What are the 25 richest college football programs? A few names near the top might surprise you
Last Monday, we ranked the Big Ten’s football programs during the 2015-16 fiscal year based on gross revenue figures obtained from the U.S. Department of Education. Today we rank the 25 richest in the nation based on that same data. Figures were obtained from the schools’ mandatory filings and pertain to the fiscal year 07/01/15 to 06/30/16. So, they reflect the 2015 football season. They do not include separate conference cable television payouts.
The data was made available in late 2016 or early 2017. As you will see, two conferences dominate the list, particularly that one down south. Here they are, starting with No. 25 and ascending to the most affluent football programs with notes about profit margins, trends and some miscellaneous data mentioned throughout. As you might guess, two conferences dominate the list. But one or two programs near the very top — especially considering their recent records on the field — might surprise you.
USC quarterback Sam Darnold (14) looks to throw against Colorado.
USC made a $20.1M profit in 2015-16, a season in which they went only 8-6 in Clay Helton’s rookie year as head coach and finished the year unranked after beginning in the top 10. The gross revenue figure on $51.2M is still a massive jump from 2009-10 when USC collected only $29.1M. And, of course, as Penn State found out in the Rose Bowl, even brighter days lay ahead.
TCU Horned Frogs take the field before a game in Fort Worth.
TCU’s admittance into the Big 12 was a major accomplishment after skipping from conference to conference (WAC, C-USA, MWC) throughout the late 1990s and 2000s upon the dissolution of the old Southwest Conference. Though the Big 12 is in the most tenuous position of the Power Five conferences, for now, it’s meant a big bump in revenue for TCU whose football program didn’t even register in the top 40 of profit producers six years ago when it was still in the Mountain West.