Kristi Dosh runs a website called The Business of College Sports, and today on it she has posted the breakdown of Florida football's financials for the 2009 season. I encourage you to go check out the full report, because there's a lot of interesting stuff in it.
There is one element I did want to highlight: the profitability of cupcake games.
A big school like Florida sells out all of its home games, so there is little revenue difference between big conference matches and terrible non-conference blowouts. The average the school made in revenue from SEC games plus FSU was $2,456,296. The average it made from snacking on Charleston Southern, Troy, and FIU was $2,329,981.33. In fact, all of that year's home game revenue figures were in the $2.3 million range except for the rivalry games with Tennessee and FSU, which were in the $2.5 million range.
Something I've discussed here and elsewhere many times is that UF AD Jeremy Foley has adopted a strategy of trying to have seven home games per season. Because of the neutral site series with Georgia, Florida is short a conference home game every other year. Therefore, Florida can only have a single home-and-home non-conference series going on at any one time and still get seven home games. Tradition dictates that FSU will be that home-and-home, so the other three non-conference slots invariably have to be guarantee games.
The expense report has the total value of 2009's guarantees at $1.875 million. That means that the revenue from just one of those cupcake games pays for all three of the guarantees with room left to spare. The total revenue from the three body bag games was $6,989,944; the total home game expenses (including guarantees, ticket printing, officials, stadium staff, parking expenses, etc.) for the entire year was $6,502,196. That means that revenue from the entire SEC home season plus FSU was pure profit to use to cover other expenses elsewhere.
That's why Foley insists on having as many home games as possible. As Dosh points out, football revenue accounted for 86% of all revenue that came directly from sports. He probably feels that he needs to maximize football revenue as much as possible, and for good reason. UF athletics runs enough of a surplus to donate $6 million back to the university this year and $60 million since 1990. That keeps the program's goodwill high and provides a buffer for lean years. Most likely the last thing Foley wants to have happen is for the school to ask the increasingly stingy (and bizarre) Florida state legislature for more money on his account.
I encourage you to read the full post and look over all of the figures. It's a fascinating and easy to follow look at the innards of a major football program's budget.