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Which Colleges Spend the Most on Football?

Footballs in shape of dollar signUnless you were in a semi-vegetative state last fall, you probably know that the colleges of the Southeastern Conference (SEC) dominated the top 25 football rankings. But you might be surprised to learn that the SEC didn’t have the highest conference average operating expenses. That would be the Pac 10, followed by the Big East, the Big Ten, and then the SEC.

This is according to data I downloaded from the Office of Postsecondary Education (OPE). The school with the highest average operating expenses, the University of Southern California at over 7 million dollars, didn’t even make it into the top 25 rankings. Ohio State and the University of Florida both spent more than six million, with the remaining schools in the top ten in operating expenses spending at least 5 million dollars.

Now remember, these are operating expenses, they don’t say anything about revenues generated. Also, they are an average of the last five years of available data from 2007 to 2011. The reason I used an average is to minimize fluctuations from year to year that occur because of travel expenses or post-season play.

Even so, you should be aware of the little warning posted by the Office of Postsecondary Education (OPE) that states “Please note that valid comparisons of athletics data are possible only with study and analysis of the conditions affecting each institution. “ In other words, you might not be comparing apples to apples.

Expenses are defined as follows:

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All expenses attributable to intercollegiate athletic activities. This includes appearance guarantees and options, athletically related student aid, contract services, equipment, fundraising activities, operating expenses, promotional activities, recruiting expenses, salaries and benefits, supplies, travel, and any other expenses attributable to intercollegiate athletic activities. (OPE)

What they’re trying to say is that some schools travel more because of distance, some because of playoffs but it’s all included under expenses. “Athletically related student aid” at private schools will be more than that at public schools because public schools are cheaper.?  See some of the issues?

Also, I calculated the conferences averages based on the five-year averages so?  the conference averages are averages of averages. Not necessarily the best way to go but good enough for my curiosity.

Finally, before you get all excited about some extraordinary number, please realize that it might be a mistake. Data entry errors are common in such data.

The following table shows the average operating expenses by institution and conference for 242 NCAA D1 schools.

