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What Did This College Football Season Cost Universities?

Andrew Lisa
·6 min read
East Lansing, Michigan, USA - September 17, 2018: Exterior of Spartan Stadium on the Michigan State University campus.
East Lansing, Michigan, USA - September 17, 2018: Exterior of Spartan Stadium on the Michigan State University campus.

No sport or league was spared from the chaos of 2020, but the size, scope, number of teams and sprawling nature of college football made playing during the time of COVID-19 a mess. The Big Ten, Southeastern Conference and Pac-12 opted for conference-only play in July and by August, confusion and uncertainty reigned. The MAC and Mountain West postponed their seasons, followed closely by the Big Ten and Pac-12.

After weeks of back-and-forth, the vast majority of the big conferences and teams had agreed to play at least some games, and the season progressed clumsily toward a very uncertain postseason.

The question of attendance has been an inconsistent hodge-podge from the beginning. Some teams are playing in front of fans to a certain percentage of normal capacity. Others are playing to empty stands where local regulations prohibit live attendance. Others are playing all their games in shuttered facilities whether the state allows fans or not. One thing, however, is certain — a lot of schools are going to lose a lot of money.

In order to get an idea of what each college football team stands to lose from the chaotic 2020 season, GOBankingRates used the U.S. Department of Education’s Equity in Athletics Data Analysis from 2017, 2018 and 2019 to learn about each team’s average revenue and profits. Those numbers were used as markers for potential revenue and profits that could be lost this year.

This list includes the 30 colleges that bring in the highest average football revenues and profits — ranked from lowest to highest average profit — so you can get a look at what this season could cost them. See how much these schools stand to lose.

Last updated: Nov. 12, 2020

Raleigh, NC, USA - NOVEMBER 24: William Neal Reynolds Coliseum on November 24, 2017 at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, North Carolina.
Raleigh, NC, USA - NOVEMBER 24: William Neal Reynolds Coliseum on November 24, 2017 at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, North Carolina.

30. North Carolina State University at Raleigh

  • Three-Year Average Total Football Revenue: $44,693,802

  • Three-Year Average Profit from Football: $22,853,140

Oxford, MS, USA - June 14, 2013: Vaught-Hemmingway Stadium (at Hollingsworth Field) at Ole Miss in Oxford, Mississippi.
Oxford, MS, USA - June 14, 2013: Vaught-Hemmingway Stadium (at Hollingsworth Field) at Ole Miss in Oxford, Mississippi.

29. University of Mississippi

  • Three-Year Average Total Football Revenue: $54,047,030

  • Three-Year Average Profit from Football: $23,113,424

Oklahoma-State-University
Oklahoma-State-University

28. Oklahoma State University

  • Three-Year Average Total Football Revenue: $46,720,291

  • Three-Year Average Profit from Football: $24,694,082

Students walk and bike at the University of Southern California campus in Los Angeles California USA.
Students walk and bike at the University of Southern California campus in Los Angeles California USA.

27. University of Southern California

  • Three-Year Average Total Football Revenue: $56,685,261

  • Three-Year Average Profit from Football: $24,932,248

University of Illinois college campus in Urbana Champaign
University of Illinois college campus in Urbana Champaign

26. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

  • Three-Year Average Total Football Revenue: $48,357,957

  • Three-Year Average Profit from Football: $25,701,801

"Texas Tech University  is a public research university in Lubbock, Texas, United States.
"Texas Tech University is a public research university in Lubbock, Texas, United States.

25. Texas Tech University

  • Three-Year Average Total Football Revenue: $46,925,210

  • Three-Year Average Profit from Football: $26,171,074

Blacksburg, Virginia, USA - July 19, 2016: Plaza near Lane Stadium on the campus of Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in Blacksburg, Virginia.
Blacksburg, Virginia, USA - July 19, 2016: Plaza near Lane Stadium on the campus of Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in Blacksburg, Virginia.

