OT: FSU AD, Seminoles would be top 5 in revenue in SEC, Big 10 (plus VT comparison)


Alford took time to share some key statistics on the financial status of the Seminoles and how the program stacks up in regard to major conferences.

According to numbers he shared, if conference distributions were removed (TV contracts, postseason payouts, etc.), FSU would rank third in the SEC in revenue generated β€” ahead of schools like the Alabama Crimson Tide, LSU Tigers and Florida Gators.

When comparing against Big 10 schools, Florida State ranks third, behind the Ohio State Buckeyes and Michigan Wolverines but ahead of the Penn State Nittany Lions, Iowa Hawkeyes, Wisconsin Badgers, and others.

After reading this, I decided to do the same thing for VT - Per the the FY 2019 data from the Knight Commission, VT brought in $96.77m that year, about $36m of which is from TV contracts, meaning that just under $60m comes from donations, ticket sales, etc.

That's good for... third to last in both the SEC and B10 (in 2019).

The breakdown of where that $60M comes from, if anyone is wondering:

  • Sponsorships & Licensing: $2.81M
  • Institutional Support: $10.28M (see bullet 4 below for a disclaimer)
  • Ticket Sales: $20.54M
  • Over Revenue: $7.89M
  • Donor Contributions: $18.9M

A few disclaimers and callouts:

  • Fiscal year runs from July of the current year to June of the following year - so FY 2019 is July 2019-June 2020.
  • Worth noting that FSU pulled in $152m in total revenue in FY19, but just under $130m in FY20 and FY21 - I think it's safe to assume that the FSU AD cherry picked a year that (1) was unaffected by COVID, and (2) made FSU look good (consider the audience).
  • For those wondering, VT pulled in $96.77M, $99.19M, and $90.3M in FY19-FY21, respectively
  • Per the knight commission, VT reports $0 in institutional support, but $10.28M in student fees. The knight commission says FSU in 2019 collected $7.18M categorized as 'institutional support' and $8.43M categorized as 'student fees'. The tomahawk nation article just shows ~$15M in institutional support.
  • For anyone wondering, The Knight Commission defines 'other revenue' as "Revenue from the following categories: Compensation and benefits provided by a third party; game program, novelty, parking and concession sales; sports camps and clinics; athletics restricted endowment and investments income; and, other operating revenue."
  • Regarding sponsorships/licensing - this is more than just apparel. Looks like FSU signed a ten year deal with Nike paying $1.45m/year starting in May 2014 (right after their national championship season). VT's Nike Deal paid $275k in 2019. So, while FSU clearly has a better apparel deal than VT, they are also getting significantly more money from other sponsorships.
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Those donor numbers and institutional support numbers hit hard on Tech. Great leg work here.

Wet stuff on the red stuff.

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We're getting killed in licensing and donations. Institutional support not a big deal since we have large student fees.

Conference/School Other Revenue Sponsorship & Licensing Donor Contributions Competition Guarantees Media Rights Ticket Sales Institutional Support Student Fees
Atlantic Coast Conference Median $9,091,850 $11,896,737 $25,069,746 $394,505 $33,342,791 $21,587,786 $3,352,599 $7,510,173
Big Ten Conference Median $12,025,463 $12,657,227 $23,676,863 $223,211 $59,764,999 $27,178,942 $3,029,000 $7,591,633
Big 12 Conference Median $5,237,831 $10,643,553 $24,462,018 $514,208 $45,891,498 $17,850,763 $746,947 $2,054,314
Pacific-12 Conference Median $6,631,857 $14,512,338 $17,972,415 $420,795 $35,749,539 $14,307,411 $5,383,492 $2,206,793
Southeastern Conference Median $10,204,157 $10,610,643 $31,763,030 $1,201,985 $52,599,078 $36,159,453 $0 $955,889
Virginia Tech $7,890,000 $2,810,000 $18,900,000 $260,000 $36,100,000 $20,540,000 $0 $10,280,000

All data from 2019 (to stay consistent). Data pulled from the 'custom reporting' page on the knight commission. I went back and typed in the VT info after, hence why that data is rounded but other medians are not.

