Everyone is seemingly astonished that the University of Tennessee's Athletic Department is carrying more than $200 million in debt. I'm here to tell you that Ohio State's Athletic Department isn't far behind. In 2011 Ohio State reported $183,555,456 in outstanding athletics related debt. We paid around $17 million to service that debt. See page 11 line items 6 and 7 at the link.
The debt is actually down from a few years ago. In 2004 Ohio State had more athletic department debt than any other public institution ($202,671,662). And that was after University Accounting moved the debt from the construction of the Schottenstein Center from the Athletic Department's books to the Office of Student Affairs books.
I personally think it takes money to make money in college sports. The facility upgrades that served as the source for most of this debt have been both needed and appreciated. Plus, Ohio State does everything on a large scale (from enrollment, to research, to stadiums, to coaching hires), so I don't think there's any reason to fret. Ohio State is in a much better position to pay off the debt than UT seems to be (Ohio State was second nationally in football attendance both last season and this season with over 105,000 per-game attendance average).
Here's a link OSU's Debt Management Report from 2007. It's easy to read and provides an overview of all university debt.
I thought some of you all might find this information interesting.