, Los Angeles (Basketball) $11,621,364 $6,702,818 $4,918,546 57.68%
75 69 Maryland (Basketball) $10,965,638 $6,062,659 $4,902,979 55.29%
76   BYU (Football) $15,664,108 $10,764,814 $4,899,294 68.72%
77 64 Univ of Washington (Basketball) $10,474,040 $5,702,562 $4,771,478 54.44%
78 80 Penn St. (Basketball) $9,485,900 $4,851,361 $4,634,539 51.14%
79 78 University of South Florida (Football) $17,017,821 $12,657,523 $4,360,298 74.38%
80 79 Univ. of Alabama (Basketball) $11,016,184 $6,819,080 $4,197,104 61.90%
81 98 Purdue (Basketball) $9,396,189 $5,204,365 $4,191,824 55.39%
82 89 Michigan (Basketball) $9,154,689 $5,102,129 $4,052,560 55.73%
83 70 Georgia Tech (Basketball) $8,543,269 $4,625,109 $3,918,160 54.14%
84 35 University of Missouri (Football) $24,694,807 $20,806,778 $3,888,029 84.26%
85 82 Stanford University (Football) $19,521,092 $15,888,069 $3,633,023 81.39%
86 86 Washington State (Football) $12,741,698 $9,193,553 $3,548,145 72.15%
87 75 Wake Forest (Basketball) $8,261,666 $4,773,315 $3,488,351 57.78%
88 84 Univ. of Georgia (Basketball) $8,718,363 $5,253,434 $3,464,929 60.26%
89 94 Texas A&M (Basketball) $9,786,655 $6,340,072 $3,446,583 64.78%
90 111 Duke University (Football) $18,243,589 $14,837,825 $3,405,764 81.33%
91 95 Clemson (Basketball) $7,705,630 $4,417,665 $3,287,965 57.33%
92 72 Univ. of South Carolina (Basketball) $7,849,818 $4,618,566 $3,231,252 58.84%
93   Army (Football) $8,839,775 $5,620,774 $3,219,001 63.59%
94 77 Virginia Tech (Basketball) $7,858,609 $4,782,477 $3,076,132 60.86%
95   Cal State – Fresno (Football) $10,059,929 $7,040,523 $3,019,406 69.99%
96   Wyoming (Football) $8,677,505 $5,770,034 $2,907,471 66.49%
97 88 Univ. of Mississippi (Basketball) $7,175,223 $4,270,576 $2,904,647 59.52%
98 85 Mississippi State Univ. (Basketball) $6,914,565 $4,052,623 $2,861,942 58.61%
99   Utah (Basketball) $6,220,172 $3,516,570 $2,703,602 56.53%
100 57 West Virginia University  (Basketball) $7,968,819 $5,333,891 $2,634,928 66.93%

We’ve also created a comprehensive chart with comparisons to ’09-’10: Top 51-100 Most Profitable Programs 10-11 (.pdf)

Top 50 Most Profitable FBS Football and Men’s Basketball Programs

Over the past week, we’ve posted financials for every football and men’s basketball program in the FBS, with the exception of the military academies. Here are the links: ACCBig XIIBig EastC-USABig TenMACPac-12SEC, Sun Belt, Mountain West and WAC.

Below you will find the top 50 most profitable programs. We’ll post 51-100 later today. The “% Invested” column shows how much of the specific sport’s revenue goes back into that specific sport.

Please read below before viewing the financials.

About the data: All of the data is from reports each school files with the US Department of Education. It is the only available data for both public and private universities. However, there can be variances in how each school chooses to report data. For example, each school can decide for itself whether to break out television revenue by sport or leave it in a generic revenue category, which causes variances. After speaking with dozens of schools the most common practice appears to be attributing the majority of television revenue to football and a portion to basketball. The most common split is 65/35.

There are also variances from year-to-year, so be careful when comparing this data to last year’s data. For example, Florida State’s football program showed a gain of approximately $14 million from ’09-’10 to ’10-’11. When contacted for comment FSU explained that in ’10-’11 they broke out contributions by sport, which they hadn’t done previously.

