Top College Football Revenue Conference

Due to the current interest in conference realignment, this page is getting tons of traffic and lots of comments.

So, I want to update it with new numbers you can find at Big 10 edges SEC in 2008 total sports revenue and 2010 College Sports TV Revenue By Conference. However, neither of those posts takes into account the full impact of the SEC's new deal with ESPN ($2 billion over 15 years) which only began in the fall of 2009. Also, neither breaks it down so that we can see how much revenue is produced solely by football. So, we continue to maintain that the SEC is the top college FOOTBALL revenue conference. However, let's be clear that we don't have full information and undoubtedly it is very close between the SEC and Big Ten; and probably changes from day to day. One thing is clear -- both conferences are way ahead of the others and both make lot's of money from college football.

One of the most common adages you will hear is the statement that "money will not bring you happiness." While that bit of wisdom is certainly true; money can help set the stage for happiness.

This applies as much to college football as to anything else in life. In the world of college sports, money can buy you the best facilities, coaches, recruiting programs, publicity, and all the other "perks" that are a part of top college sports programs.

Of course having the best of everything that money can buy will not guarantee winning teams. But, it sure will help. And, if you look at the list of which schools have the top revenue producing sports programs - you will find that those schools are also at the top of the win-loss column as well. Certainly, this universally true if you look at it from any long-term perspective.

To read more about the SEC's "virtuous circle" of fans, money, and wins, check out Best College Sports Conference.

OK, so we all agree that, for better or worse, money plays a major role in building a top sports program.

So, which is the top college football revenue conference?

You got it - the Southeastern Conference (SEC)!

And, no, it's not close.

Here's the 2006 list:

  1. Texas Longhorns
  2. Tennessee Volunteers
  3. Ohio State Buckeyes
  4. Florida Gators
  5. Georgia Bulldogs
  6. Alabama Crimson Tide
  7. Notre Dame Fighting Irish
  8. Michigan Wolverines
  9. LSU Tigers
  10. Auburn Tigers

Obviously you can see that the SEC dominates the Top 10 list of football revenue schools. The SEC has 6 of the top 10 football revenue programs. The Big Ten is second with only 2 of the top 10.

The top 15 in football profit is a bit different:

  1. Notre Dame
  2. Texas
  3. Georgia
  4. Michigan
  5. Florida
  6. Ohio State
  7. Alabama
  8. Tennessee
  9. Oklahoma
  10. LSU
  11. Auburn
  12. Penn State
  13. South Carolina
  14. Texas A&M
  15. Wisconsin

Again, however, the SEC dominates with 7 of the Top 15 in football profit. The Big Ten has 4; the Big 12 has 3.

Footnote: It is difficult to get reliable, comprehensive, numbers about college sports revenue. You can get pieces of information from places like For instance, will tell you how much was paid out to the conferences from the BCS payout or from the NCAA college basketball tournament.

But, that's only part of the story. The individual schools and conferences have individual radio, TV, and internet contracts (so called "multi-media" income).

Then there is the tremendous revenues from licensed apparel and other fan items. And, of course, ticket sales and alumni contributions.

However, we think the information on this page accurately reflects the college sports revenue picture. The first list is based on football revenue from the 2003 - 2004 season. The second list is based on football profit from 2005 - 2006.

You notice Notre Dame is 7th in revenue but first in profit. The reason is that Notre Dame is an Independent and thus keeps all of its revenue. The other schools on the list have to share their revenue with other members of their conferences.

The lists above only reflects football revenue and profit. The information was obtained from and

However, the vast majority of college sports revenue and virtually all profit comes from football. So, the above list is pretty accurate ranking of the top programs in both college football and college sports revenue.

One last note, says athletic departments of the SEC members consistently raise more money than any other conference. In the 2006-2007 school year, the SEC was #1, and set a record, with distributions of $122 million to its member schools.

To read more about how we see the conferences stacking up in 2010, check out 2010 College Football Conference Comparison.


The following information was just published by Fortune Magazine in its October 29, 2007 issue:

This is a ranking of college athletic departments in terms of overall sports revenue (in millions) for the year ended Summer 2006 (some ended in June '06; some in August '06). You'll see the list is generally consistent with the above list of football revenue schools.

  1. Ohio State -- 104.7
  2. Texas -- 97.8
  3. Virginia -- 92.7
  4. Michigan -- 85.5
  5. Florida -- 82.4
  6. Georgia -- 79.2
  7. Wisconsin -- 78.9
  8. Notre Dame -- 78.2
  9. Texas A&M -- 70.9
  10. Penn State -- 70.5

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2008 College Sports Revenue by Conference 
Thanks to a visitor for passing on the following info about total (gross) revenue by conference in 2008 as reported at NCAABBS . You can see that …

Big Ten and SEC are Top Sports Revenue Conferences  Not rated yet
There is no question the SEC and Big Ten are the ones to beat in athletic revenue. And all Big Ten public universities rate in the top 50 nationally. SEC …

2010 TV Revenue Per Conference Not rated yet
Here is the actually numbers for TV revenue per conference for 2010!!! Big Ten: $242 SEC: $205 Big 12: $78 ACC: $67 (Update 2010: new deal worth …

SEC Also Has Some Bottom Revenue Teams Not rated yet
The SEC also has some of the bottom teams in terms of revenue with Vandy, Ole Miss, and Mississippi all below 60 in 2009.

Wrong! Big Ten Teams Make Most Money Now Not rated yet
Not anymore! The Big Ten now has 3 of the top 5. Sorry but they are the top bread winners now, not the SEC. Nice try though. …

Much has changed since this was printed. Big Ten is about to expand. EDITOR'S NOTE: Thanks Ken, yep, it appears much is about to change. But, …

Best College Football Conference Not rated yet
In 2008, Big 12 hands down. Really only three consistent good ones: (1) Big 12; (2) SEC; (3) PAC-10. Who's the best, depends from year to year. …

MoonDog Not rated yet
No surprises. I'll bet every team in the nation would like to have Notre Dame's deal though. Great story and thanks for sharing it. Editor's Note: …

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Vote up Coach Pearl! This funny video poll on cheered me up after tonight's loss: ( We clearly …

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By Mo Johnson, Copyright © 2006-2017

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