Football Dominates Athletics Spending At The United States Military Academy

The United States Military Academy spent almost $39 million on athletics during the 2015-16 school year, according to documents obtained by NYC Buckets.

Football expenses made up more than $10 million, 26%, of the total expenditures. Army spent $1,086,756 on men’s basketball and $990,389 on women’s basketball during the same time period.

The documents were obtained through a FOIA request that was made in hopes of obtaining the spending data in time to incorporate Army into realignment week. Unfortunately, it did not arrive until last week, but it’s still an interesting look at athletics spending at one of the nation’s military academies.

Army competes in the Patriot League for men’s and women’s basketball (and most of its other sports), but it is an independent in the Division I Football Bowl Subdivision. Despite spending more than $10 million on football in 2015-16, while going 2-10, Army still reported a $3.8 million surplus from the sport. How? More than $4 million in ticket revenue, $4.8 million in guarantees (Army played at Penn State and Connecticut in 2015), $2.765 million in media rights (Army has a multi-year deal with CBS Sports), plus assorted other income. Unlike almost every other school in the country Army doesn’t have to pay any athletic student aid, which means supporting an 150-man football roster is a bit easier. Their biggest expenses were coaching salaries ($3.5 million), guarantees ($1.025 million—most likely for Fordham and Bucknell), support staff ($1.09 million) and travel ($1.8 million).

Men’s basketball, which finished 19-14 in 2015-16, lost $144,261 per the financial filing. The big expenses were coaching salaries ($495,676) and guarantees ($151,500). The guarantee most likely comes from when the Black Knights hosted Ferrum College to open the season. Army also received $55,000 in guarantees for basketball.

The spending profile of $39 million overall with just $1 million on men’s basketball would’ve been quite unique in the realignment process. The men’s basketball spending, which of course also doesn’t include student aid, is comparable to Sam Houston State or Western Carolina. But the $38.6 million spent on overall athletics would have been more comparable to a school like UNLV or Old Dominion. Part of the reason this is possible? The $13 million subsidy Army receives from the government so it doesn’t have to pay for scholarships for its student athletes.

Another interesting aspect of the report are the coach salaries. Army’s head football coach, Jeff Monken, made $1.04 million in salary during the 2015-16 school year. Zach Spiker was in his final season at the school before heading to Drexel and was only paid $176,165 by Army directly. (There could have been other related income for media appearances and such.) That’s less than the men’s hockey and lacrosse coaches and about the same as the men’s soccer coach. Men’s basketball also had four full-time assistants, which was more than any men’s sport besides football (13).

Feel free to take a look at the full disclosure and let me know if there’s anything else you think is interesting in the comments.

One thought on “Football Dominates Athletics Spending At The United States Military Academy

  1. Tony

    Great stuff. I attend many Army games and the saying up there is 1 for 25. 1 sport pays for the other 25 sports, that being football.

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