Pay for play: A look at Maryland

ESPN.com is taking a closer look this week at the possibility of paying college athletes. Can schools even afford the pay for play option? Here's an overview of Maryland's financial situation, with data compiled from Maryland's web site detailing undergraduate tuition and fees for fall 2011 and spring 2012, and also from the U.S. Department of Education, for the reporting year 7/1/2009 - 6/30/2010.

What a full scholarship entails: Tuition, fees, room, board and books ( $35,278 out-of-state in fiscal year 2011)

Cost of attendance: $4,327.65 per semester for resident full-time undergraduate students; $13,013.13 per semester for non-resident full-time undergraduate students

Maryland's revenue and expenses:

Football: (116 athletes) Revenue: $11,540,368 Expense: $9,863,748

Men's basketball: (14 athletes) Revenue: $10,739,282 Expense: $5,160,381

Men's other sports (cross country is included with track and field, and competitive cheerleading was not included): (eight sports / 274 athletes) Revenue: $2,185,847 Expense: $5,399,723

Women's other sports (cross country is included with track and field, and competitive cheerleading was not included): (12 sports / 359 athletes) Revenue: $4,599,703 (including women's basketball) Expense: $9,661,431 (also including women's basketball)

Grand total expenses: $51,418,347

Grand total revenue: $51,641,771

TOTAL: $223,424

Student fees: $844.65 for full-time students, which is included in the total cost of attendance above.

Amount athletics receives from student fees: $198.77 per full-time, undergraduate student, and part-time student taking at least nine credit hours. That adds up to about $10.5 million per year.


Citing the sensitive nature of the pay-for-play topic, University of Maryland officials declined an interview with ESPN.com to help explain the athletic department’s finances. In looking at the numbers from the U.S. Department of Education, though, Maryland’s total revenue shows that there is little if any margin for error, let alone any extra free flowing cash to pay its athletes.

No other school in the ACC spends less money on its football program than Maryland. The Terps’ overall expenses for football were $9.8 million, according to the most recent report. Boston College spent $17.9 million during that reporting period. Duke spent $14.3 million. Wake Forest $12.5. The only other school that even came close was NC State at $10.4 million.

The numbers show that Maryland isn't on the same playing field as the rest of the ACC when it comes to putting money into the football program. Overall, including competitive cheerleading, which wasn’t included in the DOE’s report, Maryland has 27 sports, and too many of them don’t have a prayer of making any money.

And don’t forget that the university is also paying former coach Ralph Friedgen $2 million to do nothing right now.

In football, the problem starts at home -- literally. The athletic department is chained to a $35 million loan for stadium expansion that it’s still paying off, and there are still 19 unsold suites (selling at $36,000 per year) out of 63. Byrd Stadium seats about 54,000, and about 10,000 of those seats are reserved for students. There’s more of an opportunity for demand at schools like Florida State and Clemson, and Maryland in no way compares to the money makers in the SEC. Maryland’s attendance was at 76 percent capacity last season, according to the NCAA. If Maryland could sell out every home game, the athletic department could probably make an additional $3 million or more (educated guess), but that’s asking a lot of a fickle fan base. Overall, attendance would be where the biggest potential for growth in revenue would occur.

It all adds up to one answer: Maryland simply can’t afford to pay its players.