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College Sports, Inc.

POSTED: 01:25 PM ET, 01/ 8/2009 by Amanda Zamora

Today, Post Investigations debuts Data Watch, an occasional look behind the numbers. We'll showcase interesting or unusual trends, from government contracting to corporate largesse. Have a tip for Data Watch? E-mail us.

By Gilbert M. Gaul
Washington Post Staff Writer

When Florida and Oklahoma meet in the Bowl Championship Series title game tonight, they not only will be battling for a national title but also for bragging rights as two of the biggest and richest football programs in the land.

If nothing else, the highly anticipated match-up confirms the old adage about the rich getting richer, as the schools collect millions in appearance fees to add to their already bulging coffers, a Washington Post analysis of federal educational reports and tax data show.

In 2007, the Florida Gator football program reported revenue of nearly $59 million, but expenses of just $38 million - a profit margin of 65 percent. That was more than twice the average of Fortune 500 oil and mining companies, and more than three times pharmaceutical companies, data show. At 49 percent, Oklahoma's profit margin was more than three times that of the financial services sector.

Football is the cash cow of College Sports, Inc., fueling ever-larger athletic programs and spending on athletes and coaches. Between 1999-2007 Florida's athletic program doubled in size, to $108 million, records show. It is one of only 3 schools to top $100 million. Oklahoma spent less but at $69 million still operates of the biggest athletic programs in nation.

More and more of that money is going to coaches. Both Florida's Urban Meyer and Oklahoma's Bob Stoops are paid more than $3 million, records and published reports show. Now, they can make hundreds of thousands of dollars more in bonuses for taking their teams to the final game.

Here are a few of the highlights:

» At almost $110 million, Ohio State runs the biggest athletic program in the land.
» On average, it costs Tennessee $185,858-per-athlete to run its athletic program.
» The biggest 50 athletic departments spent nearly $3.3 billion in 2007.
» Texas and Notre Dame collect more money from football than other top schools.

Get the full data after the jump: Top 10 Athletic Programs, Top 10 Football Programs, Top 50 Schools

Top 10 Athletic Programs

While other industries are shrinking, college sports are growing dramatically, at a rate 4 times inflation between 1999-2007. This trend is especially true for the largest, best-known programs, which spent nearly $1 billion in 2007.

Rank
School
2007 Athletic Spending
% Growth from 1999
Cost Per Athlete
Scholarships
% of Spending

1

Ohio State

$109,382,222 50% $118,307 11%

2

Florida

$107,781,004 101% $141,928 6%

3

Texas

$105,048,632 87% $143,822 8%

4

Tennessee

$95,401,868 85% $185,858 9%

5

Michigan

$89,079,982 105% $89,505 18%

6

Notre Dame

$83,586,903 120% $65,757 24%

7

Wisconsin

$82,579,472 94% $82,894 10%

8

Alabama

$81,946,464 153% $120,106 7%

9

Auburn

$81,696,758 186% $124,158 9%

10

Iowa

$80,203,645 144% $98,341 9%
  TOTAL: $916,706,950 Avg. 113% $120,041 Avg. 11%

SOURCE: Washington Post analysis of equity in atheletics disclosure forms

Top 10 Football Programs

Football is the cash cow of college sports, with a big chunk of that money coming from television broadcast fees. In 2007 alone, the top 10 programs reported more than a half-billion dollars in revenue and a profit of 62 percent — about eight times the average for fortune 500 companies.

Rank
School
2007 Football Revenue
2007 Football Profit
2007 Margin

1

Texas

$63,798,068 $46,233,062 72%

2

Notre Dame

$63,675,034 $43,832,746 69%

3

Georgia

$59,516,939 $43,144,648 72%

4

Ohio State

$59,142,071 $26,603,752 46%

5

Florida

$58,904,976 $38,213,571 64%

6

Auburn

$56,830,516 $33,879,757 60%

7

Alabama

$53,182,806 $31,842,213 60%

8

LSU

$48,141,751 $31,733,589 67%

9

Penn State

$44,014,052 $29,404,224 66%

10

Arkansas

$42,056,467 $19,251,353 45%
  TOTALS: $549,262,680 $344,138,915 62%

SOURCE: Washington Post analysis of equity in atheletics disclosure forms

Top 50 Schools, By Athletic Revenues

What does it take to compete at the upper eschelon of college sports? Millions and millions of dollars. In 2007, the top 50 Division I schools reported revenue of more than $3.2 billion.

Rank
School
Athletic Revenue

1

OHIO STATE

$109,382,222

2

FLORIDA

$107,781,004

3

TEXAS

$105,048,632

4

TENNESSEE

$95,401,868

5

MICHIGAN

$89,079,982

6

NOTRE DAME

$83,586,903

7

WISCONSIN

$82,579,472

8

ALABAMA

$81,946,464

9

AUBURN

$81,696,758

10

IOWA

$80,203,645

11

LSU

$76,499,511

12

USC

$76,383,688

13

PENN STATE

$76,327,504

14

GEORGIA

$75,937,460

15

MICHIGAN STATE

$73,171,907

16

NEBRASKA

$71,121,812

17

OKLAHOMA

$69,430,569

18

TEXAS A&M

$69,413,648

19

VIRGINIA TECH

$65,487,381

20

STANFORD

$65,480,187

21

KANSAS

$65,194,721

22

VIRGINIA

$64,852,417

23

MINNESOTA

$64,828,596

24

ARKANSAS

$63,337,303

25

UCLA

$61,309,668

26

KENTUCKY

$60,556,515

27

SOUTH CAROLINA

$60,544,530

28

CALIFORNIA

$60,538,725

29

WASHINGTON

$59,648,451

30

NORTH CAROLINA

$58,188,501

31

BOSTON COLLEGE

$57,392,077

32

ILLINOIS

$56,804,174

33

PURDUE

$56,293,562

34

CLEMSON

$55,741,548

35

LOUISVILLE

$54,589,997

36

TEXAS TECH

$53,561,872

37

ARIZONA STATE

$54,473,276

38

CONNECTICUT

$52,811,643

39

OREGON

$50,489,771

40

GEORGIA TECH

$49,581,182

41

MIAMI

$49,219,738

42

MISSOURI

$48,634,512

43

KANSAS STATE

$48,346,511

44

DUKE

$47,507,169

45

WEST VIRGINIA

$46,970,708

46

OKLAHOMA STATE

$46,667,284

47

MARYLAND

$46,283,648

48

OREGON STATE

$45,409,990

49

ARIZONA

$45,320,053

50

INDIANA

$44,739,096

SOURCE: Washington Post analysis of equity in atheletics disclosure forms

By Amanda Zamora |  January 8, 2009; 1:25 PM ET Data Watch
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Comments

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It's easy to have such high profit margins when you poorly compensate the workers. Just think how high profit margins would be for many companies if they only had to pay their employees a fixed maximum wage.

Posted by: george43 | January 8, 2009 9:28 PM

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