Latest Data: Most FBS Programs Still Take Subsidies

By Ramzy Nasrallah on May 8, 2013 at 9:08a


USA Today just published the 2012 data for university athletic department expenditures, showing that most of them are still subsidized just so that they can cover their expenses. The timing of the report is serendipitous, considering the story we ran yesterday on the same topic.

Despite the money pouring in via television contracts and unprecedented visibility, the books for most athletic departments still require significant help to be balanced:

Just 23 of 228 athletics departments at NCAA Division I public schools generated enough money on their own to cover their expenses in 2012. Of that group, 16 also received some type of subsidy — and 10 of those 16 athletics departments received more subsidy money in 2012 than they did in 2011.

Ohio State, Nebraska, Penn State and Purdue from the Big Ten along with LSU, Oklahoma and Texas were the only schools to report no subsidy money in 2012.

Several schools took subsidies and applied fees to non-athletic tuition bills despite being in the black without needing subsidies, including Alabama's athletic department, which sent a portion of those profits back to the school:

Alabama's program received nearly $5.5 million in institutional funds in 2012, up from more than $5.2 million in 2011. It reported sending nearly $4.4 million of an $16.7 million total surplus back to the university — $1 million for faculty support and nearly $3.4 million in licensing money.

Meanwhile, the non-profit NCAA turned a nice little $71MM surplus in 2012.


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droessl's picture

USA Today scooped by Ramzy. More at 11. 

Ramzy Nasrallah's picture

Ha. Something I only just noticed this morning:

That USAT story with all of that data took, at minimum, several weeks of public information requests and subsequent hashing to complete. Timing with what I wrote yesterday was totally coincidental.

703Buckeye's picture

I can see that building from my bedroom window.

"Attack the Strong, Trample the Weak, Hurdle the Dead!"
-Former OSU S&C Coach Lichter

MN Buckeye's picture

You have my condolences.

703Buckeye's picture

The building is actually pleasant to look at during the night, it changes color.

"Attack the Strong, Trample the Weak, Hurdle the Dead!"
-Former OSU S&C Coach Lichter

Hoody Wayes's picture

This underscores the fact the whole model of sports entertainment is changing. If your program can't earn, it's out - forced to a lower division of competition or out of athletics, entirely. Eventually, Ohio State, UM, PSU - maybe UNL - will play in a NFL of college football. We'll be facing ND, AL, TX and USC, almost every year. Undefeated seasons will be as frequent as they are in The League or a thing of the past.
And we're going to pay a premium to see all these games. ESPN - a cable network - aired the Rose Bowl, NCG, etc. last year. So, we paid a premium for those games. Next year, the Final Four will be broadcast on TBS and we'll pay a premium to watch that event.
Edit: One of the looming issues involves the clash between the relentless momentum to make money from college football/basketball (and pay players, eventually) and still be able to accept federal/state funding as academic institutions. So, the workaround would be giving universities the right to own teams as investments?

amos's picture

Ramzy stated in the comments of his story yesterday that in 2011 Alabama retained all profits within the Athletic Department.  I have been unable to find anything to support that claim and it is obviously not true for 2012 (though he made no such claim wrt 2012).  What source was Ramzy's claim based on?

Ramzy Nasrallah's picture

Truthfully I can't find it now, and it pisses me off. The context was that Alabama takes from school funds and doesn't pay them back. The USAT article today confirms that it, at the very least, doesn't completely make the school whole on what it borrowed:

Alabama's program received nearly $5.5 million in institutional funds in 2012, up from more than $5.2 million in 2011. It reported sending nearly $4.4 million of an $16.7 million total surplus back to the university

So it did pay the school back; just not the entire debt - and it didn't need any of it to avoid going into the red.

It's difficult to get robust public information from Alabama (or Auburn) because of the state's sunshine laws. A couple of years ago when Ohio State's carcass was split wide-open I tried to see if it would be possible to also read everyone's email at either of those schools, as the Cecil Newton disappearing paper trail was in the news. There was an state exemption (see: gaping loophole) regarding FOIA requests around "the best interest of the public" and that basically gives each school the ability to determine what goes public. If you like legalese, google Alabama sunshine laws and read away.

Shortly after that - when Ohio State pulled a similar stunt with journalists from all over the country up its ass about Tatgate - ESPN sued to gain access to those records, and lost, plus court costs. But state-funded public institutions everywhere - they gotta show their books, even if their numbers are in macro, ambiguous buckets like you see in the USAT reoprt.

rdubs's picture

Interesting to see Rutgers and Maryland near the top of the FBS schools in terms of subsidies.  Hopefully that will change now that they are making B1G coin.

TheHumbleBuckeye's picture

It will... Based on projections of what BTN will be making with the additions of these two, BTN revenue will make up the difference, and there may even be a little left over.

Flyermike's picture

It is true MD and Rutgers will be making more money, but you are forgetting that this is America.  Making more money just means that those athletic departments will spend more.  I could be wrong, but giving organizations that have spending troubles more money doesn't necessarily fix the issue.  It's more like treating the symptom not the cause.

MN Buckeye's picture

Looks like tsun should copy the good guys again on this one.