24. Virginia Tech

  • Three-Year Average Total Football Revenue: $55,014,799

  • Three-Year Average Profit from Football: $27,353,753

Minnesota: University of Minnesota — Twin Cities
Minnesota: University of Minnesota — Twin Cities

23. University of Minnesota-Twin Cities

  • Three-Year Average Total Football Revenue: $57,821,805

  • Three-Year Average Profit from Football: $27,452,206

Find Out: Ohio State Ranks in Top 5 Richest College Football Programs — But Who Is No. 1?

COLUMBIA, SC/USA JUNE 5, 2018: Jerri and Steve Spurrier Indoor Practice Facility on the campus of the University of South Carolina.
COLUMBIA, SC/USA JUNE 5, 2018: Jerri and Steve Spurrier Indoor Practice Facility on the campus of the University of South Carolina.

22. University of South Carolina-Columbia

  • Three-Year Average Total Football Revenue: $63,228,276

  • Three-Year Average Profit from Football: $28,455,181

University of Arkansas
University of Arkansas

21. University of Arkansas

  • Three-Year Average Total Football Revenue: $71,837,589

  • Three-Year Average Profit from Football: $30,130,033

University-of-Utah-Salt-Lake-City
University-of-Utah-Salt-Lake-City

20. University of Utah

  • Three-Year Average Total Football Revenue: $56,858,821

  • Three-Year Average Profit from Football: $30,406,913

College Station, Texas, USA - 01 September 2019: Welcome To Aggieland.
College Station, Texas, USA - 01 September 2019: Welcome To Aggieland.

19. Texas A&M University

  • Three-Year Average Total Football Revenue: $75,502,967

  • Three-Year Average Profit from Football: $34,836,172

Iowa City, USA - October 8, 2011: The Old Capitol building on the Pentacrest on the campus of the University of Iowa.
Iowa City, USA - October 8, 2011: The Old Capitol building on the Pentacrest on the campus of the University of Iowa.

18. University of Iowa

  • Three-Year Average Total Football Revenue: $71,895,512

  • Three-Year Average Profit from Football: $37,985,035

University of Alabama
University of Alabama

17. The University of Alabama

  • Three-Year Average Total Football Revenue: $104,608,030

  • Three-Year Average Profit from Football: $39,636,390

Building Exterior, Built Structure, Campus, College Student, EUGENE, Education, Large Group Of People, Men, Oregon, Outdoors, People, UNIVERSITY, University of Oregon, Young Adult, student, walking, women
Building Exterior, Built Structure, Campus, College Student, EUGENE, Education, Large Group Of People, Men, Oregon, Outdoors, People, UNIVERSITY, University of Oregon, Young Adult, student, walking, women

16. University of Oregon

  • Three-Year Average Total Football Revenue: $69,665,227

  • Three-Year Average Profit from Football: $39,780,723

East Lansing, MI, USA - August 1, 2014: An entrance to Michigan State University.
East Lansing, MI, USA - August 1, 2014: An entrance to Michigan State University.

15. Michigan State University

  • Three-Year Average Total Football Revenue: $72,811,869

  • Three-Year Average Profit from Football: $41,550,930

Seattle, WA, USA - April 13, 2017: The Alaska Airlines Field at Husky Stadium in Seattle.
Seattle, WA, USA - April 13, 2017: The Alaska Airlines Field at Husky Stadium in Seattle.

14. University of Washington

  • Three-Year Average Total Football Revenue: $81,801,180

  • Three-Year Average Profit from Football: $42,841,217

Gainesville, Florida, USA - September 12, 2016: Entrance Sign at the University of Florida on September 12, 2016 in Gainesville, Florida.
Gainesville, Florida, USA - September 12, 2016: Entrance Sign at the University of Florida on September 12, 2016 in Gainesville, Florida.

13. University of Florida

  • Three-Year Average Total Football Revenue: $85,205,128

  • Three-Year Average Profit from Football: $45,143,730

University of Nebraska
University of Nebraska

12. University of Nebraska-Lincoln

  • Three-Year Average Total Football Revenue: $85,448,712

  • Three-Year Average Profit from Football: $46,360,843

Auburn-University-Alabama
Auburn-University-Alabama

11. Auburn University

  • Three-Year Average Total Football Revenue: $93,457,619

  • Three-Year Average Profit from Football: $48,698,685

Students chat in front of Old Main, the main administrative building of Penn State after sunset.
Students chat in front of Old Main, the main administrative building of Penn State after sunset.

