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Tuesday, June 25, 2024

College Football Programs Suffered 43% Revenue Drop in Pandemic

  • FBS programs generated a median revenue of $35 million, 43% less than the previous year.
  • Both Power 5 and Group of 5 schools spent more on coaches salaries than any other line item.
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

When the pandemic struck, athletic department officials nationwide geared up for major revenue decreases.

New data released by the NCAA this week revealed the extent of those pandemic budget declines during the 2020-21 season.

  • FBS programs generated a median revenue of $35 million — down 43% compared with 2019-20. 
  • But with less travel and competition, median expenses declined, too — down 17% to about $65 million.
  • Power 5 schools felt the impact of COVID the most, experiencing a median drop of more than $20 million between 2019 and 2021. None of the other factions came close.

That didn’t stop Power 5 schools from spending big during the COVID year, however, allocating 42% of revenue to coaching and administrative salaries, despite widespread layoffs, hiring freezes, and salary cuts. 

Both Power 5 and Group of 5 schools spent more on coaches salaries than any other line item.

Future Revenue

That trend is expected to continue as programs increasingly move above and beyond recovery.

Media contracts and bowl game revenue comprised the largest portion of Power 5 revenue even in a pandemic year — 45% of total income. But between the projected growth of CFP media rights revenue and multiple new broadcast contracts for the SEC and Big Ten, that number will likely continue to rise.

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