“It is apparent that most athletic departments depend on subsidies from universities and student fees to fund their programs. Even among the largest FBS programs, student fees and institutional subsidies typically provided between 4 percent and 14 percent of total athletic revenues. And without access to lucrative television contracts and large stadiums with sizable ticket sales revenue, the budgets at smaller FCS and DI-NF programs are heavily subsidized, although FCS programs are more likely to rely on institutional support, while DI-NF schools rely on student fees to fund much of their budget.

In fact, only the programs at the very top of the FBS subdivision generate more money from athletics than they spend. Fewer than one in four of the 97 public FBS athletic departments generated more money than they spent in any given year between 2005 and 2010 (and almost none of the remaining Division I programs were profitable). Even so, about two thirds of these profitable FBS departments still received athletic subsidies in 2010. While it is true that the traditional money-generating sports are more likely to cover their own expenses, more than 40 percent of FBS football and men’s basketball programs were unable to fully support their own programs in 2010; in the remaining Division I schools, only a handful of these programs were self-supporting.

The median subsidy at FBS institutions appears similar to other Division I schools, ranging from $7.7 million to $8.5 million (see Figure 4). The smallest FBS programs, however, received the largest subsidies among all Division I schools. In the bottom half of the FBS subdivision, median subsidies were between $11 million and $14 million—about two to four times as large as those in the top half of the FBS subdivision, where the typical subsidy was approximately between $3 million and $6 million.” – Donna M. Desrochers, Delta Cost Project at American Institutes For Research