- Brian Bennett, ESPN Staff Writer
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The economy in most sectors these days has flattened out, at best. But it's good to be in the business of college sports.
ESPN's Paula Lavigne took a look today at the booming revenues in college athletics and how money and profits are still pouring in despite rising coaches' salaries and travel expenses. Lavigne reports that total revenue from FBS programs comes in at around $8 billion and that operating revenues have increased about 32 percent from 2007-2008 to 2012-13 (oh, for that kind of return on your 401k, huh?).
In one of the least surprising developments ever, the Big Ten had several schools among the top revenue-producing teams identified from the study. This handy-dandy graphic shows it all in easy-to-digest detail. Among some of the more interesting findings:
Wisconsin was No. 2 nationally among public schools in both revenue generated in 2012-13 ($149 million) and expenses ($146.7 million), behind only behemoth Texas in both categories. More than half of the Badgers' revenue came from areas other than football and men's basketball, which includes donations, conference payouts and other sports. Michigan was No. 4 in revenue ($143.5 million) and No. 3 in expenses ($131 million), while Ohio State was fifth in both revenue ($140 million) and expenses ($116 million). Penn State ($111 million) and Iowa ($107 million) both cracked the top 10 in expenses.
Ohio State had the nation's largest reported surplus in 2012-13 at $24 million, but that does not include $16.6 million in debt service owed for renovations at Ohio Stadium and other projects. Michigan had a surplus of $12.2 million, which ranked seventh. The Wolverines also generated more money from road games ($5.5 million) and spent more on travel (over $9.6 million) than any other school. The reporting period includes the school's trip to play Alabama in Cowboys Stadium in the 2012 season opener.
Ohio State ($28.5 million) spent more on its coaches than any other school, while Penn State ($20 million) was fifth. The Big Ten also had the top three and four of the top five schools who spent the most on visiting teams: Ohio State (nearly $8 million), Minnesota ($4.8 million), Wisconsin ($3.9 million) and Michigan State ($3.65 million). No wonder the Big Ten went to nine conference games.
This fascinating database shows that Wisconsin got more money from contributions and donations (a whopping $58.9 million) than any FBS school in 2012-13. Michigan, meanwhile, is killing it in licensing, royalties and sponsorships, raking in more than $22 million, or more than every school in the land besides Texas.
There is big, big money in college sports, and the Big Ten is at the forefront of all it.