Although far from perfect, this data is the only available data for all Division I programs (with the exception of the military academies). We just want to make you aware of the possible variances and will let you draw your own conclusions.

10-11 Rank 09-10 Rank School 10-11 Revenue 10-11 Expenses  10-11 Profit 
1 1 University of Texas (Football) $95,749,684 $24,507,352 $71,242,332
2 3 Penn State Univ. (Football) $72,747,734 $19,519,288 $53,228,446
3 2 Univ. of Georgia (Football) $74,888,175 $22,036,338 $52,851,837
4 6 Louisiana State Univ. (Football) $68,510,141 $21,492,741 $47,017,400
5 4 Univ. of Michigan (Football) $70,300,676 $23,552,233 $46,748,443
6 5 Univ. of Florida (Football) $72,807,236 $26,263,539 $46,543,697
7 7 Univ. of Alabama (Football) $76,801,800 $31,580,059 $45,221,741
8 12 Notre Dame (Football) $68,782,560 $25,164,887 $43,617,673
9 8 Univ. of Tennessee (Football) $56,831,514 $19,135,650 $37,695,864
10 9 Auburn Univ. (Football) $76,227,804 $39,069,676 $37,158,128
11 17 Univ. of Arkansas (Football) $61,131,707 $24,059,193 $37,072,514
12 10 University of Oklahoma (Football) $58,811,324 $23,191,402 $35,619,922
13 13 University of Nebraska (Football) $54,712,406 $20,147,302 $34,565,104
14 18 Texas A&M (Football) $45,414,074 $15,560,216 $29,853,858
15 16 Michigan State Univ. (Football) $45,040,778 $17,420,499 $27,620,279
16 21 University of Louisville (Basketball) $40,887,938 $13,336,649 $27,551,289
17 14 Ohio State Univ. (Football) $60,837,342 $34,373,844 $26,463,498
18 15 Univ. of Iowa (Football) $44,506,832 $20,510,807 $23,996,025
19 11 Univ. of South Carolina (Football) $45,464,058 $22,482,479 $22,981,579
20 19 Univ. of Kentucky (Football) $34,020,276 $14,352,110 $19,668,166
21 22 Univ. of Wisconsin (Football) $43,296,599 $23,662,925 $19,633,674
22 20 Oklahoma State (Football) $33,213,396 $13,787,271 $19,426,125
23 27 Univ of Washington (Football) $39,405,237 $21,306,380 $18,098,857
24 99 Florida State Univ. (Football) $35,870,789 $18,689,809 $17,180,980
25 30 Univ. of Illinois (Football) $28,079,694 $12,910,507 $15,169,187
26 29 Duke (Basketball) $28,917,329 $13,819,529 $15,097,800
27 26 Virginia Tech (Football) $35,083,799 $20,009,657 $15,074,142
28 33 Univ of Arizona (Basketball) $21,209,980 $6,918,239 $14,291,741
29 28 Clemson Univ. (Football) $31,730,042 $17,992,943 $13,737,099
30 25 Univ. of Minnesota (Football) $30,524,945 $16,985,182 $13,539,763
31 31 North Carolina (Basketball) $19,672,012 $6,510,942 $13,161,070
32 34 Ohio St. (Basketball) $17,020,807 $5,251,724 $11,769,083
33 48 Univ of Southern California (Football) $31,148,724 $19,423,723 $11,725,001
34 41 Syracuse University (Basketball)  $19,017,231 $7,532,455 $11,484,776
35 51 Univ. of North Carolina (Football) $26,385,760 $15,050,721 $11,335,039
36 37 Arizona State (Football) $27,842,879 $16,564,598 $11,278,281
37 76 Mississippi State Univ. (Football) $22,575,985 $11,766,024 $10,809,961
38 38 Texas Tech (Football) $26,569,287 $15,788,943 $10,780,344
39 23 Univ. of Mississippi (Football) $28,515,471 $17,764,174 $10,751,297
40 36 North Carolina State (Football) $21,856,742 $11,329,718 $10,527,024
41 90 University of Louisville (Football) $25,658,653 $15,582,161 $10,076,492
42 42 Wisconsin (Basketball) $16,353,313 $6,394,547 $9,958,766
43 46 Indiana (Basketball) $17,804,586 $7,945,102 $9,859,484
44   Utah (Football) $21,235,202 $11,426,280 $9,808,922
45 43 Illinois (Basketball) $15,408,818 $5,630,297 $9,778,521
46 32 University of Colorado (Football) $25,955,136 $16,308,544 $9,646,592
47 49 Minnesota (Basketball) $15,141,713 $5,549,650 $9,592,063
48 39 Univ of Oregon (Football) $27,713,278 $18,198,476 $9,514,802
49 53 Oregon State (Football) $21,690,794 $12,282,221 $9,408,573
50 61 Iowa State (Football) $21,862,535 $12,513,317 $9,349,218

