People Should Stop Criticizing Oregon’s Athletic Department for Being “Expensive”

The University of Oregon’s athletic department has come under scrutiny by students and Duck fans that are upset with how expensive tuition is. Amongst left-leaning people, it’s not uncommon to hear about how expensive athletic departments are. Especially when the university consistently raises its tuition annually. It may not be the most frequently blamed factor, but it is common to at least hear complaints about football coach salaries. All of this led to myself wanting to look into the athletic department’s financials. The verdict? People should stop complaining about the athletic department.

Is the Football Program Profitable?

When a complaint is made about how expensive the athletic department is, it’s usually due to the popular belief that the football program is constantly hemorrhaging money. Is this true? Or is this nothing more than a popular scapegoat for people on campus? Since 2010, the football program has been profitable.


To help illustrate the issue a little further, here are the data points:

Fiscal Year  Net Profit or (Loss)
2008  $(424,313.00)
2009  $(618,970.00)
2010  $477,586.00
2011  $8,524,975.00
2012  $31,432,222.00
2013  $39,153,416.00
2014  $121,822,134.00
2015  $40,277,559.00

As we can see, over the past eight years, only 2008 and 2009 were seasons the football program actually failed to turn a profit. It quickly skyrocketed into tens of millions to even over $100 million in 2014. It’s safe to say that blaming the football program was nothing more than the popular thing to do on campus.

Profitability of Other Sports

Now that we know that the football program is actually not an issue, it’s important to review the profit of the department as a whole. This includes football, men’s basketball, women’s basketball, other men’s sports, and other women’s sports. I am excluding non-sport specific profit because, whether it were included or not, we are not viewing totals right now.


As one may gather from viewing this chart, the football program is actually the most profitable. In fact, it isn’t until 2012 that men’s basketball is profitable. Even then, women’s basketball, other men’s sports, and other women’s sports failed to turn any profit in the last eight years. To show this, the total net profit data for the last eight years is included below.

Fiscal Year  Football  Men’s Basketball  Women’s Basketball  Other Sports Men  Other Sports Women
2008  $(424,313.00)  $(1,569,569.00)  $(1,529,097.00)  $(4,282,830.00)  $(5,585,150.00)
2009  $(618,970.00)  $(2,063,544.00)  $(2,166,383.00)  $(4,192,939.00)  $(6,536,613.00)
2010  $477,586.00  $(3,256,717.00)  $(2,370,989.00)  $(4,428,459.00)  $(7,558,630.00)
2011  $8,524,975.00  $(176,958.00)  $(2,570,801.00)  $(4,414,804.00)  $(7,554,025.00)
2012  $31,432,222.00  $2,135,838.00  $(2,532,792.00)  $(4,094,691.00)  $(8,497,561.00)
2013  $39,153,416.00  $2,467,868.00  $(2,577,058.00)  $(4,420,686.00)  $(638,413.00)
2014  $121,822,134.00  $2,761,923.00  $(2,949,114.00)  $(4,854,494.00)  $(9,477,622.00)
2015  $40,277,559.00  $1,509,053.00  $(2,450,655.00)  $(5,121,605.00)  $(9,901,227.00)

Is the Athletic Department Profitable at All?

After showing how unprofitable the other sports are, it certainly raises questions. Is this department even worth having around? Surprisingly, there has only been one year that the athletic department did not turn a profit at all. That was 2009.


After viewing the chart, the athletic department at the University of Oregon is undoubtedly profitable and self sustaining. For years, the university’s athletic department has come under fire and harsh scrutiny by the students through passing blame as the reason for the tuition increases. However, it’s clear that, since the department as a whole is self sustaining, this isn’t even remotely a reason for the tuition increases.

Now What…?

Personally, I feel that this is just a distraction from the real problem: School expenses. President Michael Schill wrote an email around March of this year for every department to make around 2 percent in budget cuts across the board in order to free up some funding for additional tenure track faculty. In order to find out what’s causing these annual tuition increases, one must dig deeper in to the university’s financial reports. Don’t worry, I will be writing an article about that once I have gone through and gathered the data I need.


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