Football revenue reports for 13 of the 14 SEC schools (Vanderbilt is private) were obtained and released by The Baton Rouge Advocate for the 2015-16 season, and the numbers are about what you would expect.
Kentucky football is certainly heading in the right direction under the leadership of Mark Stoops and his staff but an improvement on the field does not necessarily mean that there will be a large increase in revenue.
To look further, SEC Country obtained all seven of Kentucky’s athletic revenue and expense reports since 2010. For the 2015-16 season Kentucky football ranked 11th in the SEC in total revenue bringing in $39.7 million with $18.6 million in profit after expenses were subtracted. Tennessee and Alabama ranked first and second in total revenue at $109.6 million and $103.9 million.
Ticket sales were the highest they had been in seven years for Kentucky in 2015 with $16.4 million in revenue but compared to the rest of the league that number is minuscule. Texas A&M and LSU led the way in ticket sales making $41 million and $38 million last season.
Of the seven teams in the top half in revenue five of those schools have a winning record in conference play over the previous five seasons. All seven of the bottom teams in revenue have a losing record in that same five year span including South Carolina, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Missouri, Kentucky, Arkansas, and Vanderbilt.
The 13 public SEC schools made a combined profit of $544 million during the 2015-16 football season.
Ticket sales make up the biggest portion of revenue while media rights, conference distribution, and donations take up the rest.
The 13 public SEC schools used $160 million or 40% of the league’s spending for the sport to pay its staff members last season.
Former Mississippi State athletic director and SEC consultant Larry Templeton voiced his opinion on the money spent, “I have a real concern about how much we’re spending on the number of people, particularly with our institutions having so much problem on the academic side. When you start looking at the other side of campus and they’re cutting programs and professors, we’ve got to be careful that we don’t lose the perspective that we’re part of the university.”
Coach Stoops knows that it is a uphill climb to compete with the Alabama’s and LSU’s in revenue, “It’s an arms race that is very important, but I pick and choose our battles and what’s important.”