We’ve also created a comprehensive chart with comparisons to ’09-’10: Top 50 Most Profitable Programs ’10-’11 (.pdf)

Trailblazer: The Pat Summitt Foundation Fund

For the last 38 years, a prominent feature on the sideline of University of Tennessee women’s basketball games has been a woman who coached her teams to win basketball games by championing hard work, ethics, respect and responsibility.

During the 1974-75 season, a 22 year-old Pat Summitt was named the head coach of the Lady Vols basketball team.  This was in an age when the NCAA did not sanction women’s basketball, and just two years after Title IX, a piece of legislation which would come to promote gender equality in college sports, was enacted by Congress.

Since her first win with the Lady Vols on January 10, 1975, Summitt has become the all-time winningest NCAA basketball coach (in both men’s and women’s basketball) and has led the Lady Vols to eight NCAA national championships, which is only two short of John Wooden’s record of ten NCAA national championships.

Summitt has not only graced millions of basketball fans’ televisions in her signature UT Orange suits and with her perfectly coiffed hair, but has also ensured that each woman who completes her basketball program graduates from college.  She has instilled her “Definite Dozen” teaching method, which promotes ideals like hard work, respect and responsibility, in the minds of the hundreds of young women who have played for her, and likely even in the mind of her son, Tyler, who grew up alongside Tennessee basketball and now plays for the men’s team.

Pat Summitt and her son, Tyler. Photo courtesy of the University of Tennessee.

For nearly four decades, Summitt has literally scaled summits, proving that women can be successful in any profession they choose, while also being involved parents.  She has served as an inspiration, not only to the women who passed through her program, but for the millions of young women who watched her become the winningest coach in NCAA basketball history.

On August 22, 2011, although at the helm of a heart wrenching announcement, Summitt once again sealed her place as a trailblazer for change in the world of college basketball.  On that day, Summitt bravely and boldly announced to the world, that at age 59, she was diagnosed with early onset dementia, Alzheimer’s type.  Rather than shirk away in the face of the diagnosis and keep it secret from the world and her competitors, she graciously shared her personal news with all who were listening.

Summitt’s act of sharing her diagnosis was gracious in the sense that once again, Summitt’s actions will serve as a lesson to the world.  Summitt’s fight against Alzheimer’s is a battle of courage, where the course of the battlefield is paved with opportunities to educate others, encourage future research of the disease and recognize that life goes on, even in the face of adversity.

Months after receiving her diagnosis, Summitt committed herself to the battle against Alzheimer’s by forming The Pat Summitt Foundation Fund.  The foundation exists to make grants to nonprofits which provide education, support and research of Alzheimer’s.

In seeking an administrator for the foundation’s funds, Summitt and her son, Tyler, sought the assistance of a family friend with years of operations experience, Danielle Donehew.  Donehew previously worked alongside Summitt as a coach for the Lady Vols and later as the Executive Vice President of the WNBA’s Atlanta Dream.  Presently, Donehew is the Associate Commissioner for Women’s Basketball for the Big East Conference.

