OSU Biggest Spender in College Football

ATXbucknut's picture
December 27, 2013 at 1:56p

I'm not sure how I feel about this. I'll be interested to hear what others think about OSU's status as the biggest spender per football player at $318,898 on a five year rolling average.  I'm a little conflicted (but not too much; such is the state of CFB today across America) because spending per OSU student is comparatively so low ($20,873 per academic student, which over 5 years is below even <gulp> the University of Buffalo).

Other big spenders in the BCS top 10 stand a bit further back (remember, these are 5-year averages):

• Auburn at $235,200 per FB player
• Alabama at $219,677 per FB player
• Michigan State at $202,112 per FB player
• South Carolina at $171,594 per FB player
• Florida State at $142,904 per FB player
• Oklahoma at $109,642 per FB player
• Missouri spent $105,559 per FB player.

OSU is conspicuously #1 in spending per FB player in all of CFB for the most recent single year in which data is available (2011) at $456,023 per FB player.  The only other school over $400K is Auburn at $434,108.

Notably, FB generated revenues of $56,133,807 in 2011 while FB expenses totaled $37,978,930.  Where did the difference go?

While Ohio State is the biggest spender among all collegiate football programs, revenues from football fund almost all other costs associated with the university’s other athletic teams.

So, FB is essentially funding OSU's non-revenue sports as well as its ability to comply with Title IX (which is a good thing).

BIg Conference

As a conference, the B1G 5-year spending average is $210,787 per FB athlete.  That figure is exceeded only by the SEC, which spends $259,251 per FB player. No other conference is over $200K per FB athlete; the ACC is the only conference in the same stratosphere at $190K per FB athlete.

Here's how the big spenders in the B1G compare:


What say you? Feel free to play with the data visualization and comparison tools here.

Comments Show All Comments

USMC11917's picture

Soooo.... Michigan's color on this graph is brown? What are you saying? Other than that, I was never that good at reading these things.

M Man's picture

...And OSU is green, and MSU is orange, Nebraska is blue, IU is purple...  ?
I am thinking that a Knight Foundation intern from Taipei did this chart's color-coding.

Chief B1G Dump's picture

Takes money to make money...
Looks like F$U stands to make a pretty dang good return on their investment(s) as they're comparatively low to the rest of the big spenders.
However, what are they counting as "spending" on a player?  Also, the article references the "Knight Commission."  As in Phil Knight?  Because that would be odd...

ATXbucknut's picture

Definitely not related to Phil Knight.  It's part of the Knight Foundation:

The Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics was formed by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation in October 1989 in response to more than a decade of highly visible scandals in college sports. The Commission’s initial goal was to recommend a reform agenda that emphasized academic values in an arena where commercialization of college sports often overshadowed the underlying goals of higher education. Since 1989, the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics has worked to ensure that intercollegiate athletics programs operate within the educational mission of their colleges and universities.


TMac's picture

What was it in 07 & 08 that had OSU spending so much less per athlete?

ONE Not Done!

brandonbauer87's picture

The players were selling memorabilia, they didn't need anything extra. 

ATXbucknut's picture

That's a good question, TMAC, although the dip was in spending per FB player, not per athlete (which held steady).
I poked around elsewhere and found that in 2007 expenses on coaching salaries went up by $8 million, while revenue from "rights and licensing" went down by $26 million (and then recovered the next year). However, overall athletic revenue and spending continued their steady trend upward, so it seems like there was a downturn specifically in spending per FB player.  I have no idea why it impacted only FB.
Someone more intelligent than I would have to analyze the data.

Toilrt Paper's picture

Fewer support staff and a smaller recruiting budget. It will sky rocket if and when schools must give a "stipend" to all athletes .

jBarnes's picture

The stadium renovation is amortized in these numbers - you can see this in the 09 jump.

“I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I needed to be.”  ― Douglas Adams  ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

fanfarris's picture

These Players better bust their butts playing.i went to OSU for 6 years and didn't get an even free lunch at the ohio union !!!


Nick's picture

The FB program doesn't get a discount on anything they spend on the players. They are paying out of state tuition for all out of state guys and they are giving them everything they need to graduate from OSU.

1stYrBuckIClub's picture

I donate to win, not because I worry about what it costs to do so. You know what they say, money can't buy happiness, but it can help you look for it in more places...

Idaho Helga's picture

The old saying, is money can't buy you happiness.  But Poverty is the price of misery.

Go1Bucks's picture

I am still a bit skeptical of these figures and would be more likely to believe the statement if a breakdown of associated costs were provided.  I have no doubt much is spent per player, but are recent additions to facilities a breakdown cost, why are coaching salaries placed in, etc...it would explain the huge gap between 1 and 2.  Just saying.

Go Bucks!

hetuck's picture

Football pays the bonds for the Stadium renovation. Other schools such as LSU have "athletic foundations" for capital expenditures. 

Winning is a habit. Unfortunately, so is losing.

Vince Lombardi

Go1Bucks's picture

good point

Go Bucks!

d5k's picture

Just because they put the # of players in the denominator doesn't mean the money is spent on the players specifically.  This is just total football expenditures divided by # of players.  So facilities, recruiting, salaries, maintenance etc. is included in addition to stuff the players get directly.

Go1Bucks's picture

good point too

Go Bucks!

Seth4Bucks's picture

And OSU's been a little lighter on number of recruits compared to some of the other programs at the top due to the sanctions. I bet the average goes down a bit if you include those 3 scholarships into the equation.

741's picture

$7.2 million of that $37.98 million in football expenditures was paid out to visiting teams that played At Ohio Stadium.
The kids are not getting anywhere near $318,000 spent on them per player. This is not a well written study.

Phoenix824's picture

You also have to consider equipment upgrades. Urban upgraded the weight room

dallavise's picture

I heard these were insanely expensive... so wouldn't be surprised if this was the main culprit.

Knarcisi's picture

Bottom line ... 47+% profit is good business ...

Jonnferrell's picture

So what.  My wife spends that much on shoes.

"I miss Brady Hoke."

Ericgobucks's picture

Best response yet. +1

Todd-Not Boeckmann's picture

I'm pretty sure I read somewhere, that the way tOSU has their books arranged, debt service on the bonds that paid for facilities upgrades is included in the athletic department budget.  Could that be the reason?

On the wall guarding the North Coast from all Weasel invasions.

Todd-Not Boeckmann's picture

Out of curiosity...why would someone down vote that comment?  I think I have a stalker/hater

On the wall guarding the North Coast from all Weasel invasions.

hetuck's picture

That is correct. And to top it off, the university charges to use the facilities. That's like paying a mortgage and rent on the same house. I had an athletic dept. staffer confide it is cheaper to play a basketball game at Nationwide than the Schott.

Winning is a habit. Unfortunately, so is losing.

Vince Lombardi

Notor's picture

Does it really matter how much is spent on students? More money does not equal a better education. Is Buffalo close to us? Are our admissions standards being lowered?
Don't think so.

TilstheHun3's picture

Mo money, mo problems... Unless you are the Ohio State Buckeyes.

What is this? A center for ants?!? How can we be expected to teach children to learn how to read if they can't even fit inside the building?