Always a Losing Season

Always a Losing Season

Big-time college sports make money for universities, right? Wrong. Who says so? Only the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA).

The 2004-06 NCAA Revenues and Expenses of Division Intercollegiate Athletics Programs Report makes for dull reading. Doug Lederman wrote a good summary for Insidehighered.com:

In the 2006 fiscal year, the latest of three examined in the study, only 19 of the 119 Football Bowl Subdivision institutions had positive net revenue, while for the rest, expenses exceeded generated revenues. (For the entire three-year period, only 16 athletics department turned a net profit.)

  • 2006 median net loss for all 119 big-time (I-A) programs in 2006: $7.265 million.
  • Average annual new revenue for the 16 profitable teams 2004-06: $4.3 million.
  • Average annual loss for the 103 money-losers 2004-06: $8.9 million.
  • One team got a $100 million alumni contribution, but another spent $100 milion so it really didn’t move the needle much.

If college football and basketball don’t make money for the universities, is it worth all the recruiting scandals and the pretense that illiterate team members are “student athletes?” Only to the “gaming industry.” What will it take before the NBA and NFL develop their own “farm systems” independent of our universities, the way Major League Baseball does? 

Image by Mike Licht.

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