Proving it helps to spend money to make money, I suppose, there's a high correlation between expense and revenue. In fact, an almost perfect correlation (r = .99 for you statistical nerds out there). That's outrageously high. Anyway, below is the list of top ten in terms of revenue. In parentheses is their expenses ranking.
- Texas A&M (5)
- Texas (1)
- Ohio State (2)
- Alabama (4)
- Michigan (3)
- Oklahoma (9)
- LSU (12)
- Florida (14)
- Tennessee (8)
- Auburn (11)
Oh, by the way, Georgia is ranked 15th in revenue and 16th in expenses.
As you can see above, the big spenders are also the big moneymakers, which is hardly surprising. Wisconsin and Penn State probably underperform, ranking 7th and 8th respectively in terms of expenses but only 11th and 12th, respectively, in terms of revenues. But still, a million dollars here, a million dollars there, what's the difference?
Texas A&M ranks #1 too on making more than it spends (revenue - expense), followed by Oklahoma, Florida, Arkansas, and West Virginia. Schools doing it backwards, more expenses than revenues? California had $21.7 million more in expenses than revenue, far more than #2 Washington State at $12.9 million (both PAC-12 schools, kinda interesting).
If you look at the original data on USA Today you'll see a "total allocated" column, which includes student fees and other monies transferred into the athletics program. You tend to see the highest numbers among mid-majors. James Madison has the most ($38.1 million), followed by Connecticut ($35.3 million).
Finally, how do the conferences stack up? About as you'd expect.
Revenue (rank in Expenses in parentheses)
- SEC (1)
- Big Ten (2)
- Pac-12 (3)
- Big 12 (4)
- ACC (5)
In other words, spend money, make money. Now the results above are based on the sum of all teams in a conference. If we change that to a conference's average the results are similar, the SEC and Big Ten lead, a shuffling below but the same conferences. In other words, how we do the math doesn't matter all that much.