“I was very honored when Pat and Tyler asked me to help with the foundation.  It was easy for me to accept; I was humbled and honored that they would ask for my help,” said Donehew.

A check for $75,000.00 is presented by The Pat Summitt Foundation Fund to Alzheimer's Tennessee at the Baylor versus Tennessee game on November 27, 2011. From left to right: Danielle Donehew, Alzheimer's Tennessee representatives and Pat Summitt. Photo courtesy of the Associated Press.

In forming the foundation, Donehew has witnessed Summitt practice what she’s preached to players for nearly four decades:

“One of the things that she always teaches her players, is the importance of having a positive attitude.  You can’t control what necessarily happens to you, but you can control how you react to it.  What keeps going through my head is one of Pat’s Definite Dozen points, which are the twelve principles of her program.  One of those principles is, ‘Make Winning an Attitude.’  She always says, ‘winning is a choice and you need to maintain a positive attitude.’  I think for her, the beautiful thing about what she’s doing now is, instead of feeling sorry for herself, she’s taking action.  She’s said there’s not going to be any pity party.  She wants to help.  Pat’s never been passive; she’s always taken action.  This is a great example of that; she’s certainly not sitting idly by.  She wants to show others that if you receive a diagnosis like this, it doesn’t mean that you should stop living.  You need to continue doing your best,” Donehew remarked.

Donehew has witnessed great support of The Pat Summitt Foundation Fund from the NCAA basketball community.  In fact, the foundation’s first donation came from one of Summitt’s coaching peers when Donehew was seeking the approval of her Big East cohorts to work with The Pat Summitt Foundation Fund.

“I traveled over to UConn and met with Geno Auriemma [the head coach of the University of Connecticut women’s basketball team].  I talked with him about the vision of this foundation and Pat’s fight and commitment to fighting Alzheimer’s and hopefully using this foundation to do so.  Before I could get the entire story out of my mouth, Geno was rustling through his briefcase, and opened up his checkbook.  Immediately there, he wrote a check to the foundation.  He said, ‘This should show you that you have my blessing and I support this effort.’  I thought this was a beautiful thing for him to do immediately–he didn’t hesitate.  He was our first contributor of all the coaches in the game,” noted Donehew.

Auriemma’s action in donating to the foundation gave Donehew what she and Summitt sought in creating the foundation:  hope.

“It just gave me hope that this is really going to be an endeavor that the game of women’s basketball, the game of men’s basketball, the sports community, the nation as a whole and the folks who continue to battle Alzheimer’s disease—that hopefully when Pat was going to join this fight, she’d be well received,” said Donehew.

In the coming months, NCAA men’s and women’ basketball teams across the country will lend support to the foundation in various ways.  Presently, the best way for people to support the foundation is to visit the foundation’s website and make a donation.  However, Donehew is quick to note that a monetary donation is not the only way in which individuals can support Summitt’s cause:

“The most important thing, besides donating, is certainly awareness.  It is really important that as a society, that we are aware that there is a large number of folks in our population that are aging, and therefore, there’s a risk for more Americans to be diagnosed with this disease,” noted Donehew.

For the last 38 years, Summitt has coached teams to beat their toughest opponents.

Today, she is leading Americans in the battle to beat the opponent of 5.4 million Americans:  Alzheimer’s.

Effects of the NBA Lockout on NCAA Players and the NBA Draft

On July 1, 2011, NBA owners locked out NBA players.  The lockout was the result of the parties’ inability to reach a new collective bargaining agreement prior to the expiration of the collective bargaining agreement most recently reached between them.  The parties continued negotiating until November 7, 2011.  On that date, the players’ collective bargaining entity, the NBPA, disclaimed its interest as a union.  This move meant that if players want to see the basketball court again, they will have to pursue remedies in the court of law.

Given that the lockout began less than ten days after the 2011 NBA Draft, did the lockout effect college players’ decision to enter the draft?

