Men’s Basketball Returns to Profitability, According to Equity in Athletics Data

Boston College men’s basketball finished 13-19 in head coach Jim Christian’s first season at the helm, a five-win jump from Steve Donahue’s pitiful last season in Chestnut Hill. But that wasn’t Christian’s only success—the Eagles also brought huge returns to the Athletic Department’s pocketbooks. After a down year in 2013-14, the program returned to profitability, according to the University’s Equity in Athletics Data Report. The U.S. Department of Education releases this information, reporting financial information for any institution which receives federal funding for athletics.

Donahue’s final season, an 8-24 campaign which saw only one notable win—a road upset of No. 1 Syracuse University—was hampered by misuse of his best players, a lack of year-to-year improvement, and an inability to adjust to rule changes by the now-University of Pennsylvania skipper. But its profitability problems stemmed from a challenging non-conference schedule that featured several out-of-state games, including trips to Los Angeles (USC), West Lafayette, Ind. (Purdue), Auburn, Ala. (Auburn), Brooklyn, N.Y. (VCU), and Manhattan, N.Y. (UConn and Washington). This resulted in a net loss of $1.68 million.

In 2014-15, Christian only scheduled one major out-of-state tournament—a three-game slate against New Mexico, UMass, and Dayton in San Juan, Puerto Rico—while keeping BC’s remaining non-conference games at home. BC’s marquee home matchups against Virginia, North Carolina, and Notre Dame also occurred on Saturdays, likely helping ticket sales at home. Because of these (and other) factors, the program spent $5.68 million, a 20.3 percent drop. This helped men’s basketball turn a profit of $1.12 million, a rise from 14th to 10th in the ACC. Both Notre Dame and Virginia Tech reported losses of $3.15 million and $79,837, respectively. BC, however, is still well behind the conference’s frontrunners, such as first-place Louisville, which turned a $29.05 million profit last season.

Yet men’s basketball wasn’t the only program that showed a notable improvement in only one year. Despite having the exact same 7-6 record in each season, BC football turned a higher profit during the 2014 season than in 2013, increasing from $4.07 million to $5.37 million. Like men’s basketball, this total still pales in comparison to BC’s contemporaries. The program again finished 14th in the ACC, only $20,000 ahead of last-place Wake Forest and well behind the conference average of $16.71 million. Only four schools—BC, Wake, Duke, and Virginia—reported revenues under $10 million, while first-place Notre Dame amassed a profit of a whopping $54.25 million. This is largely due to Notre Dame’s football independence—the Fighting Irish earn a majority of their profits from an exclusive TV deal with NBC.

Men’s hockey also received good news, if only marginally so and for negative reasons. Head coach Jerry York’s team finished 21-15-3 in 2014-15 with a first-round loss to Denver in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament in Providence, R.I. This was a far cry from BC’s 2013-14 campaign, which featured a Frozen Four run in Philadelphia. But BC’s shorter season helped the program financially. The team still did not turn a profit, yet improved its losses from $1.46 million to $892,650, a 61.1 percent decrease.

Of the four profit sports, the only one that reported worse returns in 2013-14 than in 2012-13 was women’s basketball. Erik Johnson’s crew posted a record that was one win better (13-19) last season, but reported an 11.5 percent decrease in profits—the team reported a loss of $3.1 million. Yet, when compared to the rest of the conference, BC sits at 11th, ahead of Miami, Georgia Tech, Syracuse, and Notre Dame.

The program’s revenue and expenses both totaled about $69.3 million. This is the fifth consecutive year that BC has not reported a profit from its Athletics Department. Pittsburgh is the only other program in the ACC that did not report a profit in 2014-15. Florida State turned the highest profit in the ACC at $23.6 million. The average profit of an ACC school was $5.55 million.

This is the fourth year that BC did not report institutional support for team revenue for its ticketed sports. Because of this policy, men’s basketball, women’s basketball, men’s hockey, and football can reveal their actual profit figures. Every other varsity sport at BC is a non-ticketed event and therefore does not report a revenue or expense without including institutional support. That means that BC reports all sports (other than the four listed above) broke even whether or not they actually lost money. This is a common practice around the NCAA.

The Department of Education asks that schools report their financial information from between June 1, 2014 and May 31, 2015 by no later than Oct. 15, 2015. The schools do not have to report any financial information prior to that point.

The Equity in Data Athletics report also reveals that BC has the lowest salary per head coach—male or female sport—in the ACC. BC has the most female varsity sports in the conference, yet pays its coaches an average of $91,616. While this is $38,000 less than 14th-place Wake Forest, and half of the average female head coach salary of $182,080, it is a $4,000 increase from last season. The salary per male head coach at BC is $384,440, about $30,000 less than Notre Dame, the next closest team in the order. This is a 16.4 percent decrease from last season’s total of about $460,000, and is 419 percent more than the average female head coach salary. Much of this number is skewed heavily in favor of BC’s three male profit sport head coaches: Steve Addazio, Jim Christian, and Jerry York.  

There are 336 male athletes and 380 female athletes at Boston College, without duplication across sports. BC lags, however, in spending an equal amount on male and female athletes in recruiting. In 2014-15, BC spent $2,519 per male athlete, 11th-most in the ACC, and only 23 percent behind the conference average of $3,261—the program has the fifth-most athletes in the conference. By contrast, the department only spent $708 per female athlete, despite having the most female athletes in the ACC by a wide margin. This average is $400 less than 14th-place Virginia ($1,129), and is less than half of the ACC’s average spending on recruiting female athletes ($1,693). Spending on recruiting is a highly variable total per year. It often depends on how many needs schools have in a given year. Additionally, BC recruits most heavily in the New England area, and thus does not have to pay much in terms of travel when recruiting.

BC Athletics did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Featured Image by Kelsey McGee / Heights Editor

About Michael Sullivan 272 Articles
Michael Sullivan was the 2017 editor-in-chief of The Heights and a two-time sports editor. He brought this paper to once a week and reminisces about the Wednesdays he could've had at BC. You can still follow his journalistic adventures @MichaelJSully.