College Sports Finances: Top 10 Most Profitable NCAA D1 Athletic Departments in Public Schools in 2022

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In 2022, the fiscal performance of collegiate athletic departments revealed an intriguing mix of expected and surprising players in the realm of profitability. Information collected by USA TODAY Sports and The Knight-Newhouse Data Project at Syracuse University gave us a snapshot into the financial triumphs and challenges of these institutions during an uncertain pandemic era.

Indiana Athletic Department Most Profitable in Fiscal Year 2022

In the lead for FY2022 in terms of total profit, we find Indiana University, representing the Big Ten, taking home a robust profit of $34.4 million, outshining the SEC’s Georgia by a slim margin. Ohio State and Auburn follow suit, with Ohio State outperforming all schools in terms of total revenue, raking in a staggering $251.6 million. Auburn rounds out the top four, showcasing the SEC’s strong presence in the profitability chart.

The surprising fifth position goes to Purdue from the Big Ten, a school often overlooked in revenue conversations. It managed to surpass Central Florida, the only AAC school in the top ten, exhibiting a commendable profit of $22.1 million. Meanwhile, Big 12’s Kansas State, SEC’s Alabama, and the Big Ten’s Michigan and Illinois make up the remaining spots, demonstrating significant profitability despite a pandemic-torn fiscal year.

Below are the top-ten most profitable athletic departments in public schools in FY2022:

School Conf. Total Revenue Total Expenses P/L
Indiana Big Ten $166,761,471 $132,392,596 $34,368,875
Georgia SEC $203,048,566 $169,026,503 $34,022,063
Ohio State Big Ten $251,615,345 $225,733,418 $25,881,927
Auburn SEC $174,568,442 $151,590,763 $22,977,679
Purdue Big Ten $115,139,432 $93,025,810 $22,113,622
Central Florida AAC $89,228,205 $69,099,289 $20,128,916
Kansas State Big 12 $100,822,204 $82,220,606 $18,601,598
Alabama SEC $214,365,357 $195,881,911 $18,483,446
Michigan Big Ten $210,652,287 $193,559,375 $17,092,912
Illinois Big Ten $145,735,330 $129,119,247 $16,616,083

Big Ten and SEC Both Generate Over $2 Billion in Revenue

There are various factors contributing to these financial results, including but not limited to conference allocations, media rights contracts, student fee allocations, and institutional support. The Big Ten and SEC, in particular, have both proven to be powerhouses of revenue generation, collectively amassing more than $2 billion in the 2022 fiscal year.

A considerable part of their revenue came from the media rights contracts, which further emphasized the economic gap between these conferences and the rest. This will undoubtedly continue, given the new television contracts that both the SEC and the Big Ten have recently agreed upon.

Interestingly, Central Florida’s position in the top ten reveals the rising financial prowess of non-Power Five schools. This surprising entry may have been driven by factors such as geographic location, an increasingly successful college football program, efficient financial management, or a combination of all three.

Ever-Evolving College Sports Could Change Results Significantly Year-Over-Year

Overall, the top ten schools, each with different strengths and strategies, weathered a financially challenging year and emerged with a profit. Whether these results will hold steady or change dramatically in the coming years remains to be seen, especially with the ongoing shifts in conference alignments and the continually evolving landscape of college athletics.

The promising sign amidst these financial statistics is that the collegiate athletic departments appear to be rebounding from the impacts of the pandemic, albeit slower than hoped. However, as inflation poses a significant economic challenge, it is clear that these departments will need to continually adapt and innovate in their spending and revenue-generating strategies to stay afloat and, ultimately, to prosper.

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