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Institution NameST

Football ConferenceAverage
Operating
Expenses

Conference
Average
University of Southern CaliforniaCAPacific-10 Conference72612344120387
Ohio State University-Main CampusOHBig Ten Conference69664433516552
University of FloridaFLSoutheastern Conference62996603387911
University of Oklahoma Norman CampusOKBig Twelve Conference57592943095414
Rutgers University-New BrunswickNJBig East Conference57000713537475
University of Washington-Seattle CampusWAPacific-10 Conference56637554120387
University of OregonORPacific-10 Conference53878224120387
University of GeorgiaGASoutheastern Conference53179293387911
University of ArkansasARSoutheastern Conference52221123387911
The University of Texas at AustinTXBig Twelve Conference51101253095414
Clemson UniversitySCAtlantic Coast Conference49136063149205
The University of AlabamaALSoutheastern Conference46808493387911
University of ConnecticutCTBig East Conference46020833537475
Florida State UniversityFLAtlantic Coast Conference44926173149205
University of Wisconsin-MadisonWIBig Ten Conference44292393516552
University of Notre DameINDivision I-A Independents43357564335756
West Virginia UniversityWVBig East Conference42597353537475
Boston CollegeMAAtlantic Coast Conference42197763149205
Arizona State UniversityAZPacific-10 Conference41766914120387
Auburn UniversityALSoutheastern Conference41385753387911
Georgia Institute of Technology-Main CampusGAAtlantic Coast Conference40503683149205
University of Michigan-Ann ArborMIBig Ten Conference40317323516552
University of IowaIABig Ten Conference38764613516552
University of UtahUTPacific-10 Conference38576264120387
University of MiamiFLAtlantic Coast Conference38470133149205
Michigan State UniversityMIBig Ten Conference38236683516552
University of California-BerkeleyCAPacific-10 Conference38235194120387
University of California-Los AngelesCAPacific-10 Conference37919644120387
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State UniversityVAAtlantic Coast Conference37155443149205
University of Colorado BoulderCOPacific-10 Conference34485264120387
University of ArizonaAZ3421294
University of Pittsburgh-Pittsburgh CampusPABig East Conference33840653537475
Texas Christian UniversityTXMountain West Conference33115071829397
University of Virginia-Main CampusVAAtlantic Coast Conference32525083149205
University of Nebraska-LincolnNEBig Ten Conference32390853516552
Stanford UniversityCAPacific-10 Conference32271714120387
Louisiana State University and Agricultural & Mechanical CollegeLASoutheastern Conference31836663387911
The University of TennesseeTNSoutheastern Conference31507663387911
Northwestern UniversityILBig Ten Conference31367033516552
Purdue University-Main CampusINBig Ten Conference31140013516552
Texas A & M University-College StationTXBig Twelve Conference30300573095414
Texas Tech UniversityTXBig Twelve Conference30048053095414
University of Minnesota-Twin CitiesMNBig Ten Conference29406883516552
University of Cincinnati-Main CampusOHBig East Conference28922753537475
East Carolina UniversityNCConference USA28136391489687
University of Hawaii at ManoaHIWestern Athletic Conference26914951631417
University of South Florida-Main CampusFLBig East Conference26615283537475
University of LouisvilleKYBig East Conference26149453537475
Iowa State UniversityIABig Twelve Conference24989163095414
University of Missouri-ColumbiaMOBig Twelve Conference24964443095414
University of KansasKSBig Twelve Conference24742213095414
University of North Carolina at Chapel HillNCAtlantic Coast Conference24317243149205
University of Illinois at Urbana-ChampaignILBig Ten Conference24118533516552
Oregon State UniversityORPacific-10 Conference23986084120387
Baylor UniversityTXBig Twelve Conference23277693095414
Duke UniversityNCAtlantic Coast Conference23050173149205
Oklahoma State University-Main CampusOKBig Twelve Conference22908503095414
Washington State UniversityWAPacific-10 Conference22873384120387
Pennsylvania State University-Main CampusPABig Ten Conference22791223516552
Syracuse UniversityNYBig East Conference21851003537475
New Mexico State University-Main CampusNMWestern Athletic Conference21709671631417
Vanderbilt UniversityTNSoutheastern Conference19811723387911
Temple UniversityPAMid-American Conference1980641987782
Kansas State UniversityKSBig Twelve Conference19616583095414
Indiana University-BloomingtonINBig Ten Conference19496233516552
San Diego State UniversityCAMountain West Conference19398441829397
Southern Methodist UniversityTXConference USA19357531489687
The University of Texas at El PasoTXConference USA19140891489687
University of South Carolina-ColumbiaSCSoutheastern Conference18613683387911
University of KentuckyKYSoutheastern Conference18235933387911
University of New Mexico-Main CampusNMMountain West Conference18012951829397
University of Central FloridaFLConference USA17369271489687
Brigham Young University-ProvoUTOther1681208468490
Wake Forest UniversityNCAtlantic Coast Conference16811253149205
Colorado State University-Fort CollinsCOMountain West Conference16784221829397
Boise State UniversityIDMountain West Conference16546611829397
University of MississippiMSSoutheastern Conference16393643387911
