Ohio State’s athletic department reported revenue surpassing a quarter of a billion dollars during the 2022 fiscal year as it rebounded from the decline posted during the height of the coronavirus pandemic.
The department revealed Thursday that it pulled in $251.6 million over the fiscal year spanning from July 1, 2021, to June 30, 2022, as outlined as part of an annual financial statement provided to the NCAA.
The total more than doubled the $106.9 million in revenue generated during the previous fiscal year, a period that included the pandemic-shortened football season in 2020 that was played out in front of empty stadiums across the Big Ten, wiping away tens of millions of dollars in potential ticket sales and leading to a significant operating deficit.
It also marked a record in annual revenue for OSU’s athletic department, which had brought in more than $200 million in only three previous fiscal years. The total revenue of $233.9 million from the 2020 fiscal year, predating much of the pandemic, had been the previous all-time high.
Ohio State’s revenue second-most posted by an athletic department since 2005
According to public school data collected by USA TODAY in partnership with the Knight-Newhouse Data project at Syracuse University, the revenue earned by Ohio State was the second-most ever posted by an athletic department for one reporting year since 2005.
The amount trailed only Oregon, which amassed $391.8 million in revenue in 2020 in large part due to a “one-time non-cash gift” of a renovation of its renowned Hayward Field track-and-field facility valued at $270.05 million. Oklahoma State also reported $241.4 million in operating revenue in 2006 in the aftermath of a $165 million donation from mega-booster T. Boone Pickens. The figures are not adjusted for inflation. Traditionally high revenue-generating programs such as Alabama and Michigan have not revealed their revenue and expenses for this latest reporting period.
Due to the revenue leap, Ohio State had a $25.9 million operating athletics surplus for 2022. The department reported $225.7 million in total expenses. Sponsoring 36 varsity sports, it is one of the largest university athletic departments in the country.
Ohio State football ticket revenue jumps following COVID-19-altered season
Attendance at seven home football games, part of an 11-2 season capped by a dramatic win in the Rose Bowl, helped the department to recoup income from ticket sales. Football generated $47.7 million in ticket revenue after posting a minuscule $25,614 following the COVID-19-altered season.
With crowds filling Ohio Stadium, football ticket revenue has been as much as $59.4 million from the 2018 fiscal year and was $56.6 million in 2020, the most recent pre-pandemic season.
Men’s basketball realized $5.2 million in ticket sales after it went through the previous season with similar attendance restrictions at Value City Arena.
But it was a sharp increase in donations to the department that served as one of the biggest factors for the record revenue as OSU reported $62.9 million in total contributions, a jump from the $19.7 million during the 2021 fiscal year and $48.1 million from the 2020 fiscal year.
“Buckeye Nation continues to show their tremendous support for our incredible student-athletes, our coaches and our support staff,” athletic director Gene Smith said in a statement. “We are grateful for the enthusiasm they bring to our stadiums, fields and pools.”
The school also began requiring annual seat contributions for a majority of football season ticket holders with the 2021 season, a move that added to the annual total. It sold 42,373 season tickets to the general public and faculty and staff for that season. When the annual seat contributions were introduced two years, Smith said he hoped they might raise close to $10 million a year.
Television deal with ESPN and Fox boosts Ohio State’s athletics revenue
Ohio State’s share of the Big Ten’s TV deal with ESPN and FOX also added to its expanding athletics revenue.
It took in $48.9 million in media rights revenue, including $36.5 million attributed to football and $12.4 million to men’s basketball. Its media rights revenue was $40.6 million during the 2021 fiscal year, following $46.8 million in the 2020 fiscal year that been its previous high.
The conference is currently in the last year of its six-year agreement with the networks before a new massive seven-year deal with FOX, CBS and NBC takes effect later this year.
Royalties, licensing, advertisement and sponsorships also returned to above $30 million in 2022 after a dip to $18.9 million in 2021.
Other reported revenues were $11.8 million for the department, up from $6.5 million in 2021 and $8.3 million in 2020.
USA TODAY reporter Steve Berkowitz contributed to this story.
Joey Kaufman covers Ohio State football for The Columbus Dispatch. Contact him at [email protected] or on Twitter @joeyrkaufman.