SEC and Big Ten Football Finances

If you read my pieces on about SEC and Big Ten football finances, you may be interested in seeing the charts I compiled on each conference. You can download below.

SEC Financial Data (Excel)   SEC Financial Data (PDF)

Big Ten Financial Data (Excel)   Big Ten Financial Data (PDF)

UPDATE (3/7/2011, 3:19 p.m.) After talking to a handful of schools in each conference, it has become clear that schools in each conference vary how they attribute broadcasting money that covers more than one sport.  It seems schools are split pretty evenly between dividing it out between sports and just including it under non-sport specific. Therefore, I have taken down the Big Ten adjusted charts. Unless every school calls me back (and I’ve put calls into every single one), the adjusted figures aren’t really useful.

UPDATE (2/1/2011, 3:23 p.m.) Purdue, Iowa, Ohio State, Northwestern and Michigan’s athletic departments spoke with me about Big Ten Network revenues. Purdue, Iowa and Michigan indicated that they do not attribute it to any sport, so none of that revenue is included in football revenue. It is, however, included under non-sport specific revenue, so the overall athletic department profit numbers do not change for the Big Ten. Each school indicated that with other broadcasting revenue they attribute the money 65/35 between football and other sports (none gave a reason for why they don’t do this with Big Ten Network revenue). They also gave me the total amount each Big Ten school received from the Big Ten Network during the reporting period I have covered, which was $14,911,477.

Based on the amount they have confirmed was received by each school from Big Ten Network revenue, it is not possible that Northwestern, Michigan State or Illinois is reporting the entire figure in the other, non-sport specific category, as is the case with Purdue, Iowa and Michigan. Northwestern’s total for “other” is $14,747,543, Michigan State’s is $11,459,191 and Illinois’ is $5,664,148. Thus, I have assumed (until they return my calls for comment) they are attributing a portion of Big Ten Network revenue to football.

Ohio State confirmed that they already attribute Big Ten Network revenue between football and basketball, so no adjustment is needed for their football revenue number.

For the adjusted chart above, I’ve chosen to use 65% of the Big Ten Network revenue each school received in 2009 as the amount that could be attributed to football for those schools who have either confirmed they are attributing all of their Big Ten Network revenue to the other, non-sport specific category or those who may be and have not returned my calls.  That means adding $9,692,460 to each school’s revenue. I have added that amount to each school’s football revenue total in the attached chart.

I will provide additional updates as available.


Subscribe so you don’t miss a post
Sign up with your email address to receive news and updates!

What do you think?

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  • Alex
    January 31, 2011

    You’re lacking BigTen Network revenue. Which throws a lot of numbers off. You included it for the SEC but, not the BigTen. If this is the case then I can easily see that the SEC schools would earn a bit more. Your research doesn’t include what the schools spend on other areas that don’t show up in the reports filed with the feds. Such as the Alabama stadium End Zone addition or Michigan Stadium 226 million dollar stadium upgrade are two that come to the top of my mind. The schools up north also spend a lot of money into non-rev sports such as your Olympic sports, Ice Hockey, Golf, and the other sports they usually have that the majority of the southern schools do not. Those sports generally do not make money in fact they loose money.

  • Mark Elia
    January 31, 2011

    Did you compare how many sports each school fields?

    Florida has 17 varsity sports whereas Penn State fields 29.

    Alabama fields 18 whereas Ohio State fields 33.

    I believe that comparison is needed before a discussion on finances is complete.

  • uncle buck
    January 31, 2011

    Looks like you live with the dawgs, but you were a gator by education.

    How would you rank the SEC teams? #1 being your favorite, and #12 being your mortal enemy 🙂

    BTW, Thanks for doing the articles! will you do it for all the D 1 conferences?

  • admin
    January 31, 2011

    Alex, I have no idea if Big Ten Network money is included. The statute requires them to report broadcasting revenue for football under football revenue, but I think it’s possible they could put it under “Other, Non-Sport Specific.” None of them have clarified for me yet (and probably won’t). I was just looking for something to explain why Big Ten schools are averaging better profits than SEC for athletic department when they’re not averaging better profits for football (which should be largest profit generator). The only plausible explanation I could come up with was that they weren’t attributing any Big Ten Network revenue to football.

    Alex and Mark, the interesting thing is that the Big Ten is making BIGGER profits in their athletic department even though making less in football and fielding more sports.

