Category Archives: Sun Belt

Conferece Recruitment Expense Series: Sun Belt Conference

Next up in’s Conference Recruitment Expense Series is the Sun Belt Conference.

Yesterday, recruitment expense data from the ACC, Big East, Big Ten, Big 12 and Conference USA was posted.  Today, data for the MAC, Mountain West, Pac-12, SEC, Sun Belt, and WAC will be posted.  On Monday, a spreadsheet listing the top-50 spenders in terms of recruiting will be listed, sorted by total recruitment expense budget, amount spent per team on average and amount spent per player on average.

The data was obtained from the Department of Education.  Although this data is not perfect, it is the only data available for both public and private institutions.  Furthermore, the data provided is for the 2010-11 school year.  Additionally, it should be noted that the “Amount Per Player” column was calculated using the total amount of student-athletes at a given school.  The Department of Education data does not disclose how many student-athletes a school recruited in a given year.  Thus, using the data alone, it is impossible to calculate how much it cost a school to recruit a specific class.

Schools Men’s Sports Recruitment Expenses Average Per Team Average Per Player
Arkansas State $204,772.00 $40,954.40 $965.91
Arkansas – Little Rock $134,606.00 $33,651.50 $1,547.20
Denver $230,427.00 $28,803.38 $1,371.59
Florida Atlantic $195,797.00 $24,474.63 $619.61
Florida International $331,056.00 $66,211.20 $1,622.82
Louisiana – Lafayette $255,716.00 $42,619.33 $1,111.81
Louisiana – Monroe $76,809.00 $15,361.80 $424.36
Middle Tennessee $288,982.00 $48,163.67 $1,102.98
North Texas $142,082.00 $35,520.50 $835.78
South Alabama $308,886.00 $38,610.75 $1,250.55
Troy $141,298.00 $20,185.43 $554.11
Western Kentucky $349,431.00 $49,918.71 $1,474.39


Schools Women’s Sports Recruiting Expenses Average Per Team Average Per Player
Arkansas State $104,456.00 $14,922.29 $941.05
Arkansas – Little Rock $99,490.00 $14,212.86 $1,047.26
Denver $220,978.00 $24,553.11 $1,567.22
Florida Atlantic $64,437.00 $8,054.63 $379.04
Florida International $89,817.00 $11,227.13 $615.18
Louisiana – Lafayette $84,788.00 $14,131.33 $694.98
Louisiana – Monroe $50,469.00 $7,209.86 $442.71
Middle Tennessee $85,986.00 $12,283.71 $661.43
North Texas $88,848.00 $11,106.00 $499.15
South Alabama $130,728.00 $14,525.33 $1,107.86
Troy $95,288.00 $11,911.00 $685.53
Western Kentucky $138,016.00 $17,252.00 $908.00

The Sun Belt Conference school which spent the most on recruiting for its men’s sports teams in 2010-11 was Florida International.  Florida International spent $331,056.00 on recruiting for its men’s sports teams in 2010-11.  It may be worth noting Florida International hired a big-name men’s basketball coach in Isiah Thomas in April 2009.

The Sun Belt Conference school which spent the most on recruiting for its women’s sports teams in 2010-11 was the University of Denver.  Denver expended $220,978.00 to recruit student-athletes for its women’s sports programs in 2010-11.

Sun Belt Financials ’10-’11

The next conference we’re looking at is the Sun Belt. The ACCBig XIIBig EastC-USABig TenMACPac-12SEC and Mountain West have been previously posted. The chart is sorted by ’10-11 profits for each football and basketball program from greatest profit to least. 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.


How Conference Realignment Could Impact the BCS

The Big 12 has been in danger of extinction for more than a year, and now the Big East has been added to the Most Endangered list with strong rumors that Pitt and Syracuse are joining the ACC.

Both are automatic-qualifying conferences, which means they get an automatic berth in a BCS bowl game (Orange Bowl, Sugar Bowl, Fiesta Bowl or Rose Bowl). But what happens if one of those conferences folds? Or perhaps one is forced to add several schools to remain viable?

Current AQ conferences were determined based on data from the 2004, 2005, 2006 and 2007 football seasons. That data will be reevaluated following the 2011 season based on the 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011 seasons. Perfect timing for conference realignment.

Three sets of data are considered: rank of the highest-ranked team in the conference, rank of all conference teams and number of teams in the top 25.

Here’s how it all played out last time:

1. Average rank of highest-ranked team in BCS Standings
1. Pac-12……………………………………3.5
2. Southeastern…………………………..3.5
3. Big Ten……………………………………4.25
4. Big 12……………………………………..4.5
5. Atlantic Coast…………………………..8.25
6. Big East…………………………………..9.0
7. Mountain West……………………….14.25
8. Western Athletic……………………..16.75
9. Conference USA………………………40.975
10. Mid-American…………………………55.25
11. Sun Belt………………………………..68.625

2. Average conference ranking (ranking of all teams in the conference by the six computers)
1. Pac-12…………………………………….40.17
2. Southeastern…………………………..40.65
3. Big 12…………………………………….42.38
4. Atlantic Coast………………………….42.47
5. Big Ten…………………………………..42.65
6. Big East………………………………….46.76
7. Mountain West…………………………67.46
8. Western Athletic……………………….76.36
9. Conference USA………………………..81.41
10. Mid-American………………………….89.82
11. Sun Belt…………………………………93.52

