Forbes magazine writer Kristi Dosh has continued a series on college football spending that started with the SEC with a closer look at the Big Ten's revenues and profits , and though some of her findings and conclusions aren't surprising -- Ohio State spends more on football than any other member of the league, the average SEC team generates more revenue and spends more money than the average Big Ten team, etc. -- some of them are legitimately eyebrow-raising.
Perhaps the most intriguing number is the difference between the revenue generated by the Michigan football program and how much the university re-invests in those same Wolverines. These are the figures for how much gross revenue each Big Ten team creates:
And here's how much each team spends:
Penn State Univ. $70,208,584.00 Ohio State Univ. $63,750,000.00 Univ. of Michigan $63,189,417.00 Univ. of Iowa $45,854,764.00 Michigan State Univ. $44,462,659.00 Univ. of Wisconsin $38,662,971.00 Univ. of Minnesota $32,322,688.00 Univ. of Illinois $25,301,783.00 Northwestern Univ. $22,704,959.00 Indiana Univ. $21,783,185.00 Purdue Univ. $18,118,898.00
Note that when it comes to revenue, Michigan is a solid No. 3, only narrowly behind their rivals in Columbus and nearly $18 million ahead of fourth-place Iowa. But when it comes to expenses, Michigan drops back to No. 5, and a distant No. 5 at that; they spend less than 60 percent of what the league-leading Buckeyes do, and despite their massive revenue advantage barely outspend even their in-state enemies at Michigan State.
Ohio State Univ. $31,763,036.00 Univ. of Wisconsin $22,041,491.00 Penn State Univ. $19,780,939.00 Univ. of Iowa $18,468,732.00 Univ. of Michigan $18,328,233.00 Michigan State Univ. $17,468,458.00 Univ. of Minnesota $17,433,699.00 Northwestern Univ. $15,733,548.00 Indiana Univ. $12,822,779.00 Purdue Univ. $11,821,265.00 Univ. of Illinois $11,092,122.00
Contrast the Wolverines' approach with that of Wisconsin. The Badgers come in just sixth in the league in revenue, but (as Dosh points out) reinvest an incredible 57 percent of that money back into the football program, a number that exceeds even the percentages in the SEC and puts the Badgers' raw investment well ahead of not only Michigan but even revenue leaders Penn State. It's hard to argue the Badgers aren't getting a return on that investment, either, when they've posted nine or more wins six of the past seven years and are coming off of a surprise Rose Bowl appearance.
Michigan's troubles go deeper than just spending money, of course, and it has to be pointed out that there are institution-wide advantages to hogging so much of the football team's revenue as (the Big Ten's second-largest pile of) profit; the athletic department sponsors a wide variety of varsity sports programs (no, there's no scholarship field hockey at, say, Tennessee) and does so without financial support from the university.
But if the Wolverines are serious about competing for not only conference championships against the likes of the Buckeyes but Rose Bowl championships against the likes of Oregon or USC, or national titles against the likes of the Big 12 or SEC, they're going to have to start putting more of their football money to use in football (particularly in the area of coaching salaries ). Greg Mattison is a nice start, but he's only a start.
(One other note worth noting: thanks to the Big Ten Network, a revenue stream that according to Dosh's figures falls outside of the football-only numbers, the average Big Ten athletic department remains more profitable overall than the average SEC athletic department by some $2.5 million. The Big Ten has the money to spend. They just spend more of it, it appears, on things that aren't football.)