CWU football: Who foots the bill?

Jonathan Glover, Staff Reporter

What if Central got rid of its football team and nobody cared?

That certainly wasn’t the case for Western Washington University, which dissolved its football program back in 2009, much to the dismay of the community, students and players. But then, almost as quickly as it left, everyone forgot about it and moved on. Interesting.

So it’s possible to live in a world where organized sports aren’t the most important thing in your life? Look at the Seahawks, who won their first Super Bowl last year. Game days are like a ritual now, and you can’t turn around on Sundays without seeing a neon green and blue jersey.

But does Division II college football really matter? It can’t possibly be making any money, right? Well as it turns out, no. No it doesn’t.

According to the NCAA’s Division II Revenues and Expenses Report, which can be found online, not a single Division II w/FB (with football) school made any money off their athletic programs from 2004 to 2013.

When you consider that football is the most expensive sport to operate, with personnel, equipment, fieldwork, officiating etc., you start to notice a potential money pit that seems to be ignored.

Found within the same Revenues and Expenses report, football programs were on average found to be three times more expensive than basketball programs to operate, while only bringing in twice as much in ticket sales.

Well, what does this all mean? Surely Division I teams must make some money. Above all else, the poster child of the NCAA, Division I-A football must turn a profit, right?

But according to, only 22 of the 120 Division I-A athletic programs made any money.

Perhaps slightly better, though, only 51 football programs in Division I-A lost money in 2013. This might seem like a positive number, but with some perspective, you can start to see the cost behind the success.

According to, the Texas Longhorns – the NCAA’s most profitable team overall – made a staggering $165 million in 2013.

They also pay their head coach, Mack Brown, $5.4 million a year. To put that in perspective, that’s roughly 10,000 percent more than the average salary of a Division II w/FB head coach makes.

The $165 million made by the Longhorns is less impressive when considering the overall operational expenses at $147 million – more than half of Central’s overall budget. As you can see, it costs money to make money.

Division I-A football is quickly becoming the nation’s favorite past time with some teams pulling in an average of six million viewers weekly, according to

Fans want to watch their collegiate teams, and the NCAA has noticed. Some of the highest paid coaches are employed by Division I-A football teams – with an average salary of $1.6 million.

But does any of this trickle down to the lesser Division II w/FB programs? No. Most games aren’t even televised, and tickets are generally $5 a seat. Compare that to some of the pricier University of Washington tickets at $93 and you’ll start to see that maybe Division II just doesn’t matter.

Central’s athletic department budget for the 2012-2013 year was $1.6 million. This is by no means an egregious or absurd amount of money, all things considered.

But it begs the question – why? Why are we spending so much on this and is it necessary? The budget for athletics comes from our student fees, and if students knew where the money was going, would they even be willing to pay it?

Probably. But it doesn’t hurt to ask.

I appreciate and respect organized sports. They’re good for the body and the soul. I love covering them as a sports reporter, and I dress up every Sunday in my Seahawks gear.

But maybe I just don’t understand the allegiance to collegiate sports and maybe I never will. It could just be me.

Oh well, go Wildcats.