Do the rich keep getting richer in college sports? On Friday, USA Today put together their annual revenue report for all division 1 athletic departments for the 2015-16 academic year.
The report gave us a hint at growing revenues and the Big Ten wasn’t immune from that. In fact, the Big Ten had over half of its 13 teams (Northwestern, as a private school, does not report these numbers) come in the top 25 of revenue.
However, it was still the SEC that reigned supreme in revenue. It had six of the top 10 schools in terms of revenue, including No. 1 Texas A&M which pulled in an incredible $194.4 million during the 2015-16 academic year.
To no ones surprise, Ohio State and Michigan lead the Big Ten in terms of revenue coming in. Both schools easily surpassed the $150 million mark in revenue, with Ohio State racking in a cool $$170.8 million and Michigan pulling in $163.8 million of its own.
Wisconsin came in third from the Big Ten and at No. 11 nationally with a revenue total of around $132.8 million. Rounding out the top 25 contingent from the B1G were Penn State ($132.2), Michigan State ($123), Minnesota ($113.5), Iowa ($113.2) and Nebraska ($112.1).
Those may seem like gaudy numbers and the rich getting really rich in college athletics. But, those numbers represent pure revenue only. Michigan pulled in a profit, but it is nowhere near some of the more lofty profits in college athletics today.
According to the USA Today report, Michigan’s profit this past season came just short of the $6 million mark. Ohio State, well it pocketed just $3.9 off its incredible revenue total.
Leading the way in profitability of the Big Ten was actually Nebraska, who made just under $8.4 million in the 2014-15 academic year.
Maryland and Rutgers came in third and second from the bottom respectively, failing to reach the $100 million mark. But, both broke even, spending the exact amount they took in on the academic year.
That is huge news for both programs, who were chomping at the bit to join the Big Ten in large part to make up for huge revenue shortfalls in their old conferences. Mission accomplished in terms of balancing the financial books.
Let’s see how that goes going forward with new TV rights deals and full shares of everything coming in to play going forward.
The moral of the story? Sure, the money is huge, but it isn’t like the schools are hoarding cash in some secret vault. In general, what is coming in is going back out to its players (scholarships, amenities, etc.) coaches, administrative staff and beyond.
Sure there is some profit happening, but that is also part of running a successful athletic department. Keeping from being in the red allows for more money to be put in to capital projects and scholarships that make everyone happy.
It sure seems as if the Big Ten has itself in the right frame of mind when it comes to how it spends what it makes — even if they are ridiculous totals.