Here’s something that may or may not surprise you depending on how familiar you are with college sports: big time college sports programs make serious bank. Many big name programs from around the country bring in more money than professional sports franchises.
Take the University of Alabama, for example. In the 2012-2013 fiscal year, the Crimson Tide’s athletic programs brought in more revenue than any NHL team and 25 of 30 NBA teams. So yes, the same NCAA executives insisting on not paying college athletes in the name of amateurism are raking in more money than their professional counterparts.
As impressive as Alabama’s $143 million in revenue is, they are not even the highest earning program in the country. That honor belongs to the University of Texas, who pulled in $165 million from 2012-2013.
Other high revenue programs: Florida ($129 million), Ohio State ($123 million), Michigan ($122 million), Southern California ($97 million), and Oregon ($81 million).
The numbers were compiled by Mark Edelman, a City University of New York professor specializing in sports and antitrust laws. The numbers were published in an AP article drawing attention to the difficult task a union will face if college athletes go forward with unionizing in the near future.
The student athlete vs. union employee debate is a complex one, but one thing is clear: the current dynamic is terribly flawed. If an athletic department brings in more money than almost every professional team in two major sports leagues, yet is still absolved from compensating the players who bring in that money, someone is getting a raw deal.