The story of college sports is a story of money: How it is acquired. How it is spent. Who gets it. And who doesn’t.
Even college sports stories that don’t at first appear to have a financial connection—the way coaches behave towards their players; the way female athletes are treated compared to their male counterparts; the way education juxtaposes athletics—invariably find a pecuniary upshot, whether in the form of buyouts, Title IX discrepancies or student fees.
It has become cliché to refer to big-time intercollegiate athletics as a “multi-billion-dollar industry.” But while that grand, amorphous phrase is no doubt true, behind that industry are details of where all that the money comes from, and where it goes.
With that in mind, Sportico has launched a new, Intercollegiate Finances database, the most comprehensive, interactive and user-friendly online tracker of athletic department balance sheets for public Football Bowl Subdivision schools.
The database uses the detailed revenue and expense information that college athletic departments are required to report annually to the NCAA. Upon launch, our database includes these reports dating from 2017-18, and users can look at how money has flowed through individual athletic departments over the course of three years, as well as compare schools by conference and across the FBS.
In receiving schools’ financial information, the NCAA promises never to release it to the public, other than in aggregate. Therefore, we obtained this information by making public records requests of each school’s Membership Financial Reporting System (MFRS) reports.
MFRS reports, while imperfect, still represent the best practically available data within athletic departments. Our curation includes 47 athletic department revenue and expense buckets, 16 additional categories of school-related data, as well as team-specific earning and spending sums.
We will keep this database up-to-date with the latest financial figures, as they become available around the beginning of each calendar year. In addition, we will continually add new functionalities and metrics.