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Brief Analysis of Pac-12 Football and Basketball Revenues and Expenditures

Using DoE Data

Animals Enjoy Icy Sweets In Hot Seoul Photo by Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images

The Department of Education of the US each year gathers data on participation (Equity in Athletics Data Base), revenues, and expenditures of American Universities in sports to ensure adherence to Title IX in terms of equitable spending in sports. Per the DoE website:

The Equity in Athletics Disclosure Act requires co-educational institutions of postsecondary education that participate in a Title IV, federal student financial assistance program, and have an intercollegiate athletic program, to prepare an annual report to the Department of Education on athletic participation, staffing, and revenues and expenses, by men's and women's teams. The Department will use this information in preparing its required report to the Congress on gender equity in intercollegiate athletics.

Using this database I look into the revenues and expenditures on football and basketball for Pac-12 teams.

First we will look into the breakdown for Football programs.

PS. Again, please click on the image to zoom in the image.


These are the non-inflation adjusted profits (revenue - expenditure) of the football programs of the Pac-12 schools. Note: Utah, and Colorado were not part of the same conference as Cal until 2011. We can see that despite the change in the conferences it wasn’t until 2015 when Utah and Colorado began making money.

When it comes to Cal, the profits have been roughly the conference mean. What is notable is both UW and Oregon. Both of those teams had a great spike in profits in 2011. Not sure what the source of the spike is. Let’s look into the revenues:

We can see here that Cal has never been on the forefront of profits from football. The closest team for Cal historically has been UCLA. 2011-2012 is the conference realignment and the formation of the Pac-12 Network, we can see here a general increase in income across the border. The best results from an increase in revenue is Utah who doubled their revenue.

Here we can see that despite not being on top in revenue, USC is the biggest spender. Another notable spender here is ASU. It has to be noted that Cal’s spending for the Memorial Stadium is not included in these expenditures, or else I would have to include a different Y-axis just for Cal.

Some other visualizations. I tried to look if higher revenues and expenditures are somehow correlated with on-field performance.

We can see here that for the longest time a team’s performance wasn’t really correlated with the expenditure until 2009 when the correlation began shaping up. SRS, Simple Ranking System that measures a how good a team is, becomes positively correlated with expenditure in the 2013-2015 time period. Does this team that teams are buying wins? Or does this mean that the wins allow teams to spend more to hopefully maintain them?

(I will look into the causality on a later date across all NCAA teams).

Here we have a quick glance at the revenues and team performance. Same pattern emerges, better teams make more money, on the same year. There is a genuine question about whether higher revenues and wins are causal. Any reasonable fan can imagine that good teams lead to more money, however, this wasn’t true in the pre-2011 era.

Basketball (Male and Female total)

Stanfurd and Arizona are making a ton of cash out of Basketball. The rest of the conference? Not so well. Is it because other teams spend more, or is it because of the revenue streams coming in for those two teams outstrip other teams’. It would make sense for Arizona, Stanfurd? Not so much.

We can see here that the #1 revenue making team for Basketball in the most recent years is... Stanfurd?! This is interesting, considering that Stanfurd’s men’s basketball team hasn’t been AP ranked since 2007-2008. However, it is explained by the fact that Stanfurd’s women’s basketball has been dominant in the Tara VanDerveer era. Cal sits in the average tier of revenues circling around $10 million in the most recent revenues.

We can see here at Stanfurd is the only Basketball program that gathers more revenue from their Women’s team than their Men’s team. This being a more evident in 2012-15 time period. The rest of the Pac-12 have between a 5:1 ratio and 12:1 ratio of revenue with the Arizona teams with a 25:1 ratio.

Spending, lots of spending mostly by UCLA and Arizona, and despite its high revenues, Stanfurd isn’t spending as much for basketball as other high revenue teams, and recently Utah, Oregon, and Cal have spent more.

In the most recent time period, the revenue/expenditure can be clustered into two groups: Stanfurd/Arizona of higher revenue and expenditure, and the rest of the teams who simply try to balance their books with two programs.