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The 2017-2018 SWAC/MEAC Athletic Financial Review


In the third report over the past five years since HBCU Money first began reporting the SWAC/MEAC Athletic Financial Review, there have been losses of $130 million, then $147 million, this year they continue their trend of the athletic black hole of almost $151 million loss through athletics with no correction in sight. Almost unfathomable is that nine of the twenty-one schools* in the SWAC/MEAC have athletic budgets higher than their research budgets. It is disheartening at best that these two HBCU conferences can justify their member institutions athletic spending increasing at a faster rate than college inflation for tuition is in America.

If there is a canary in the coal mine, it is that the amount of subsidies put on the back of students this year overall, median, and average decreased for the first time, albeit by a negligible amount. But that canary is barely seen when no matter how you cut it, students are bearing the brunt of generating HBCU athletic revenues. This year’s review shows that approximately 70 percent of HBCU athletic revenues are generated through subsidies. Something to consider when 90 percent of HBCU students graduate with student loan debt.

REVENUES (in millions)

Total: $202.9 (up 7.1% from 2015-2016)

Median: $10.8 (up 6.1% from 2015-2016)

Average: $10.1  (up 6.8% from 2015-2016)

Highest revenue: Prairie View A&M University  $18.6 million

Lowest revenue: Coppin State University  $3.6 million

EXPENSES (in millions)

Total: $212.0 (up 9.2% from 2015-2016)

Median: $10.8 (up 7.1% from 2015-2016)

Average: $10.6 (up 9.3% from 2015-2016)

Highest expenses: Prairie View A&M University  $18.6 million

Lowest expenses: Mississippi Valley State University  $4.1 million

SUBSIDY

Total: $141.5 (unchanged from 2015-2016)

Median: $6.4 (down 18.4% from 2015-2016)

Average: $7.1 (unchanged from 2015-2016)

Highest subsidy: Prairie View A&M University $15.5 million

Lowest subsidy: Mississippi Valley State University $2.0 million

Highest % of revenues: Prairie View A&M University: 83.7%

Lowest % of revenues: Florida A&M University: 34.2%

PROFIT/LOSS (W/ SUBSIDY)

Total: $-9.1 million (down 97.9% from 2015-2016)

Median: $-26,890 (down 1,244.5% from 2015-2016)

Average: $-455,318 (down 97.9% from 2015-2016)

Highest profit/loss: North Carolina A&T State University  $573,062

Lowest profit/loss: South Carolina State University  $-3,560,974

PROFIT/LOSS (W/O SUBSIDY)

Total: $-150.7 million (down 2.4% from 2015-2016)

Median: $-7.0 million (up 10.0% from 2015-2016)

Average: $-7.5 million (down 1.8% from 2015-2016)

Highest profit/loss: Mississippi Valley State University  $-2,041,761

Lowest profit/loss: Prairie View A&M University  $-15,586,904

CONCLUSION: Older alumni’s desire for athletic glory without assessing the cost to obtain it is going to set younger alumni back decades from becoming contributing alumni – if they are ever able to. This shortsighted vision may have ripple effects far beyond the athletic realm. At current, it would take approximately a $3 billion endowment dedicated to athletics to ween the SWAC/MEAC off of these subsidies onto a sustainable path. Steph Curry’s adoption of Howard’s golf team is clearly a step in the right direction of trying to solve this puzzle without burdening students of today and tomorrow. In fact, the top 10 paid NBA players salary for 2019 is a combined $372 million or $160 million above what all of the SWAC/MEAC expenses are combined. Of course these players by no means can or should fund all of HBCU athletics, but it does show that if we can begin to think outside of the box about how to solve this crisis we must do so before it spirals beyond our reach.

Editor’s Note: Howard and Bethune-Cookman are excluded in this report because they are private institutions and their athletic finances were not included in this report or the 2015-2016 review.

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The 2015 SWAC/MEAC Athletic Financial Review


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Two years later, students continue to bear a heavy burden for the pursuit of athletics. Our report is a follow up to the 2014 article where the SWAC and MEAC, without student subsidies were losing $130 million annually in athletics in 2013. It is unfortunate to report that the situation has not improved and has in fact gotten worse. HBCUs, especially the SWAC and MEAC, do not have the luxury of boosters like oil tycoon T. Boone Pickens, Nike’s owner Phil Knight, or even Under Armour’s owner Kevin Plank who give millions annually. In the case of Phil Knight, he and his wife have plowed over $300 million into the University of Oregon’s athletic program to bring it to national prominence. An amount that would cover the student fee contributions by SWAC and MEAC students – twice.

Each year the SWAC and MEAC meet for the SWAC/MEAC Challenge sponsored by Disney and this year will meet in the second annual Celebration Bowl, a post-season game to determine the HBCU “national” champion. Sports are an integral part of the college experience this can not be argued, but at what cost? HBCU students, despite HBCUs in general being cheaper than their PWI counterparts, graduate with higher student debt loads. This often delays and/or prevents all together them from becoming future donors back to their schools or boosters to athletics. The lack of African American wealth, both in households and institutions, no doubt plays a huge role. However, the question remains are we sacrificing too much today and forever burdening ourselves tomorrow?

REVENUES (in millions)

Total: $189.5 (up 7.1% from 2013)

Median: $10.2 (up 29.1% from 2013)

Average: $9.5  (up 18.8% from 2013)

Highest revenue: Norfolk State University  $16.1 million

Lowest revenue: Coppin State University  $3.4 million

EXPENSES (in millions)

Total: $194.1 (up 8.6% from 2013)

Median: $10.1 (up 27.8% from 2013)

Average: $9.7 (up 19.8% from 2013)

Highest expenses: Norfolk State University  $16.1 million

Lowest expenses: Coppin State University  $3.9 million

SUBSIDY

Total: $142.5 (up 12.3% from 2013)

Median: $7.9 (up 43.6% from 2013)

Average: $7.1 (up 22.4% from 2013)

Highest subsidy: Norfolk State University $13.5 million

Lowest subsidy: Mississippi Valley State University $2.3 million

PROFIT/LOSS (W/ SUBSIDY)

Total: $-4.6 million (down 142% from 2013)

Median: $-2 000 (in 2013 median was zero)

Average: $-230 071 (down 188% from 2013)

Highest profit/loss: Alabama A&M University  $215 207

Lowest profit/loss: Grambling State University  $-2 044 323

PROFIT/LOSS (W/O SUBSIDY)

Total: $-147.1 million (down 14.4% from 2013)

Median: $-7.8 million (down 34.5% from 2013)

Average: $-7.4 million (down 27.6% from 2013)

CONCLUSION: The SWAC and MEAC have a challenge, but its not on the fields or hardwoods. It is, however, on the income statements and balance sheets of their athletic departments. HBCU b-schools need to be desperately tasked with the assignment of scribing a new business model for HBCU athletics that takes into account alumni wealth (or lack thereof), minuscule payouts by corporations (Celebration Bowl provides roughly $87 000 to each school), and other factors unique to HBCU sports if they are going to lessen the burden on their students who are currently providing 75 percent of the revenues. At current student loan interest rates and traditional investment return rates, the debt burden for just these athletic fees is $1.1 billion over the next 30 years and an investment loss of $4.5 billion over the same period, respectively. These have long-term consequences to families, HBCU endowments, HBCU athletics, ultimately could become cancerous to the very survival of the institutions themselves.

Editor’s Note: Howard and Hampton are excluded in this report because they are private institutions and their athletic finances were not included in this report or the 2013 report. Chicago State, which was included in the 2013 report was excluded in this report.