California State University-FresnoCAWestern Athletic Conference15762051631417
University of Maryland-College ParkMDAtlantic Coast Conference15415053149205
San Jose State UniversityCAWestern Athletic Conference15323731631417
Louisiana Tech UniversityLAWestern Athletic Conference15322341631417
Marshall UniversityWVConference USA15186641489687
Florida International UniversityFLSun Belt Conference14909041011582
University of TulsaOKConference USA14785461489687
University of Nevada-RenoNVWestern Athletic Conference14423221631417
The University of Texas at San AntonioTXDivision I-AA Independents1403795849852
University of Nevada-Las VegasNVMountain West Conference13926591829397
Mississippi State UniversityMSSoutheastern Conference13558853387911
University of MemphisTNConference USA13523681489687
Northern Illinois UniversityILMid-American Conference1352281987782
Stephen F Austin State UniversityTXSouthland Conference1344680503108
North Carolina State University at RaleighNCAtlantic Coast Conference13396523149205
Florida Atlantic UniversityFLSun Belt Conference13320531011582
University of HoustonTXConference USA12992331489687
Middle Tennessee State UniversityTNSun Belt Conference12700171011582
Georgia State UniversityGAColonial Athletic Association1224005753141
University at BuffaloNYMid-American Conference1217893987782
Central Michigan UniversityMIMid-American Conference1208134987782
Ohio University-Main CampusOHMid-American Conference1135154987782
University of ToledoOHMid-American Conference1124272987782
University of Southern MississippiMSConference USA11033891489687
University of North TexasTXSun Belt Conference10980561011582
The University of MontanaMTBig Sky Conference1090668542313
University of IdahoIDWestern Athletic Conference10591861631417
University of Louisiana at LafayetteLASun Belt Conference10536971011582
Utah State UniversityUTWestern Athletic Conference10465561631417
University of South AlabamaALSun Belt Conference10297631011582
University of WyomingWYMountain West Conference10273911829397
Rice UniversityTXConference USA9778921489687
Old Dominion UniversityVAColonial Athletic Association970985753141
University of Alabama at BirminghamALConference USA8998891489687
Miami University-OxfordOHMid-American Conference876808987782
Tulane University of LouisianaLAConference USA8458481489687
Bowling Green State University-Main CampusOHMid-American Conference845044987782
Western Michigan UniversityMIMid-American Conference829880987782
University of Massachusetts AmherstMAMid-American Conference826921987782
Arkansas State University-Main CampusARSun Belt Conference8236321011582
Troy UniversityALSun Belt Conference8180821011582
North Dakota State University-Main CampusNDMissouri Valley Conference769746523275
University of DelawareDEColonial Athletic Association768910753141
James Madison UniversityVAColonial Athletic Association766096753141
Appalachian State UniversityNCSouthern Conference758499451994
University of RichmondVAAtlantic 10 Conference754240589095
Villanova UniversityPAColonial Athletic Association747478753141
Bethune-Cookman UniversityFLMid-Eastern Athletic Conference731138377347
Ball State UniversityINMid-American Conference698035987782
South Dakota State UniversitySDMissouri Valley Conference693124523275
Eastern Michigan UniversityMIMid-American Conference636416987782
Southern Illinois University CarbondaleILDivision I-AA Independents634374849852
Coastal Carolina UniversitySCBig South Conference633959374543
Western Kentucky UniversityKYSun Belt Conference6308971011582
University of North DakotaNDGreat West Conference608548529773
Citadel Military College of South CarolinaSCSouthern Conference607503451994
College of William and MaryVAColonial Athletic Association594172753141
Texas State University-San MarcosTXSouthland Conference588777503108
Yale UniversityCTIvy Group583649406444
Tennessee State UniversityTNOhio Valley Conference580151326280
University of Louisiana-MonroeLASun Belt Conference5687201011582
Montana State UniversityMTBig Sky Conference559407542313
Florida Agricultural and Mechanical UniversityFLMid-Eastern Athletic Conference557010377347
University of Akron Main CampusOHMid-American Conference554335987782
Southern Utah UniversityUTGreat West Conference549530529773
Portland State UniversityORBig Sky Conference543139542313
Kent State University at KentOHMid-American Conference543131987782
Towson UniversityMDColonial Athletic Association541258753141
University of New Hampshire-Main CampusNHAtlantic 10 Conference521462589095
Youngstown State UniversityOHMissouri Valley Conference514782523275
California Polytechnic State University-San Luis ObispoCAOther514183468490
Lamar UniversityTXDivision I-AA Independents511388849852
University of California-DavisCAGreat West Conference507249529773
SUNY at AlbanyNYNortheast Conference506625264787
Northern Arizona UniversityAZBig Sky Conference504665542313
Stony Brook UniversityNYBig South Conference502908374543
Idaho State UniversityIDBig Sky Conference492666542313
University of MaineMEAtlantic 10 Conference491581589095
Liberty UniversityVABig South Conference484664374543
University of PennsylvaniaPAIvy Group479428406444
Alabama State UniversityALSouthwestern Athletic Conference478825309075
