Minnesota men’s basketball ranks 16th in revenue

Gopher men’s basketball ranks in top-25 for revenue and attendance.

Minnesota men’s basketball ranks 16th in revenue

Andrew Krammer

The Gophers menâÄôs basketball program hasnâÄôt made it past the first round of the NCAA tournament since its Final Four run in 1997.

But this hasnâÄôt stopped the team from raking in cash.

Minnesota finished 16th among 339 NCAA schools in revenue for the 2009-10 season, beating out basketball powerhouses UCLA and Tennessee by generating just less than $14 million.

âÄúIâÄôd say this is pretty consistent with recent years,âÄù Associate Department Director for Basketball Regina Sullivan said. âÄúWeâÄôve definitely seen an uptick in revenue since Tubby SmithâÄôs tenure.âÄù

To no surprise, 2009-10 national champion Duke University finished atop the revenue standings by hauling in a little more than $26.5 million.

Gophers menâÄôs basketball turned a profit of about $8 million for the University of Minnesota after subtracting $5.7 million in expenses.

The Gophers ranked 24th nationally last season in attendance with an average of 13,241 fans.

The Big Ten continues to lead college basketball with six of the top-16 money-makers in the country.

Wisconsin, Indiana, Ohio State, Michigan State and Illinois all out-earned the Gophers.

The Big Ten led the nation for the 35th consecutive year in game-day attendance. The 11 teams in the conference averaged 12,826 fans per contest.

That number was enough to beat out the 16-team basketball powerhouse Big East, which finished second among conferences with 11,323 fans per game.

âÄúOur goal has been to always have Williams Arena be filled for our games,âÄù Sullivan said. âÄúWeâÄôve been able to do that for many years, and weâÄôre working our way back to getting close to that goal for this coming year.âÄù

Ticket sales for Gophers menâÄôs basketball games earned the program a little less than $5 million in 2009-10, according to the most recent Equity in Athletics Disclosure Form.

Big Ten Revenue

The Gopher menâÄôs basketball program received a share of about $7.5 million in revenue from the Big Ten.

âÄúCertainly the Big Ten helps,âÄù Sullivan said. âÄúThe Big Ten has a very good television contract overall, and it has a lot to do with the success of the programs and whether you make the NCAA tournament.âÄù

Assets like television contracts, NCAA grants, births to football bowl games and basketball tournaments all net NCAA conferences more money, which is then dispersed among its members.

According to the most recent Tax Form 990 filed by the Big Ten, the conference handed out $229 million to its programs from those assets that year.

The most recent form took information from the 2009 tax year âÄî July 1, 2009, to June 30, 2010.

Minnesota received a little more than $20 million from the Big Ten, which was about the standard amount given to the conferenceâÄôs 11 schools at the time.

Minnesota ranked seventh in the Big Ten for NCAA tournament appearances over the last 10 years with three.

Television Contracts

The reason the Big Ten has a superior television contract is because of something called tier rights. Tier rights rank the level of exposure for each game.

The Big Ten has a first-tier rights deal with ESPN that amounts to $1 billion over 10 years through the 2015-16 season. First-tier rights are rights for football and basketball games that are selected to be broadcast nationally.

Second-tier rights are for broadcasting the football and basketball games that werenâÄôt selected by the first-tier rights holder.

The Big Ten has the highest expected revenue from its second-tier TV rights to date: a projected $2.8 billion deal over 25 years with the Big Ten Network through the 2031-32 season.

Comparatively, NebraskaâÄôs decision to leave the Big 12 for the Big Ten last year seems like a simple financial decision.

The Big 12âÄôs current television deals are some of the least lucrative of BCS conferences âÄî an eight-year, $480 million deal with ABC and ESPN and a four-year, $78 million deal with Fox Sports Network.

However, conference realignment is causing many BCS conferences to re-amp their television contracts in an effort to be more appealing to potential members.

The Big 12 recently signed a 13-year, $1.17 billion deal with Fox for second-tier rights that will start in the 2012-13 academic year.

The PAC-12 also signed a new first- and second-tier rights deal with ESPN and Fox that will surpass Big Ten NetworkâÄôs deal, divvying out $3 billion over 12 years beginning in 2012-13.