John E. Hoover: Recent figures show continued revenue growth at OU, more spikes at OSU

John E. Hoover: Recent figures show continued revenue growth at OU, more spikes at OSU

Donations to the University of Oklahoma for stadium upgrades have bumped the Sooners to sixth nationally in overall athletic department revenue for fiscal year 2016, according to data published by USA Today. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

Maybe you saw the recent figures announced by USA Today showing how college athletic departments got and ultimately spent money in fiscal year 2016.

The Oklahoma Sooners are up to sixth nationally in overall athletic department revenue, while Oklahoma State ranks 37th.

OU’s revenue of $150.4 million last year comes in behind high rollers Texas A&M ($194.4 million), Texas ($188 million), Ohio State ($171 million), Alabama ($164 million) and Michigan ($163.9 million).

To illustrate how top-heavy this list is, there’s as great a difference between first and sixth ($44 million) as there is between sixth and 26th (West Virginia, which reported $105 million in revenue).

Also, 10 SEC schools rank in the top 17 nationally, while only two Big 12 schools rank in the top 25.

The Sooners’ jump from eighth on the 2015 list to sixth this year is due to primarily one thing: stadium donations. The fundraising campaign to bowl in and update Memorial Stadium led to a rise in contributions from $32.1 million in 2015 to $46.6 million in 2016. Completion of that project’s second phase — a new locker room and other player and coach amenities — will reflect a similar figure next year.

OU athletic department revenues, 2005-2016 (USA Today)

This year’s jump of $16.1 million is just the third-largest increase since 2005. In 2013, the Sooners saw a $17.4 million growth in revenue to $123.8 million. In 2010, revenues surged by $17.1 million to $98.5 million.

OU athletic department expenses, 2005-2016 (USA Today)

OU’s revenues have steadily risen each year since USA Today began compiling and publishing the data in 2005, when Oklahoma reported revenues of $63.3 million.

At Oklahoma State, growth been much more volatile.

The Cowboys in 2005 reported revenue of $51.3 million, and in 2006, that rocketed to $241.4 million — a product of Boone Pickens’ $165 million gift. Donations the following year dropped from $211 million to $18.9 million, but in 2008 they were back up, $98.9 million in revenue a direct correlation to $54.9 million in donations and another gift from Pickens. Revenue in 2009 fell off again to $55.9 million as donations dipped again to $29.3 million, but in 2010, both figures surged once more: $106.4 million in revenue fueled by $51.9 million in donations.

OSU athletic department revenues, 2005-2016 (USA Today)

OSU’s revenue reached an all-time high of $117.8 million in 2014 thanks to utilization of funds contributed to the $19 million Sherman Smith Training Center (completed June 2013) and the $17.5 million Greenwood Tennis Center (opened in 2014), as well as an estimated $3.5 million OSU received for playing a football game against defending national champion Florida State in the season opener at Dallas Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas. Donations that year reached $37 million.

OSU athletic department expenses, 2005-2016 (USA Today)

But facilities projects in Stillwater have stalled (construction on a new soccer stadium just got underway), so OSU hasn’t had to reach into its foundation coffer lately for any huge amounts. As contributions have fallen to $21.6 million and $17.9 million the last two years, OSU’s overall athletic department revenue has dropped to $95.9 million and $93.7 million, respectively.


Columnist John E. Hoover is co-host of “Further Review with Hoover & Rew” and can be heard every weekday on The Franchise in Tulsa from noon to 3 p.m. with co-host Lauren Rew. In Oklahoma City, catch him Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday mornings at 10:25 and every Friday afternoon at 4:05. Listen at fm107.7 in OKC, fm107.9/am1270 in Tulsa, on The Franchise app, or click the “Listen” tab on The Franchise home page. Visit his personal page at


Hoover wrote for the Tulsa World for 24 years before joining The Franchise, where he's now co-host of "Further Review" on The Franchise Tulsa (weekdays 12-3, fm107.9/am1270) . In his time at the World, Hoover won numerous writing and reporting awards, including in 2011 National Beat Writer of the Year from the Associated Press Sports Editors for his work covering the Oklahoma Sooners. Hoover also covered Oklahoma State, Arkansas, Oral Roberts and the NFL as a beat writer. From 2012 to 2016, Hoover was the World's lead sports columnist. As a columnist, Hoover won national awards in 2012 and 2014 from the National Athletic Trainers Association for reporting on sports medicine and in 2015 won first place in sports columns from the Oklahoma Society of Professional Journalists. After receiving a journalism degree from East Central University, Hoover worked at newspapers in Ada, Okmulgee, Tahlequah and Waynesville, Mo. He played football at Ada High School and grew up in North Pole, Alaska. Hoover and his family live in Broken Arrow.

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