A new NCAA report shows that just 14 of the 120 Football Bowl Subdivision schools made money from campus athletics during the 2009 fiscal year, down from 25 the year before. Researchers blame the sagging economy and suggest that numbers for the 2010 fiscal year could be even worse.
The research was conducted by accounting professor Dan Fulks of Transylvania University, a Division III school in Lexington, Ky. It shows the median amount paid by the 120 FBS schools to support campus athletics grew in one year from about $8 million to more than $10 million, according to an Associated Press report. The NCAA doesn't release individual schools' revenues and expenses, but Fulks confirmed that Alabama, Florida, Missouri, Ohio State, Texas and Tennessee are among the select group that made money.
NCAA interim president Jim Isch, who spent 11 years as the association's chief financial officer, called the latest numbers less a reflection of "runaway spending" in college athletics than a reality of the country's larger economic crisis. He noted that most schools typically plan for future expenses several years in advance, which in this case meant fiscal projections that didn't account for a prolonged recession.
None of the 97 schools without football teams reported making money from athletics, with median losses of more than $2.8 million, according to the report. That means trouble at those institutions, because many schools funnel profits from football and men's basketball into lower-profile sports. "Football and men's basketball are the only two sports you have any chance of making money," Fulks told reporter Alan Scher Zagier. "If you start splitting that up between 30 or 40 sports, you start losing money."