3. Adjusted Top 25 performance ranking (number of teams in top 25 of BCS standings, as a percentage of the top conference)
1. Southeastern…………………………….100.00%
2. Big Ten……………………………………..78.35%
3. Pac-12………………………………………66.29%
4. Big 12……………………………………….64.29%
5. Atlantic Coast…………………………….57.14%
6. Big East…………………………………….49.11%
7. Western Athletic…………………………22.32%
8. Mountain West…………………………..20.09%
9. Conference USA……………………………0.00%
10. Mid-American………………………………0.00%
11. Sun Belt……………………………………..0.00%

There is a threshold for annual qualification that requires the conference be in the top six in the first two sets of data and in the top 50% in the third set of data. However, a team can obtain a waiver from the Presidential Oversight Committee if they are in the top six in the first two sets of data, or top five in one and top seven in the other, and top 33% of the third set.

In light of this, it’s important conferences take on-the-field performance into account when making realignment decisions. This doesn’t mean that’s enough to get you into an AQ conference (I’m talking to you, Boise State), but it does have to be considered. If the Mountain West still had Utah, TCU and BYU, along with the Boise State addition, the Big 12’s AQ status could be in serious danger depending on who they chose to add.

Fortunately for the Big 12, I don’t think there’s a non-AQ who could surpass them at this point, even with the losses. However, I do think it means if the Big East or Big 12 folds there would be an AQ opening for the taking.

Which Is More Important: Booster Contributions or NCAA and Conference Distributions?

It’s a “Which came first, the chicken or the egg?” type question – which propels a school to success: booster support or a top revenue generating conference? Obviously both are important, but which do top-ranked football programs rely upon more?

I recently ran across this article by Michael Lewis of the Salt Lake Tribune where he discusses how crucial it is for Utah to start bringing in contributions that rival those received by other Pac-12 institutions. Utah had its best fundraising year ever last year, raising $5.2 million. However, it’ll need to raise over twice that just to be at the league average of $11 million in the Pac-12. To match the leader in contributions in the Pac-12, USC, Utah will need to raise around $27 million.

I took a look at the financial statements I have for schools and found a familiar trend amongst those who’ve had football success in recent years. The majority receive more in contributions than in conference distributions. So which is more important? Contributions or conference distributions? Does being in a top conference bring you more contributions? Do higher levels of contributions increase your chance of getting into an AQ conference if you’re in a non-AQ conference?

Let’s take a look at last year’s BCS Top 25 and see which schools relied upon more, contributions or conference distributions:

  School Contributions NCAA/Conference Distributions Difference
1 Auburn $29,731,122.00 $19,646,038.00 $10,085,084.00
2 Oregon $73,809,775.00 $12,756,603.00 $61,053,172.00
3 TCU*      
4 Stanford*      
5 Wisconsin $19,247,563.00 $21,521,927.00 ($2,274,364.00)
6 Ohio State $27,327,347.00 $23,943,397.00 $3,383,950.00
7 Oklahoma $26,601,241.00 $13,548,733.00 $13,052,508.00
8 Arkansas $13,124,745.00 $20,556,381.00 ($7,431,636.00)
9 Michigan State $21,292,589.00 $22,578,159.00 ($1,285,570.00)
10 Boise State $6,553,812.00 $6,242,864.00 $310,948.00
11 LSU $38,255,521.00 $19,883,259.00 $18,372,262.00
12 Missouri $13,454,020.00 $10,681,242.00 $2,772,778.00
13 Virginia Tech $16,138,765.00 $12,081,194.00 $4,057,571.00
14 Oklahoma State $51,877,388.00 $12,570,471.00 $39,306,917.00
15 Nevada $4,686,526.00 $2,368,894.00 $2,317,632.00
16 Alabama $33,739,056.00 $21,288,565.00 $12,450,491.00
17 Texas A&M $20,512,889.00 $11,900,472.00 $8,612,417.00
18 Nebraksa $6,103,706.00 $10,978,295.00 ($4,874,589.00)
19 Utah $5,750,835.00 $4,175,348.00 $1,575,487.00
20 South Carolina $23,987,283.00 $19,549,286.00 $4,437,997.00
21 Mississippi State $0.00 $18,234,538.00 ($18,234,538.00)
22 West Virginia  $15,729,528.00 $10,416,908.00 $5,312,620.00
23 Florida State $23,245,513.00 $13,323,332.00 $9,922,181.00
24 Hawaii $13,323,332.00 $2,284,893.00 $11,038,439.00
25 UCF $5,308,200.00 $3,337,076.00 $1,971,124.00

A couple of things to note. First, TCU and Stanford’s numbers are unavailable because they are private institutions. Second, Mississippi State shows no contributions because they chose not to take a distribution from their booster club in fiscal year 2010. Not all schools separate out NCAA and conference distributions, so they are tabulated here together.

As you can see, most of the schools on this list take in significantly more in contributions than in NCAA and conference distributions, regardless of conference affiliation.

