Everyone loves Kansas Basketball, the Jayhawks are a consistently great team which makes them a blast to root for. We sport our team colors and scream for the best dunks. Additionally, most Kansas Basketball fans are incredibly loyal and own at least one piece of sports memorabilia to show off their support. Autographed photos, jerseys, tiny stuffed mascots or special logo printed basketballs for the kids, it's just a lot of fun to show our team spirit with custom gear. It's great for the team because it helps support them and keep our favorite players shooting those free throws. It makes you wonder just how much support they get.
So, how much money does Kansas Basketball bring in annually?
It's tough to pin down an exact number. Some statistics only show the whole school, and some numbers don't quite agree with one another. To more easily understand just how profitable the Jayhawks are we'll break it down into revenue streams. Curious fans and investors be warned, the pure numbers don't paint the entire picture. What a team brings in for gross revenue (the total sum) does not account for their expenses.
What do they spend?
The sheer number of deductions out of a teams 'income' is staggering. Locker rooms need upkeep and travel costs have to be factored in for away games. Thirsty players need water courtside, and towels for when they sweat. They need uniforms and all the uniforms and towels have to be cleaned. Coaches need to be paid and advertising has to go out so fans know when the games are. Merchandise has to be designed and then created and tickets need printing just so that more paid employees can sell them. Janitors clean up after fans, and they need equipment and paychecks. Even the electricity needs to be paid for lights so that teams can practice and fans can watch the game.
All these things and many more are part of the cost of doing 'business,' as a college sports team. The numerous requirements of having a polished product to present fans mean there is a whole lot of money exchanging hands. However, it's not as though every penny is going to line some evil fatcat's pocket. Much of the money goes right back into the athletics programs and keeps the entire thing going. Without the money, you have a few tall guys in jeans and t-shirts that don't match playing hoops at the park.
Exact numbers can be difficult to verify, but here's what the sources we found have to say about Kansas Basketball and athletics revenue in recent years.
BizJournals.com reports that in 2017 Kansas spent "$94.7 million on athletic events and roughly 500 athletes" and they say that officials claim they generate about $100 million in revenue.
For 2016 the licensing rights fees collected for Kansas Athletics were $44,238,082 according to Business Insider's list of biggest college basketball money makers.
- In 2017 Kansas Athletics lost money overall and donors covered over $19 Million dollars. While not all of this went directly to the Jayhawks, it is fair to say they didn't break even.
- BI shows that from 2016-2018 the donations to the athletics department totaled $24,020,732.
- KU lists it's "Contributions and Grants," for 2018 as $22,958,840
Forbes shows the 2016 ticket sales for KU basketball at $30.8 million.
NCAA and Conference Distributions
Sponsorship and Royalties (KU Athletics total)
According to the PDF (https://kuathletics.com/documents/2018/11/30//KAI_Audit_Report_2018.pdf?id=15370) from KU itself, the sum of 2017's sponsorships and royalties totals $11,868,530
"Other Operation Revenue"
Presumably, this would include things like concession sales, but it is not clarified on the 2018 earnings PDF from KU, nor is it broken down per team, only shown as an overall total.
In showing exactly how much a team makes, there is another hidden factor. Plenty of people, not the school or coaches or players, but regular dishonest people, make money from Kansas Basketball. Ticket scalpers, online craft merchants who do team color and logo gear, and businesses selling knockoff shirts that are bulk printed without permission at a much lower quality all make a profit. Though this doesn't really count toward what the team and school collect, it is still sadly profiting from their hard work.
If the word around the water cooler is correct, as much as 53 cents out of every dollar KU makes is spent on debt. That is a huge loss by any account. To be honest, the one thing that remains stunningly clear is that Kansas Basketball both makes and spends vast sums in order to produce the games we all love so much.
Written by Garrett Parker
Read more posts by Garrett Parker