Which NCAA Sports Make Money?

With so much focus on revenue and expenses in collegiate athletics, it’s no surprise that people are wondering which NCAA sports make money. Here’s a look at the top revenue-generating sports and how they bring in the dough.

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Which NCAA Sports Make Money?

The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) is a nonprofit organization that governs college athletics in the United States. The NCAA is made up of more than 1,200 member schools, which compete in Division I (D-I), Division II (D-II), and Division III (D-III).

The vast majority of schools belong to D-I, which is further subdivided into FBS (Football Bowl Subdivision) and FCS (Football Championship Subdivision). D-I schools are typically the largest and most well-known colleges in the country.

Despite being a nonprofit organization, the NCAA generates billions of dollars in revenue each year. The majority of this revenue comes from television contracts, ticket sales, and merchandise.

The sport that generates the most revenue for the NCAA is football. In the 2016-2017 season, D-I FBS schools generated a combined $3.4 billion in revenue. This was followed by men’s basketball ($1.06 billion), women’s basketball ($649 million), and baseball ($500 million).

Interestingly, though football generates the most revenue for the NCAA, it is not necessarily profitable for all schools. In fact, many D-I FBS schools lose money on their football programs. This is because these programs require a significant investment in terms of coaching salaries, facilities, and scholarships.


Football is the biggest moneymaker in NCAA sports, but not every team is profitable. In 2017, the median profit for an NCAA football team was $2.7 million, but there was a wide range in profitability. The most profitable football program in 2017 was the University of Alabama, which generated $103.9 million in revenue and had a profit of $87.5 million. at the other end of the spectrum, 23 football programs lost money in 2017.

Men’s Basketball

Men’s basketball is the NCAA’s biggest revenue-generating sport, bringing in more than $1 billion in revenue each year. The majority of that revenue comes from the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, which is a single-elimination tournament featuring 64 of the best college basketball teams in the country. The tournament is commonly referred to as “March Madness,” and it is one of the most popular sporting events in the United States.

Women’s Basketball

Women’s basketball is one of the most popular NCAA sports, and it also happens to be one of the most profitable. In the 2015-2016 season, women’s basketball generated almost $500 million in revenue for the NCAA. This is largely due to the popularity of the sport among television viewers. Women’s basketball games are some of the most-watched programming on ESPN, and they generate high ratings for other networks as well.


baseball is a very popular sport in the United States and generates a lot of revenue for colleges. In 2018, the NCAA generated over $1 billion in revenue from television rights, sponsorships, and licensing. Baseball is also one of the most popular sports to bet on, which generates even more revenue for colleges.



While some NCAA sports make a lot of money, others do not. Softball is one of the sports that does not generate a lot of revenue. In fact, it is one of the least popular sports in the NCAA.


While it may not be one of the most popular sports in the United States, soccer generates a significant amount of revenue for NCAA schools. In 2016, the sport generated $1.06 billion in revenue, which was more than any other NCAA sport.

What makes soccer so lucrative? For one, the sport has a global audience. Soccer is the most popular sport in the world, and that popularity translates into big TV contracts and sponsorship deals. Furthermore, soccer is a relatively cheap sport to run. Unlike football or basketball, you don’t need much equipment to play soccer. All you need is a ball and a place to play. This makes it easy for schools to start and maintain a team.

Of course, not all schools make money from their soccer teams. In fact, many schools lose money on the sport. But for those that do generate revenue, soccer can be a very lucrative business.


Lacrosse is a sport with ancient origins. It is thought to have originated with the Native Americans. Lacrosse was originally played as a game of skill and strength. It was not until the mid 1800s that it began to be played as a sport.

Lacrosse is played with ten players on each team. The object of the game is to score goals by throwing the ball into the opponent’s net. The team that scores the most goals in a game wins.

Lacrosse is a popular sport at both the high school and collegiate levels. It is also a growing sport at the professional level. Major League Lacrosse (MLL) is the premier professional lacrosse league in North America. The MLL began play in 2001 with six teams. The league has since expanded to include eight teams.

Lacrosse is a sport that requires both physical and mental skills. Players need to be able to run, jump, catch, and throw the ball accurately. They also need to have good hand-eye coordination and be able to think quickly on their feet.

Swimming and Diving

As is the case with most NCAA Division I sports, swimming and diving generated revenue for the 2016-17 NCAA fiscal year. The NCAA does not release exact figures, but stated that the sport generated just over $5 million in revenue. The majority of that revenue ($4.6 million) came from television and marketing rights fees. The rest came from ticket sales, NCAA Championships, and other sources.

Track and Field

Although many people think of NCAA sports as being primarily about football and basketball, there are actually a wide variety of sports that fall under the NCAA umbrella. Of those sports, some generate more revenue than others. Here is a look at the five most profitable NCAA sports, based on data from the 2017-2018 school year.

1. Football: $1.063 billion
2. Men’s basketball: $871 million
3. Women’s basketball: $286 million
4. Baseball: $267 million
5. Track and field: $206 million

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