The Money in ACC Basketball

Posted by KCarpenter on October 18th, 2011

The 2010 Equity in Athletics data has been released and, in a totally unsurprising turn of events, Duke leads the nation in basketball revenue as well as in basketball expenses. North Carolina comes in third in revenue (behind Louisville and Duke), while Maryland and N.C. State round out the top twenty-five at #24 and #25, respectively. Seeing the numbers for just the Atlantic Coast Conference, however, and specifically the disparity between them, is eye-opening.

2010 ACC Equity in Athletics Data

ACC basketball is big business, and since these are 2010 numbers, this doesn’t even include the fat new television contract with ESPN. Of course, it’s worth mentioning that it’s definitely bigger business for some than others: Duke brought in roughly five times what Florida State did, and, in terms of revenue after expenses, took home roughly twenty times as much. This is 2010 data, but it’s worth noting that last year these teams finished second and third respectively in the conference race. The more I look at the data, the more interesting things become.

It’s staggering to me that Boston College is second in the ACC in basketball expenses. It’s even more stunning that Boston College apparently has basketball expenses exactly equal to its basketball revenue. Of course, the teams that spend more money than I thought on basketball are kind of surprising. North Carolina doesn’t even get third place for highest basketball expenses; that honor goes to Virginia, which spent the third most on basketball and makes the third least. The Tar Heels spend surprisingly little on basketball, with almost half the expenses of Duke. Despite this huge gap in costs, Duke still brings in greater revenue after costs than UNC, albeit only by a little.

The most interesting tidbit to me has to do with N.C. State. The Wolfpack has the 25th greatest revenue in college basketball on a national basis, yet spends the least of any team in the ACC. Spending only $3,104,152, the Pack brought in $10,354,157, a %300 return. That’s astounding, and easily the best bang for your athletic budget buck in the conference, though Georgia Tech isn’t far behind. I know these numbers aren’t as interesting as on-court statistics, but when you think about the massive disparities in resources, a lot about the ACC becomes clear. It’s astounding how loyal the N.C. State fans are in spite of a “stingy” basketball budget. It’s amazing that teams like Florida State and Clemson do so well in the ACC. And, of course, it’s just mind blowing how much money Duke both spends and makes on basketball.

KCarpenter (269 Posts)

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5 responses to “The Money in ACC Basketball”

  1. WakeFan says:

    I have done some analysis on this data in the past and came to the conclusion that it isn’t really reliable. I mean do you really believe that BC spends exactly as much on basketball as they bring in? I think schools disperse non-specific expenses and revenues differently. On the BC example, I bet there’s some monkey business going on with Conte Forum, a BC owned arena that is used by multiple different programs. I suspect they first allocate expenses to the mbb program until it zeros out and then move onto Hockey and WBB. Contrast with Wake where Wake’s expense for city owned LJVM Colliseum is a cut of the receipts and ad revenues. In this case the expenses will be more accurately paired with the individual programs (MBB and WBB) than I imagine is happening over at BC.

  2. KLCarpenter says:

    I’m skeptical as well. However, since reporting is mandated by federal law, I’d like to hope that these aren’t too far off or someone is likely to find themselves in violation.

  3. WakeFan says:

    You can often get significantly different results using legitimate accounting treatments.

  4. ESPNMatt100 says:

    Totally agree with Wake Fan that it is all clever accounting. It’s tough overall to hide what an athletic program does, but they can allocate it to different sports pretty easily. For example, I’d bet that Virginia did some financing on their arena and are still making significant payments, which will pump up their expenses.

  5. rtmsf says:

    See, e.g., Enron.

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