How profitable are university athletic programs?

While not the biggest money machine, TRU holds importance in sports

Its no secret that university and college athletics in North America can mean big business. Millions of dollars are profited from several athletic programs in the NCAA division one.

An example is Texas A&M and the University of Texas, who both generated over two hundred million dollars in revenue off of their athletic program.

The main revenue sources included ticket sales, T.V deals, endorsement deals and contribution from fans. However, these big numbers are a minority.

With over 1,000 university athletic programs in North America, only 24 were deemed profitable by the NCAA in 2014; those numbers are similar today.

This makes sense as most smaller schools with less exposure aren’t going to break the bank with huge ticket sales and million-dollar endorsement deals with Nike.

For instance, TRU athletics. It is quite apparent that ticket sales generated from the medium crowds formed at TRU games are not paying for the expenses incurred by running a sports team.

These expenses include travel costs, scholarships, staffing costs, supplies and league fees. With this in mind, it is puzzling why athletics exist if money is being lost.

“I think it’s an ideal fit having high-level sports in a post-secondary setting. I think post-secondary institutions are all about growth, development, excellence and passion which are all things we see through sport,” said TRU athletic director Curtis Atkinson.

“You also have to determine if it makes sense financially. It’s not cheap to run athletic programs with costs for travel, coaching, equipment and scholarships,” Atkinson said,  “Senior administration agrees that this is a worthwhile investment as it brings exposure and incredible profile to the institution in a really positive way. It almost acts as a public relations arm that shows what our university is all about. I’m very proud of how our players and coaches represent our school.”

This idea explains that although athletics might not bring in money, it does bring in media exposure, which can cause increased applicants and help fundraising.

Most athletic programs are operating in the red, but it is clear that the bottom line isn’t everything.

“It’s such a positive introduction to people who might not know about our school. We want to be competitive and compete for championships which require a certain level of investment, but we also know we have to be responsible with our money,” Atkinson commented.

Overall Athletics requires a huge amount of money through fundraising and sponsorship; however, these sums should be regarded as investments as they play a huge role in the marketing and culture of their respected universities.