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Post Georgia has the SEC’s most profitable football program – and that’s bad.

Thursday January 27, 2011

The financial strength of Georgia’s football program and athletic department isn’t new news. It’s no surprise to see Forbes reveal Georgia as the SEC’s most profitable football program. As they note, Georgia’s profitability is only second to Texas nationally. That’s good news from a stewardship standpoint – financial strength gives you options, and there’s virtue in being frugal.

That would all be fine if we were shareholders and we were toasting this year’s earnings per share. But we’re not, and there’s no dividend check coming. Our dividends are paid out on the field. Profit of course is just revenue minus expenses. Georgia remains strong on the revenue side of things, second only to Alabama in SEC football revenue. But Georgia earns its most profitable status – over $8 million more in profit than second-place Florida – because they’re only seventh in the league in what they spend on football. As the article notes, “Georgia is only putting 25.8% of their football revenue back into the program.” That’s not entirely accurate: capital (long-term) projects, which probably aren’t included in annual expenses, are one way to reinvest, and the new Butts-Mehre expansion is a great start. Georgia and other SEC programs also have to rely on football to fund much of the rest of the athletic department, so you’re never going to see that reinvestment rate much above 40 or 50%. Still, other schools have to deal with these projects and issues as well, so Forbes asks an interesting question:

Can these 2009 numbers predict the future for Georgia? Take a look at the teams ahead of Georgia in terms of expenses (in the second chart above). In 2010, Georgia lost to every team they played who spent more than them in 2009: Florida, Arkansas and South Carolina.

Of course it’s not as simple as throwing more money around. Mississippi State has a pretty good program with under $10 million in expenses. Still, there’s an implication that Georgia could be doing more with its football revenue and reinvesting more of it back into the program. It’s one thing to be good and responsible stewards of the revenue brought in by football. It’s another for Georgia’s athletic department to have “more than twice the average profit” of the rest of the conference.

Oh, and no jokes about Auburn having the SEC’s second-highest football expenses.

2 Responses to 'Georgia has the SEC’s most profitable football program – and that’s bad.'

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  • Do you realize how many Cam Newtons we could have bought??? (approx 50!!!) – get with the program McGarity!!! ha ha – couldn’t resist

  • Says alot about the Terry and the business school at UGA. But many of us BBA and MBA UGA grads have always thought we were good.