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Revenue Figures Released, Just as Bad as You Expected

gorillion_dollarsCollege football news trickles out this time of year, and since Ball State isn’t one of the premier programs with Class of ’14 prospects picking hats on ESPNU specials, we unfortunately don’t hear a lot about the Fighting Football Cardinals. Sure, there’s other news from the nest, like BSU softball kicking ass on the dirt diamond, and we’ll deal with that in good time (read: tomorrow) but the news of note today is that USAToday has finally released an informative easy to use virtual spreadsheet of revenue figures, expenses, and institutional subsidies for college athletic departments! That’s good, right?

This isn’t good at all. BSU clocked in at $21,129,858 in a revenue stream, good for 107th of the schools USAToday obtained. Some big name programs in front of the Cards include the mighty FCS Montana State Fighting Bobcats (100th) and the FCS California-Davis Ags (90th). There’s a handful of D1 basketball programs with FCS football teams on the list ahead of BSU, but those are the two I noticed first before I just wanted to sit in a corner with my Bonzi Wells jersey and cry. Those tears almost became reality when I saw that Texas, Ohio State, Michigan, and Alabama combined for over HALF A BILLION DOLLARS in revenue. That’s a significant amount of money folks and eye-pop worthy until you consider what it took to make that money.

Those five programs also spent over HALF A BILLION DOLLARS as well. Welcome to the new arms race, folks. The kind where you can’t be considered an elite program unless you have platinum robots designed to clean up the urine splashed around the locker room toilets which also happen to be platinum. And dipped in diamonds. Ball State, they of non-diamond-encrusted dookie receptacles, came in at 111th on the expenses side with a respectable $20.2M outlay in athletic expenditures. Let’s see… simple math… carry the one…. square root of the tangent… find the hypotenuse…. PROFIT, BABY! Not quite.

The interesting thing about this article to me is not the expenses and revenues, though both are equally fascinating in the college athletics sword fight that seems to be going on (which Ralph Friedgen always loses thanks to simple physical science). The interesting thing is the amount of institutional subsidy that takes place. In BSU’s case, $14.5M is an institutional subsidy, which accounts for 68.5% of the revenue. Granted, not a lot of money in both dollars and cents and percentage, especially when compared with $32.5M institutional subsidy from UNLV or the nearly $28M in institutional subsidy from Rutgers. EMU appears to be the leader in terms of FBS programs with institutional subsidy percentage at 83.6%. MACtion indeed.

For the masochists among us, Indiana and Purdue both made over $70M in revenue, Purdue had no institutional subsidy, and IU had a small one (just over 3%). Notre Dame wasn’t listed because presumably they are a private school and exempt from reporting, but I’m sure it was a gajillion dollars and they spent less than that. NBC money for days.

The BSU historical revenue stream (click to embiggen):
BSU Revenue

“What does all this tell us, Alan!?!” you wonder aloud to yourself. First and foremost, that us versus them that the non-BCS schools harp on? That’s real, yo. And significant. Washington State at 59th seems to be the lowest-spending power 6 member, and that was nearly double what BSU spent. On the bright side, ticket sales were way up! Yay! Plus, school funds were the lowest used since 2008. Double Yay!

You can check out all of the figures for all of the schools here.

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