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 would have brought 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;

State Women's Profits Women's Profit Margin Men's Profits Men's Profit margin
Nevada $427,295,527 95.60% $37,127,741 45.65%
North Carolina $321,571,830 48.80% $250,351,981 26.17%
California $264,758,275 28.97% $271,422,648 23.01%
Indiana $252,599,156 97.41% $120,269,211 21.70%
New Mexico $82,486,271 64.06% $33,660,544 32.98%
Ohio $79,781,260 22.76% $198,495,096 28.84%
Massachusetts $76,837,317 26.56% $82,028,501 21.65%
West Virginia $68,566,791 42.91% $10,500,509 6.27%
Hawaii $59,957,217 57.70% $13,929,505 21.42%
New York $53,615,062 20.73% $28,575,473 11.00%
Florida $53,611,442 12.69% $192,020,000 20.00%
Illinois $43,383,258 13.05% $97,534,001 16.39%
Texas $42,616,831 8.62% $458,171,317 33.37%
Oregon $38,906,017 24.00% $158,021,330 44.61%
Idaho $38,277,730 44.34% $128,609,506 61.87%
Pennsylvania $34,999,473 9.23% $136,559,273 19.29%
Virginia $32,951,330 10.94% $128,041,407 20.70%
Tennessee $32,157,762 12.37% $288,096,468 41.86%
Georgia $31,421,603 11.60% $109,560,255 18.74%
Rhode Island $25,674,864 29.34% $1,375,811 1.41%
New Hampshire $17,600,900 30.19% $9,288,947 16.16%
Colorado $16,746,961 11.51% $11,851,311 5.47%
South Dakota $16,225,229 32.45% $19,964,462 32.70%
North Dakota $15,138,818 23.13% $5,790,876 8.71%
Louisiana $14,465,113 9.50% $142,083,930 32.90%
Missouri $13,916,920 8.15% $66,178,761 19.99%
Utah $13,595,351 14.18% $118,610,445 37.48%
Maryland $12,291,020 10.96% $165,608,940 50.71%
Nebraska $9,835,098 9.92% $148,654,560 42.29%
Vermont $8,731,898 33.27% $5,381,788 22.17%
Mississippi $4,274,509 3.79% $124,065,091 28.06%
Maine $3,217,939 11.71% -$1,323,820 -4.38%
New Jersey $3,124,838 5.09% $1,102,438 1.95%
Delaware $3,048,800 8.42% -$2,286,707 -6.87%
Alaska $3,000,865 19.78% $2,594,931 13.94%
Washington -$204,689 -0.18% $178,850,669 44.60%
Wyoming -$6,317,096 -41.12% -$4,240,044 -13.59%
Montana -$8,961,764 -25.45% $12,537,709 17.80%
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% $154,814,994 31.23%
Wisconsin -$20,798,990 -24.36% $24,200,162 11.72%
Arizona -$23,112,749 -21.85% $398,899 0.14%
Arkansas -$25,744,728 -40.48% $98,400,081 31.80%
Minnesota -$29,008,548 -46.65% -$26,660,016 -15.92%
Kansas -$29,095,654 -24.41% $14,627,547 4.24%
Michigan -$31,332,371 -19.97% $146,529,055 25.98%
South Carolina -$37,424,331 -18.57% $101,533,951 18.78%
Iowa -$40,788,769 -37.46% $105,785,851 27.94%
Kentucky -$56,356,006 -48.15% $121,704,381 24.23%

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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