The NBA allows those interested in being drafted by a team to declare for the draft.  Players without any college eligibility remaining are automatically eligible for the draft.  Those with college eligibility remaining, may declare early for the draft.  However, a college player’s declaration for the draft in and of itself does not jeopardize his future eligibility should he decide to return to college and continue competing at the NCAA level.  The NCAA sets a deadline which players can withdraw their declaration for the draft and still maintain their NCAA eligibility.  However, in order to maintain this eligibility, the player could not have hired an agent to assist him with the draft process.  The hiring of an agent immediately forfeits the player’s NCAA eligibility.

A brief review of the players drafted in the top-10 of the 2011 NBA Draft, along with some historical data related to early withdrawals demonstrates interesting trends related to the draft process and college players’ draft decisions.

In 2011, players had until May 8, 2011 to withdraw from the draft.  This was nearly six-weeks before the date of the 2011 NBA Draft.  News of the NBA and NBPA’s inability to reach a new collective bargaining agreement had been circulating for some time.  The NBA ultimately locked out its players less than two-months after the date upon which college players could withdraw from the draft.

The 2011 NBA Draft was unusual in the sense of the number of players drafted in the top-10 who did not play NCAA Division-I basketball, but rather, came to the NBA by way of playing for teams overseas.  Four of the players drafted in the top-10 in 2011 came from overseas teams.  In contrast, in 2010, no players from foreign teams were drafted in the first ten spots.  In fact, the first foreign-based player was not drafted in 2010 until the Chicago Bulls drafted Kevin Seraphin in the number 17 spot.

As noted above, college players can withdraw their declaration for the draft yet maintain their eligibility.  Arguably, this allows players to test the draft waters to determine whether making the leap to the NBA would be more beneficial than remaining in college.  However, in years when a labor dispute is imminent, it also allows for them to declare early, see if the labor dispute will be settled before the draft, and if not, withdraw their declaration six weeks before the draft then subsequently return to college.

Tracking draft withdrawal data for the five years leading to the 2011 Draft and the 1998 Draft (the year of the last NBA lockout) demonstrates that the possibility of a labor dispute between the NBA and NBPA arguably does not sway a college player’s decision to go pro.

Year Total # of NCAA Early Declarants # of NCAA Player Withdrawals Percentage of Withdrawals
1998 30 4 13.30%
2007 58 26 44.83%
2008 70 31 44.29%
2009 94 55 58.51%
2010 80 29 36.25%
2011 69 25 36.23%

It appears that the trend of declaring early and then withdrawing hit a peak after the 1998 NBA lockout.  Interestingly, the highest percentage of withdrawals came in the 2009 NBA Draft.  The NBA and NBPA assert that they have been attempting to negotiate a new collective bargaining agreement for some two years.  Thus, it is possible that word of this may have affected some college players’ decisions in 2009.  However, that seems fairly unlikely given the length of time between the 2009 NBA Draft and the current lockout.

However, the fact that the NBA and NBPA have been negotiating a new collective bargaining agreement for two years arguably explains the consistent percentage of withdrawals in 2010 and 2011, with approximately 36 percent of college players who declared early deciding to return to college.

If the NBA lockout is resolved in time for the 2012 NBA Draft, it will be interesting to see if the percentage of withdrawals increases or decreases from 2010 and 2011.

The Walk-On

The pay-for-play debate has been raging amongst NCAA fans for some time.  In the wake of stories of recruits and players accepting improper benefits, like cars, tattoos and housing for their family, many question whether NCAA student-athletes should receive more for their athletic services to their respective university than a scholarship.

Recently, the NCAA voted to allow schools the option to provide their student-athletes with a $2,000.00 “cost of attendance” stipend.  The rationale behind this move, is that the extra $2,000.00 allotted to student-athletes will assist them in paying for the items that a scholarship doesn’t cover–like laundry, taking a date to the movies and maybe even a dinner outside of the cafeteria.

As the pay-for-play debate rages on, one voice that is not often heard, is that of the walk-on.

