ESPN OTL on revenue in college sports: Michigan led B1G with net profit of $90 million over last 6 years

Submitted by Leaders And Best on May 19th, 2014 at 12:22 PM

ESPN OTL did a study on the last six years of college ADs finances (2007-08 to 2012-13). Michigan led the Big Ten during the period with a total of $90,243,483 of profit, averaging $15,040,580.50/per year.

Ohio State was number #1 in the country in 2012-13 with a surplus of $24 million. Michigan was #4 in revenues ($143.5 million), #3 in expenses ($131 million), & #7 in surplus ($12.2 million) in 2012-13. I was a little surprised at how much Wisconsin made in 2012-13, ranking #2 in the country in revenue and expenses, but I guess this may be dependent on how many home football games a school has and how schools maintain their financial books.


OTL Story:

Big Ten specific analysis from Big Ten Blog:



May 19th, 2014 at 12:35 PM ^

A man and his wife owned a very special goose. Every day the goose would lay a golden egg, which made the couple very rich.

      "Just think," said the man's wife, "If we could have all the golden eggs that are inside the goose, we could be richer much faster."

       "You're right," said her husband, "We wouldn't have to wait for the goose to lay her egg every day."

       So, the couple killed the goose and cut her open, only to find that she was just like every other goose. She had no golden eggs inside of her at all, and they had no more golden eggs.


May 19th, 2014 at 12:53 PM ^

At least for us, the four main channels are pretty consistent from the looks of things - ticket sales, donations, conference-related revenue and licensing, and seemingly always in that order when it comes to relative contributions as well. One thing that also is pretty interesting is the precipitous drop from the first 10-12 teams in most revenue categories to the rest of Division I in this database. You also get a sense for how much some schools rely on conference revenue too. 


May 19th, 2014 at 12:59 PM ^

I'm blown away schools like UVa require $13M from student fees.  You'd figure they would be able to pay their costs without milking the students even more.


May 19th, 2014 at 1:00 PM ^

And yet we basically had to drag DB bloody, screaming into the street in order to pay for the band to go to Dallas for the game against Bama.  This makes total nonsense.


May 19th, 2014 at 1:19 PM ^

If you took all the season ticket packages and reduced their cost by just $100—which is not a huge amount—that $12 million surplus gets eaten up quite a bit.


May 19th, 2014 at 2:30 PM ^

So the way I very roughly figure it, U-M could charge $20 less per game, per seat, at football games, including the student population, and still come out a bit ahead.


May 19th, 2014 at 6:32 PM ^

Assuming football and basketball are the only sports in the black*, there are about 98 total athletes in profit-making sports at Michigan (85 scholarship football players, 13 scholarship MBB players). That means an average of $153K/year in profit per kid. Jesus.

*Does anyone know if any other teams turn a profit? I doubt it but am curious.

Zone Left

May 19th, 2014 at 6:58 PM ^

Yeah, but imagine those numbers without the non-revenue expenses added in. That $150K goes up a lot.

These revenue and expense numbers are totally disingenuous, because they ignore that only football and basketball are profitable enterprises. The money being made off football and basketball players is huge.

Plus, the expense numbers violate a basic tenant of accounting. Scholarship costs are part fixed and part variable expense. Central and North campus along with the whole undergraduate university would still be there without football and basketball. The marginal cost of those scholarships is probably 30% of the price the AD pays the school for each player. The net direct economic benefit (no prestige or alumni satisfaction factors) of an average football player to the school is probably north of $500K--and Dave Brandon could probably spit it out in a heartbeat.

Mr. Yost

May 19th, 2014 at 7:13 PM ^ doing his job.

Regardless of whether you all like him or not. Men lie. Women lie. Numbers don't.

Sometimes you all lose sight of one of the major parts of the man's job, whether he likes it or not. He gets paid (a shit ton), to make money.

Obviously there are other major responsibilities at the top of his job description, but this is right up there with just about anything other than overall Student-Athlete welfare.

Make him the villain if you all want...I like "to haz nice things." I'd much rather have an arrogant, sometimes out of touch, money fiend AD than a nice guy who can't raise or make money.

For those of you bitching about some of the money making shit Brandon does think about this...who is his competition? Who is Michigan trying to keep up with? Texas, Ohio State, ND, USC, Alabama, etc.

They're not going to stop making/spending money...Michigan can't just because we don't like some of the things that make money.

So when Texas A&M puts in all these seats to pass us in attendance, or Alabama renovates a locker room to somethat that would make the NY Giants jealous, or OSU builds a new center for football with a bunch of inaccurate signage about Michigan...just know that Brandon's got to do something to get some money so he can do the same.

I'm sorry, but I love the Glick Fieldhouse, the two towers on the sides of the stadium and especially the new Schembechler Hall. I love tradition too, but if we want to keep up, we need these things. Period.


May 20th, 2014 at 11:51 AM ^

In the win column it shows pretty clerly yo those not blinded by their own negativity; of those five schools, Michgan has, since 1997, won more games than two (A&M and ND), about the same as one (USC), and fewer than two (OSU and UT).  Against that group, Michigan is, indeed, keeping up.