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More on the Economics of College Football


When LSU and Alabama met in the BCS National Championship Game on January 9 they were the two top ranked teams in the country.  What many people don’t know is that the two schools also ranked 1 and 2 in another category.

The Wall Street Journal reviewed financial disclosure information from NCAA financial disclosure forms it obtained from 45 schools in in the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS).  All of these schools play in Bowl Championship Series conferences (BCS).  These schools are essentially all of the public universities who play in BCS conferences.  The information was obtained through freedom of information requests.

According to the Wall Street Journal analysis LSU and Alabama also ranked 1 and 2 in terms of the percentage of total campus revenue derived from football.  In the 2009-2010 academic year LSU reported total campus revenues from all sources, including tuition, of $488.9 million.  Total football revenues came to $69.4 million, or 14% of the total revenue figures.  Alabama reported $72.8 million in total football revenues (highest total of the 45 schools studied) and total campus revenues of $660.8 million; football revenues amounted to 11% of the total revenues for the school.

The next two teams on the list were Arkansas and Tennessee, each with football producing 9% of total revenues.  The average for the 45 schools was 6%.  Even these figures might not account for the total fiscal impact football has at major schools.

LSU Chancellor, Mike Martin, told the Wall Street Journal that football revenues do not measure the donations of alumni and supporters who are largely inspired by their feeling of connection to the football team.  Martin, who has also served as President of schools in the Big 10 and PAC 12 conferences, told the Journal that he has never worked at a school whose fans are so passionate about football.  He stated that he believes that donors are willing to put their money where their mouths are.

To read the entire Wall Street Journal story go to: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970203513604577143250385056524.html?mod=ITP_fridayjournal_8.


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