5 Ways to Fund Your College Athletic Program

Myth - collegiate sports are a cash cow. You know all too well that college athletics rely on allocated revenue from general funds, student fees, and government appropriations. For most universities, sports is a money-losing proposition. Only big-time college football has a chance of generating enough net revenue to cover not only its own costs but those of “Olympic” sports like field hockey, gymnastics, and swimming. Not even men’s basketball at places like Duke University or the University of Kansas can generate enough revenue to make programs profitable. This is one reason why we see the NCAA laying the groundwork for sports monetization.

Collegiate sports organizations are challenged with creating increasingly more content to captivate and satisfy fans and alumni everywhere they watch their teams—whether on a stadium jumbotron, or on TVs, computers or mobile devices. They’re also looking for ways in which to reinvent their engagement with fans.

So how can you identify new revenue streams other than ticket sales - and gambling of course? Here are 5 ways you can start to fund your athletic program.

  1. Pay-Per-View: There’s a lot to be said for following the play-by-play of your favorite game while you’re on the road … if that’s even an option. But nothing can replace the feeling of actually watching the energy of the game. And for fans that can’t make to your stadium, PPV allows them to be apart of the excitement - while also creating a new revenue stream for your program.

  2. Online Stores: Fans love to wear their team colors and logos! Why not provide them the opportunity to buy their favorite team merchandise online? Whether it’s a hat, sweatshirt, or even great photos, providing a simple way to purchase merchandise will please your fans. And with the right tools you can easily track sales and manage your budget.

  3. Camps: Athletic camps can also be a very important part of the revenue model. With the right resources, university athletic programs find great value in custom professional camp websites that properly represent their brand, integrate social media, and drive camp registrations.

  4. Advertising: In truth, advertising can be a polarizing subject in the higher education space. But when content and advertisers are screened, advertising can be a great source of funding for athletic departments. By evaluating the content, frequency, and channels - like pre-roll and mid-roll ads - programs can plan advertising around their individual funding goals.

  5. Build Your Own Network: Your fans don’t want to scroll through dozens of sports pages to find the team they actually care about. Building your own network allows your athletic department to schedule events anytime and provide immediate access to them in your custom portal. You can incorporate all of the tools above into a single location, increasing funding and even alumni contributions.

Monetizing your program like Notre Dame’s football program isn’t the end goal - but with some of these methods you can certainly set yourself up for self-sustainment.