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A Look at the Business Side of UK Athletics

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There is little more overrated to me in sports than discussing the “business” side of a particular sports organization’s bottom line. My usual retort to individuals like Louisville fans (who brag about their basketball program’s place as the most profitable in all of NCAA Division I) is “if it doesn’t happen on the court, why does it matter?” The purpose of making money is to better the product on the field. While making money surely helps that happen, until it happens on the field, it matters little to me.

That doesn’t however mean that there aren’t interesting facts to be gleaned from a look at college sports programs and their revenue. USA Today has created an impressive database of the NCAA school’s finances that is definitely worth a look. With it, you can see how much revenue each program brought in, how much they paid out in expenses and what percentage of their overall revenue comes from student subsidies. What you find is that (a) SEC programs make a ton of money and (b) they actually ask their students to contribute almost nothing to the athletics fund, a benefit that many other programs around the country do not give to their student body.

In the year 2011, Kentucky brought in $84.8 million in revenue and had $82.8 million in expenses. The greatest percentage of that comes from rights/merchandising and a breakdown of the UK numbers shows that the overall increase in revenue at UK (from $72 million in 2009 to $84.8 million in 2011) is due primarily to an increase in that department. Bottom line, when Billy left, we bought more gear. Kentucky athletics is nearly entirely self-supported and it is able to make budget every year, BUT unlike a few other SEC schools (such as LSU which operates on a $16 million annual profit), the profit isn’t great. This is, in part, why the bonding issue is so important for UK football as major renovations can only get completed with outside financial sources.

It is worth a look on a Monday night and for those of you with a business mind, there is much to be intrigued about. For everyone else, Amile Jefferson decides tomorrow.

Article written by Matt Jones

23 Comments for A Look at the Business Side of UK Athletics



  1. Mudcreekmark
    8:50 pm May 14, 2012 Permalink

    I almost made it through.Why don’t you just recite the tax code in your next article.



  2. Big Blue 66
    8:57 pm May 14, 2012 Permalink

    Coach Cal makes more than some of the schools bring in



  3. dave
    9:16 pm May 14, 2012 Permalink

    getting sick of hearing how UofL b-ball “most profitable” of all schools. how much of their money is from alcohol? subsidy? shifty accounting?
    every report that says uofl is so profitable also says duke b-ball loses money.



  4. WhatSheOrder?FishFilet?
    9:21 pm May 14, 2012 Permalink

    Ask Jared Sullinger about the business side of Jorts



  5. PhillyUKfan
    9:22 pm May 14, 2012 Permalink

    Cal is generating his own $$$ people!



  6. Big O
    9:29 pm May 14, 2012 Permalink

    The very first statement stops this post in its tracks. Matt Jone$ is all about $$$$$$ and making sure this site turns a profit. There is no comparison between UK Athletics and KSR’s ultimate goal- GREEN! No sympathy here Matt for your reporting!



  7. WhatSheOrder?FishFilet?
    9:32 pm May 14, 2012 Permalink

    6 is right! what kind of world is this where people strive to make money thru professional endeavors?!



  8. BNClay
    9:36 pm May 14, 2012 Permalink

    I work in accounting and I lol’d at #3. If you bend some accounting rules you make the numbers what ever you want them to be. So I doubt this tells the whole story.



  9. BNClay
    9:44 pm May 14, 2012 Permalink

    As for UofL being the most profitable, it would appear that all that profit is coming off the back of students. Among the top 25 or so programs got had greater % from subsidies than any other program.



  10. SexnNursinHomes
    10:00 pm May 14, 2012 Permalink

    That is one bad ass money clip. Jones, thanks for getting me that this upcoming Xmas. I appreciate it……



  11. ukca1
    10:05 pm May 14, 2012 Permalink

    Does UKAA still have to subsidize the library/general fund?



  12. Kevin Durant Wears Kia Backseat Covers
    10:05 pm May 14, 2012 Permalink

    6 OHHHHHH NOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!! NOT THAT!!!!!!!!!!



  13. Dumb Guy
    10:13 pm May 14, 2012 Permalink

    I know nothing of these things. I watch basketball period. So I find it astounding how close the expense to revenue is here. What is costing 82mil? I would have thouggt the net revenue would be much higher than expenses. I mean their making like what? A little over a million a year? I spend that much on UK onsies for my 15 month old. Soneone who understands, explain?



  14. O'boro Cat fan
    10:21 pm May 14, 2012 Permalink

    The Kentucky state bonding authority for UK will not change until certain people in Frankfort move off their high horses and gambling hypocrisy and place a priority in the Athletics economics. UK will not be competitive in the “big” dollar entertainment business of college football until the BBN and the residents of this state puts the pressure on the politicians to do the right thing and allow for UK Athletics to be bonded similar to UL!



  15. thenamerobdigity
    10:22 pm May 14, 2012 Permalink

    I would like to see what the total subsidy is comprised of



  16. UKBlue
    10:57 pm May 14, 2012 Permalink

    UL fans have to hold onto something on a cold winters night, let them have their most profitable standing for now. You know those numbers are really misconstrued when a school the size of UL with no big TV contract or football revenue is the most profitable program in the country. That’s going to soon take a big hit when the Yum Center contracts get changed & UL gets a smaller % of suite & alcohol revenue. Since the Big East TV deal only brings in $33 Million a year for all of the Big East schools & with the Big East totally falling apart & the new Big East TV deal in 2013 only expected to be $460 Million, UL better sell a hell of a lot of alcohol. SEC schools current receive $17 Million per school for their ESPN & CBS deal, and that’s going to get bumped up once the 2 new schools get added & the SEC has no alcohol sales. Go get wasted UL fans, your school needs the revenue !!



  17. Bob Day
    11:12 pm May 14, 2012 Permalink

    Thanks for the link, Matt. It’s very interesting stuff although I do agree with what a couple here have alluded that the numbers for at least some of the schools listed as composed of probably as much fiction as fact. I believe that to be true with regard to the University of Texas which is highlighted in an accompanying USA Today article. Still, it’s fascinating to see the ranges of sports income, expense and subsidy represented in D1 athletics.



  18. its easy
    11:16 pm May 14, 2012 Permalink

    If we could just get rid of 1 politician and get some neon orange uniforms joker will lead us to the bcs! When your best Qb is someone who never received any instruction from the staff in playing the position it should be obvious we have the right man for the job! There is also the issue of the cook skimping on the hot sauce. We can never win more than 4 games with this hot sauce defeçit. What’s wrong with you people? Buy more t shirts



  19. Bill
    11:59 pm May 14, 2012 Permalink

    The SEC stupid ban on alcohol costs a lot of profit. Prohibition failed!



  20. Whalen
    3:36 am May 15, 2012 Permalink

    Yall all know you’ll be cheering on the CATS saturdays at commonwealth. We are destined to this life of football misery but we must press through..and hope we are good before we die. i will say the manner in which we have lost games has been increasingly upsetting and disturbing..but tell me all the events weve witnessed over the years



  21. Another Perspective
    7:00 am May 15, 2012 Permalink

    Why do I feel like the money clip pic will make an appearance in an upcoming Thameltoe article?



  22. lovemycats
    7:49 am May 15, 2012 Permalink

    hey Matt, remember this when football season rolls around, “Until it happens on the field, it matters little to me”. no more about uk football until we get a real coach.



  23. todd
    7:59 am May 15, 2012 Permalink

    anybody think mitch and crew maybe just a little worried about the loss of season tickets, which could put a bind on his budget