Are boosters more important than television contracts or BCS and March Madness appearances? How does a school increase the contribution levels of its alumni to stay competitive?

BCS Payouts vs. March Madness Payouts

Quite frequently in the debate over the BCS there are comparisons to March Madness. Proponents of moving to a playoff system point to the approximately $771 million a year (beginning in 2011) March Madness generates in television alone (previously an average of $545 million). Meanwhile, the BCS bowls will generate just $125 million beginning in 2011 (previously$96.4 million per year ).

While it’s true March Madness generates more television revenue overall, that doesn’t necessarily mean more money for each athletic department. A total of $452,200,000 was distributed by the NCAA in 2010-2011, and less than half of all monies distributed went back into the athletic department with no strings attached (via the Basketball Fund). Here’s the breakdown:

Basketball Fund ($180,467,000): Monies are distributed based on a six-year rolling period. Institutions receive one unit for each appearance, not including the championship game. Each unit was worth $239,664 in 2010-2011.

Academic Enhancement ($22,461,000): Each Division I institution gets $66,000 to use for academic support service for student-athletes.

Conference Grants ($8,115,000): Each conference receives $261,744 less an agreed upon amount remitted to the regional officiating advisors program. Funds must be used to improve officiating, enhance conference compliance and enforcement programs, drug abuse education, enhancement of opportunities for ethnic minorities, and development of gambling education programs.

Sports Sponsorship Fund ($60,155,000): Each school’s share is determined based on the number of varsity sports sponsored. Points begin with the 14th sport (the number required in Division I), and $30,091 is distributed for each sport above thirteen. These monies may be directed to individual institutions or to the conference for distribution, as decided upon by each conference.

Grants-In-Aid Fund ($120,309,000): Each school’s share is determined based on the number of grants-in-aid awarded. These monies may be directed to individual institutions or to the conference for distribution, as decided upon by each conference.

Student Assistance Fund ($59,738,000): This fund also consists of the Special Assistance Fund and the Student-Athlete Opportunity Fund. For the Student Assistance Fund, all athletes are eligible to receive these funds, even if they have exhausted eligibility or no longer participate due to medical reasons. These monies are distributed to the conference who decides how to allocate. This fund is to be used to assist student-athletes with financial needs that “arise in conjunction with participation in intercollegiate athletics, enrollment in an academic curriculum or that recognize academic achievement. The Student-Athlete Opportunity Fund is distributed by conferences based on the formula used for sports sponsorship and grants-in-aid. The Special Assistance Fund is to be used to meet student-athlete financial needs of an emergency or essential nature for which other financial aid is not available.

Supplemental Support Fund ($955,000): Used to support campus-based initiatives designed to foster student-athlete academic success at eligible limited resource institutions.

At the end of the day, most conferences receive larger payouts from the BCS than March Madness when it comes to money going back into the athletic department with no strings attached. Below is a look at the payouts for the past four years. Totals in red reflect conferences who received a larger payout from basketball than football for the given year. You should also note the football payouts indicated for the non-AQ conferences (Mountain West, Mid-American, Sun Belt, C-USA and Western Athletic) are based on the payout from the BCS before the agreement between the conferences to split BCS money equally between all non-AQ conferences kicks in. Also, these numbers do not include payouts for non-BCS bowl games.

ACC 2006-2007 2007-2008 2008-2009 2009-2010
Football $18,088,675 $18,324,992 $18,672,725 $19,787,058
Basketball $14,149,120 $15,090,053 $15,863,538 $18,220,902
Difference  $3,939,555 $3,234,939 $2,809,187 $1,566,156
Big 10 2006-2007 2007-2008 2008-2009 2009-2010
Football $22,588,675 $22,824,992 $23,172,725 $24,287,058
Basketball $13,087,936 $13,561,946 $13,803,338 $15,332,222
Difference $9,500,739 $9,263,046 $9,369,387 $8,954,836
Big 12 2006-2007 2007-2008 2008-2009 2009-2010
Football $18,088,675 $22,824,992 $23,172,725 $19,787,058
Basketball $14,325,984 $15,663,093 $16,275,578 $17,109,871
Difference $3,762,691 $7,161,899 $6,897,147 $2,677,187
Big East 2006-2007 2007-2008 2008-2009 2009-2010
Football $18,088,675 $18,324,992 $18,672,725 $19,787,058
Basketball $14,856,576 $16,618,160 $19,365,880 $23,109,436
Difference $3,232,099 $1,706,832 ($693,155) ($3,322,378)
Pac 10 2006-2007 2007-2008 2008-2009 2009-2010
Football $18,088,675 $18,324,992 $18,672,743 $19,787,058
Basketball $11,849,888 $12,606,880 $13,391,298 $14,665,604
Difference $6,238,787 $5,718,112 $5,281,445 $5,121,454
SEC 2006-2007 2007-2008 2008-2009 2009-2010
Football $22,588,675 $22,824,992 $23,172,725 $24,287,058
Basketball $13,087,936 $14,708,026 $15,657,518 $15,110,015
Difference $9,500,739 $8,116,966 $7,515,207 $9,177,043
Mountain West 2006-2007 2007-2008 2008-2009 2009-2010
Football $3,529,600 $3,724,000 $9,788,800 $9,878,710
Basketball $3,183,552 $4,011,280 $4,120,399 $3,999,710
Difference $346,048 ($287,280) $5,668,401 $5,879,000
Mid-American 2006-2007 2007-2008 2008-2009 2009-2010
Football $1,964,800 $1,508,000 $2,094,400 $2,139,355
Basketball $1,945,504 $1,910,133 $1,442,140 $1,333,237
Difference $19,296 ($402,133) $652,260 $806,118
Sun Belt 2006-2007 2007-2008 2008-2009 2009-2010
Football $1,443,200 $2,062,000 $1,529,600 $1,559,570
Basketball $1,061,184 $1,146,080 $1,854,180 $2,222,061
Difference $382,016 $915,920 ($324,580) ($662,491)
C-USA 2006-2007 2007-2008 2008-2009 2009-2010
Football $2,486,400 $2,616,000 $2,659,200 $2,719,140
Basketball $7,782,016 $8,213,573 $9,064,879 $8,507,523
Difference ($5,295,616) ($5,597,573) ($6,405,679) ($5,788,383)
Western Athletic 2006-2007 2007-2008 2008-2009 2009-2010
Football $9,008,000 $9,170,000 $3,224,000 $7,798,925
Basketball $3,006,688 $3,247,227 $3,090,300 $3,110,886
Difference $6,001,312 $5,922,773 $133,700 $4,688,039

