A Peek Inside BYU’s Athletic Budget

Despite being a private university owned by the LDS church, it’s possible to apply math to a few pieces of public information to get a pretty good sense of the athletic budget at BYU:

Q. How big is BYU’s athletic budget, and how has it changed over the last few years?

A. BYU’s athletic budget was approximately $46 Million for the academic year that ended in 2014 (year before last).  Because we’re backing into the number, the possible range is $41 Million to $52 Million.  The athletic budget is up 78%, or over $20 Million, from two years before this measuring period.

Q. What revenue sources drive the athletic budget?

A. The largest drivers are Football tickets (20%), Tuition Allocation (17%), and Donations/Endowments (16%).  The following table shows the breakdown of revenue sources for BYU’s budget (these tables are hard to read, but you get the idea):

BYU Breakdown

Q. What is driving the increase in the budget?

A. The largest increase in dollars for the budget are from football tickets, tuition allocation, and corporate sponsorships.  The following table shows the two year change for each category of revenue.

BYU Change

Q. What does all of this mean to me?

A. I’m a big BYU fan, and have supported the athletic department with donations over the last several years.  For me, these numbers mean several things:

  • Money Matters – When BYU went independent, it was popular to say that BYU didn’t need a larger television deal because we cared about things like exposure and we had BYUTV.  Well, frankly, the administration wouldn’t be expanding an ever larger budget with increased tuition dollars if money really didn’t matter.  Oh, and how does BYU support BYUTV to achieve whatever “exposure” they are hoping to increase? By gathering donations from the exact some donor base that’s supporting other parts of the university.
  • Football prices – Yes, what matters is football.  BYU, and specifically Bronco Mendenhall, put a very mediocre product on the field the last few years especially for the increased cost of supporting the program.  I believe this is why many fans (myself included) were happy to see Bronco leave.
  • We Need a Major Conference – Less than $2 Million from the NCAA and a conference?  Virtually no change in this number over two years while the overall budget has gone up 78%?  If the athletic budget is going to expand any further (and it needs too), this number simply has to find some parity with the schools in the major conferences.  The only way to do this is to join a major conference.  This has other benefits such as scheduling, additional donations, corporate sponsorships, etc.  BYU knows this, but remember, it’s an economic decision for everyone involved.
  • Sports Camps?! – I was shocked to see this number.  Who knew that at BYU sports camps contribute more revenue to the athletic budget than television and radio!

Yes, I’ll be sitting in my football seats again this year (I even bought more tickets than last year).  Go Cougars!

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