Nebraska football generated a lot of revenue in 2015. It's a good thing they did because most of the Huskers' other programs lost gigantic sums of money.
Though financial struggles of college sports without large media deals is hardly new, Nebraska's athletic revenue report is a sobering reminder why football and men's basketball, among other sports (depending on school, level and conference), receive so much attention.
Nineteen of Nebraska's 22 varsity sports did not turn a profit in fiscal year 2015, the most recent year available, according to a Lincoln Journal Star report from last fall. And only two — men's basketball and football — generated more than $3 million in revenue while recording a profit of more than $500,000.
“I see it as an investment in our young people,” athletics director Shawn Eichorst said. “We have a great history and tradition here at Nebraska in athletics, and so although there is dollars and cents involved both on the revenue and expense side, I see it as a total investment in the 600-plus student-athletes we have. It’s a great fabric of our society, and especially in the DNA at Nebraska. I think it’s important that we continue to provide the resources and support across the board regardless of significant ticket revenue or not.”
Eichorst's commitment to the athletic, personal and professional development of student-athletes is admirable. He also beams with pride for a volleyball program that is one of the few self-sustaining programs in the sport.
"It’s really unique that we’re able to generate significant ticket revenue for volleyball,” Eichorst added. “Most programs that look like us are generally in the two-sport situation there. For us, it allows us to continue to put resources and support in place for our student-athletes to be successful in academics, athletics and life, and that’s really our true mission. We’re very, very pleased.”
Nonetheless, the losses for some programs are staggering, particularly the eight programs that lost at least $1 million. One of those, women's basketball, lost more than $2.6 million. In all, their 17 non-revenue sports lost a combined $17.7 million.
Here's a look at the revenue, expenses and net for Nebraska's varsity sports from fiscal year 2015:
|*Men's Track & Field and Cross Country||$196,440||$2,161,567||-$1,965,127|
|*Women's Track & Field and Cross Country||$195,797||$2,320,494||-$2,124,697|
*Men's and women's track and field and cross country are classified as four sports but have been combined into two in the report.