Top 25 highest spending college football programs in the nation

Nikki Chavanelle11/16/21
Birm/Lettermen Row

Each year, public D-I college athletics programs report their vast earnings and expenses for official profit and loss statements. Sportico compiled the data for every college athletics department to compare spending at each one, from Ohio State all the way down to ULM.

D-I programs can find all kinds of things to spend their revenue on – coaching salaries, equipment, pools, jacuzzis, rec rooms, recruiting – just to name a few.

Every program that has won a football national title over the last two decades ranks in the top 25 (except USC, a private institution).

Ten out of the top 25 spending programs are in the SEC, and eight are in the Big 10.

The latest figures available are from the 2019-2020 fiscal year.

Top 25 Spenders in College Athletics

Ohio State – $215,209,566
Michigan – $180,841,523
Texas – $173,648,028
Alabama – $173,141,125
Texas A&M – $159,136,624
Penn State – $157,908,311
Oklahoma – $157,494,527
Florida State – $155,656,855
LSU – $155,591,015
Wisconsin – $149,196,055
Iowa – $149,161,886
Michigan State – $148,453,353
Tennessee – $140,824,626
Kentucky – $140,578,623
Florida – $139,935,182
Louisville – $138,830,169
Georgia – $138,757,891
Auburn – $135,816,431
South Carolina – $133,776,318
Clemson – $131,781,294
Washington – $128,976,495
Minnesota – $124,818,508
Arkansas – $123,857,351
Illinois – $121,638,435
Oregon – $120,884,588

Spending on recruiting

The University of Georgia still ranks in the top 25 for overall spending but it’s not all spent equally. The Bulldogs spend more than any other D-I program on one thing – recruiting.

Kirby Smart and the University of Georgia spent $1 million more on recruiting in 2019 than the next highest-spending program, which was Alabama. The Bulldogs’ outlandish recruiting budget hasn’t led to a national title yet, but it could pay off very soon. As of Nov. 2021, they’re the favorite to win it all this year.