Texas tops in football profit, revenue

December, 12, 2012
12/12/12
4:11
PM ET
The University of Texas football program in 2011-12 generated the most revenue and highest profit among all programs, but the rest of the top 10 saw some changes. Michigan football replaced Penn State in second place with $14.8 million more in profits than in 2010-11.

David Ablauf, associate director of media and public relations for Michigan, says there were a number of reasons for last year’s increase. Having one additional home game accounted for about $6 million in additional revenue. Also, ticket packs were sold for the first time, and Michigan had its first night game at Michigan Stadium. During that game, the team wore throwback uniforms, which, combined with the unique bowl uniforms they wore in the Sugar Bowl, resulted in higher licensing royalties when fans purchased the new looks.

Perhaps most glaringly absent from the top 10 most profitable programs is Penn State, which held the second spot just a year ago and third the previous year. After a tumultuous year off the field, Penn State fell to 11th place with $66.2 million in revenue, a $6.5 million reduction. However, it’s important to note that Penn State hosted an additional home game in 2010. Based on data provided to the NCAA, Penn State averaged $4.5 million in ticket revenue per home game in 2010, which could explain a large portion of the revenue decrease last year.

Even with the reduction, Penn State posted the eighth-highest revenue for football last year.

Revenue among FBS football programs ranged from a high of $103.8 million at Texas to a low of $3.6 million at the University of Louisiana at Monroe. The average FBS football program brought in $25 million, with a median of $19.9 million.

It should come as no surprise that the top revenue producers also led the FBS in average attendance in 2011. The top 10 programs in attendance also fell within the top 25 in revenue.

The largest revenue producer in a non-automatic BCS-qualifying conference was TCU, which joined an automatic-qualifying conference this season. Independents Notre Dame and BYU both finished above the median, No. 7 and No. 52.

Texas didn’t top every list. The highest expenses for a football program went to the University of Alabama, which has the nation’s highest-paid head coach, Nick Saban. For the 2011-12 season, Saban took home a $4.8 million paycheck. Total expenses for the football program ran to $36.9 million.

Ohio State, Auburn, Penn State and Oklahoma State rounded out the top five in terms of expenditures on football. The FBS average was $14.6 million, with a median of $14 million. TCU was again the highest-ranked program from a non-automatic qualifying conference, coming in sixth.

Every football team that played in a BCS bowl for the 2011-12 season fell within the top half of all FBS programs for football expenditures. Six of the 10 fell within the top 20.

Kristi Dosh

Sports Business
Dosh covers sports business for ESPN. She is an attorney, founder of BusinessOfCollegeSports.com, and joined ESPN in October 2011.
Author of "Saturday Millionaires: How winning football builds winning colleges."

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