ESPN's Paula Lavigne took a look this week at the booming revenues in college athletics and uncovered just how well the University of Wisconsin is faring these days.
ESPN's "Outside the Lines" analyzed figures from six years of revenue and expense reports submitted to the NCAA from public schools, which were acquired through public records requests. In addition, data was also provided on private schools to the to the U.S. Department of Education, making for a total of 123 schools.
UW ranked No. 2 nationally among public schools in both revenue generated in 2012-13 ($149 million) and expenses ($146.7 million). The Badgers trailed only Texas in both categories.
Think about that for a moment. Of all the big-time athletic programs out there, only behemoth Texas leads UW in revenue generated and expenses.
But that might not be the most remarkable part. More than half of the Badgers' revenue came from areas other than football and men's basketball. That includes donations, conference payouts and other sports.
The database shows UW got more money from contributions and donations — a hefty $58.9 million — than any FBS school in 2012-13.
That speaks highly of the job UW folks are doing raising money, as well as the generosity of the Badgers' fan base. It would also seem to cushion UW from any possible short-term decline in ticket sales.
It has always been said that football revenue is essential to the overall health of giant FBS programs. That's certainly the case.
But these figures would also suggest UW has a fairly well-rounded program — one that might be able to endure a slight drop in football ticket sales.
UW officials are working to keep that from happening. Their work includes the formation of a Fan Advisory Board, which is made up of season-ticket holders and is a way to address any and all concerns of fans.
But while most athletic departments grapple with ways to keep fans coming through the turnstiles — rather than staying home and watching high-definition televisions from the couch — the Badgers should be comforted in their ability to raise money from a variety of sources.