Each year, athletically talented young men and women walk-on to some of this country’s most prestigious college sports teams.

They attend every training session with the team.  They participate in every practice.  They watch every minute of film.  They are present on the bench for every home game.  And some even travel to every away game.

They take, at a minimum, the number of credits required by the NCAA to maintain eligibility.  They obtain, at a minimum, the grade point average required by the NCAA to maintain eligibility.

And they don’t get paid a dime for any of it.

In an age where sides are clearly divided over whether student-athletes should receive more monetary support for their athletic performance, the story of the walk-on is overshadowed.

Yet, it is the story of the walk-on that in a sense, provides the innocence and true amateur spirit of NCAA athletics, that many hope to see restored to the collegiate athletics landscape.

The walk-on is a man or woman, whose passion and love for a sport is so great, that he or she will sacrifice all free time to pursue other collegiate follies for the chance to participate in the sport for four more years.

David Bagga walked on to the University of Arizona Men’s Basketball team in 2005.  He played for the Wildcats from 2005-2009.

Former University of Arizona walk-on David Bagga

Bagga’s story of becoming a member of the University of Arizona Men’s Basketball team is one of determination and a love of the game.

In 2005, the Wildcats were coming off of an impressive NCAA Tournament run, which ended in a loss against Illinois during the Elite Eight.

During that same time, Bagga was working hard to further his dream of playing basketball at a Division I institution.

“I basically called over 200 Division I schools to see if I could walk-on.  Ironically, Arizona was one of the only ones I heard back from.  Jack Murphy, who is now an assistant at Memphis with Josh Pastner, said, ‘We have three walk-on’s leaving.  We need a practice player,'” said Bagga.

Bagga realized the underlying opportunity residing in Murphy’s statement that Arizona was losing three walk-on’s.  “I said, ‘I’m like 6’5”, 6’6”, I can play different positions.”

At the time, Bagga was a high school senior at Mater Dei High School in California, a well-respected private high school that is also recognized for developing the athletic talent of its students.

“Murphy said, ‘Coach [Lute] Olson [former head coach of the University of Arizona Men’s Basketball team] is going to come out to your practice.’  So he came out to Mater Dei High School and was recruiting a kid who went to Duke and later Villanova named Taylor King.  He was looking at Taylor and then he found me.  That day, Coach Olson called his coaches and said, ‘This kid can walk-on.’  During practice, my high school coach wouldn’t let me meet him.  He let fourteen players meet him.  I was the only one who didn’t get to meet him.  And I was the one trying to walk-on,” said Bagga.

Although Bagga did not get to meet Coach Olson during that practice, the coaching legend clearly saw something special in Bagga’s playing ability and made the decision to grant the young man’s wish of playing Division I basketball.

“I got the phone call that night saying that I could walk-on and that they just needed my transcripts.  I heard back after our [high school] season ended and they said, ‘Congratulations, you’ve been accepted into the ‘U,’ and you can walk-on,’” explained Bagga.

There were high expectations coming into the 2005-2006 season for the Wildcats, given their impressive NCAA Tournament run earlier that year, along with the fact that the team largely returned, save for starters Channing Frye and Salim Stoudamire.  “Everyone was calling and texting me from home saying, ‘You’re going to win a National Championship your first year,’” noted Bagga.

Yet, excitement aside, the young player recognized the importance that key relationships would play to his success as a player.

“I started building relationships with Coach Olson and with my teammates.  Two highlights from that year, were the first time I scored in front of 15,000 people at McKale [the McKale Center, where the University of Arizona plays its basketball games] and then the first meeting I ever had with Coach Olson,” said Bagga.

