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Revenues Flat for Penn State Football, Intercollegiate Athletics in 2018-19, as Profits Down $6 Million

by on February 21, 2020 12:00 AM

Penn State Intercollegiate Athletics reported a small dip in revenues in 2018-19, as well as a drop of $6 million in profits in its annual report filed with the NCAA.

Overall revenues for Penn State athletics were $164.5 million in its most recently completed fiscal year, a decline of about $840,000 from 2017-18.

Meanwhile, revenues produced by Penn State football were $105.505 million for the reporting period that included the Nittany Lions’ 9-4 season in 2018. That represented an increase of only $244,000 on revenues generated during the team’s 11-2 Fiesta Bowl season in 2017.

A link to the report on Penn State’s website is here.

For the fiscal year 2016-17, which included Penn State’s Big Ten championship, overall football revenues were $81.2 million and in 2014-15, James Franklin’s first season as head coach, football revenues were $69.4 million. (Penn State’s fiscal year runs from July 1 through June 30.)

In 2018-19, Penn State football ticket sales increased almost $2.8 million, to $36.83 million. Football’s other big money-makers were media rights ($41 million, a drop of $683,000); contributions ($10.79 million, a drop of about $550,000), and concessions, parking and souvenirs ($6.8 million, an increase of about $430,000).

Football expenses increased $1.021 million over the past year, led by jumps in compensation for coaches (up about $1.6 million, to $15.76 million) and staff (up about $945,000, to $5.27 million).

Included in that figure are bowl bonuses and approximately $900,000 in new, additional federal excise taxes Penn State must pay on any coaches salaries above $1 million. According to his most recent contract made public, Franklin made $5.96 million in salary and bonuses in 2019.

Bottom-line, Penn State football showed a “profit” of $54.26 million in 2018-19, off slightly from the $55.02 million it reported in 2017-18.

Overall, Penn State athletics received nearly $52.5 million in media rights, Big Ten non-media money and NCAA distribution. That represented an increase of $1.3 million compared to 2017-18.

Contributions to Penn State athletics fell about $3.4 million in 2018-19, to $31.49 million — a dip administrators attribute to changes in how donations are recorded.

Expenses department-wide were up about $5.2 million, from $155.18 million in 2017-18 to $160.369 million.

The biggest jump in athletics’ costs came in coaches and staff overall compensation — salaries, bonuses and benefits — and new hirings. Those labor costs increased 10.6% in that one-year period, from $55.7 million to $61.6 million in 2018-19— an increase of nearly $5.9 million.

In 2018-19, Penn State spent $31.9 million on coaches compensation and $29.7 million on staff compensation. Over the past five years, expenditures on coaches and staff compensation, including new additional hires, has increased 42%, going back to 2014-15, when the combined figure was $43.3 million.

In the report, game expenses for all Penn State sports went up $1.87 million, to $10 million, while department-wide recruiting costs went up $363,000 to $3.07 million, and the athletic department’s share of costs for university facilities, overhead and administration increased over $1.5 million. Football’s recruiting costs jumped from $1.37 million to $1.53 million.

Penn State athletics’ overall debt and lease expenses dropped almost $4 million, though those expenses still include paying back a bridge loan from Old Main and paying off its NCAA fine from the Sandusky scandal.

Penn State is one of fewer than 20 major college athletic departments that is self-sustaining; that is, it generates all of the revenue it uses to operate the department. Rutgers, by contrast, received $29.3 million from university and state support, and student fees, that were directed to its athletic budget in 2018-19 — and thus showed a “profit” of $83,936.

Penn State has 31 intercollegiate teams, second-most in the Big Ten Conference, behind Ohio State, which has 36. In its report to the NCAA, Penn State said it had 981 participants in athletics in 2018-19— 556 on men’s teams (56.7%) and 425 on women’s teams (43.3%). In the Big Ten, only Ohio State and Michigan have more total participants. Approximately 72% of Penn State’s varsity athletes are from out of state.

Student aid for Penn State football remained stagnant in 2018-19, at $5.185 million, while overall student aid for athletics climbed $600,000, to about $20.86 million. This does not include the $1.81 million Penn State spent on athletes’ meals, meal programs and its fuel stations, which represents an increase of $365,000.

As Vice President of Athletics Sandy Barbour pointed out on Twitter 10 days ago, while retweeting a post by Barstool Penn State, Penn State athletics has had more than 15 varsity teams ranked in the Top 25 in 2019-20, including the following teams in the Top 10: men’s lacrosse, wrestling, women’s and men’s volleyball, men’s basketball, men’s and women’s fencing, hockey and football.

Barbour, who was named athletics director at Penn State in August 2014, signed a new contract last February that will pay her $1.219 million in 2019-20, plus $240,000 annually in a benefit plan, as well as the potential for another $260,000 annually in “performance bonus opportunities.”


Here’s a look at the annual revenues and profits/losses of Penn State Intercollegiate Athletics and Nittany Lion football since its 2010-11 report to the NCAA:

2010-11 — Athletics: $116.2 million, +$14.8 million. Football: $58.9 million, +$38 million.

2011-12 — Athletics: $108.25 million, +$863,023. Football: $66.1 million, +$47.8 million.

2012-13 — Athletics: $104.75 million, -$5.9 million. Football: $52.85 million, +$25.27 million.

2013-14 — Athletics: $117.59 million, +$150,000. Football: $68.05 million, +$38.2 million.

2014-15 — Athletics: $125.72 million, +$3.45 million. Football: $69.4 million, +$35.8 million.

2015-16 — Athletics: $132.25 million, +$2.898 million. Football: $75.53 million, +$39.9 million.

2016-17 — Athletics: $144 million, +$5.3 million. Football: $81.2 million, +$41.4 million.

2017-18 — Athletics: $165.37 million, +$10.118 million. Football: $100.24 million, +$55.02 million.

2018-19 — Athletics: $164.529 million, +$4,159 million. Football: $100.505 million, +$54.265 million


Several major college athletic programs have already released copies of the 2018-19 financial reports that they submitted to the NCAA. Here is a sampling, with overall revenues first and profit/loss listed second. Note that Ohio State shows a slight loss and while Alabama’s loss is quite substantial, the school reports that it opted to defer $24.5 million in seat contributions to next year.

Texas — $223.9 million, +$16.5 million

Ohio State — $210.03 million, -$624,359

Georgia — $174 million, +$30.7 million

Alabama — $164.1 million, -$21.2 million

Florida — $159.7 million, +$17.9 million

LSU — $157.8 million, +$8.8 million

Auburn — $152.4 million, +$13.2 million

Nebraska — $136.2 million, +$12.085 million

Maryland — $108.8 million, +$115,000

Missouri — $106.6 million, -$1.79 million

Rutgers — $103.2 million, +$83,936

Mike Poorman has covered Penn State football since 1979, and for since the 2009 season. His column appears on Mondays and Fridays. Follow him on Twitter at His views and opinions do not necessarily reflect those of Penn State University.
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