Academic Dollars: Big Ten Expansion, Research Excellence and a B1G Sweep.

Submitted by justingoblue on August 14th, 2011 at 2:30 PM

Recent conference expansion talk has fueled more speculation about the Big Ten adding a new member. Without a football powerhouse like Nebraska available, I believe that the only way a new member is added to the Big Ten is with solid athletics and powerhouse academic credentials. One way to measure academic excellence and activity is total research expenditures; I have compiled a list of total research dollars spent for a five year span (2004-2008) from The Top American Research Universities 2010 Report, from Part II starting on p.31. After gathering the raw data in Excel, I made a few simple calculations: summing data from different years, dividing schools into athletic conferences*, and finding the mean, median and mean expenditures per year. This should give some insight to where a potential Big Ten member needs to be (without being a special case like Nebraska), where the Big Ten fits among other conferences academically and which schools pump the most dollars into academic activity. Two notes about calculations: a) only schools with >$40,000,000 of research were included, the median does not include these schools in calculation, but both means heavily penalize a conference for a low-spending member and b) medical schools not on the university main campus are not included in calculations. Off the top of my head, IU, Rutgers, Nebraska and Arkansas are penalized heavily for this, so let me explain why: first, the AAU calculates this way and second, I did not have access to enough accounting data to do anything other than "include" or "not include" and chose the latter.

*Chicago was included in the Big Ten because of their CIC affiliation.

Conferences in order of total spending, a simple sum. (all numbers are *1,000):

Big Ten 30,266,277
Pac 12 23,757,209
ACC 17,996,467
SEC 12,361,094
Big XII 9,037,125
Big East 8,794,493

Conferences in order of median spending (excludes schools under 40,000,000):

Big Ten 2,093,400
Pac 12 1,808,149
ACC 1,620,709
Big East 1,336,260
SEC 1,239,180
BXII 851,474

Conferences in order of average spending (includes schools below 40,000,000 as zero):

Conference Average Average per Year
Big Ten 2,325,875 465,175
Pac 12 1,979,767 395,953
ACC 1,499,706 299,941
Big East 1,099,307 219,861
SEC 1,052,591 210,518
BXII 903,713 180,742

Big Ten Total Spending by School, descending:

Wisconsin 4,116,318
Michigan 4,063,612
Ohio State 3,202,138
Minnesota 2,965,622
PSU 2,873,737
Illinois 2,457,119
Northwestern 2,093,400
Purdue 1,948,883
Iowa 1,650,222
Michigan State 1,580,244
Chicago 1,551,427
Nebraska 1,054,776
IU 678,879

Big Ten Notables:

Total Spending 30,236,377
Median Spending 2,093,400
Average (includes <40,000,000 as zero) 2,325,875
Average Per Year 465,175
Highest Spender Wisconsin (4,116,318)
Lowest Spender Indiana (678,879)

Pac 12 Notables:

Total Spending 23,757,209
Median Spending 1,808,149
Average (includes <40,000,000 as zero) 1,979,767
Average Per Year 395,953
Highest Spender Washington (3,721,565)
Lowest Spender Oregon (279,875)

ACC Notables:

Total Spending 17,996,467
Median Spending 1,620,709
Average (includes <40,000,000 as zero) 1,499,706
Average Per Year 299,941
Highest Spender Duke (3,357,452)
Lowest Spender FSU (898,502)
Non Qualifiers Boston College

SEC Notables:

Total Spending 12,631,094
Median Spending 1,239,180
Average (includes <40,000,000 as zero) 1,052,591
Average Per Year 210,518
Highest Spender Florida (2,720,376)
Lowest Spender Auburn (672,043)
Non Qualifiers Mississippi, Arkansas, Alabama

Big XII Notables:

Total Spending 9,037,125
Median Spending 851,474
Average (includes <40,000,000 as zero) 903,713
Average Per Year 180,742
Highest Spender Texas A&M (2,555,789)
Lowest Spender Oklahoma (393,766)
Non Qualifiers Texas Tech, Baylor

Big East Notables:

Total Spending 8,794,453
Median Spending 1,336,260
Average (includes <40,000,000 as zero) 1,099,260
Average Per Year 219,861
Highest Spender Pitt (2,656,991)
Lowest Spender Connecticut (523,633)
Non Qualifiers Syracuse

Possible Big Ten Additions:

School: Dollars spent last five years Rank in CIC using current membership
Duke 3,357,452 3
UNC 2,304,624 7
U.Va 1,194,179 12
Virginia Tech 1,620,709 10
Pitt 2,656,991 7
Rutgers 1,399,272 12
Syracuse N/R 14
Missouri 1,126,801 12
Notre Dame 398,712 14




August 14th, 2011 at 2:43 PM ^

I was looking at this the other day as well.  I don't quite understand your numbers.  For example, the table on page 31 has total research expenditiures (in 2008) for Wisconsin as $881 million.

