FanPost

The $EC, ACC, and Other Conferences' Profitability

Recent Florida State football coaching changes and speculations about conference realignment often bring up questions and discussions concerning FSU finances and how the program stacks up with the top programs in college football. The conference affiliation often comes into discussion and there is endless speculation whether FSU is better off in other conferences like Big 12, B1G, or SEC and what type of coaching staff can the program afford. For my own general knowledge I wanted to look at the top programs and if there was an obvious connection between conference alignment and the financial success of athletic departments. The intuitive answer to this question and the general feeling you get from the media is that some conferences are more lucrative than others. I wanted to look at hard data and see if I could draw my own conclusions.

The DOE makes school athletic department revenues and expenses publically available and my analysis was based on 2010 data for the top 5 football conferences (ACC, B1G, B12, SEC, and PAC12). Initially, I wanted to look at football revenues and expenses and determine the most profitable football programs and how many each conference had. However, you also have to look at the overall athletic departments' profits, if any, to understand some of the changes and events that we have observed since 2010.

For many schools football is a cash cow and generates the majority of the revenue for the entire athletic department. A great example of this is Auburn University that draws over 73% of the entire athletic department revenue from football, as compared to the average of about 45% across the five conferences. This explains, to some extent, why AU would be willing to offer top coaches like Les Miles tons of money and why AU spends so much on its football program. The success of the AU football guarantees survival of the other sports at the university.

On the other hand, we have to look at the profitability of the entire athletic department to understand how it might impact the football program. For instance, FSU athletic department does not make any profit - we break even. While this is better than losing money, many athletic programs in our sample actually make money. This means that if FSU has to spend more cash on coaches, facilities, recruiting, etc. this money has to come from someplace else. The school has to generate more revenue, cut costs, or bring in funds from other sources. In my opinion, this puts FSU at a disadvantage as compared to the SEC or B1G schools, many of which actually have an AD surplus or profit and can simply loosen their expenses by a few million a year to retain their assistants, bring in a top coach, or upgrade the facilities.

To answer my question I put together two lists of top 25 most profitable football programs and top 25 most profitable athletic departments (bottom of the post). The tables and the graph below show the summary of the results and how many schools each of the conferences had from those lists.

Top 25 FB Margin Schools

Top 25 AD Margin Schools

ACC

2

ACC

3

B1G

7

B1G

8

B12

4

B12

6

PAC12

2

PAC12

1

SEC

10

SEC

7

1sxx5t_medium
i45.tinypic.com

The results show that 10 out of 12 SEC schools were on the list of the top 25 most profitable football programs. B1G had 7 schools with Penn State and Michigan at the top with 73.2% and 66.5% respectful football profit margins. Penn State was ranked #2 only behind the king of all college football - Texas. Michigan was #5 behind two SEC schools: UGA and LSU. The two lonely ACC representatives were NCST and FSU ranked #20 and #21 respectfully. The NCST was slightly ahead with 48.2% profit margin of FSU's 47.9%.

Eighth of the most profitable athletic departments were the B1G schools and SEC had 7 representatives. Surprisingly, the #1 spot belonged to Kansas State of B12, followed by Penn State and Alabama. While Alabama was #3 in profit margin, the school's athletic department made more money than any other university in the country, only closely followed by Penn State. Simply put, Saban gets what Saban wants when his athletic director has $31.5 million in surplus annually. The ACC had 3 schools on the list and, you guessed it, FSU is not one of them. All three schools are towards the bottom of the list with Virginia ahead of the pack at #18, followed by VT and UM at #20 and #24, respectfully.

Just looking at these numbers, as of 2010, it looks like being in B1G is the best place to be for financial health and stability for all sports, football included. Considering the lack of significant success on the national scene from the schools in B1G, we can't really say that financial success yields above average results on the football field, but we can say that finances are not going to bring the SEC from the top any time soon. And while FSU and the ACC are not in terrible shape, we are certainly not one of the elites, when it comes to finances, and stepping up to a higher level is going to be harder when there is $0 wiggle room in the athletic budget.