I think it’s interesting to note that AQ football conferences are bringing in more from March Madness than non-AQ football conferences. Some of that has to do with the smaller size of some of the non-AQ conferences, but it’s still rather sizeable disparity. Nonetheless, I imagine people still find the March Madness system more digestible because it is a playoff system and because payouts are based on number of appearances.

Special thanks to my research assistant Eric Heckman for helping me compile the data.

Why Isn’t Return of Bowl/TV Money a Penalty for NCAA Infractions?

UPDATE: Based on the massive amounts of tweets and emails I have received since posting this, some clarification is in order. Many believe you all (my valued readers) are not smart enough to know that non-AQ teams individually receive less than AQ teams when the day is done. I believe you all know this. But, just in case you don’t, I’ve revised the information below to make it abundantly clear.

Listening to sports talk radio over the past couple of weeks I’ve heard quite a few people suggest that the only real punishment for a program like USC or Ohio State would be to hit them in the wallet. Quite a few of you believe there should be a return of tv and bowl payout money if a team has to vacate games. Let’s talk about why that will likely never be a penalty in college football.

First, here’s something important you should know, if you don’t already. How do the payouts work for BCS bowl games (Rose, Sugar, Fiesta, Orange) and the National Championship Game?

I bet many of you didn’t know the first team selected from one of the non-AQ conferences (MAC, WAC, Sun Belt, Mountain West, C-USA) actually receives a larger, yes larger, amount than a team who automatically qualify from one of the AQ conferences (SEC, ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12, Big East). It’s true, although that’s before conferences get involved. The first team selected from a non-AQ conference receives $24.7 million* (see below for how this payout is handled). The automatic qualifiers from the six AQ conferences receive $21.2 million each. Any other AQ teams who play in BCS bowls take in $6 million each.

In fact, the non-AQ conferences receive money even if no team from a non-AQ conference is selected for a BCS bowl game, to the tune of $12.35 million. Whether the non-AQs have a team in and receive the $24.7 million, or receive the $12.35 million for not having a team in, they have decided amongst themselves to divide BCS monies evenly between all five conferences. That’s their choice.

Now, based on tweets and email received after I wrote this piece, I need to explain this a little bit further. It is true that the first non-AQ team selected for a BCS bowl receives more than an automatic qualifying team – but that’s before conferences get involved. Payouts are filtered through the conference the team belongs to, and the conference decides how to divide the payout. The non-AQ conferences have decided in an agreement amongst themselves to divide all BCS money equally between all conferences. By contrast, each AQ conference keeps what it receives and determines how to divide amongst the schools. Most subtract expenses of the team who participated and then divide the rest equally. At the end of the day, each AQ school receives more than each non-AQ school. But, I’m pretty sure you all knew that already.

Just for the sake of spreading knowledge, there are other teams who receive a BCS share even if they don’t compete. Notre Dame, for example, receives $6 million if they are chosen for a BCS bowl, but still receive $1.7 million even if they aren’t selected. Army and Navy each receive $100,000, even if not chosen for a BCS bowl. In addition, each FCS conference (who don’t even participate in the BCS) receive $250,000.

Now that we’ve covered how payouts work, make note that the NCAA has no involvement whatsoever. That’s the short answer as to why a return of bowl money isn’t part of any NCAA penalty. It’s out of their control.

The BCS would have to demand the return of bowl money. That’s not going to happen. I heard Bill Hancock on the radio months ago talking about USC’s penalties and he was asked why they weren’t taking back the payout received by USC for the BCS National Championship Game since the win was being vacated. It was pretty simple in his mind: if USC hadn’t played in that game, another Pac-10 team would have played in a BCS bowl since the Pac-10 gets an automatic berth. So, either way the Pac-10 would have gotten the same payout, because as I described above, the payout is the same whether you’re playing in the title game or any of the other four BCS bowls. Plus, the payout goes to the conference, not to the individual team. That makes it easy for the BCS to put the burden on the conferences. The Pac-10 would have to reclaim the funds from USC for the portion they received. That’s never going to happen.