    Uncle Buck, I’m a Florida fan because I went there for law school. Here’s my ranking: Florida, South Carolina, Auburn, Ole Miss, Miss State, Tennessee, Vandy, Kentucky, Georgia, LSU, Alabama, Arkansas.

  • admin
    January 31, 2011

    Oh, and Uncle Buck, yes, I’m doing for all D1 conferences.

  • Simon Templar
    January 31, 2011

    Will the Addition of Nebraska in 2011 help or hurt the Big Ten?

  • uncle buck
    January 31, 2011

    In your article you talked about the number of sports, but what about quantity vs quality.

    Florida has a top flight women’s gymnastics squad

    Tennessee has women’s basketball

    Kentucky has men’s basketball

    South Carolina has baseball

    Arkansas has T&F

    To be fair, in almost every sport where the SEC does compete, they usually have a top team, and multiple teams will be in any top 25.

    I am glad you will be doing all of D1 as many of the secondary schools never get reported on. How will you deal with schools in the realignment, as schools like Nebraska, Colorado, Utah, et al will have to skew numbers going forward.

    Great work!

  • rad
    January 31, 2011

    SEC created the earth and all the green grass. SEC said that saturday should be a day of rest and all should whopship him. And all the people went to the games and they did eat the flesh of animals, drink spirits and they got intoxicated. They worship SEC and said who in all the land should be able to beat SEC. They sacrificed women to SEC so that SEC would reward them and they would be happy.
    Hey you fans of SEC. Get a life! There is only one GOD and He is not SEC!

  • Mark McLaughlin
    January 31, 2011

    I liked your article what I don’t quite understand is if you took into account that the SEC revenue was coming from 12 teams while the Big Tem sic. fields only 11. How does the compare change when you add Nebraska?

  • Joe
    January 31, 2011

    Nebraska being added will push the Big 10 up tremendously. The figures now compare 11 Big 10 schools and 12 SEC schools. Nebraska was rated by Forbes as the 4th most valuable team in NCAA football last year. 3rd if you go by profit. That is higher than any school in the SEC and nearly the same as the highest in the Big 10 (Penn State).

  • Kevin Cox
    January 31, 2011

    It seems odd that the Badgers would have such a high expense for football. Could the Badgers and Buckeyes allocate depreciation by program while the others report depreciation separately? Would you link to the audit reports. I’d love to analyze.

  • Kristi Dosh
    January 31, 2011

    Simon, it’ll definitely help. The real help is adding the conference championship game, which will bring in additional money.

    Uncle Buck, Big Ten teams on average compete in more sports than SEC teams, yet still turn a bigger profit. SEC get accused of only caring about football while Big Ten teams try to field competitive teams in all sports. However, as you pointed out, several SEC schools are tops in other sports.

    Mark, I tried to focus on the average revenue and profit in boht conferences so that we could compare SEC and Big Ten numbers without having to worry about how many teams.

    Kevin, it may be that they’re including stadium debt in expenses and other schools are not. If you take a look at the Forbes piece, I give a quote in the note at the end from an SEC athletic director who pointed out some possible areas of variance.

    Thanks to all for reading and for the great comments!

  • Kevin Cox
    January 31, 2011

    I found an athletic budget to actual report on the web for 2008-2009 school year for Wisconsin. Debt service of $10.5 million is included in the operating results, so i imagine most of that is allocated to football on the Department of Education’s disclosure. Football accounted for a third of direct operating expenses, aummarized, as follows.
    Men’s Football 7,936,065 34%
    Men’s Basketball 3,206,045 14%
    Men’s Hockey 1,865,590 8%
    Men’s other 3,362,861 14%
    Women’s 6,949,367 30%
    Total direct expense 23,319,928 100%

    Other non direct expenses in addition to debt service, include $4.5 million in catering, $2.5 million Camp Randall facilities, $4 million in event management, much of which may be heavily allocated to football. However, direct expense appears to be only around a third of the total. The allocation of resources to the football team may have more to do with bratwurst markups and allocations of debt service than the picture painted by these new Department of Education compliance reports.

  • Chris
    February 1, 2011

    While an interesting topic in theory, you can’t see how each school allocates costs and revenues in enough detail to say they are uniform. There is not itemized, regulated reporting mechanism or much reporting at all in some cases and therefor cannot be examined in any realistically critical sense. Again, interesting topic but you cannot derive any sort of conclusion based on arbitrary sets of numbers. You are comparing earnings press releases from private companies in a sense. You have no way to verify what is being said, the numbers aren’t all available to you.

