Comparing football, basketball revenues

March, 14, 2011
3/14/11
3:03
PM ET
The Big East placed a record 11 teams in the NCAA men's basketball tournament on Sunday, further cementing the league's status as the nation's preeminent basketball conference.

Forbes recently took the opportunity to look at the revenues generated by the Big East basketball programs. Since this is a football blog, I'm not going to spend a lot of time talking about basketball. But what I found interesting in that article was the comparison between the football and basketball revenues, which is a vitally important issue to understand when it comes to things like expansion, TV contracts and the very future of the league.

According to the data, which was compiled for the 2009-10 academic year, Big East schools averaged $9.6 million in revenue per team for men's basketball. Compare that to football, where Big East teams generated an average of $20.1 million in revenue per program. Or, as the article puts it, "Big East schools averaged $310 in football revenue for every $100 in men’s basketball revenue."

Of the eight football-playing members in the Big East, only one -- Louisville -- saw more revenue from basketball than football. The Cardinals brought in $25.8 million in basketball, compared to $15.5 million in football. Syracuse football generated $19.2 million, compared to $18.3 million for its basketball team. They were the only two league schools to make a $10 million or more profit off men's basketball.

The disparity was much greater elsewhere in the league. Rutgers made $19.5 million in revenue in football and only $4.6 million in basketball. West Virginia earned $29.5 million in football revenue to $13.3 million for its Final Four basketball squad. Pitt was at $22.5 million for football and $13.1 million for basketball. Connecticut football nearly doubled its men's basketball counterpart ($14.4 million to $7.8 million), Cincinnati football nearly tripled the revenue of Bearcats hoops ($13.3 million to $4.9 million) and South Florida almost quadrupled the pigskin-to-roundball revenue ($16.6 million to $4.6 million).

And none of that holds a candle to Notre Dame, which milked $64.2 million out of football and just $4.1 million from basketball.

The typical Big East athletic department gets 27 percent of its revenue from men's basketball, according to the Forbes story. Almost all of the rest comes from football.

The Big East makes more money off men's basketball than any other conference, earning nearly $100 million off NCAA Tournament performances alone in the past six years. But even in a league that is so hoops-mad, football is still king when it comes to dollars and cents.

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