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Rutgers finances: Us vs. the rest of the D1 world

There’s always been that dark financial cloud over Piscataway, but it could be getting better


Every year, USA Today publishes its compilation of the D1 schools’ finances in a very convenient table. It’s a numbers geek’s dream. And while I’m not exactly in that category, I do enjoy playing with the numbers and sharing my findings with you. This data covers the 2015-16 school year, the most recent data available through the NCAA’s reporting system. USA Today/NCAA’s methodology is explained here.

First, though, let’s look at an old friend who, unlike RU, didn’t make it to the lifeboat before it launched.

The UConn Blog wrote very excitedly that they make the most money of any school outside the Power 5. Read that line again...slowly. Out...side...the...Power...Five.

Wrote the blog’s @ShawnMMcGrath :

UConn is ranked 46th in revenue, first in the non-Power Five realm, and is ahead of seven of the 51 public Power Five schools. The Huskies are also the only Group of Five school ahead of any Power Five schools.

The truth is, UConn has done well for itself, certainly in terms of men’s and - especially - women’s basketball. They also do well in soccer and field hockey. Their fundraising ain’t too bad, either. And they’re in the American Athletic Conference. Let us move on to what we want to know.

Breaking News....nah

In terms of revenue, Rutgers came in at number 40, with $82,996,321. Rutgers came in 12th of the 13 reporting schools in the Big Ten, just ahead of Purdue. Northwestern, as a private school, does not have to report its data.

Yes, I do love my tables. Now, you guys are smart, so I’m not going to analyze this any further. We’ll move on to other details. Like....

Who surrounds us in terms of revenue?

This is ju-u-ust a bit surprising.

First, what is surprising, in an unusual way, is the gap in revenue for only five spots difference either side of Rutgers. Arizona State took in almost $13 million more than Rutgers and is just five spots better. Yet, as things go down, Utah is only about $4 million behind Rutgers while five spots back. And I really cannot believe that Virginia Tech is behind RU, even if it’s only a couple hundred thousand.

Let’s look at that same group of schools in another way. Rutgers has been calling it, at least in part, the “subsidy”. The NCAA in this database lumps together under the category “Total Allocation” the following:

The sum of student fees, direct and indirect institutional support and state money. The NCAA and others consider such funds “allocated” or everything not generated by the department’s athletics functions.

So we are talking about all the negative things concerning Rutgers’ finances. Again, no surprise that Rutgers is a leader in the category, and not in a good way. Below is that same group of ten schools - five above and five below RU - in terms of non-athletic funding as a percentage of the total revenue in declining order.

If you look at the two “worst” schools in each P5 conference (table below) in terms of percent of revenue that comes from Total Allocation, Rutgers is the worst, receiving just over a third of its funding from categories such as school funds and student fees. Both of those numbers are up from the 2015 report. As a point of reference/comparison, we include our past life in here with the AAC.

Of interest here is the fact that, among the programs needing school/student funding most, the Big 12 seems to be in better shape than the PAC 12. Some recent reports have indicated that the PAC 12’s revenue streams, in particular from the conference’s network, are not what was expected. And the Big 12, after going through the dog-and-pony show that it had last year over expansion, now seems to be in a better place. For the record, Rutgers is better off than any of the AAC schools.

Everyone keeps pointing to 2021 and the full Big Ten payout as a significant time, one when Rutgers’ fortunes will turn up. But it could happen sooner. It’s better today than it was just three years ago. And in a future post, we’ll look at the details of how things have, and are, changing.