  • uncle buck
    February 2, 2011


    You raise an interesting point.

    a) These are all probably 501’s with tax exemption via the IRS

    b) These institutions are state backed, and taxpayer funded

    c) Accountants have standards

    Why is there not a uniform method for athletic accounting? Non profits have strict guidelines, so why not uniform treatment for the large volumes of money moving around these programs. If we are to trust the institutions, I would think there would be high transparency.

  • CS
    February 2, 2011

    Chris and Uncle Buck:

    Revenues and expenses for each sport at nearly every NCAA school are available from the Department of Education’s website. Every school that is involved with the federal student aid programs (118 of the bowl division schools in 2009) is required to provide the numbers each year. So there is, in fact, a regulated reporting mechanism.

    The source of the issue regarding football revenues and profits is that some revenues and expenses are not directly attributable to a single sport. For example, the Big Ten Network hands over a wad of money to each Big Ten school in exchange for broadcast rights for multiple sports (not just football). That payment is not identified as being for any particular sports or events, which leaves some gray area in how the schools should account for it. Some attribute a fraction of it to football, while some attribute it all to non-sport specific revenue (which is a valid category). The data reported to the Department of Education does not seem to include how each school divvied up funding sources like this. In all cases, though, that money is unambiguously included in the total revenues for the school. Comparing the total athletics revenues and profits between Big Ten and SEC schools is completely valid.

  • m
    February 2, 2011

    The Big Ten financially benefits from the Big Ten network in 2 ways:

    1) Payments from the network to the conference for the rights to broadcast games.

    2) Profits from each school owning a percentage of the network. In the long run they will get dividends from the network, but currently any such profits are probably being used to pay back Fox, who paid the network start-up costs. Still, somewhere on each Big Ten’s school balance sheet should be profits for the appreciation their ownership shares.

    I assume your figures includes #1. Does it include #2? I wouldn’t be surprised if the schools put it somewhere in the non-sports side of their books, even though it is clearly associated with the athletic departments. This is important when comparing the Big Ten and SEC, since the SEC isn’t getting any equivalent to #2 in their media rights deal.

  • uncle buck
    February 2, 2011


    I am with you to a point, I guess what I am saying is why do they not require an updated standard on revenue / expense allocation. I may not be the smartest cat out there but I can recognize that football drives the bus. This was made quite clear when Nebraska football got the B1G invite, and Kansas basketball did not. If even a peon like myself can get this, why not have standards that reflect it?

  • CS
    February 4, 2011

    Sorry for the delayed response.

    I guess the issue is that divvying up the BTN money between sports is a somewhat arbitrary exercise. How much should should go to football? That 65% seems to be only a very approximate number, given that all schools seem to use it, regardless of the relative differences between their different sports teams. The other 35% gets even more difficult — how to divide that between the other 30 or so sports? Also, for the BTN, would the individual football programs have gotten the equivalent of 65% of the BTN revenue if they had negotiated separate broadcasting rights? Is the Michigan football team really responsible for the same amount of BTN revenues as the Purdue football team?

    Furthermore, I don’t know that there is a compelling reason to force schools to allocate all revenues to individual sports. For the above reasons, that just results in arbitrary ways of dividing the income. Is that really any better than just putting some of that revenue is a separate category where they admit it is not clear how to allot that income? Making comparisons between the revenues of different football programs is fun, but that hardly seems to me a reason why programs should be required to to make these arbitrary distinctions. Under the current system, the Department of Education gets the total revenues and the approximate breakdown of where they come from, which is what they want. Why would they need this done differently?

  • cutter
    March 2, 2011

    Kristi, can you absolutely confirm that the Big Ten Network distributed $14.9M to each of the Big Ten programs in the time frame you mentioned, i.e., 1 July 2009 to 30 June 2010.

