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Return of the Exploitation Index

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One of the recurring offseason themes at SMQ is the monitoring of affairs related to "pay for play." On that note, I introduced something last year called the "Exploitation Index," which attempted to come up with some rough idea of the difference between what players get from the school (mainly scholarship money) in return for the millions accumulated as a result of their "labor" on the field. It wasn't pretty.


Something like that.
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By comparison, this year's effort, which comes as my position against "pay for play" has softened considerably, and which relies on the more recent (and, hopefull, more reliable) numbers from the school-by-school database at the NCAA's hometown Indianapolis Star, is much, much uglier. The Star, unlike the Orlando Sentinel's broad male-female breakdown, provides football-specific numbers, and even if they're a little dated (in this case, 2004-05, the last year compiled), the picture of the broad landscape is pretty clear: players are overwhelmingly ska-rooood.

A couple of notes on this scale. The 'public access' to the numbers is limited to their status as government institutions, so no private schools (the Star notes all were invited to disclose, and none did), which robs us of the data for heavies Notre Dame, Southern Cal, Miami and, for some unknown reason, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Penn State (Penn State? Some commenters must know something about this) as well as Boston College, Wake Forest, Northwestern, Stanford, Duke, Vanderbilt, Syracuse and Pittsburgh.

Next, it also covers football only, and athletic no doubt would have a major bone to pick with the choice term "profit" - quite a few of these departments run at an overall loss, and although a majority of the I-A schools finished at least half a million in the black in football, not even the most profitable enterprises come anywhere near their gridiron revenue on the final balance sheet once losses in other sports are factored in. The "'Profit' Per Player" number does not match up with the other averages on the conference because it is based on each individual team's PPP, not the conference average. The `per player' total is based on the 85-scholarship limit, so it does not include walk-ons.

Anyway, read `em and weep:

Avg. Expense Avg. Revenue Difference 'Profit' Per Player
SEC $15,313,191 $31,134,928 $14,391,253 $169,314
Big Ten $14,653,103 $29,146,580 $13,349,090 $157,052
Big XII $10,751,142 $23,415,836 $12,664,694 $148,996
Pac Ten $10,596,415 $18,035,191 $7,438,526 $87,512
ACC $10,305,347 $17,087,060 $6,103,967 $59,648
Big East $8,993,090 $9,905,258 $912,168 $10,732

The next names on the list: Tennessee and Arkansas.

The SEC and Big Ten reap and sow on a wholly different scale than the rest of the country, in general, which is not surprising. Neither are the members of the "Big Nine," the schools whose numbers in every category dwarf the competition - it's the SEC, and rivals that would burn the History Department before falling behind in the arms race with their nemesis, the rock of competitive hatred on which so much of the filthiest dollars are built:

Avg. Expense Avg. Revenue Difference 'Profit' Per Player
Texas $ 13,909,263 $ 53,204,171 $ 39,294,908 $ 462,293
Georgia $ 12,532,495 $ 50,895,838 $ 38,363,343 $ 451,334
Michigan $ 10,690,874 $ 46,396,107 $ 35,705,233 $ 420,061
Alabama $ 14,175,824 $ 42,979,669 $ 28,803,845 $ 338,869
LSU $ 12,175,610 $ 40,107,764 $ 27,932,154 $ 328,614
Florida $ 16,244,658 $ 43,417,641 $ 27,172,983 $ 319,682
Ohio State $ 25,711,478 $ 51,810,607 $ 26,099,129 $ 307,049
Texas A&M $ 13,384,354 $ 38,359,977 $ 24,975,623 $ 293,831
Auburn $ 16,379,077 $ 40,563,927 $ 24,184,850 $ 284,528

The amount of money Ohio State spent on football is unreal even in relative terms; only Wisconsin ($21.99 million) was even in the ballpark. I don't know if this reflects accounting differences in what's considered a "football-related expense" or what, but compared to, say, Texas, the Buckeyes broke the bank on "Facilities and Maintenance" (or, if you're a Michigan fan, "Facilities and Maintenance of Terrelle Pryor's Automotive Collection"). As far as total athletic department revenue, though, after taking huge losses in "non-specific" expenses, OSU only finished with $120,674 in the bank. They spend what they get.

On the other end of the spectrum, schools that see cash spewing uncontrollably all over the field:

Avg. Expense Avg. Revenue Exp. to Rev. Difference 'Profit' Per Player
Rutgers $ 10,731,676 $ 10,731,676 $ 0 $ 0
Maryland $ 9,301,053 $ 9,290,976 -$ 10,077 -$ 119
South Florida $ 5,379,609 $ 5,293,997 -$ 85,612 -$ 1,007
Connecticut $ 10,412,728 $ 9,958,560 -$ 454168 -$ 5,343
Cincinnati $ 7,117,544 $ 5,240,103 -$ 1,877,441 -$ 22,088
Georgia Tech $ 12,847,465 $ 10,174,501 -$ 2,672,964 -$ 31,467

All from the ACC and Big East, and I will eat my hat (if I had a hat) if the fast-rising Big East contingent there didn't put the brakes on this trend since these numbers were compiled; Rutgers, in fact, has been going through exactly this debate as its football turnaround the last two years has coincided with cuts in other sports. South Florida and Cincinnati, too, are movers and shakers who are working to improve facilities and shill out to keep their sought-after coaches. The traditional academic core of the ACC (Tech, Maryland, UNC and Virginia) is the last bastion of old school "non-profit" thinking, which might help explain why they can't score any points.

In short, take away this, at least: if you were constructing a hypothetical scenario, you still couldn't conjure up a greater disparity in philosophy between two rival athletic departments than exists in the gap between Georgia and Georgia Tech.