The National Association of Collegiate Athletic Administrators (NACAA) has released the most recent data on the payouts made to college football teams from the NCAA, and the numbers are staggering.
The organization tracks payouts made to schools from the NCAA for its members. Each member is required to submit detailed information on all payments made to its athletic programs. This includes scholarships, stipends, cash bonuses, and gifts. The association, in turn, publishes the results annually.
The numbers show that over $1 billion was distributed among the 128 FBS schools in 2018. This is a 13 percent increase from 2017 and marks the first time since 2015 that revenue earned from championships has gone up.
The largest payout came from the 2018 College Football Playoff championship game, which the University of Georgia won against Alabama in Atlanta, GA. The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) distributed $125 million to the team that would eventually compete for the national championship. The money came from a variety of sources, including the television networks that aired the game (Fox and ESPN) and the corporate sponsors of the game (Under Armour and Mercedes-Benz).
What Is the Most Popular Sport at American Colleges?
The NACAA collects the data for its members on sportsmanship and ethics in athletics, academic performance, and much more. One of the most recent findings from the organization is that men’s football is the most popular sport at American colleges. The survey found that 67 percent of the respondents are either playing or supporting the sport. And when asked about their preferred future career, 44.4 percent of the respondents identified themselves as either an athletic director, a football coach, or a sports administrator.
This is a significant increase from a year ago, when only 60 percent of the respondents identified themselves as football fans. It also marks the first time since 2014 that the response “men’s basketball” did not appear among the top three most popular sports.
Has Payout To Play Increased In Popularity?
Not only has football become more popular at American colleges, but so has payouts to play. NACAA data from 2014 to 2018 shows that the average annual payouts have risen from $13.78 million to $17.63 million. And when adjusted for inflation, this is a 19 percent increase.
Most of this is due to increased revenue. In the 2017-2018 academic year, the 128 FBS schools generated $11.76 billion in combined revenue. This is a 17 percent increase from the previous academic year and a 3 percent increase from the 2016-2017 school year. (NCAA)
The NACAA notes that one of the reasons for this is the explosion of alumni associations. More than half of the FBS schools have at least one active alumni association. This provides an opportunity for schools to connect with former players and gain their support in bringing in revenue and sponsoring athletic events.
This support, as noted by the NCAA, provides vital support in many ways. For example, the NCAA’s annual cost of attendance is $14,999 for an individual and $28,999 for a family. However, organizations such as the NACAA have committed an additional $350 per year for each student-athlete. This funding allows schools to provide stipends, which are essentially bonuses paid for winning or participating in certain sports. The NACAA survey also found that 80 percent of the respondents believe that winning money through athletic competition is a good way for an institution to fund its athletic programs.
Which Year Was the First to Offer Big Ticket Payouts?
While the University of Georgia has won the most money in payouts, it was not the first school to offer such large bonuses to their athletes. That honor goes to the University of Southern California, which distributed $29.85 million to their football players in 1920. USC was actually one of the original members of the NACAA, established in 1922. That figure does not include stipends or other types of funding, which would push the total payout to over $40 million. (NACAA)
In comparison, the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, who played in the first NCAA football championship in 1933, received $15,000 for their participation. Even then, this was a large sum of money at the time, but pales in comparison to the multi-million dollar paydays of the early 20th century.
Where Does All the Money Go?
The primary beneficiaries of all these payouts are the students at these schools. NACAA data shows that in total, $1.13 billion was awarded in scholarships, stipends, and cash bonuses to the football players. This is a 28 percent increase from 2017 and a 6 percent increase from 2016. (NACAA)
This money, however, does not go completely to the students. As noted above, the large majority of these schools have alumni associations, which provide support for their students. This could be through providing additional funding for students’ sports teams, creating endowment funds for future students, or some combination thereof. For example, the University of Southern California’s alumni association provides $2,500 to each student athlete for graduation. (USC)
In addition, the NACAA noted that $30.7 million was distributed in “cash benefits” to the football players as well. This includes tickets to sporting events, gift cards, or other types of financial assistance. (NACAA)
It is important to remember that all of this money came from one place: the pockets of the NCAA’s 128 member schools. This is why, when asked about the primary source of these funds, 77 percent of the respondents said that it was “athletic revenue.” (NACAA)
Which Sports Do the Most Revenue And Championship Payouts?
Looking at revenue and championship payouts for the 128 FBS schools over the last six years, it is clear that men’s football generates the most revenue and pays out the most in championship bonuses.
The NACAA survey found that the average annual revenue for this group is $47.56 million, with a range from $25.6 million to $75.99 million. Just over half of the schools (58 percent) reported revenue below this figure. The other half reported revenue above it.
In addition, the football teams at these schools have generated $125.04 million in championship payouts, including the $29.85 million for USC in 1920, the $15,000 for Georgia Tech in 1933, and the $15,000 for the University of Southern California. (NACAA)
This represents a 12 percent increase from 2017 and a 23 percent increase from 2016. These are the teams that win the most money in college football. (NACAA)
Which teams win the most money in college football? You can find this information at https://nacaa.com/data/pages/teampayouts.aspx.