    The reason why I question that number is two-fold. The first is an article from the St. Louis newspaper which has figures showing that total television revenue for 2009-2010 for the University of Illinois was $14.9M with the Big Ten Network contributing $6.5M and other networks (primarily ABC/ESPN) contributing the other $8.4M. See

    The second link is the the University of Michigan’s FY 2011 Budget document which shows a conference distribution figure of nearly $20M which includes television revenue of $14.887 from football and basketball. Go to the third page (listed as Page 1 at the bottom) of this link:

    If each school in the Big Ten Conference did receive $14.9M in revenue from the Big Ten Network alone (not including what the other networks contributed), then that amount is well beyond recent history (as indicated in the article from the St. Louis newspaper) or what the projections were just last June.

    So if you can confirm that number with the schools you spoke with, then you might want to follow up on their overall television revenue because it might be much larger than they projected.

  • Kristi Dosh
    March 2, 2011

    I’ll look into it more, but three schools confirmed for me the $14.9 million as the Big Ten Distribution for time period covered by the reports.

  • Seth
    March 3, 2011

    And Kristi if you look at the St. Louis article, $14.9 million was the projected total television distribution. It seems to coincidental to have $14.9 million come up twice. Are we sure the Big Ten schools weren’t confirming a total distribution from the network partners (ABC/ESPN, CBS, and the Big Ten Network) of $14.9?

  • Kristi Dosh
    March 3, 2011

    I’ve heard back from one of the schools and they confirmed $14.9m was received from the Big Ten Network alone. Would like to hear it from more than one to be sure there is no misunderstanding or mistake.

  • Seth
    March 3, 2011

    Thanks for following up on this. I guess my other issue would be $14.9 million would significantly throw off everything we’ve heard about the Big Ten’s conference distribution. Teddy Greenstein and most other reports i’ve read have it at $20-22 million annually.

    With $14.9 million from the BTN and $8.4 million from the ABC/ESPN, and CBS contracts, we are at $23.3 million already. We also haven’t accounted for BCS/bowl game revenue sharing, or NCAA basketball checks either. Do you have any data from the schools on what their actual distribution check from the conference was if they made $14.9 million from the BTN alone? Is it possible (I don’t think it is, but…) the BTN distributions are accounted for separately from the annual conference distribution?

  • Nelson
    March 19, 2011

    Many of links provided are incorrect because of the assumption that the BTN was the sole source of tv/media revenue.

    Here’s an important point that many don’t understand: Big Ten Media distributions include BTN and ABC/ESPN/CBS mon. The Big Ten conference collects the ABC/ESPN/CBS monies and distributes to the schools. Big Ten Media distributions are greater than BTN revenue because it includes the ABC/ESPN/CBS revenues.

    Look at the info provided by UW (now slightly out of date):

    University of Wisconsin Projected
    2008-9 2009-10
    ABC/ESPN/CBS $8,086,305 $8,426,000
    BTN Distribution $6,308,750 $6,461,000
    To Campus for BTN Expenses $250,000 $250,000
    Net BTN Available to Share $6,058,750 $6,211,000

    30% Campus BTN Distribution $1,817,625 $1,863,300
    70% Athletics BTN Distribution $4,241,125 $4,347,700

    Athletics Net From B10 Media $12,327,430 $12,773,700

    Big Ten Media Total $14,395,055 $14,887,000

    The Big Ten Media Total of $14,395,055 is simply the sum of BTN revenue and ABC/ESPN/CBS revenues. The 30/70 campus/athletics split is specific to Wisconsin. Other schools will deal with this differently.

  • Rich
    April 11, 2011

    The link above claims the Purdue Athletic Dept budget is $57M with a revenue of $61M. It also tells how all the revenue generated by the athletic dept (minus JPC scholarship money) goes to a general fund.

    Claiming $61M in revenue doesn’t seem correct to me.

  • Kristi Dosh
    April 16, 2011

    All I can do at this point is tell you what they reported to the Department of Education. I am looking into some other sources of information, but the numbers I reported are what they share with the federal government for Title IX review.

  • Marcus
    November 14, 2013

    The info and comments here have helped me kick start a research paper am doing based on these questions;
    1. Licensing revenue for the fiscal years ending in; 2011, 2012 and 2013.
    2. Which department manages the licensing function? How many full time
    employees are dedicated to managing the function
    3. Does the university outsource any of the licensing activity? If so,
    to whom? (i.e CLC)
    4. How is the licensing revenue used or distributed? Is there a
    formula for distribution? (i.e. 100% to athletics or 50% the general
    fund for scholarships, 50% to student services, etc).
    I would appreciate if any one gave me the information about websites I can access the statistics. Thank you