College sports: where the money goes


AnotherViewsquareThe Knight Commission on Sports recently reported that college athletic spending is three to 12 times more than is spent on academics. Recently, the MSR received the most recent reporting data from the University of Minnesota, and we examined 2012 and 2013 revenues and expenses for all 25 men’s and women’s sports programs at the school.

We chose six of them — women’s basketball (WBB), women’s hockey (WH) and volleyball (VB); men’s basketball (MBB), men’s hockey (MH) and football (FB) — because they are revenue generating sports. Rounded in thousands of dollars, monies generated from ticket sales greatly varied among the six teams:


FB — $11.2 million in 2012 and $11.4 million in 2013;

MBB — $5.6 million (2012) and $5.2 million (2013);

MH — $5 million (2012) and $5.1 million (2013);

WBB — $261,000-plus (2012) and $269,000-plus (2013);

WH — $45,000 (2012) and $87,000 (2013); and

VB — $119,000 (2012) and $147,000 (2013).

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Only Minnesota football ($34.5 million), men’s basketball ($16.9 million), and men’s hockey ($204,919) brought in money from post-season appearances, but not women’s hockey, despite the fact that they won consecutive national championships during the same time period.

Football revenues totaled $68.9 million in two years, followed by men’s basketball ($30.1 million), men’s hockey ($12 million), women’s hockey ($1.6 million), women’s basketball ($1.2 million), and volleyball ($403,000).

Two-year expenses for these sports were:

FB — $36.9 million;

MBB — $11.5 million;

WBB — $5 million;

MH — $4.4 million;

WH — $2.4 million; and

VB — $2.3 million.

Although the aforementioned six programs reportedly lost money from 2012 to 2013, the three men’s programs still were profitable during this time: football ($32 million), men’s hoops ($18 million) and men’s hockey ($8.5 million). Meanwhile women’s basketball (-$3.8 million), volleyball (-$1.8 million) and women’s hockey (-$1.6 million) reported a deficit.

This does not take into account the amount of “athletically related student aid awarded, including summer school and tuition discounts and waivers (including aid given to student-athletes who have exhausted their eligibility or who are inactive due to medical reasons).”

The U of M report, however, also gives credence to many women’s sports opponents who constantly harp that men’s sports always make money and women’s sports are a budgetary drain.  College sports, like the O’Jays classic refrain, is “just money, money, money,” admits former Minnesota athletic director Joel Maturi.

Several years ago Maturi and I talked about this, and he expressed a fear that big-time college athletics would reach stratosphere-like proportions in its spending, particularly football and men’s basketball. Big-time college sports seemingly has become like a Temptations’ classic — a ball of confusion. “What’s happening is that [the gaps between] the haves [Division I Football Championship Series (FCS) schools] and the have not’s [everyone else] are becoming wider. I don’t think anybody likes what is going on. It doesn’t make [for] a good answer, but it is what it is today.

“Who knows where it’s going to end,” he concluded.


Next: A further breakdown of how the U of M spends monies on their players

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