Arguably, it was that first meeting with Olson which set Bagga on proper footing to begin his role as a walk-on on with an NCAA Division I powerhouse basketball team.  Bagga explains,

“It was supposed to be a five-minute meeting.  It lasted 35 or 40 minutes.  He said, ‘I get where you’re coming from [with being a walk-on], but this experience can do two things for you.  It’s either going to play with your head and make you believe all these things aren’t true.  Or, if you embrace the experience, you are going to have a lot of fun here, and the experience will embrace you back.’  And that’s what it did.  So, from that day forward, in early September, I had a different outlook on everything and life.  I learned to be positive about things.  I learned to never think, ‘Me, me, me.’  It was always, ‘Team, team, team.’  That’s why a lot of students rallied behind me.  A lot of regular students would support me even though I didn’t play, because, that’s really what a walk-on is:  a regular student that puts on a jersey that gets to play for one minute a game.  It was fun.  I wouldn’t change anything, how it happened.”

Although he didn’t receive extensive playing  or a scholarship to begin with, Bagga received everything else that came along with being a Division-I athlete.

“Because I was a walk-on, I basically got shafted on everything [schedule-wise].  Weight lifting times, conditioning times, I had the earliest times for everything.  Conditioning and weight lifting was at 5:00 a.m.  The starters got to go at 2:00 p.m.  My first class was at 7:30 a.m.  The starters had their first class at 11:30 a.m.  When I didn’t have class, even though I didn’t have much game film of my own to watch, I would still have to go in and watch game film and take notes about what could be done better.  I would get quizzed on it by one of the coaches.  If I would get it wrong, they would quiz me in front of the whole team at practice.  If I missed it then, the team would have to run.  So, you had to know everything.  You had to be on-point,” said Bagga.

Along with training, weight lifting, watching film, attending classes and completing homework assignments, during the pre-season, players would host recruits, engage in evening workouts and play pick-up basketball.  Sometime during the day, they’d also sleep.

In October, practices began and the season truly ramped up in early November.

“During the season, there’s three-hour practices for the first month of practice.  It’s a lot of work.  It’s more a mental thing than anything else.  You tell yourself, ‘I’m going to go into class and bust my butt for 50 minutes, get the assignment and get the homework done.’  Then bam!  You’re onto the next thing.  There’s no time to mess around.  I used turn my phone off, because I had so much to do.  I was always in the front row in class, paying attention.  In four years, excluding basketball reasons, I missed one day of class,” explained Bagga.

Ultimately, Bagga’s perseverance and dedication paid off.  Not only did he obtain his dream of playing Division-I basketball, but his efforts were rewarded with a scholarship his senior year.

“It was a lot of weight off of my shoulders.  I [previously] had financial aid and a grant for being all-academic in the Pac-10.  Getting that scholarship, though, proved to everyone that I earned it.  I proved to everyone at the university—the students, players, whoever—that I could compete and be a part of that team.  Not only compete on that team, but play on it.  It felt great,” Bagga reminisced.

Not only did Bagga’s experience at the University of Arizona allow him to play Division-I basketball and graduate with a degree, but it provided him with a story to tell–that of a walk-on.  Bagga developed that story into a book, appropriately titled “The Walk-On.”  You can learn more about the book and purchase a copy here.

The Butler Way: Winning With Integrity

In 1988 Robert Fulghum announced to the world that by the age of five, he learned everything he really needed to know.  Fulghum’s New York Times Best Selling book, All I Really Need to Know I Learned In Kindergarten, includes an essay which begins, “How about some good news for a change?”

In a time where it seems that every major news headline related to NCAA sports and the student-athletes who play them involves some inherent scandal, a quote from that essay brings a dose of reality back to the situation:

“You will continue to read stories of crookedness and corruption. . . Don’t be misled.  They are news because they are the exceptions.”

If there ever was a NCAA member program which demonstrated that the heavily publicized stories of the day regarding corruption amongst NCAA programs are the exception, it would be the Butler University Bulldogs.

Butler painted itself onto the national sports landscape in 2010, when its men’s basketball team’s successful season and run through the NCAA tournament granted the Bulldogs the opportunity to play in the National Championship game against Duke.

“People will be talking for years to come about Butler’s incredible run to the National Championship game in men’s basketball, and we will too.  It was a truly remarkable season with a school-record 33 wins, the first 18-0 conference record in Horizon League history and a school and league-record 25-game winning streak,” noted Butler Athletic Director Barry Collier.