Weber State UniversityUTBig Sky Conference474622542313
Eastern Washington UniversityWABig Sky Conference474163542313
Grambling State UniversityLASouthwestern Athletic Conference471979309075
University of Northern IowaIAMissouri Valley Conference471787523275
Columbia University in the City of New YorkNYIvy Group467537406444
Illinois State UniversityILMissouri Valley Conference460776523275
Lehigh UniversityPAPatriot League459691381537
Georgia Southern UniversityGASouthern Conference458360451994
University of South DakotaSDGreat West Conference453766529773
Samford UniversityALSouthern Conference451672451994
Colgate UniversityNYPatriot League450519381537
Lafayette CollegePAPatriot League440669381537
Drake UniversityIAPioneer Football League440552297799
University of Northern ColoradoCOBig Sky Conference436351542313
Delaware State UniversityDEMid-Eastern Athletic Conference435493377347
North Carolina A & T State UniversityNCMid-Eastern Athletic Conference432167377347
Indiana State UniversityINGateway Football Conference422812422812
Wofford CollegeSCSouthern Conference422387451994
South Carolina State UniversitySCMid-Eastern Athletic Conference420211377347
Furman UniversitySCSouthern Conference420080451994
University of Rhode IslandRIColonial Athletic Association412222753141
Princeton UniversityNJIvy Group407884406444
Fordham UniversityNYPatriot League401916381537
Western Illinois UniversityILMissouri Valley Conference401519523275
Tennessee Technological UniversityTNOhio Valley Conference385630326280
Brown UniversityRIIvy Group375892406444
Dartmouth CollegeNHIvy Group373339406444
Eastern Illinois UniversityILOhio Valley Conference369936326280
Duquesne UniversityPANortheast Conference363121264787
Jacksonville State UniversityALOhio Valley Conference361521326280
Eastern Kentucky UniversityKYOhio Valley Conference361436326280
Prairie View A & M UniversityTXSouthwestern Athletic Conference359835309075
University of San DiegoCAPioneer Football League358908297799
Nicholls State UniversityLASouthland Conference352923503108
Hampton UniversityVAMid-Eastern Athletic Conference352332377347
Missouri State University-SpringfieldMOMissouri Valley Conference351192523275
Elon UniversityNCSouthern Conference341381451994
College of the Holy CrossMAPatriot League333980381537
Northwestern State University of LouisianaLASouthland Conference332149503108
Marist CollegeNYPioneer Football League329140297799
The University of Tennessee at ChattanoogaTNSouthern Conference317653451994
University of DaytonOHPioneer Football League315174297799
Gardner-Webb UniversityNCBig South Conference314420374543
Alabama A & M UniversityALSouthwestern Athletic Conference309121309075
Texas Southern UniversityTXSouthwestern Athletic Conference308038309075
Campbell UniversityNCPioneer Football League305226297799
California State University-SacramentoCABig Sky Conference305132542313
Bucknell UniversityPAPatriot League304349381537
University of Central ArkansasARSouthland Conference302886503108
Sam Houston State UniversityTXSouthland Conference300425503108
Southeastern Louisiana UniversityLASouthland Conference299918503108
Morehead State UniversityKYPioneer Football League298156297799
Jacksonville UniversityFLPioneer Football League297494297799
Western Carolina UniversityNCSouthern Conference290407451994
Wagner CollegeNYNortheast Conference290403264787
The University of Tennessee-MartinTNOhio Valley Conference284470326280
Cornell UniversityNYIvy Group282577406444
Harvard UniversityMAIvy Group281245406444
Georgetown UniversityDCPatriot League279636381537
Savannah State UniversityGAMid-Eastern Athletic Conference277434377347
Morgan State UniversityMDMid-Eastern Athletic Conference272370377347
University of Arkansas at Pine BluffARSouthwestern Athletic Conference265315309075
Norfolk State UniversityVAMid-Eastern Athletic Conference253681377347
Charleston Southern UniversitySCBig South Conference250815374543
Mississippi Valley State UniversityMSSouthwestern Athletic Conference241848309075
Alcorn State UniversityMSSouthwestern Athletic Conference239118309075
Presbyterian CollegeSCBig South Conference239074374543
Murray State UniversityKYOhio Valley Conference237431326280
Bryant UniversityRINortheast Conference231487264787
Jackson State UniversityMSSouthwestern Athletic Conference229626309075
Davidson CollegeNCPioneer Football League227737297799
Saint Francis UniversityPANortheast Conference218681264787
Valparaiso UniversityINPioneer Football League217375297799
Monmouth UniversityNJNortheast Conference216341264787
Howard UniversityDCMid-Eastern Athletic Conference215453377347
Central Connecticut State UniversityCTNortheast Conference209826264787
North Carolina Central UniversityNCMid-Eastern Athletic Conference203527377347
Virginia Military InstituteVABig South Conference195960374543
Butler UniversityINPioneer Football League188226297799
Southern University and A & M CollegeLASouthwestern Athletic Conference187046309075
Southeast Missouri State UniversityMOOhio Valley Conference180294326280
Austin Peay State UniversityTNOhio Valley Conference175653326280
Sacred Heart UniversityCTNortheast Conference174069264787
Robert Morris UniversityPANortheast Conference172529264787

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