College sports is big business in the United States. But if the vast majority of American universities’ athletics departments actually were businesses, most of them would probably be out of business.
According to a new report from the NCAA, just 24 university athletic departments across the country in the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision turned a profit last year. Though the NCAA declines to name those 24 schools, LSU was among them, according to documents provided to Daily Report from LSU.
LSU Athletics spent a total of $127.6 million last year and brought in revenues of $133.7 million, ending the year with a profit of about $6.1 million. LSU Athletics’ profitability in recent years has helped it to buck a growing national trend by which FBS schools are increasingly subsidizing sports spending with funds that would otherwise go toward academic endeavors.
According to the NCAA report, the average FBS school spent $14.7 million to help subsidize its athletic department last year, up from an average of $11 million in 2013. Earlier this summer, the LSU Athletic Department announced it will transfer a little over $10 million this fiscal year to support LSU’s academic, research, public service and other missions at the flagship campus in Baton Rouge. The transfer brings to $43.5 million the total amount the athletic department has given to the university over the past five years—surpassing a goal set in 2012 to give $36 million over five years.
The number of FBS athletic departments turning a profit rose to 24 last year, up from 20 schools in 2013, but the NCAA report says that figure has remained relatively consistent through the past decade.
“Though the number of athletics departments reporting positive net generated revenues has increased slightly, the average of their net generated revenue has dipped in the past year,” the NCAA notes. “Those 24 schools, at the median, generated about $6 million in net revenue, compared to just over $8 million in 2013 and a little more than $2 million a decade ago. But those 24 schools are a minority.”
“There is still a misperception that most schools are generating more money than they spend on college athletics,” says NCAA Chief Financial Officer Kathleen McNeely. “These data show once again that the truth is just the opposite.”
Access the complete NCAA report. Among the figures provided to Daily Report from LSU, here’s a rundown of some of the approximate revenue and expense totals for 2014:
- $37.7 million: Ticket sales
- $49.3 million: Contributions from individuals, corporations, associations, foundations and clubs
- $22.9 million: NCAA and conference distributions from participation in bowl games and tournaments
- $7 million: Revenue from program sales, concessions and parking
- $3.4 million: Royalty, licensing, advertising and sponsorship revenue
- $12.7 million: Total spent on student aid for athletes, including tuition waivers
- $3 million: Guarantees paid by LSU to visiting athletic teams
- $20.5 million: Coaches salaries, benefits and bonuses
- $16.5 million: Support staff, administrative salaries, benefits and bonuses
- $1.4 million: Total spent on recruiting student athletes
- $5.5 million: Total spent on team travel
- $3 million: Total spent on equipment, uniforms and supplies
- $7.3 million: Game-day expenses