Even as USC serves their bowl ban, they’re still receiving the same distribution from the now Pac-12 as they would receive if they were participating in bowls. The only real loss is the actual playing in the bowl, which I would imagine has a larger impact on the players than the institution. The school will still receive the same financial benefits from the conference, including a portion of the BCS payout to the conference.

The same is largely true when we talk about reclaiming television money as a penalty. It would have to be a conference level decision, and a conference is never going to penalize a team like that. However, the NCAA does have a penalty whereby they can ban a program from live television appearances. They haven’t used it since 1994, when Ole Miss was banned for one year. Most believe it’s no longer used because it impacts more than just the school being punished – the punishment is felt by every program that plays the school, especially FCS schools who are missing their shot to be on television and increase their profile.

I’m not defending the situation, but I hope I’ve shed some light on why a return of bowl or tv money is never discussed in terms of penalties levied by the NCAA.

*These are the numbers from the 2010-2011 season.

Using Student Fees to Support Athletic Department Budget

Today over on USA Today they’ve got a piece on schools who use student fees and other institutional support to round out the athletic department budget. The piece focuses on Rutgers, but also lists the ten schools who rely the most on these funds in automatic qualifying conferences: 

Schools from BCS automatic qualifying conferences with the greatest amount of 2009-10 athletics revenue allocated from institutional or government support or student fees: 
School, conference Amount
Rutgers, Big East $26,867,679
Connecticut, Big East $14,578,029
South Florida, Big East $14,185,037
Maryland, ACC $13,749,781
Tennessee, SEC $13,552,020
Cincinnati, Big East $13,457,464
Virginia, ACC $12,160,103
California, Pac-10 $12,098,974
Oregon State, Pac-10 $10,960,616
Arizona State, Pac-10 $10,349,536
Note: Amounts not adjusted for inflation

Sources: Individual schools, USA TODAY research in conjunction with Indiana University’s National Sports Journalism Center

A couple of months ago, I did a series of pieces on schools who were relying on student fees to balance their athletic department budget. You can find the Top 25 in the BCS for the 2009-2010 school year here. If you’re curious about a specific school, I posted the numbers for every BCS school by conference. You can find the SEC, Big Ten and Big 12 here, the ACC, Pac-10 and Big East here, and the non-AQ conferences here.

A number of you have pointed out that these student fees often get students free admission to athletic events. Although that’s a nice perk, I wonder what percentage of the student body actually takes advantage of this offer. To me, this is not the best argument in favor of student fees going to subsidize the athletic department.

That being said, I don’t necessarily have an issue with universities subsidizing the athletic department. After all, it is a part of the university. Just as the university funds the English department, they fund the athletic department. When an athletic department is able to support itself, like these we looked at a couple of weeks ago, that’s fantastic. However, I’m not convinced that every athletic department should be expected to do so. Athletic departments should be expected to operate as efficiently and profitably as possible while meeting the goals of the department and the university. What I don’t like to see are universities who are self-sustaining and still receive student fees or institutional support.

Athletics do a number of things for a university. They often receive national attention, which strengthens their brand. This causes increases in applications and licensing revenue, amongst other benefits. I’ve been researching this in-depth for my new book on the business of college football, and I can tell you that there are a number of advantages to a university having an athletic department. I don’t honestly believe that any university would be so fiscally irresponsible as to assist in funding an athletic department if they weren’t receiving a return on their investment, at least not when you look at a broad spectrum of years.

Just some food for thought until my book is out and I can share more concrete examples.

Sun Belt Conference Finances

After writing about the football finances of the SECBig Ten, ACCPac-10, Big 12, Big East, Conference USA , Mid-American and Mountain West conferences, it’s time to take a look at the Sun Belt Conference. (Want to access all the conferences in the same place? Check out the Conference Finance Series category on the right-hand sidebar).

The numbers are drawn from schools’ reports to the U.S. Department of Education on the state of their athletic departments’ finances for July 1, 2009 to June 30, 2010. See the note at the end for more details on the data.

Before we look at football revenue in the Sun Belt, let’s take another look at the averages for the six AQ conferences:

Football Revenue:

SEC ($49.9m)

Big Ten ($40.6m)

Big 12 ($35.4m)

Pac-10 ($24.6m)

ACC ($20.9m)

Big East ($18.8m)

So far we’ve looked at every BCS conference except the Western Athletic conference. The Mountain West finishes as the most successful non-AQ conference in terms of football revenue at an average of $11.3 million. Conference USA came in at roughly half of the lowest AQ conference (the Big East) at $9.3 million. The average Mid-American school brought in just over half the revenue of an average Conference USA school at $5.5 million. The Sun Belt? They’re going to come in at around a quarter of the revenue seen in the Big East and barely more than a third of that seen in the non-AQ leader Mountain West at $4.7 million.

