Outside of Men’s Basketball and Hockey, U of M Sports All Suck the Football Teat to Survive

Photo: Jesse Johnson - USA TODAY Sports

In case you haven’t heard (you have), the University of Minnesota is voting to cut three non-revenue generating sports from the Gopher athletics department today. To be honest, most people don’t care. Mainstream media, however, wants you to feel like we do (or should). At the end of the day, it’s impossible to keep floating sports that run in the red year after year.

I wrote about it months ago, after financial expert Patrick Reusse of the Star Tribune (who will occasionally write about sports on the side) gave the U of M some interesting financial advice. To help recoup $10’s of millions in lost revenue from the the coronavirus pandemic, Financial Advisor Pat said Mark Coyle and the U of M Regents should make cuts within the football program.

Athletic Department Revenue

If you’re interested in athletic department finances at the University of Minnesota then you know football makes ALL of the money inside that department. Seriously, basketball makes a chunk of the cash too… but if you were eating a pie made of Gopher athletic department revenue, you couldn’t finish eating the piece that covered the football revenue.

These numbers come right from the University of Minnesota and they are easy to find, easy to read and they come from 2019, so they are very recent. I won’t speculate (but you can) as to why we haven’t seen these very relevant and easy to find numbers from any mainstream media outlets in the Twin Cities recently…

SportRevenue (M)Revenue (W)Total Revenue
Track and Field$302,649$278,368$581,017
Swimming & Diving$81,282$89,195$170,477
Others Combined$169,425$570,978$740,403
2019 University of Minnesota Revenue Report

Remember, these numbers are BEFORE expenses are taken out. Do you know how much a student scholarship costs? I do… because it is in the same report as the numbers above. U of M Women’s athletics scholarships alone costs the school $6 million every year, which is double the revenue women’s sports bring in (before other expenses are even tallied).

Athletic Department Expenses

Thanks to Title XI, the Gophers can’t spend more on men’s scholarships than women… and they are dangerously close to being out of compliance (thus one reason for these men’s sports getting cut). In 2019, the university spent $7.6 million on male athletic scholarships. If you’re a math whiz, that’s $1.6 million more than what they spent on females…

Football needs $4 million of that scholarship money, which comes in at just 6% of the revenue ($63M) they bring in. In fact, all football expenses only equal about half of its revenue. Men’s basketball runs a 2:1 revenue to expense ratio, as well, and men’s hockey can support itself too. Beyond those three, everyone is sucking off the football teat to survive.

SportExpenses (M)Expenses (W)Surplus/
Track and Field$2,185,047$2,657,410(-)$4.3M
Swimming & Diving$1,254,109$1,368,690(-)$2.6M
Others Combined$2,411,061$11,284,312(-)$12M
Total$58,824,560 (+29.9M)$23,730,739
2019 University of Minnesota Revenue Report

Money Matters and Life Isn’t Fair

Don’t let other media outlets lie to you about these numbers. Don’t listen to their dreadfully sad individual stories about how hard these athletes have worked to get here. Hard work doesn’t always pay off. That’s a good life lesson for them.

Men’s Track, Tennis and Gymnastics are being cut because the University of Minnesota is trying to recover some covid-lost revenue back AND because they need to become Title IX compliant. Just from my brief research this morning, it’s easy to see why they are making the moves they are making.

The university cannot cut any women’s sports because it would push the university farther out of Title IX compliance and they are already spending a noticeable amount more on male scholarships, than female.

That made this an easy decision. The athletic department had a chance to kill two problematic birds with one stone, and they threw the stone. The cuts shouldn’t be a shock to anyone and media never should have made these student athletes think their sport had a chance at surviving after these announcements were first made. The truth is in the numbers and Title IX.

These cuts were unavoidable.

Eric Strack | Minnesota Sports Fan

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