Top 25 FB Margin Schools

Institution Name

Revenue

Expenses

Profit

Margin

B12

The University of Texas at Austin

$95,749,684.00

$24,507,352.00

$71,242,332.00

74.4%

B1G

Pennsylvania State University-Main Campus

$72,747,734.00

$19,519,288.00

$53,228,446.00

73.2%

SEC

University of Georgia

$74,888,175.00

$22,036,338.00

$52,851,837.00

70.6%

SEC

Louisiana State University and Agricultural & Mechanical College

$68,510,141.00

$21,492,741.00

$47,017,400.00

68.6%

B1G

University of Michigan-Ann Arbor

$70,300,676.00

$23,552,233.00

$46,748,443.00

66.5%

SEC

The University of Tennessee

$56,831,514.00

$19,135,650.00

$37,695,864.00

66.3%

B12

Texas A & M University-College Station

$45,414,074.00

$15,560,216.00

$29,853,858.00

65.7%

SEC

University of Florida

$72,807,236.00

$26,263,539.00

$46,543,697.00

63.9%

B1G

University of Nebraska-Lincoln

$54,712,406.00

$20,147,302.00

$34,565,104.00

63.2%

B1G

Michigan State University

$45,040,778.00

$17,420,499.00

$27,620,279.00

61.3%

SEC

University of Arkansas

$61,131,707.00

$24,059,193.00

$37,072,514.00

60.6%

B12

University of Oklahoma Norman Campus

$58,811,324.00

$23,191,402.00

$35,619,922.00

60.6%

SEC

The University of Alabama

$76,801,800.00

$31,580,059.00

$45,221,741.00

58.9%

B12

Oklahoma State University-Main Campus

$33,213,396.00

$13,787,271.00

$19,426,125.00

58.5%

SEC

University of Kentucky

$34,020,276.00

$14,352,110.00

$19,668,166.00

57.8%

B1G

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

$28,079,694.00

$12,910,507.00

$15,169,187.00

54.0%

B1G

University of Iowa

$44,506,832.00

$20,510,807.00

$23,996,025.00

53.9%

SEC

University of South Carolina-Columbia

$45,464,058.00

$22,482,479.00

$22,981,579.00

50.5%

SEC

Auburn University

$76,227,804.00

$39,069,676.00

$37,158,128.00

48.7%

ACC

North Carolina State University at Raleigh

$21,856,742.00

$11,329,718.00

$10,527,024.00

48.2%

ACC

Florida State University

$35,870,789.00

$18,689,809.00

$17,180,980.00

47.9%

SEC

Mississippi State University

$22,575,985.00

$11,766,024.00

$10,809,961.00

47.9%

PAC12

University of Utah

$21,235,202.00

$11,426,280.00

$9,808,922.00

46.2%

PAC12

University of Washington-Seattle Campus

$39,405,237.00

$21,306,380.00

$18,098,857.00

45.9%

B1G

University of Wisconsin-Madison

$43,296,599.00

$23,662,925.00

$19,633,674.00

45.3%

Top 25 AD Margin Schools

Institution Name

AD Revenue

AD Expenses

AD Surplus

AD Margin

FB Rev

B12

Kansas State University

$68,875,266.00

$45,479,858.00

$23,395,408.00

34.0%

28.6%

B1G

Pennsylvania State University-Main Campus

$116,118,026.00

$84,498,339.00

$31,619,687.00

27.2%

62.6%

SEC

The University of Alabama

$123,910,432.00

$92,225,560.00

$31,684,872.00

25.6%

62.0%

B1G

University of Michigan-Ann Arbor

$122,486,490.00

$95,836,991.00

$26,649,499.00

21.8%

57.4%

B12

Oklahoma State University-Main Campus

$70,123,206.00

$55,757,830.00

$14,365,376.00

20.5%

47.4%

PAC12

University of Oregon

$85,740,068.00

$69,306,426.00

$16,433,642.00

19.2%

32.3%

B1G

Michigan State University

$80,963,182.00

$67,450,913.00

$13,512,269.00

16.7%

55.6%

B12

The University of Texas at Austin

$150,295,932.00

$125,978,117.00

$24,317,815.00

16.2%

63.7%

B1G

Ohio State University-Main Campus

$131,815,819.00

$113,184,855.00

$18,630,964.00

14.1%

46.2%

SEC

Mississippi State University

$49,893,731.00

$43,587,148.00

$6,306,583.00

12.6%

45.2%

SEC

University of Arkansas

$91,768,113.00

$80,482,490.00

$11,285,623.00

12.3%

66.6%

SEC

University of Georgia

$92,341,067.00

$82,765,498.00

$9,575,569.00

10.4%

81.1%

SEC

Vanderbilt University

$55,632,098.00

$49,864,555.00

$5,767,543.00

10.4%

40.4%

B1G

Purdue University-Main Campus

$66,066,303.00

$59,293,193.00

$6,773,110.00

10.3%

27.8%

SEC

Louisiana State University and Agricultural & Mechanical College

$106,421,671.00

$96,019,689.00

$10,401,982.00

9.8%

64.4%

SEC

University of Florida

$123,008,257.00

$112,951,656.00

$10,056,601.00

8.2%

59.2%

B12

University of Oklahoma Norman Campus

$104,338,843.00

$96,274,366.00

$8,064,477.00

7.7%

56.4%

ACC

University of Virginia-Main Campus

$78,439,006.00

$72,400,342.00

$6,038,664.00

7.7%

21.4%

B1G

Indiana University-Bloomington

$70,172,641.00

$64,878,825.00

$5,293,816.00

7.5%

34.5%

ACC

Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

$61,077,122.00

$56,762,362.00

$4,314,760.00

7.1%

57.4%

B1G

University of Nebraska-Lincoln

$83,679,756.00

$78,509,148.00

$5,170,608.00

6.2%

65.4%

B12

Texas Tech University

$51,190,970.00

$48,066,724.00

$3,124,246.00

6.1%

51.9%

B1G

University of Iowa

$92,903,555.00

$87,607,487.00

$5,296,068.00

5.7%

47.9%

ACC

University of Miami

$60,325,003.00

$57,561,177.00

$2,763,826.00

4.6%

43.4%

B12

Texas A & M University-College Station

$74,944,301.00

$71,719,872.00

$3,224,429.00

4.3%

60.6%

X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior users will need to choose a permanent username, along with a new password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

I already have a Vox Media account!

Verify Vox Media account

Please login to your Vox Media account. This account will be linked to your previously existing Eater account.

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior MT authors will need to choose a new username and password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.

Join Tomahawk Nation

You must be a member of Tomahawk Nation to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Tomahawk Nation. You should read them.

Join Tomahawk Nation

You must be a member of Tomahawk Nation to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Tomahawk Nation. You should read them.

Spinner.vc97ec6e

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.

tracking_pixel_9341_tracker