The Texas A&M Aggies led the Texas Longhorns and everyone else in revenue during the most recently completed school year, according to an analysis from USA Today. The A&M athletic department reported $192,608,876 in revenue for 2014-15, topping second-place Texas and its reported $183,521,028. It was a big boost for A&M, which reported $119,475,872 in revenue the previous year, good for only 10th on the list.
How did A&M bring in so much money in spite of a mediocre season on the gridiron? The move to the SEC likely played a role as all 13 of the league's public schools reported an operating profit.
But the answer for how revenue climbed $73,133,004 in a single season lies in a slew of donations made toward the $485 million renovation of Kyle Field. Of the school's total revenue, nearly half — $92 million — came through donations. And of that figure, $58.5 million was earmarked for the stadium overhaul.
With those renovations now complete, the total should drop back in line when new numbers are released next year.
A similar scenario played out with Oregon last year. The UO athletic department surged to the top of the list in 2013-14 thanks to a $95 million contribution from Nike founder Phil Knight. The donation went to a lavish football training facility, and Oregon reported a grand total of $196,030,398 in revenue. Absent another huge haul from Knight, the Ducks fell to $105,701,523 in revenue during 2014-15 — and 21st place on the updated list.
Texas came in second last season as well, bringing in $161,035,187. The 'Horns haul grew more than $22 million in 2014-15.
For another example, take Oklahoma State, which reported over $241 million in revenue back in 2005-06. The reason? Oil magnate Boone Pickens donated $165 million. The Cowboys reported $95,931,739 in revenue for 2014-15.
Despite topping the revenue list, A&M reported lower expenses ($109,313,651) than anyone else in the top 14. The school's athletics department CFO, Jeff Toole, says the actual surplus was only around $7 million once project expenses are taken into account.
Revenue sources include tickets, donations, licensing agreements, student fees, TV and bowl/playoff payments, and school funds. Expenses include things like coaches' salaries, scholarships costs, facilities and overhead.
Texas was No. 1 on the money list from 2009-13, and has been No. 2 behind two different schools for the past two years. A return to the top should be in order in the near future.