We get a lot of flak for the name of our site, some of it warranted (we’ve talked about Gonzaga) and some of it not. No matter the school or league in question, however, the discussion always boils down to how one defines a mid-major.
But there’s no hard-and-fast rule. Fans, rightfully, like to point to NCAA Tournament appearances, 20-win seasons, or other on-court successes for ways to elevate their program. And, as it happens, programs we think of as high-major tend to have more of those.
But what happens on the court is merely a byproduct of the resources invested in those programs. High-majors have more money to spend on college basketball, they spend that money, and they ultimately reap the rewards. Any designation, be it “power,” “high-major,” or anything else, needs to be made with each school’s available resources in mind.
The US Department of Education makes athletics spending data public and you can search for literally anything you want right here — operating expenses, revenues, coach salaries, breakdowns by sport, recruiting expenses, etc.
By fiddling around with that site, you can see how much more a school like Gonzaga, which is typically as good as any power conference team but plays in a mid-major conference, spends compared to others in the West Coast Conference. It’ll also show how absurd expectations are for schools to become the “Gonzaga of [insert geographical region here]” without the willingness or ability to invest like Gonzaga does (looking at you, UT Arlington).
This is related to something I'm working on. pic.twitter.com/Ta5hSAfhZW— Mid-Major Madness (@mid_madness) June 8, 2018
I know there’s a lot to filter through on that site. That’s why I decided to make it a little easier to compare schools’ spending habits and revenues in one place. I compiled the reported total expenses and revenues for men’s basketball for every team that will compete in Division I in 2018-19 and included them in the table below. The numbers are from 2016, the most recent year on record.
One thing you’ll notice: Many schools will report the same amount for revenues and expenses. Obviously they massage the numbers a bit to make it look like they’re not profiting. Take the specifics with a grain of salt and try to look at the bigger picture here.
You’ll see every team sorted by expenses in the first tab, how teams compare to others within their conference in the second, and the total conference averages in the third.