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How not to report on sports business

Unfortunately a recent series of Forbes analyses concerning NCAA athletic revenue have been gaining popularity and citations across the net, despite being fairly inaccurate for the most part. Once again, supposed journalists have opted for laziness over actually doing the legwork and filing multiple FOIA requests. Please be advised that any information obtained from the Department of Education's Equity in Athletics cutting tool is not reliable. That data is compiled to measure gender equity in spending, and as such does not distinguish between sources of revenue. This has the nasty effect of treating direct institutional support as revenue, essentially allowing athletic departments to cook their books and falsely claim a profit. Athletic programs essentially have to compile two different reports each year. There's the one they send to the DoE, but there's another one that's sent to the NCAA which has to follow normal accounting practices. The NCAA aggregates this data into general reports, but does not release specific information for any one program. Looking at these reports is how the NCAA can come to conclusions like only 14 FBS athletic departments made money last year. According to their aggregate data the average program lost $10,164,000. (Using the Generated Revenues figures, defined as not including Direct Institutional Support, Indirect Institutional Support, Student Fees, and Governmental Support.) The NCAA includes a sport-specific breakdown on page 36, which show that football and men's basketball on average do make money. My previous writeup on this subject, which is somewhat of a pet issue, is available here.

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