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Fuzzy Math Presents: Bottom Lines In The Big Ten


Scott Dochterman of the Cedar Rapids Gazette was able to pull together the raw data surrounding the profitability of Big Ten football programs.

Because his presentation is weak, I've pulled the B10+ND data and sorted it:

(after the jump)

By Total Revenue:


By Total Expenses:


By Total Men's Sports Recruiting Expenses (Dochterman claims, "football recruiting expenses take up between 40 and 55 percent of all men's recruiting expenses (except Notre Dame, which is much higher)"):


[really Notre Dame?  1.7?!?]

By Net, or money given back to the AD:


And your bullets:

  • The first question I asked when looking at these number, and the biggest problem with them by far, is that there aren't any standards for how to count revenue, expenses and thus net 'profit'.  There are obvious costs like yearly coaching salaries, but a major item not discussed is how to handle the hundreds-of-millions spent on stadiums, their upkeep, and their upgrades.  The numbers can obviously be played with, changing amortization, what to capitalize, etc.  It makes the 'cost' number almost meaningless without that detail.
  • For example: PSU and UM have similar costs, yet one has a very highly paid coach and major stadium renovation going on and one has a very low paid coach and hasn't touched their stadium in years.  They aren't apples. 
  • There is some discussion about this over at BHGP, as they try to sort out Iowa's seemingly high expense number.
  • Ohio State is listed at the top of the revenue sort, but when Forbes looked at "the most valuable football programs", they were ranked 10th nationally in total value behind Notre Dame and Michigan.
  • Which is reflected in the 'Net' numbers.  Although PSU came in behind OSU on the Forbes list.
  • Who is surprised to see PSU ranked 9th on the recruiting costs sort?  I'm not, although it makes you wonder what could be done if they were allowed to rack up an NDish cool million on recruiting.

While I always find these things interesting, I'm rarely satisfied at the clarity and conclusions that can be drawn.  The stereotypes hold, though, and even with fuzzy math the idea that ND and Michigan spend a lot on recruiting, that Ohio State brings in a lot of revenue, and that Northwestern is hopeless outmatched all ring true.  So at least we can take comfort in knowing the old guard isn't going anywhere.