Iowa ranks among top 20 in athletic revenue for 2014-15

Zack Creglow
Iowa football coach Kirk Ferentz, left, and athletic director Gary Barta talk with Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez on Nov. 2, 2013, at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City.

Iowa's athletic department outspent its revenues by $3.2 million and was among the 20 biggest nationally, a USA TODAY Sports review of Division I public school finances showed.

The Hawkeyes were among the top 20 in the nation in both revenue and expenses in 2014-15. Despite the uneven balance sheet, Iowa relied on only $650,000 — or 0.61 of its total revenues — from student fees and other subsidies. That amount was the 14th lowest among Division I public schools. Four schools in the Big Ten — Ohio State, Nebraska, Purdue and Penn State — did not use subsidy money in 2014-15.

Out of the 50 public schools representing Power Five conferences, total revenue in 2015 rose by $304 million, an analysis from USA TODAY Sports shows. In 2014, spending rose by $332 million.

Based off generated revenue and expenses, Iowa's athletic department was far and away the biggest among the state's three Division I public schools, outpacing fellow Power 5 school Iowa State in each category by more than $30 million.

Between the two, the largest expense differences came in pay and benefits to coaches, athletics administrators and support staff and facilities costs. In total, Iowa had the 16th most expensive athletic department in Division I and sixth-most in the Big Ten.

In revenues, Iowa earned significantly more in ticket sales and royalties, licensing, advertisements and sponsorships than Iowa State. Its $105,969,545 revenue total ranked seventh among Big Ten schools and 20th among Division I public schools.

Can college athletics continue to spend like this?


The data, updated for 2015, are based on the revenue and expense reports collected from more than 225 public schools in the NCAA’s Division I that have an obligation to release the data (the NCAA does not release the data publicly). The others are private or are covered under a state exemption.

In an effort to standardize reporting, NCAA staff members have worked with the National Association of College and University Business Officers and other higher-education finance experts to formulate definitions for each category. Still, some schools interpret the reporting rules slightly differently.

Beginning with 2015 data, the NCAA revised the definitions of several revenue and expense categories, including where certain revenues and expenses are recorded.

On the revenue side, a category was added to allow an athletics department to deduct from its operating revenues certain amounts that it transfers back to the school. This amount cannot exceed the sum of student fees and direct institutional support that the department receives from the school.

On the expense side, a new category was created to clarify that an athletics department should report debt service payments on facilities as part of its operating expenses. Another category was revised so that it now groups facilities maintenance with overhead and other administrative expenses. That means an assessment of annual spending on facilities spending no longer can be made from these reports, which allowed such assessments for 2005 through 2014.

Schools’ conference membership, typically the affiliation for basketball, are based on alignments for the 2014-15 school year.

Note: Dollar amounts have not been adjusted for inflation.