Here are football revenues in the Sun Belt by school:

  Football Revenue
Florida Intl  $6,915,199.00
MTSU $6,638,007.00
Western Kentucky $5,768,244.00
Troy Univ $5,386,426.00
Univ South Alabama $5,177,338.00
Univ North Texas $4,315,701.00
Louisiana – Lafayette $4,210,176.00
Arkansas State Univ $3,760,642.00
Louisiana – Monroe $2,982,373.00
Florida Atlantic  $2,280,834.00

The highest revenue-producing schools in the Sun Belt Conference are well below the average for the Mountain West and Conference USA. The bottom two in the Sun Belt aren’t even generating half what the top producers in the conference are bringing in. Showing once again that the have and have not complex is not just between AQ and non-AQ schools but also within those divisions and within conferences. We even saw this in the Big 12.

There’s only a slight shift in order when we look at the biggest spenders on football in the Sun Belt:

  Football Expenses
MTSU $6,638,007.00
Florida Intl  $6,225,125.00
Western Kentucky $5,768,244.00
Univ South Alabama $5,177,338.00
Troy Univ $5,029,312.00
Florida Atlantic  $4,610,870.00
Univ North Texas $4,315,701.00
Louisiana – Lafayette $4,210,176.00
Arkansas State Univ $3,760,642.00
Louisiana – Monroe $2,982,373.00

If you’re already doing the math in your head, you’ve probably figured out now many schools in the Sun Belt are turning a profit on football. Here are net profits:

  Football Profit
Florida Intl  $690,074.00
Troy Univ $357,114.00
Arkansas State Univ $0.00
Louisiana – Lafayette $0.00
Louisiana – Monroe $0.00
MTSU $0.00
Univ North Texas $0.00
Univ South Alabama $0.00
Western Kentucky $0.00
Florida Atlantic  -$2,330,036.00

If you’ve been reading for long, you know what happens when football doesn’t make enough money to help cover the other sports. Generally, what happens is a greater reliance on institutional support. At some schools that means student fees. In fact, the Sun Belt had the second highest average for percent of athletic budget derived from student fees, behind only the Mid-American. Two Sun Belt schools, Florida Atlantic and Florida International, are in the top five out of all BCS schools for percentage of athletic department revenue coming from student fees. Florida International leads all BCS schools at 71% and is #4 in dollar amount at $15.6 million.

You won’t be surprised to find out only one school is reporting a net profit for their athletic department:

  Athletic Dept Profit
Florida Atlantic  $1,073,745.00
Arkansas State Univ $0.00
Florida Intl  $0.00
Louisiana – Lafayette $0.00
Louisiana – Monroe $0.00
MTSU $0.00
Univ North Texas $0.00
Univ South Alabama $0.00
Troy Univ $0.00
Western Kentucky $0.00

As I’ve explained before, showing a profit on these reports to the Department of Education does not mean the athletic department turns an actual profit. For most non-AQ schools, and some AQ schools, they can show this profit only by including funds like student fees and university subsidies. In Florida Atlantic’s case, $8.9 million, or 55%, of their total revenue is from student fees.

Read the Note below to find out more about these numbers. Also, check the rest of the site for true line item budgets from programs. I have some numbers from Sun Belt school Western Kentucky coming soon!

NOTE: The data I have is from the U.S. Department of Education. Federal statute requires schools to report the financials for their athletic department (if they receive the Title IV funding, which all Sun Belt schools do).  The statute prescribes what should be included in each category on the report.  For example, when we take a look at revenue the statute requires that it include gate receipts, broadcast revenues, appearance guarantees and options, concessions, and advertising. In terms of expenses, we’re looking at grants-in-aid, salaries, travel, equipment, and supplies.

It’s also important to note that this data is from July 1, 2009 to June 30, 2010, so we’re talking about the 2009 football season.  Additionally, while these are the most complete numbers available for all Big East schools (a public records request wouldn’t get you financial information for the private schools), there is room for variance.

An official within an SEC athletic department provided me with the following qualifications to the data: ”For instance, some institutions may report debt service associated with their football stadium as direct football expenses, while others may show debt service as Other, Non-sport specific.  The same goes for game day security, parking, cleanup, etc. which some may show as direct football expenses, while others may show as facilities costs – not directly attributed to football.  I do believe total revenue and expense numbers are comparable, but when you break down the numbers into categories there is a lot of leeway for variances between institutions.”

Another variance that came to light in reviewing the SEC and Big Ten financials is that some schools do not attribute any of their broadcasting revenue to specific sports, but instead only include it in the Other, Non-Sport Specific category.  This means the athletic department profit number is probably the most reliable in terms of direct comparison.

Nonetheless, this is the most complete data available if you want to compare all of the schools (public and private).  Also, while the numbers may not allow for a perfect apples to apples comparison, they do reflect what each school chooses to show the federal government for purposes of proving their compliance with Title IX.  Certainly interesting to view the numbers in that light.

Thank you to my research assistant Ben Perreira for helping compile the data.

How Much of a Drain are “Other Sports”

Last week we looked at the Top 25 recipients of student activity fees. As I researched, I was looking for a correlation between those who rely on student fees and football profit. Then one of you asked me how sports outside of football and men’s basketball impact a school’s athletic department budget. Around here, ask and you shall receive (within reason, of course)!

