Women and the Future of College Athletics

College sports are big business. It's no surprise there is a raging debate on whether college athletes should be paid as colleges across the states are expected to make a staggering $2.4 billion in gross profit from sports this year.

Expert Market have created a report looking into the profitability of college sports broken down by gender and state, and predicting how the changing landscape of gender in sports will change the numbers drastically in the coming years. The full report can be viewed here [PDF].

If college sports were competed in by men alone they could bring in over $2.5 billion in 2017. Women’s college athletics are currently running at a loss across the states, bringing down the overall profits.

There could be many reasons for this discrepancy. Historical bias towards men’s sports, more investment, promotion, and media attention has lead to men’s athletics gaining more supporters and generating more profit.



The Future is Female

However, that could all be set to change in the near future. In 2015, 25.4 million viewers watched the women's national soccer team beat Japan and it is events like these that are encouraging the public to pay attention to women's sports. This means further investment, bigger crowds and ultimately more profit for college age women.

Thanks to this recent surge in investment and interest into women’s sports, female college athletes could be making a profit on average across the states as early as 2018. If their success continues at the rate it has been growing over the past 10 years, our analysis shows they will be more profitable than their male counterparts by 2024.

This is what the profitability of college athletics will look like in 2024 according to Expert Market’s analysis;

StateWomen's ProfitsWomen's Profit MarginMen's ProfitsMen's Profit margin
Nevada$427,295,52795.60%$37,127,74145.65%
North Carolina$321,571,83048.80%$250,351,98126.17%
California$264,758,27528.97%$271,422,64823.01%
Indiana$252,599,15697.41%$120,269,21121.70%
New Mexico$82,486,27164.06%$33,660,54432.98%
Ohio$79,781,26022.76%$198,495,09628.84%
Massachusetts$76,837,31726.56%$82,028,50121.65%
West Virginia$68,566,79142.91%$10,500,5096.27%
Hawaii$59,957,21757.70%$13,929,50521.42%
New York$53,615,06220.73%$28,575,47311.00%
Florida$53,611,44212.69%$192,020,00020.00%
Illinois$43,383,25813.05%$97,534,00116.39%
Texas$42,616,8318.62%$458,171,31733.37%
Oregon$38,906,01724.00%$158,021,33044.61%
Idaho$38,277,73044.34%$128,609,50661.87%
Pennsylvania$34,999,4739.23%$136,559,27319.29%
Virginia$32,951,33010.94%$128,041,40720.70%
Tennessee$32,157,76212.37%$288,096,46841.86%
Georgia$31,421,60311.60%$109,560,25518.74%
Rhode Island$25,674,86429.34%$1,375,8111.41%
New Hampshire$17,600,90030.19%$9,288,94716.16%
Colorado$16,746,96111.51%$11,851,3115.47%
South Dakota$16,225,22932.45%$19,964,46232.70%
North Dakota$15,138,81823.13%$5,790,8768.71%
Louisiana$14,465,1139.50%$142,083,93032.90%
Missouri$13,916,9208.15%$66,178,76119.99%
Utah$13,595,35114.18%$118,610,44537.48%
Maryland$12,291,02010.96%$165,608,94050.71%
Nebraska$9,835,0989.92%$148,654,56042.29%
Vermont$8,731,89833.27%$5,381,78822.17%
Mississippi$4,274,5093.79%$124,065,09128.06%
Maine$3,217,93911.71%-$1,323,820-4.38%
New Jersey$3,124,8385.09%$1,102,4381.95%
Delaware$3,048,8008.42%-$2,286,707-6.87%
Alaska$3,000,86519.78%$2,594,93113.94%
Washington-$204,689-0.18%$178,850,66944.60%
Wyoming-$6,317,096-41.12%-$4,240,044-13.59%
Montana-$8,961,764-25.45%$12,537,70917.80%
Connecticut-$10,043,353-6.52%-$8,486,461-4.97%
Alabama-$11,803,958-6.27%-$32,081,753,348-24.89%
Oklahoma-$15,555,900-10.52%$154,814,99431.23%
Wisconsin-$20,798,990-24.36%$24,200,16211.72%
Arizona-$23,112,749-21.85%$398,8990.14%
Arkansas-$25,744,728-40.48%$98,400,08131.80%
Minnesota-$29,008,548-46.65%-$26,660,016-15.92%
Kansas-$29,095,654-24.41%$14,627,5474.24%
Michigan-$31,332,371-19.97%$146,529,05525.98%
South Carolina-$37,424,331-18.57%$101,533,95118.78%
Iowa-$40,788,769-37.46%$105,785,85127.94%
Kentucky-$56,356,006-48.15%$121,704,38124.23%

Methodology

To create this report which can be found in full here [PDF], we analysed data on revenues, expenses, participation and profit over a 10 year period from 2004 - 2014. Projecting this data forward using the trends seen over those 10 years allowed us to predict how profitability for college sports will grow in the near future.

The data was then broken down by gender and state and some really interesting trends emerged. Whilst male athletics has historically been a well profiting area, female sports are growing at such a rate that they look likely to take over from men’s as the best ROI for colleges in 18 states by 2024, which will mean an overall higher profit margin of 29.46% for women versus 28.7% for men.

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