(USA Today Sports Images)Earlier this month, Michigan announced it is increasing its "seat donation" requirement. The term is laughable, and the thought behind it is too.
Wolverines fans have to "donate" between $4,000-$75 to keep their season tickets. According to MLive.com that's not out of line with other Big Ten schools (and other schools around the country) that charge seat license -- sorry, seat "donation" -- fees. All non-student seats in massive Michigan Stadium have a fee attached now.
When those Wolverines season-ticket holders in the Maize seats sign that seat-fee check for $375, up from $275 last year, keep this in mind: Michigan's football program made $85 million last year, and $62 million of that was profit, according to Forbes' report valuing college football programs.
Slideshow: 2012 College Football Team Valuations
So, when you pay that seat fee, or if you wonder why conferences like the Big Ten are adding Maryland or Rutgers to squeeze out a little bit more extra TV revenue even though no fan seems to want it and it doesn't make the conference's football product any better, it's because tens of millions of dollars in profit just isn't enough in amateur athletics these days.
Texas had the largest profit among college football teams last fiscal year, with a staggering $78 million. Forbes used figures from the 2011-12 fiscal year. The Longhorns' football program is worth $133 million, according to the report. Thank you, Longhorn Network.
Forbes listed the top 20 most valuable programs in the nation, and all 20 made at least $24 million in profit last year. It's easier to make that kind of money when you don't have to pay the players, of course.
Texas, Michigan, Notre Dame and LSU are the programs valued at over $100 million by Forbes. Michigan is worth $120 million (did we mention the folks sitting in the end zone seats at Michigan Stadium saw a $25 hike in seat fees?), Notre Dame is worth $103 million, LSU is worth $102 million and Georgia barely missed the cut at $99 million.
The entire article is a good look at the business of college football, such as explaining how the number of home games are such a huge factor in a program's value and profit from year to year.
Then you'll know why your alma mater is bleeding you for a few extra hundred bucks to keep those tickets, before you pay for the tickets themselves. After all, $62 million in profit just doesn't go as far as it used to.
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