Matt Jones is the online sports editor for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette and Northwest Arkansas Newspapers.
Hogs turn one of football's biggest profits
NWA Media/ MICHAEL WOODS --11/03/2012-- University of Arkansas payers celebrate after their win over Tulsa Saturday at Razorback Stadium in Fayetteville
FAYETTEVILLE Arkansas football had a surplus of $39.9 million during the 2011-12 academic year, according to a report by ESPN.
The Razorbacks brought in $64.2 million from football and spent $24.3 million on the sport, according to the report. Arkansas had the ninth-highest profit in college football, behind fellow Southeastern Conference members Georgia, Florida, Alabama, LSU and Auburn, which ranked third through seventh, respectively.
Texas ($77.9 million) and Michigan ($61.6 million) had college football's highest profits. Other schools in the top 10 included Notre Dame and Nebraska.
The report comes on the heels of a release earlier this month by the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Postsecondary Education, stating the overall athletics revenue at the university has increased from $64.2 million four years ago to $99.8 million this year, with 64 percent being spent on the football program.
Arkansas has helped grow its football budget in many ways, including an increased profit share from the SEC, a multi-million dollar payout from playing games against Texas A&M at Cowboys Stadium, increased ticket prices and a multimedia rights agreement with IMG Sports. In 2010, the Razorbacks earned their first BCS bowl invitation and in 2011 tied a school record for wins in a season.
The increased profit has allowed the school to vastly increase its salary pool for football coaches. Bret Bielema will earn $3.2 million as part of a six-year agreement signed last week, while combined assistant coaches' salaries could top $3 million for the first time.
Success on the field has also allowed the program to move ahead with building projects. Construction on new outdoor practice fields and a new operations center - with a combined price tag exceeding $40 million - began last year, and the university is looking to potentially renovate Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium in a project that could cost up to $95 million. Both projects are expected to be paid for in bonds reimbursed by private donations.
Football is one of only two sports (men's basketball is the other) to regularly turn a profit at Arkansas. Revenue produced from the sport helps fund most of the other athletic programs on campus.