‘Bama, Penn State most profitable athletic departments

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Even as some universities look to nickel-and-dime their way through The Great $2K Stipend Debate, a sizable chunk — especially from the Power Six conferences — are pulling in some type of profit from collegiate athletics.

Based on disclosures from the United States Department of Education, the BusinessOfCollegeSports.com website reports that 47 of the 66 athletic departments with a football program in a BcS conference made a net profit for 2010-2011.  There were actually 48 schools listed by the site on the positive side of the financial ledger, with Notre Dame, which is a member of the Big East in other sports besides independent football program, coming in inside the Top Ten among individual institutions.

At this point, it would likely be wise to shine a light on the “disclaimer” the website noted when it comes to taking these numbers as financial gospel:

…the athletics departments do not report either profit or net income.  Rather, they report their revenues and expenses.  For this series, profit/net income was calculated by subtracting the total expenses reported from the total revenues reported. 

As noted above, the data used was obtained from the Department of Education and is from 2010-11.  While this data is not perfect, it is the only data publicly available for both private and public institutions.

In other words, take the numbers with a grain of salt the size of [insert name of favorite big-boned coach here].  So, with that said…

Not so surprisingly, the SEC (91.6) and Big Ten (83.33) were the conferences with the greatest percentage of its membership awash in black ink, followed by the Big 12’s 80 percent.

The lowest percentage among BcS conferences?  The Big East, with only three of the eight football-playing members of the conference in 2010-11 pulling in a profit.

Among individual schools, Alabama ($31.68 million) and Penn State ($31.62 million) had the highest net income.  Interestingly, the Tide was the only SEC school in the Top 10; the Big Ten, on the other hand, had a total of four — the Nittany Lions, Michigan (No. 3, $26.65 million), Ohio State (No. 7, $18.63 million) and Michigan State (No. 10, $13.51 million).

The six-time defending BcS conference, though, is certainly not hurting financially, with eight of its 12 members in the Top 26 in net income and just one athletic department — Ole Miss — that didn’t realize a profit.  Tennessee is on the very low end of the SEC profit spectrum with a meager $14,447; the next lowest total from a member of that conference is South Carolina at $762,726.

Texas (No. 4, $24.32 million), Kansas State (No. 5, $23.39 million), Oregon (No. 8, $16.43 million) and Oklahoma State (No. 9, $14.36 million) round out the Top 10 most profitable athletic departments.  Again, based on the very raw numbers from the Department of Education.

(Tip O’ the Cap: al.com)