The Oregon Ducks passed the Texas Longhorns for the national lead in public college athletic department revenue in 2013-14, but don't expect that to last long, as the massive contributions from Nike founder and Oregon mega-booster Phil Knight contributed to the $196,030,398 taken in by the Ducks.
Texas finished second in revenue with $161,035,187 and the highest operating costs of any public college athletic department in spending $154,128,877, almost as much as third-place Michigan generated in total.
What pushed Oregon from the No. 29 spot in 2012-13 to the top spot last year?
The main factor was the donation of Oregon's $95 million athletics complex by Nike founder and UO alumnus Phil Knight. Oregon's athletics contributions add up to $124 million, an increase from $46 million in the previous fiscal year.
So the Ducks will probably drop back down into the mid-20s again next year, while the Longhorns will have fewer operating expenses as a result of not paying football buyouts for coaches (though the basketball buyouts will come into play). But Texas revenues also went down by nearly $4.7 million, partly a result of the continued decline in football ticket sales and other factors that are more difficult to assess.
With football ticket sales down once again in 2014, the 2014-15 financial numbers could also represent another drop from the 2013-14 revenues. Will that be enough for Michigan to close the gap of just more than $3 million? It's certainly possible, if not entirely likely.
Texas athletics director Steve Patterson hasn't quite been the hatchet man many expected in terms of making major changes in the department staff, but the next step is finding ways to reduce operating costs to keep the athletic department profitable amidst declining revenues. Having long-term solutions in place in the major sports should certainly help.