Am I missing something?

Edit:  Nevermind... This is a 5 year total.


August 14th, 2011 at 2:45 PM ^

Maybe I wasn't clear, and actually I don't think I was. Those numbers are all five year totals. I thought at the time that it might not be fair to go off of a one year number. For example Michigan could have pulled in $50,000,000 more than Wisconsin in 2006, but it wouldn't be counted by just using 2008 numbers. I thought it was best to use a bigger window, so that's what you're seeing.

The only one year numbers are the average spending per year, which is just total spending divided by total conference numbers and divided by five.

Also, if you want the numbers I can give them out. They're in Excel and it took a long time, so I would really like it if someone else could use these numbers (or if I can use them for a class in the fall or something).


August 14th, 2011 at 8:51 PM ^

Just giving it a quick eyeball test, the correlation doesn't seem to be there. Size seems to help OSU, but doesn't do anything for MSU, Duke is tops in the ACC with Clemson and FSU at the bottom (though Wake is there too). I'd be happy to share the numbers if anyone wants get into analysis but my guess would be a strong medical school gets you paid.


August 14th, 2011 at 8:38 PM ^

Not a reply to you elaydin, so +1 for using your space. I'm on the road right now and don't want to try and edit my diary post on my phone out of fear for killing it (also it's not totally related to the original purpose) but I got the Ivy League numbers and the B1G kept the streak of dominance alive:

Total: 15,341,984
Median: 2,254,814
Average: 1,197,748
APY: 383,550
High: Penn (3,284,281)
Low: Brown (747,218)


August 14th, 2011 at 3:19 PM ^

ND's lack of research is one huge knock on the school.  Compared to dozens of other institutions, it just doesn't make it when it comes to research.  In spite of that, it is an excellent school academically.  Pitt and Texas are both excellent candidates, although as we all know, Texas is all in for Texas.  If the SEC goes to 16, the B1G will have to do something, and it is better to be in the game early.


August 14th, 2011 at 4:02 PM ^

Texas is in it for Texas but what about this scenario:
Texas joins the big ten but doesn't share in BTN revenues, and big ten schools don't share in the revenue from the Longhorn network. We'll call this a wash revenue wise for the two sides (although I'm not sure that it is, but I don't think it will detract from my point). Both the big ten and texas have deals with ABC/ESPN to air football games. One or two texas home conference games (big ten) air on the longhorn network, one or two of their road games appear on the BTN, the rest are on ABC/ESPN. This is significant leverage for BTN to get on basic cable in Texas and significant leverage for the longhorn network to get n basic cable in the Midwest. Everybody makes more money, ESPN is happy cause it still gets first choice in games (and texas gets better opponents) and it's investment in the longhorn network is recouping faster.
Texas is in it for Texas but I think this is a win for everyone.


August 14th, 2011 at 3:02 PM ^

Great research Justin, I appreciate the effort.
I don't have time to look this up but I remember reading at some point that Penn state was roughly equal with Texas in terms of research expenditures in 1993 when PSU joined the big ten. They have since surged ahead of Texas and this is partially (mostly?) attributable to membership in the CIC. I think a point could be made about the causation of research spending, basically that any university that joins the big ten (within reason and with some institutional will) is going to see a similar surge as PSU.
That being said, looking at those numbers makes me think we could afford to add a few 'academic' members if big ten is forced to expand to make up for Nebraska (Pipe dreams: UVA, UNC, DUke) and of course notre dame (great academics, small research, football power).


August 14th, 2011 at 3:07 PM ^



Texas 493,294 446,765 431,398 410,981 343,886

for a sum of 2,126,324 between 2004-2008. PSU's numbers are up in the B1G section for a comparison. Interesting note about causation. Sounds like a whole other diary in five years when Nebraska has some new figures out and can be compared with PSU.


August 14th, 2011 at 3:05 PM ^

Notre dame is low. I also remember when notre dame almost joined in the late 90's hearing some scuttlebutt about how the academics at ND were against it cause the CIC would disrupt the character of the school by shifting more focus towards research instead of the undergraduate education.


August 15th, 2011 at 9:11 AM ^

I had a friend on the faculty when all this was going down and he explained it as four factions...

1. Faculty involved in expanding grad programs at ND strongly supported CIC membership, for obvious reasons ... access to consortium resources for their students, the opportunity to work with grad students from other campuses who would take their grad classes at ND (this is one of the main advantages to the CIC in social science and the humanities ... and the religious studies faculty at ND would have been a great enhancement to the CIC), some research fellowships that are exclusive to the CIC.