10. Pennsylvania State University

  • Three-Year Average Total Football Revenue: $93,779,668

  • Three-Year Average Profit from Football: $49,355,479

Read More: The Highest-Paid College Football Coaches of the Last 10 Years

University of Wisconsin in Madison
University of Wisconsin in Madison

9. University of Wisconsin-Madison

  • Three-Year Average Total Football Revenue: $81,972,237

  • Three-Year Average Profit from Football: $50,300,692

Baton Rouge, USA - 2014: Tiger Stadium, Louisiana State University's Football stadium, can hold more than 100,000 people.
Baton Rouge, USA - 2014: Tiger Stadium, Louisiana State University's Football stadium, can hold more than 100,000 people.

8. Louisiana State University

  • Three-Year Average Total Football Revenue: $88,237,934

  • Three-Year Average Profit from Football: $55,915,360

Historic Ohio Stadium, also known as The Shoe or Horseshoe , is located on the Ohio State University campus in Columbus, Ohio.
Historic Ohio Stadium, also known as The Shoe or Horseshoe , is located on the Ohio State University campus in Columbus, Ohio.

7. Ohio State University

  • Three-Year Average Total Football Revenue: $105,215,165

  • Three-Year Average Profit from Football: $56,892,716

University of Oklahoma
University of Oklahoma

6. University of Oklahoma

  • Three-Year Average Total Football Revenue: $97,671,887

  • Three-Year Average Profit from Football: $57,542,015

University of Tennessee Knoxville
University of Tennessee Knoxville

5. The University of Tennessee-Knoxville

  • Three-Year Average Total Football Revenue: $98,528,735

  • Three-Year Average Profit from Football: $60,823,889

University of Notre Dame in Indiana
University of Notre Dame in Indiana

4. University of Notre Dame

  • Three-Year Average Total Football Revenue: $106,593,322

  • Three-Year Average Profit from Football: $64,499,430

University of Georgia Zell B Miller Learning Center in Athens Georgia
University of Georgia Zell B Miller Learning Center in Athens Georgia

3. University of Georgia

  • Three-Year Average Total Football Revenue: $115,144,200

  • Three-Year Average Profit from Football: $71,642,424

The Campus of the University of Michigan Law School in Ann Arbor is also known as "The Law Quad" or "The Law Quadrangle".
The Campus of the University of Michigan Law School in Ann Arbor is also known as "The Law Quad" or "The Law Quadrangle".

2. University of Michigan-Ann Arbor

  • Three-Year Average Total Football Revenue: $117,691,615

  • Three-Year Average Profit from Football: $71,980,419

University of Texas Austin campus at sunset
University of Texas Austin campus at sunset

1. The University of Texas at Austin

  • Three-Year Average Total Football Revenue: $146,794,944

  • Three-Year Average Profit from Football: $104,209,024

More From GOBankingRates

Methodology: GOBankingRates looked at the US Department of Education’s Equity in Athletics Data Analysis from 2019, 2018, and 2017 to discover what this season of college football during the Coronavirus pandemic may cost each institution. GOBankingRates first found (1) 2019 total football revenue; (2) 2019 total football expenses; (3) 2019 profit from football program; (4) 2018 total football revenue; (5) 2018 total football expenses; (6) 2018 profit from football program; (7) 2017 total football revenue; (8) 2017 total football expenses; and (9) 2017 profit from football program for every institution. Then, to calculate potential losses for this current season, GOBankingRates found (10) three-year average total football revenues; (11) three-year average total football expenses; and (12) three-year average profit from football program for every institution. In order to be considered, each institution had to have a NCAA Division 1 FBS football program in the 2020 season. All data was collected on and up to date as of Nov. 9, 2020.

This article originally appeared on GOBankingRates.com: What Did This College Football Season Cost Universities?