College football is king from the Great Plains to the Deep South.

But it’s also big business — the cash cow that props up the less profitable sports at a public or private university.

The University of Texas football program leads the Big 12 in football-generated revenue.

The U.S. Department of Education’s Equity in Athletics Report shows the Longhorns football program generated $93.9 million in 2009. All other UT sports brought in just $22.9 million.

Expenses for the Texas football team were $25.5 million. Expenses for all sports were $43.1 million.

The University of Oklahoma and Texas A&M football programs finished second and third.

Oklahoma State’s football program generated $32.7 million in revenue against $15.4 million in expenses, according to the Equity in Athletics survey. The Cowboys finished fourth in the Big 12 in football earnings. OSU’s other sports earned $15.7 million.

“Football is the engine that pulls everything,” Oklahoma State University athletic director Mike Holder said. “The better we do in football the better it is for every sport at Oklahoma State.”

Every football season ticket sold is an investment in Oklahoma State’s entire athletic program — not just football, Holder said.

The Cowboys won 11 games for the first time ever in the 2010-2011 season. The Oklahoma State University athletic department believes that will translate into higher ticket sales and more revenue for every sport at OSU.

Costs up, revenue stagnant

Eight of the 10 athletic departments at Big 12 schools are operating in the black. The two Kansas programs — the University of Kansas and Kansas State University — spent more than they made in 2009, the survey showed.

All KU sports generated $35.1 million in revenue, and spent $40.7 million. The football program made $17.8 million and spent $16.2.

Sports at Kansas State generated $25.4 million and spent $25.8 million. The Jayhawks were in the red $366.084, according to the Equity survey results.

More and more universities are finding themselves in the same predicament as the Kansas schools, according to the NCAA Division I Intercollegiate Athletics Programs Report on Revenues and Expense released earlier this month.

The report tracks trends in athletic department spending from 2004 to 2010. The findings show sports revenue starting too stagnant while expenses continue to climb.

The cost of coaches’ salaries and student scholarships are climbing quickest, according to the report.

“… the number of participating athletes remains fairly constant, while the expense per athlete continues to increase, as a result of rising expenses.”

The Oklahoma State University Board of Regents recently approved a 5-percent tuition hike. OSU’s athletic department will have to allocate more money toward scholarships because of the tuition increase.

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