First, let me say that it is generally true that football, and sometimes men’s basketball, subsidizes a large portion of the expenses for other teams. It doesn’t matter if we’re looking at a team from Conference USA or the SEC. Accordingly, I pulled numbers for several of the top student fee recipients, both in terms of dollars and percentage, an SEC school, a Big Ten school and Cal-Berkeley because of their recent fundraising efforts to save five sports.

In the charts that follow, you will see a breakdown of the revenue and expenses for football, men’s and women’s basketball and the catchall for the rest of the varsity sports, “Other Sports”. I’ve also indicated how men’s teams are represented in the “Other Sports” category (with all track and field-related teams being counted as one sport) and how many total participants.

UCF Revenue  Expense Profit
Football $15,173,200.00 $8,507,856.00 $6,665,344.00
Men’s Basketball $2,279,998.00 $2,134,978.00 $145,020.00
Women’s Basketball $416,214.00 $1,370,168.00 -$953,954.00
Other Sports – Men’s (6)(238) $805,958.00 $1,978,860.00 -$1,172,902.00
Other Sports – Women’s (8)(227) $1,698,109.00 $4,737,880.00 -$3,039,771.00

As you can see, UCF turns a profit when it comes to strictly viewing team revenues and expenses thanks to profits from football and men’s basketball. This is before you add in their $17.5 million in student fees. However, it’s also before you add in costs like coaches salaries ($5.9m), recruiting ($559k), gameday operating expenses ($3.6m) and student aid ($5.7m). With those expenses included, it takes student fees, alumni contributions and other revenue from sources like licensing and advertising to allow UCF to turn an overall profit in the athletic department.

By contrast, Ohio University does not make enough from football or men’s basketball to cover the losses by other sports:

Ohio University Revenue  Expense Profit
Football $7,467,896.00 $7,385,482.00 $82,414.00
Men’s Basketball $2,614,831.00 $2,327,125.00 $287,706.00
Women’s Basketball $1,149,723.00 $1,427,734.00 -$278,011.00
Other Sports – Men’s (6)(245) $1,884,051.00 $1,928,829.00 -$44,778.00
Other Sports – Women’s (8)(253) $4,363,211.00 $4,732,698.00 -$369,487.00

Ohio is already operating at a deficit before you add in coaches salaries ($4.1m), recruiting ($380k), gameday operating expenses ($2.6m) and student aid ($6.3m).

Florida Atlantic is in even worse shape, because they’re not even turning a profit on football:

Florida Atlantic Univ. Revenue  Expense Profit
Football $2,280,834.00 $4,610,870.00 -$2,330,036.00
Men’s Basketball $379,745.00 $1,205,402.00 -$825,657.00
Women’s Basketball $121,177.00 $922,597.00 -$801,420.00
Other Sports – Men’s (8)(303) $340,689.00 $1,663,949.00 -$1,323,260.00
Other Sports – Women’s (8)(175) $432,511.00 $2,603,570.00 -$2,171,059.00

Add in coaches salaries ($2.8m), student aid ($4.0m), recruiting ($235k) and gameday expenses ($2.5m) and there’s over $17 million to cover.

Schools in AQ conferences are not immune. University of California – Berkeley has been trying to save five sports since last fall in their effort to cut institutional support under $10 million per year. Here’s a look at their problem:

Univ. of California – Berkeley Revenue  Expense Profit
Football $24,421,437.00 $18,519,523.00 $5,901,914.00
Men’s Basketball $6,967,208.00 $5,816,679.00 $1,150,529.00
Women’s Basketball $2,183,820.00 $2,981,083.00 -$797,263.00
Other Sports – Men’s (12)(577) $4,770,156.00 $8,459,403.00 -$3,689,247.00
Other Sports – Women’s (13)(388) $7,907,079.00 $10,592,018.00 -$2,684,939.00

As you can see, the profit from football and men’s basketball is not enough to cover the other sports. Once you add in coaches salaries ($11.9m), student aid ($11.1m), recruiting ($1.0m) and gameday operations ($9.5m), you can see why the school might have been forced to look at making cuts. Let me also point out that Cal has 25 total teams, which is 8 more than you’ll see at Florida and equal to that you’ll see at Penn State below. The difference between Cal and Penn, however, is about $44 million in football profit and another $3.1 in men’s basketball profit. Bottom line: Penn State can afford to field 25 teams…perhaps Cal simply cannot.

As I’ve eluded to, things are a little easier in the SEC and Big Ten where football and men’s basketball make enough profit to cover all the other sports. Here’s a look at Florida:

University of Florida Revenue  Expense Profit
Football $68,715,750.00 $24,457,557.00 $44,258,193.00
Men’s Basketball $10,184,136.00 $7,908,661.00 $2,275,475.00
Women’s Basketball $160,828.00 $2,997,648.00 -$2,836,820.00
Other Sports – Men’s (7)(303) $1,375,526.00 $6,687,001.00 -$5,311,475.00
Other Sports – Women’s (10)(248) $2,641,684.00 $12,634,533.00 -$9,992,849.00

You’ll notice that even at Florida, women’s basketball and men’s and women’s other sports operate at a deficit. Florida football and men’s basketball makes enough to cover not only that deficit, but also coaches salaries ($17.4), student aid ($7.5m) and recruiting ($1.4m) before having to dip into funds like alumni contributions and advertising/licensing/royalties. Although Florida’s athletic department receives income from student fees ($2.5m) and state support ($1.9m), it would turn a profit of over %6.9 million without those funds.