The clock did not strike midnight on the Bulldogs’ Cinderella story after the conclusion of the 2010 National Championship game.  Another successful season for the Bulldogs in 2010-2011 culminated in the Bulldogs facing off against the Connecticut Huskies in the 2011 National Championship game.  Other Bulldogs teams have experienced similar success in their respective sports, as the school has won 26 conference championships in the past decade.

Not only have the Bulldogs experienced success on the court, but also in the classroom.  While its most recent competitor in the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship game is unsure whether it will be able to participate in the 2013 Division I Men’s Basketball tournament due to new post-season academic criteria set forth by the NCAA, Butler student-athletes have consistently yielded high academic results.

“As good as our teams were on the field, their performance in the classroom was equally as impressive.  During this year’s men’s basketball Final Four, there was quite a buzz about the fact that members of our men’s basketball team went to class on the day of the National Championship game.  But it really shouldn’t have come as a surprise, considering the importance our coaches and athletes place on academics.  It’s a reason that the Butler men’s basketball team featured two Academic All-Americans, junior Matt Howard and sophomore Gordon Hayward.  They were two out of just 15 Academic All-Americans chosen nationwide!  We also had sophomore Grant Hunter named to the Academic All-America Team in football, junior Conner Burt picked to the Academic All-America squad in men’s soccer, and Andy Baker selected to the Academic All-America team in men’s track/cross country, and we’ve had ten Academic All-Americans in the past three years!  This is an incredible accomplishment for these student-athletes and for our university.  The other nine Horizon League members combined for eight Academic All-Americans last year,” noted  Collier.

In an age when mainstream media questions the integrity of some of the most winning NCAA men’s basketball and football programs daily, how have the Butler Bulldogs maintained integrity on the fields of competition and in the classroom?

Collier is not only Butler’s Athletic Director, but a Butler alumni and former member and coach of the Butler men’s basketball team.  If anyone understands the foundation that Butler’s model of winning is built upon, it is Collier.

“A very significant part of the pride that our community feels about Butler and Butler athletics is because of what our student-athletes demonstrate everyday.  When we think of a model collegiate athletic program, it would be one where student-athletes are accomplished in the classroom, on the fields of competition and are people of high character.  That’s what we have at Butler,” said Collier.

Collier recognizes that the community’s pride toward Butler athletics is largely based upon the well-rounded nature of Butler student-athletes, as student-athletes are equally competitive athletically and academically.  Collier credits Butler’s coaches with allowing this hybrid of success to exist at Butler.

“Our student-athletes’ graduation rates and retention rates are higher than the student body, which is quite high itself.  The key is to establish a value-based program and then stay true to that.  There’s no silver bullet.  There’s no magic potion that allows that to take place.  There’s a philosphy in place.  The coaches that lead our programs fit the model of placing integrity and academic accomplishment at the top of our values and goals,” explained Collier.

In recognizing the role that coaches play in ensuring the integrity of a program, Collier, a former basketball coach himself, pointed out that NCAA coaches who embrace integrity as a core value largely outnumber those coaches whose improprieties make up the bulk of NCAA stories covered by the media.

“There are  probably only a handful of professions that are taking more cheap shots than coaches these days.  I don’t think that’s accurate.  You have many, many, many, coaches who are down in the trenches leading and mentoring student-athletes and programs and recruiting folks that fit the culture.  I see that everyday with our 12 head coaches.  I’m sure it’s the vast majority of coaches out there.  There are always exceptions to that,” said Collier.

The Butler Athletic Department’s mission statement references something it refers to as, “The Butler Way.”

“The Butler Way demands commitment, denies selfishness, accepts reality yet seeks improvement everyday while putting the team above self.”

In an age when college sports fans are desperate to find signs that stories of corrupted NCAA teams are the exception and not the norm, The Butler Way and the Bulldogs who adhere to it serve as a beacon, guiding college sports fans to cheer on a program built upon integrity, to further success.