John Feinstein, May 5, 2008:
… Of course if the NCAA wasn’t so busy trying to take over summer basketball, it could put an end to this in a heartbeat: All it has to do is say the following: if you want your basketball team to be eligible for the NCAA tournament, you must participate — if invited — in the NCAA division I-A football tournament. The BCS schools will squirm and pontificate and threaten to break away from the NCAA but they won’t. Remember, basketball is the money-maker at far more schools than football, regardless of what you hear from the football apologists. [Emphasis added.]
The Wildcat Online, April 30, 2008:
Now, if Feinstein means that broadly, maybe he has a slight case, in that there are far more schools that play D-1 basketball (mainly so they can share in the March Madness revenues) than play D-1 football. But presuming that when he’s talking about “schools” there he means BCS schools, that chart tells you he’s obviously full of crap.
The top revenue generating D-1 basketball program over that same period was Louisville. Its basketball revenues would rank 31st on the football list above. And if you look at the conference averages, no BCS conference generates more basketball revenue that it does football revenue. In fact, only one BCS conference (the ACC) generates half as much in basketball as it does in football. In contrast, the SEC generates four times as much football revenue as it does from basketball. If you look at average profit, the disparities are even greater.
Given that the Wildcat Online compilation predates Feinstein’s screed, in a Google era, there’s little excuse for his misrepresentation. There’s a snotty Costas/Bissinger-related comment welling up inside of me, but I think I’ll save it for another time. I have no doubt there will be one.