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How are we so much lower than the ACC median? Particularly in the sponsorship and licensing category?

Really? $3 million? There seems to be room for improvement there. VT merch is expensive enough that this number should be higher.

Nike deal bro

"Why gobble gobble chumps asks such good questions, I will never know." - TheFifthFuller


It was one of the lowest paying P5 apparel deals in 2016


Edit: this has that deal as expiring in 2022 but in my head i thought it was still a couple years away? Maybe someone has better/newer info

"Why gobble gobble chumps asks such good questions, I will never know." - TheFifthFuller

I just noticed the same thing, from your link.

Pretty terrible time to have to renegotiate that, but also a terrible time to be stuck with the old deal. From that link, it looks like Clemson's deal is less than $3 million.

This might require further analysis.

Almost every team with a Nike deal has online fan complaints about how their deal is terrible. They are the biggest dog, and uniform the most teams, and as such the desirability of their branding means they can get away with paying less for them, while the competitors like Adidas and UA throw bigger sums of money to breakthrough from a smaller pool of schools. The fan solution is, across the board, "we should get one of these huge UA and Adidas deals," which obviously it isn't that easy. Additionally, you run the risk of a less reliable company, like Under Armour, backing out of their huge deal with UCLA and getting sued. While I think we need a better apparel deal, and should make sure we get a better one when we are out of contract, I don't think this is truly a major driving factor of football program disparity.

tldr; there's a subset of almost every fanbase of a Nike school that comes up with the idea "We should just get a huge deal from Adidas or Under Armour"

I believe I saw a Bitter tweet earlier this year that said it was extended to the end of the 2022-23 academic calendar

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I wondered what was going on when the bball team announced new jerseys. I feel like we've been talking about this so long it will never die. TKP had always at war with Nike Deal.

If you feel the leather in your hand let it rip.

I addressed this in the last bullet in the OP, but the Nike deal isn't the biggest issue

Edit to expand: This table shows cash from apperals deals as a percent of total licensing for public schools in the ACC. As you can see, our Nike deal is only 9% of our total licensing.

Data Sponsorships & Licensing Apparel Sponsor 2019 Apparel Deal Percent of total licensing revenue
Clemson University $16,912,569 Nike $400,000 2.37%
Florida State University $13,886,733 Nike $1,450,000 10.44%
Georgia Institute of Technology $8,091,719 Adidas $200,000 2.47%
North Carolina State University at Raleigh $4,995,928 Adidas $6,450,000 129.11%
University of Louisville $18,193,138 Adidas $10,000,000 54.97%
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill $14,243,996 Nike/Jordan $3,400,000 23.87%
University of Virginia $9,906,740 Nike $500,000 5.05%
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University $2,813,608 Nike $275,000 9.77%


  • The 'sponsorship & licensing' column comes from the knight commission. The '2019 apparel deal' column was what I found from googling each school individually (about 10-15 minutes of effort here)
  • Apparel deals are complex - there's cash, there's apparel that the team can use, there's a percent of sales given to the schools, etc. The '2019 apparel deal' column is ONLY the cash value received by the schools. I couldn't find a cash value for NC State; I just found a $6.45m number that includes cash and apparel (hence the >100% number).

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Perhaps, but it's something, and from that article due for an update.

I appreciate the research you did...

Update (based on your update): wow. Seems like hiring someone from one of these other universities who knows how to develop/establish a better licensing deal would be worth doing. Something is clearly getting lost here.

Part of its situational - UNC is Jordan. Louisville named their stadium after papa John's. I think city schools tend to be more attractive for licensing (eg GT).

But yea, there's no reason for us to be soooo far behind everyone else in the acc here.

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Louisville named their stadium after papa John's.

Hasn't been the case since 2018.

No, I *don't* want to go to the SEC. Why do you ask?

We don't love dem Hoos.

