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Where does the Nevada athletic department make its money?

Nevada basketball
Nevada basketball brought in more ticket revenue than Wolf Pack football in 2018-19 (Chris Murray/Nevada Sports Net)

The Wolf Pack athletic department recently released its annual report to the Nevada Board of Regents. There is a treasure trove of information in the filing, which you can look at here. Here is a breakdown of where Nevada made its money in fiscal year 2019 (that's from the 2018-19 season). Below, I ranked Nevada's revenue generators from highest to lowest, per the Wolf Pack's report.

Ticket sales

How much: $9,683,291 (22.2 percent)

Explain this please: This number is inflated. The Board of Regents made Nevada change how it calculates its revenues last year and approved a one-time mandated $6,178,185 deferral of football and men's basketball renewals from fiscal year 2018 to fiscal year 2019, which has pumped up this number. With that said, Nevada men's basketball reported $5,838,621 in ticket sales in FY19 while football was at $3,657,498. So while both of those numbers are inflated, it shows you were Nevada's bread has been buttered in recent seasons.

Direct state support

How much: $5,471,587 (12.5 percent)

Explain this please: Nevada doesn't get a ton of state support, but this is still a healthy chunk of money that is usually atop the list (its second in fiscal year 2019 because of the accounting change in ticket sales). UNLV got $7,840,730 in direct state support in the same fiscal year, so I could see the Wolf Pack having a beef over the Rebels getting $2.4 million more. How it has been explained to me in the past is UNLV has more surface area to maintain with its athletic facilities so the Rebels get more money as a result.


How much: $4,190,270 (9.6 percent)

Explain this please: Contributions are donations. The Wolf Pack had $5,105,586 in contributions in fiscal year 2018, per its filing with the Regents, so this number fell be nearly $1 million in 2019, although it still made up 10 percent of the budget.

Indirect Institutional Support

How much: $3,100,281 (7.1 percent)

Explain this please: Indirect institutional support includes the payment of utilities, maintenance and support salaries, among other things, by the institution on behalf of the athletic department.

Direct institutional support

How much: $3,031,643 (6.9 percent)

Explain this please: Direct institutional support includes money from the school's general fund and the value of tuition waivers. This number is down about $400,000 from fiscal year 2018 but the combination of direct and indirect institutional support year over year was basically the same. It was a combined $6.132 million. Compare that to UNLV's $10.463 million in those same two categories and the Wolf Pack could be getting more help from its university.

Student fees

How much: $2,780,044 (6.4 percent)

Explain this please: Nevada's student fees are relatively low, in part because of a below-average enrollment for a MW school and in part because the university hasn't diverted many of its student fees to athletics. San Diego State, for example, got $11,282,616 in student fees last fiscal year. UNLV is pretty low at $3,419,247 in fiscal year 2019.

Other operating revenues

How much: $2,727,608 (6.2 percent)

Explain this please: A catch-all for miscellaneous items like housing allowances, revenue from sports camps and anything not listed in these other categories.

In-kind Contributions (includes trade)

How much: $2,724,661 (6.2 percent)

Explain this please: In-kind contributions include items such as dealer-provided cars, apparel (Nevada's new Adidas deal), drink products for team and staff use and any other trades with other companies. The Wolf Pack's Adidas deal is thought to be around $900,000 in free gear a year, although the company redacted the value of the contract.

Royalties, licensing, advertisements, sponsors

How much: $2,478,261 (5.7 percent)

Explain this please: Revenue from radio and television broadcasts, Internet and e-commerce rights as well as corporate sponsorships, licensing apparel deals and sales of advertisements.

Conference Distributions

How much: $1,768,834 (4.1 percent)

Explain this please: If you are a member of a Power 5 conference, you're getting $30 million to $40 million in your annual conference distribution check. That number in the Mountain West is much, much smaller.

NCAA Distributions

How much: $1,721,530 (3.9 percent)

Explain this please: This money is a result of the MW's NCAA Tournament revenue and College Football Playoff payouts. This is another area where Power 5 schools dwarf Group of 5 schools.


How much: $1,514,000 (3.5 percent)

Explain this please: Nevada has begun playing big-money football games, usually cashing at least one $1 million check a season. In fiscal year 2019, Nevada got $900,000 to play at Vanderbilt, which accounts for most of this money. Football accounted for $1.45 million of this $1.514 million column.

Broadcast, television, radio rights

How much: $1,128,904 (2.6 percent)

Explain this please: Each MW school outside of Boise State gets about $1.1 million from the conference as part of their national television package, which is currently being renegotiated. The Broncos get $1.8 million more per season compared to its MW brethren.

Bowl Revenues

How much: $597,000 (1.4 percent)

Explain this please: Nevada got a $597,000 payout to play in last year's Arizona Bowl and spent only $484,338, turning a six-figure profit.

Athletic Restricted Endowments and Investments

How much: $489,117 (1.1 percent)

Explain this please: Money used from the department's endowments.

Program sales, concessions, novelty sales, parking

How much: $246,375 (0.6 percent)

Explain this please: Pretty self-explanatory. This is money accrued from selling programs, concessions and parking passes for home games.

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