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Tuesday, May 15, 2012
Big Ten among NCAA's biggest spenders

By Brian Bennett

This isn't exactly surprising news, but Big Ten schools are among the biggest spenders -- and earners -- in all of college athletics, according to a new database compiled by USA Today.

The newspaper collected the expenses and revenues for Division I athletic programs in 2010-2011, the most recent year for which public schools' filings with the NCAA were available. The study showed that everything is bigger in Texas, including sports spending; the Longhorns outpaced every other school with a $133.7 million budget and more than $150 million in revenue.

But Big Ten schools also ranked high among the biggest spenders, with seven teams in the top 16 nationally. Here is how they stacked up nationally in operating expenses:

2. Ohio State: $122.3 million

3. Michigan: $111.8 million

6. Penn State: $101.3 million

9. Wisconsin: $95.6 million

12. Iowa: $93.4 million

14. Michigan State: $84.5 million

16. Nebraska: $83.7 million

22. Minnesota: $78.9 million

26. Illinois: $77.7 million

29. Indiana: $71 million

41. Purdue: $66.2 million

(Note: Information for Northwestern, which is a private school, was not available).

Only the SEC -- another surprise, right? -- has more big spenders than the Big Ten, with eight schools reporting more than $80 million in expenses

The USA Today report also said that only 22 athletic programs turned a profit in 2010-11, but 10 of the 11 Big Ten schools surveyed were in the black, while Minnesota broke even (Thanks, Big Ten Network). Penn State had the biggest profit, at nearly $15 million, while Michigan and Ohio State each reported revenue of about $11 million more than their expenses.

Another interesting part of the report is how much subsidy each athletic program receives from its school, in the form of student fees and other university support. Four Big Ten athletic programs -- Ohio State, Nebraska, Penn State and Purdue -- receive no school subsidy, something only seven Division I programs can claim. Meanwhile, Michigan ($272,000) and Iowa ($564,000) get less than a million, ranking in the bottom 10 nationally for subsidy support.

Here's a look at the subsidies other league programs receive:

Minnesota: $7.8 million in subsidies (9.9 percent of total operating budget)

Wisconsin: $7.2 million (7.5 percent)

Illinois: $4 million (5.1 percent)

Michigan State: $3.7 million (4.3 percent)

Indiana: $2.7 million (3.8 percent)

The USA Today report paints a picture of the haves and have-nots in college athletics and even suggests that the wild disparity between the upper echelon and the bottom schools could lead to a split in college football.

But while many schools' athletic programs are struggling to make ends meet or need vast support from their universities to keep the lights on, the Big Ten looks extremely healthy in its finances.