2. Faculty not particularly involved in expanding grad programs but who saw themselves as focused more on research/scholarship oriented than undergrad education at ND. Many of these were younger faculty. Strongly supported membership. After it was shot down, ND saw attrition of about 1/3 to 1/2 of this group over the next 5 years (when my friend left).

3.  Faculty who saw ND's core mission as undergraduate, liberal arts education but did not believe that CIC membership would undermine this mission.

4. Faculty who saw ND's core mission as undergraduate, liberal arts education and feared that CIC membership would undermine this mission. A minority position, but featuring some of the longest tenured, most noted (in the Ralph Williams fashion) members of the faculty.

The wider faculty voted in a fairly substantial majority to favor Big 10 membership, but the voices opposed spoke to the very different structure that ND enjoys contra the Big 10 schools.



August 17th, 2011 at 4:59 AM ^

My lab job starts in a month, deep under cover somewhere in Franklin County.

To the OP:  Fine research work.  I noticed that Pitt was prominently featured on the list of potential expansion candidates.  Research dollars don't lie; but will they lift a mediocre Big East team to Big Ten glory?  #manball

Wolverine In Exile

August 14th, 2011 at 9:27 PM ^

1) Private schools with excellent undergrad academics but not much grad school academics (see: ND & BC) are going to get nailed with this metric. I would happily welcome BC in the BT if came to that, their ACADEMICS are right in line with us, but their RESEARCH is not. Their athletic programs are wide ranging and would be a hell of an addition in Basketball and ice hockey.

2) the most logical schools for us if you consider that the Big Ten's core "identity" if you will is that of large public research universities would be North Carolina and Virginia. Next on the list would fro mmy perspective would be Pitt and Missouri. If we go to 16 teams, we're going to need some Eastern reach so that Penn St has some rivals, since 16 teams likely means 4 divisions with a 3 in division / 2 out of division format for 9 games total. See below:

ERIE / APPALACHIAN Division: Penn St, Pitt, Eastern 1, Eastern 2

GREAT INDUSTRY Division: Michigan, Mich St, Northwestern, Ohio St

GREAT WOODS Division: Minnesota, Wisconsin, Indiana, Purdue 

HEARTLAND: Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska, Mizzou?

Eastern1 could be cherry picked Big East / ACC team (Rutgers/Syracuse/UVa), and Eastern2 could be Notre Dame (hell they think they're an East Coast team anyway). Great Woods preserves Minny/Wiscy rivalry and Indiana/Purdue grouping. Heartland keeps Nebraska/Iowa together, adds in Mizzou with standing rivalry with Neb and unspoken rivalry with Illinois.


August 15th, 2011 at 2:31 PM ^

Thank you for the work/time putting these numbers together.

Your note in the comments re: Ivy League is quite amazing.  I would never have suspected their total (and average per school) to be half that of the B1G.  Dominance indeed.

I think my new favorite expansion scenario includes Duke/NC with Pitt and Va. Tech.  To hell with Notre Dame!  The football would remain strong (granted Duke is the equivalent of adding another IU) and basketball would be monstrous.  Totally worth the expansion of the CIC's research dominance.


August 16th, 2011 at 9:29 PM ^

Some good stuff.  One footnote to add for Rutgers is the strong possibility that the University of Medicine and Dentistry of NJ will be merged with Rutgers in the near future.  UMDNJ was previously known as the Rutgers Medical School and seperated from RU back in the 70's due to NJ politics.  Not having a medical school has hurt Rutgers in these types of rankings. The merger of the two schools would put Rutgers near the top of the list of B1G candidates IF research is considered a qualifying factor. 


August 17th, 2011 at 10:03 AM ^

Definitely a good note about medical schools. Rutgers, Nebraska and IU all got murdered for that. I know IU lost over 500,000,000 over five years because of their medical school location, Rutgers probably lost even more than that since their school is so big (seven campuses?).


August 17th, 2011 at 5:07 AM ^

Pooling teams regionally in a conference is a natural evolution for intercollegiate athletics. Florida vs. Florida State, Colorado vs. Colorado State, Ohio vs. Ohio State, etcetera. These universities are so close (mileage-wise) and call the same state their home, yet they are not in the same conference. Why not?

We already have Ohio vs. Ohio U. It's called "pre-season MACrifices."

There will be better attendance,

Seriously, has this person even watched a game of college football?

It is true that many athletic teams are inferior when compared to universities in their area. This problem will mend itself with realignment.

Yes, Athens will someday grow into a great powerhouse thanks to periodic beatdowns by Big Ten teams.

Everyone involved must make small
sacrifices in order to improve college football. Everyone involved must want to elevate the level of play at all institutions for this plan to work. If one is genuinely interested in the establishment that is intercollegiate athletics, they will listen.

Good luck making that happen, commie.