Apr 16, 2020 - Sports

How college sports make money

Kendall Baker, author of Sports
Reproduced from NCAA Research; Chart: Axios Visuals

Where does the money come from in college sports? Depends on the division. While football powerhouses bathe in TV money, the lower divisions rely almost entirely on government and institutional support.

By the numbers: In 2018, Power 5 schools made 34.1% of their revenue from media rights deals, 19.5% from ticket sales and 5% from government and institutional support, per NCAA data.

  • As you move down the divisions — and even within Division I, itself — those numbers gradually flip.
  • By the time you get to D-III, 84.1% of revenue is coming from government and institutional support, and ticket sales (0.6%) and media rights (0.6%) are non-factors.

Division I (Power 5)

  • Media rights: 34.1%
  • Ticket sales: 19.5%
  • Gov't/institutional support: 5%
  • Student fees: 1.8%
  • Other: 39.6% (24.2% from donor contributions and endowment; 9.2% from royalties, licensing and advertising)

Division I (non-Power 5)

  • Gov't/institutional support: 36.7%
  • Student fees: 17.9%
  • Media rights: 10.7%
  • Ticket sales: 7.9%
  • Other: 26.8% (12.5% from donor contributions and endowment; 6.2% from royalties, licensing and advertising)

Division I (FCS)

  • Gov't/institutional support: 56.8%
  • Student fees: 13.5%
  • Media rights: 5.3%
  • Ticket sales: 4.1%
  • Other: 20.3% (11.4% from donor contributions and endowment; 2.6% from royalties, licensing and advertising)

Division II (schools with football)

  • Gov't/institutional support: 75.6%
  • Student fees: 10.5%
  • Ticket sales: 1.4%
  • Media rights: 0.7%
  • Other: 11.8% (6.5% from donor contributions and endowment; 1.2% from royalties, licensing and advertising)

Division III (schools with football)

  • Gov't/institutional support: 84.1%
  • Student fees: 4.6%
  • Ticket sales: 0.6%
  • Media rights: 0.6%
  • Other: 10.1% (6.4% from donor contributions and endowment; 0.5% from royalties, licensing and advertising)

Go deeper: Inside the world of college sports financing

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