The same is true on an even larger scale at Penn State:, where there are 8 more men’s and women’s teams that at Florida:

Penn State University Revenue  Expense Profit
Football $70,208,584.00 $19,780,939.00 $50,427,645.00
Men’s Basketball $8,384,315.00 $4,147,124.00 $4,237,191.00
Women’s Basketball $827,499.00 $3,181,099.00 -$2,353,600.00
Other Sports – Men’s (13)(478) $3,820,427.00 $8,209,238.00 -$4,388,811.00
Other Sports – Women’s (12)(351) $4,867,444.00 $9,729,303.00 -$4,861,859.00

The $43 million surplus left from football and men’s basketball after covering the other sports also covers coaches salaries ($9.4m), student aid ($11.1m), recruiting ($967k) and gameday expenses ($7.5m). At the end of the day, Penn State shows a $26.4 million profit without the aid of any student fees, direct institutional support or state support.

So, no matter whether you’re Ohio University or Penn State, football and men’s basketball are generally the only profit producing sports. When profits from those two sports aren’t large enough to cover the other sports and other expenses like recruiting and coaches salaries, schools generally have to rely upon student fees and other types of direct institutional support.

My question to you is if you think there is an issue here. Should non-revenue producing sports be cut? Should non-profit producing sports be cut? Let’s pretend there is no Title IX – what would you do with these athletic departments?

You may have also noticed that women’s “Other Sports” bring in more than men’s “Other Sports” at each and every school listed. In fact, it’s the case for all but two schools I looked up out of about twenty-five. The explanation deserves a post of its own, so check back later this week for more on that!

Student Fees for Non-AQ Schools

This morning I showed you the Top 25 Recipients of Student Activity Fees in the BCS, and last week we looked at each school in the SEC, Big Ten and Big 12 and the ACC, Pac-10 and Big East.

Below is a breakdown, by conference, of every school in a non-AQ conference. Remember, “N/A” means the school is either private or otherwise immune to open records request, whereas “0” means the athletic department does not receive student fees. Also, numbers are from the 2009-2010 school year.

Conference USA

School Student Fees % of Total Revenue
University of Central Florida $17,466,918.00 44%
East Carolina University $10,441,783.00 32%
University of Memphis $7,666,067.00 19%
Univ of Southern Miss $6,056,608.00 31%
University of Houston $4,728,620.00 14%
UTEP $4,189,751.00 16%
Marshall University $4,150,759.00 18%
Univ. of Alabama – B’ham $3,454,483.00 14%
Rice University N/A N/A
Tulane University N/A N/A
University of Tulsa N/A N/A

Mid-American Conference

School Student Fees % of Total Revenue
Ohio Univ $16,460,250.00 69%
Univ of Akron $16,199,911.00 67%
Miami Univ (OH) $13,786,549.00 53%
Kent State $10,516,660.00 54%
Univ of Toledo $9,824,257.00 49%
Bowling Green $9,497,261.00 50%
Ball State Univ $9,221,400.00 46%
Northern Illinois Univ $8,333,419.00 38%
Univ of Buffalo $7,439,422.00 29%
Eastern Michigan Univ $1,572,843.00 6%
Central Michigan Univ $0.00 0%
Western Michigan Univ $0.00 0%

Mountain West Conference

School Student Fees % of Total Revenue
San Diego State Univ $10,220,740.00 31%
Colorado State $4,774,723.00 18%
Univ of Utah $4,168,754.00 14%
UNLV $2,287,676.00 4%
Univ New Mexico $1,608,093.00 4%
Univ of Wyoming $1,156,548.00 4%
USAF Academy $428,142.00 1%

Sun Belt Conference

School Student Fees % of Total Revenue
Florida Intl Univ $15,635,778.00 71%
Florida Atlantic Univ $8,877,456.00 55%
Middle Tennessee State $6,848,065.00 33%
Western Kentucky $6,437,652.00 28%
Univ South Alabama $5,680,478.00 35%
Univ North Texas $5,007,059.00 49%
Univ Arkansas Little Rock $3,627,665.00 38%
Arkansas State Univ $2,832,773.00 30%
Troy Univ $712,380.00 5%
Univ Louisiana Monroe $362,045.00 3%
Univ Louisiana Lafayette $0.00 0%

Western Athletic Conference

School Student Fees % of Total Revenue
San Jose State $4,683,122.00 23%
Utah State $3,700,874.00 19%
Boise State Univ $2,980,056.00 8%
New Mexico State $2,613,320.00 10%
Univ Nevada Reno $2,333,116.00 10%
Univ Idaho $2,218,219.00 14%
Univ Hawaii $0.00 0%
Louisiana Tech Univ $0.00 0%
Cal State Univ – Fresno N/A N/A