- SXSW 2014
College football has long been laced with a distinctive history and tradition, but in recent decades, the game has exploded onto the sports consumer and has no intention of going in reverse.
Of all collegiate athletics, football is king. No other amateur sport commands the finances that football generates, a characteristic that consistently feeds the media and satisfies the consumer every season.
In a recent collection of data from BusinessInsider.com that ranks the top-spending college football programs in the country, The University of Texas at Austin comes in just outside of the top five.
But there is one thing that separates the Longhorns from the rest of the nation: revenue.
Of the 20 top-spending programs, only six register revenue streams of more than $70 million, and just a single university breaks the bank with over $95 million, Texas.
From an expenses standpoint, the Longhorns come in as the sixth-most expensive program to maintain in the country with $24.5 million in expenses. Auburn tops the charts with $39 million in bills, followed by Ohio State ($34 MM), Alabama ($31.5 MM), Florida ($26.2 MM) and Notre Dame ($25.1 MM).
But the number that garners the most attention on the income statements is profit, an area that has the Longhorns leading the way.
Despite Texas’ misfortunes and underperformance from its usual, winning standards that we have seen in the past decade and the half, the Longhorns have done at least one thing right—making profits.
According to the data, the Longhorns generated $71 million in profits, a figure that rises far above that of the rest. Penn State’s 2011 profits fell $18 million short of Texas as the next closest competitor to the Longhorns’ product.
With endorsement deals with organizations like Nike and Gatorade—coupled with the groundbreaking Longhorn Network setup with ESPN—Texas’ brand is as pronounced and connected as ever.
Even if Texas fails to reclaim its status as one of the top college football programs—an endeavor that could bring even more spotlight on the program and university—the Longhorns have created their own image of relevance and desirability.
The Top Ten
Some of the country’s most historic and relevant programs compose the top ten in spending.
From top to bottom—Auburn, Ohio State, Alabama, Florida, Notre Dame, Texas, Arkansas, Wisconsin, Michigan, Oklahoma—only two of the ten generated less than $35 million in profits last year. By comparison, just three schools in the 11-20 range topped the same mark.
The top ten in spending amount to nearly 60 percent of the reported profits in 2011, as close to $410 million of the almost $700 million in total revenue from 1-20 belong to the top half. The bottom half is buoyed by huge figures from Georgia, LSU and Penn State—three programs with identifiable standards and presence in the college football world.
Auburn tops the game in bills with $39 million. You have to spend money to make money.
Six of the top 20 spenders are in the SEC, seven hail from the Big Ten, two represent the Big 12, two come from the Pac-12 and one in the ACC.
Texas’ profits nearly equal that of the combined numbers from USC (20), Northwestern (19), Virginia Tech (17), Washington (14) and Wisconsin (8).
The last ten national champions all appear in the top 20 in spending.
The full listing can be found here.