From the news that will surprise no one department, Forbes came out over the weekend with a look at the Big 12's football finances and guess who's on top in revenue, expenses and net profit? No, not Kansas State. Guess again. Texas? You nailed it.
With information that covers the 2009 season, Texas led the Big 12 in revenue generated by a whooping margin of over $35 million. The Longhorn football program generated almost $94 million in revenue and Oklahoma fell next in line with ONLY a top line of $58 million. Here's how the Big 12 stood overall.
And if you generate the most revenue, that must mean you get to spend the most, as well. As you would expect, Texas also led the way in football expenses spending over $25 million to maintain the operations down on 40 Acres.
And that leads to probably the most important number, (depending on your view, I suppose), how much money did you actually make after taking care of the expenses? And not surprising given their huge lead in revenues, the Longhorns led the Big 12 in net profit.
Texas had a bottom line of some $68 million in profit, which on revenues of $93 million is really an astonishing number. In other words, Texas football is a good business to be in.
Kansas brought up the tail end of the Big 12 in football profit which, as was pointed out in the article, was due to the fact they spent a much higher percentage of their revenues than did the rest of the league. (Tenth in revenue, but fifth in football expenses). And they were able to do this because of the revenue that comes from their highly successful basketball program, a program that ranked KU's athletic department as the second most profitable department in the Big 12.
Overall, it's some very interesting information and the author, Kristi Dosh, makes some interesting comparisons between conferences which is definitely worth checking out.
As it relates to the Big 12, a couple things I found surprising. First looking at the revenue numbers, it's surprising the Colorado came in above both Texas Tech and Missouri. The Buffaloes don't exactly pack the house every time they take the field and the level of support that both Tech and Missouri receive from their fan base would lead me to think they fall in line above Colorado. And the fact the Buffs finished 3-9 in '09 certainly didn't do much to drive revenue during that season.
And it goes without saying, it's not hard to see the advantage Texas has over the conference (over the entire country, really. Alabama is next in line and they fell $21 million short of Texas in revenues). Iowa State, Kansas, Kansas State and Baylor all generated less than $20 million in revenues and Texas spent $5 million more than that just on the expense side. Fair? No, but so goes college athletics.
Some will say this a Big 12 problem (I'll cover this in a separate post) because of its adherence to distributing the TV revenues disproportionately, but it goes well beyond that. That creates some inequality, sure, but it doesn't even begin to make up the difference shown in the these numbers.
The bottom line, however, is that no matter how much money you make, it doesn't ensure you're going to win games (or go to a bowl game) as evidenced by the Longhorn's 5-7 finish last year. You still have to recruit, coach, and do all the rest that goes into a winning program. But on the other hand, no one is going to argue that having some extra cash to throw around doesn't make all that just a little easier, either.