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LSU Basketball Needs a Bigger Allowance…

Yesterday I posted the 2012 LSU basketball obituary if you haven’t read it, please do. The theme of the article was whether or not Trent Johnson was the right fit at LSU. I left out one part because I felt it deserved its own write-up and that is the financial state of LSU basketball.

If you want to succeed at anything, like college basketball, you have to spend money…and lots of it. More money means better coaches, more recruiting and better facilities. Larger expense budgets has helped the LSU football and baseball teams turn into a national power every year. What is the one factor that drives larger expense budget? More revenue. Revenue comes for all different areas, but the largest is from fans.

Fans not only drive revenue, but also instills a positive or negative image for a coach and a team. When fans pack out home games it not only creates a great environment for the current players, but it also gives recruits the opportunity to see what a great atmosphere they can play in front of. Excluding Kentucky, who recruits on a national level, most SEC school are competing for the same recruits year in and out. What is the average attendance for each school? Check out the chart below.

Alabama 12,484
Arkansas 13,096
Auburn 6,502
Florida 10,434
Georgia 7,079
Kentucky 23,721
LSU 8,661
Ole Miss 5,770
Miss. State 8,019
S. Carolina 8,868
Tennessee 16,543
Vanderbilt 13,693


LSU finished the season ranked seventh in attendance, about where they finished in the SEC. This isn’t an attack on the fans, I am a fan and only attended a hand full of home games. Where I want to go with this is what LSU needs to do to draw stronger attendance numbers. Even if LSU packed out the PMAC, they would still barely crack the top-five in attendance (PMAC holds 13,000 seats).

Saving what we now know about attendance, let’s jump over and take a look at LSU’s basketball financial numbers from the 2010-2011 calendar. The figures are provided by the US department of Education on there equality of athletics data page. Feel free to play around  with it, there is a lot of interesting information. Below you will see the revenue and expense figure for all 12 current teams in the SEC.


Coaches salary

Basketball Revenue

Basketball Op. Exp

Basketball Expenses

Total Wins

Cost Per Win
Auburn 1.5 9.5 903K 7.6 15 506k
Alabama 1.8 11.0 1.01 6.8 21 323k
Arkansas 2.5 14.6 1.5 9.5 18 527k
LSU 1.2 6.9 628k 4.5 18 250k
Ole Miss 0.8 7.1 1.03 4.3 20 215k
Miss St. 1.3 6.9 589k 4.05 21 192k
Kentucky 3.9 18.5 2.8 12.4 32 387k
Vanderbilt 1.7 8.7 1.07 9.06 24 378k
S.Carolina 1.2 7.8 644k 4.6 10 460k
Florida 3.5 9.93 1.4 9.06 23 393k
Tenn. 1.3 13.7 1.3 6.8 18 377k
Georgia 1.3 8.72 780k 5.25 15 350k


After reviewing the numbers it is clear why the basketball team in near the bottom of the SEC. The Tigers have the third lowest paid coach, they are tied for last in revenue, 11th in operating expenses and 10th in overall expenses. They are not spending or making much money with the program. LSU spends most of its athletic budget on football, but so does most of the SEC. Why does Florida, Alabama and Auburn spend nearly double the amount of money as LSU? Something to ask the athletic department.

If there is a bright note for the future it is that LSU is very efficient with their spending. The last two columns above list the total wins from the 2011 season and how much those wins cost. Only Ole Miss and Mississippi State were able to win cheaper. The problem is this isn’t moneyball. If you want to win in this league and make consistent runs at the NCAA tournament, your school has to lots of money on recruiting, facilities and coaching. If LSU basketball want to be considered a serious program, they need to ask for a bigger allowance.

Topics: 2011 SEC Attendance, Basketball Revenue, Dept Of Education, LSU Basketball

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