This data is all from FY 2019 (to stay consistent with the article that inspired this research), which is from June 2018-July 2019. Might be some overlap there.

But, point taken, good call out.

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If the ACC median is $12 million, seems that we should be a lot closer to that than $3 million.

I'm sure there is a complicated reason, and that Whit is aware of it, even if we're not.

Why is ours that lowwwww 😭

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I would say it's mostly because Virginia Tech is in Blacksburg and not Richmond or NoVa.

I imagine the issue is deeper than that. Maybe it's simply a combination of poor product + under populated location, but we're so far out of the league (compared to other public schools)

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It's probably never really been explored at VT to be honest. There is a ton of untapped potential that we have just not really put much effort into because of small town mindset that is pervasive in Blacksburg. Academic side is moving mountains and raking in cash. Athletics is so woefully behind it is embarrassing. How is there no synergy here?

There is a ton of untapped potential that we have just not really put much effort into because of small town mindset that is pervasive in Blacksburg.

My guess is that it's also a 'fires burning everywhere' situation - that's to say, licensing is lower priority compared to increasing the donor base, facilities, etc

Academic side is moving mountains and raking in cash. Athletics is so woefully behind it is embarrassing. How is there no synergy here?

Can you expand on the Academic side? Would love to learn more about this, as well as other schools that have capitalized on synergies across campus.

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VT in the last 8-10 years has really made huge strides in fundraising and advancement on the academic side. I can't remember exact numbers but didn't we just have an enormous record for academic fundraising last year? And also the single biggest donation/endowment from an individual ever received in about the same timeframe? I guess what I'm saying is, there are a lot of people really excited about VT and investing heavily in the academic side. I wonder if we can't take some of that interest/excitement and inject into athletics as well. It just doesn't seem we are receiving the same financial firepower and interest when it comes to athletics.

Interesting. Would love to read more about this if you have any good articles/pieces. I'm pretty ignorant about how academics fundraises. Paging Guitarman - would be great if you had any insight here.

Anyways, I (like you, I think) do struggle to understand how a school like VT - which (a) places a lot of graduates in high paying careers and (b) is very 'football focused' - faces so many challenges fundraising for athletics (relative to similar institutions). My hypothesis is that there are a couple overarching factors at play:

  • Alumni finances - High cost of living in our primary alumni hub(s) combined with our highest earning programs (engineering) making people 'well off' but not loaded. Additionally, there's not much 'old money' since VT football 'came up' in the late 90's... Etc, etc
  • Culture - The football program's historical identity (blue collar) works counter to the idea of 'we need more money to get nice things'. Additionally, I think Steger/Weaver/Beamer perpetuated this idea of the 'Virginia Tech Discount' (eg; VT is such an amazing place, you should take a pay cut to live/work here) for far too long (I've heard rumors this was a university wide issue that Sands had to correct - maybe Guitarman can confirm/deny).

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Bar bringing the fire content yet again.

fittingly in bar graph form

Relevant: a UF fan on r/CFB recently made a post debunking criticizing the FSU AD's presentation. It's quite a long post, but it boils down to:

  • FSU AD cherry picked data that fit his agenda
  • FSU AD conveniently failed to mention that revenues were higher because the program begged boosters to give more money so they could cover buyouts and other frivolous spending
  • Having a lot of money doesn't necessarily mean an athletic department is well run

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1st and 2nd points are weak. 3rd point is irrelevant.

Free Hugh

The other money and institutional support numbers for FSU are boosting those numbers higher. It also means they are either charging higher student fees or actually being subsidized by the university instead of being self sufficient.

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It very much begs the question - how in the hell is Amazon not one of our brand partners given the DC campus?

How do we not have one single commercial or investment bank that is willing to partner with us, knowing for a fact that there are a few who go out of their way to seek out our alumni for employment?

Why are all of our corporate partners small regional outfits who do not have outreach beyond SWVA? And VCOM? Good lord, one of our 6 sponsors is our own school? 🀦

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