NCAA report shows many college programs in the red

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If college football is treated as a big time business, then business is bad right now.

A recent NCAA report done by professor Dan Fulks of Transylvania University in Kentucky shows that only 14 of the 120 FBS schools profited from campus athletics during the 2009 fiscal year.

While the NCAA does not release individual numbers for each school, you can probably take a wild guess as to which ones profited. Ohio State, Tennessee, Texas, Florida, Alabama and Missouri were just some of the schools confirmed to have made money with their athletic programs.

Maybe not surprisingly, sixty-eight universities reported a profit in football. An even more telling statistic was that all 97 non-football schools reported an average loss of nearly $3 million.

If over half of FBS schools are seeing success in what is, far and away, the most profitable sport, how are so many reporting a loss?

NCAA interim president Jim Isch says the low numbers are not a result of a sagging national economy like many believe. On the contrary, Isch believes the numbers are an indication of runaway spending by collegiate athletic programs who did not plan for a long-term recession.

“The top end … still does not have to rely on institutional subsidies,” Isch said. “But those that do are falling further behind.”

Fulks noted that many schools take profits from football and men’s basketball (two of the most profitable sports for universities) and spread them into lower-profile sports that that make little to no money. This results in larger subsidies from universities, which currently averages nationally at $10 million per year.

Consequently, more athletic programs could be cut in the very near future. Sorry, men’s tennis fan(s), but you can’t blame this one on Title IX anymore.