NCAA Hockey Financials
It has now been 4 seasons since the B1G was formed and the ensuing realignment of the western conferences. As all but 2 of the schools in the B1G, NCHC and WCHA are public looking at the NCAA financial reports for each for 2010-16 gives a good overview of how the realignment impacted their travel expenses (Alabama-Huntsville declined my FOIA request, however, they weren’t in the CCHA or WCHA pre-realignment). I have created a workbook with each team’s travel expenses, guarantees paid by Alaska and Alaska-Anchorage and received by the other league schools, and payouts received from the NCAA/leagues for 2010-16. Of the 23 teams previously in the CCHA or WCHA I have reports for 20 of them; Notre Dame, Denver and Colorado College are private and not required to supply the reports.
Travel Expenses for Western Teams after Realignment
In looking at their 4 year average travel expenses for 2010-13 (3 year average for Nebraska-Omaha in the WCHA) and 3 year average travel expenses for 2014-16 18 of the 20 teams have had increased expenses. Only Alaska, which has seen an average savings of $102 thousand per season and Bemidji, with a $16 thousand per season savings, have seen reduced travel expenses. On the other side North Dakota has seen the largest increase in travel expenses, an average of $433 thousand per season. Following behind UND are three B1G schools: Minnesota (an average increase of $357,527/season), Michigan State (an average increase of $338,632/season) and Michigan (an average increase of $271,554/season) and another NCHC school, Nebraska-Omaha (an average increase of $274,749/season). Ferris State has seen the largest increase among the WCHA schools at just over $122 thousand/season, followed by Northern Michigan at just under $103 thousand/season.
Percentage wise, Minnesota was hit with the largest increase, a 202.4% average increase, followed by Ferris State (176.8%), Nebraska-Omaha (158.6%), Michigan State (156.9%) and North Dakota (128.6%). On the other end, Alaska saw a decrease in 22.4% and Bemidji saw a decrease of 11.1%, Wisconsin had a small 2.2% increase and Alaska-Anchorage had a 15.0% increase. The rest had increases between Michigan Tech’s 25.3% and Michigan’s 86.2%.
Overall, North Dakota has had the highest average travel costs since realignment at $769,615, followed by Michigan ($586,427), Wisconsin ($583,028), Michigan State ($554,411), Minnesota ($534,213), Nebraska-Omaha ($448,014), Western Michigan ($371,821), Alaska ($354,747) and Alaska-Anchorage ($363,670). Four WCHA schools had had the smallest average travel costs: Bemidji State ($131,590), Bowling Green ($176,811), Ferris State ($191,062) and Lake Superior ($193,470).
UNO is an interesting case, as their last year in the CCHA they spent $242,938 on travel before reducing it to an average of $173,265/season for their three seasons in the old WCHA before seeing it skyrocket to an average of $448,014/season in 3 seasons in the NCHC.
Among the new conferences the NCHC saw the largest average percentage increase at 87.0%, followed by the B1G at 75.2%, and the WCHA a more manageable 24.1% average increase (although this is in a large part to the 22.4% decrease in average travel expenses for Alaska. Without Alaska the average percentage increase would be 43.4%). Dollar wise the B1G saw the largest increase, an average of $218,834/season, followed by the NCHC with an average increase of $190,234, and the WCHA with an average increase of $45,349 ($66,035 excluding Alaska).
I recall reading posts in the past that discussed the travel guarantees both Alaska schools are required to pay out to other conference schools that make the trip(s) to Alaska. The NCAA Financial reports have a category for both guarantees received and paid out, so I took added a sheet to the workbook with both the Alaska and Alaska-Anchorage guarantees paid out and the guarantees received by the other conference members from 2010-16.
For the 2009-10 season the total known guarantees received by CCHA teams were more than the total guarantees paid by Alaska, but at least two of the teams most likely received only part of their guarantee revenue from the school. The total known guarantees received by the WCHA teams were less than the total guarantees paid by Alaska-Anchorage and there is enough of a difference between the amounts to cover guarantees to Denver and Colorado College. Furthermore, two schools, Northern Michigan (CCHA) and North Dakota (WCHA) reported receiving no guarantees for the season, despite both traveling to Alaska. It also appears that the guarantees from the Alaska schools were not the same for every school as the range of guarantees received is $0 to $190,000 (which is highly unlikely all to all be from Alaska).
For the 2010-11 season the total amount received from CCHA teams is known, but with Michigan and Michigan State both reporting over $200 thousand in received guarantees what they received from Alaska can only be a percentage of their totals. For the WCHA teams both private schools, Denver and Colorado College, went to Alaska-Anchorage again and once again there is enough money between what UAA paid and the other WCHA teams received to pay them guarantees. However, for both leagues several teams (Bowling Green, Ferris State and Ohio State (CCHA) and Michigan Tech and Nebraska-Omaha (WCHA)) reported receiving no guarantees despite traveling to Alaska, while the other schools report different amount of received guarantees.
For the 2011-12 season 2 of 6 CCHA teams reported no guarantees while 5 of 6 WCHA teams traveling for league play reported no guarantees as did St. Cloud, which played in the Kendall Hockey Classic. This is quite strange regarding the WCHA teams, as Alaska-Anchorage reported paying over $100 thousand in guarantees for the season and in looking at their schedule for 2011-12 the only non-WCHA teams to travel to Anchorage were Clarkson, for the Kendall Hockey Classic (along with St Cloud State), Alaska and Northern Alberta for an exhibition. Most of the unreported amount must have gone to WCHA teams, but they did not report it as guarantee revenue. It is possible that they deducted the money from their travel expenses, as that is what the money has been reportedly for. If so, the schools not reporting it as received guarantees would have been underreporting total revenue and expenses for the season. It would also be an excellent example of schools reporting revenue and expenses differently.
For the 2012-13 season it is a reversal, as 5 of 7 CCHA teams traveling to Alaska reported receiving no guarantees, while all 6 WCHA teams traveling to Alaska-Anchorage for league games reported receiving guarantees, as did North Dakota, who played in the Brice Alaska Gold Rush. Alaska report over $429 thousand in guarantees paid out, with only Merrimack, North Dakota, Alaska-Anchorage and Regina (exhibition) being non-CCHA teams. So most of the guarantees paid out likely went to CCHA teams and it appears that the teams deduced it from their travel expenses.
The situation remained the same for 2013-14, the first after realignment. Four WCHA teams reported receiving no revenue, while 3 did. The paid out guarantees once again would likely got to league teams, which did not report it as guarantee revenue.
However, in 2014-15 every WCHA team I have reports for that traveled to Alaska reported guarantee revenue. With 4 teams traveling to both Alaska schools I split their total guarantees and applied half to each Alaska school, although some of the guarantee revenue likely came from Alabama-Huntsville. Doing so left Alaska with extra, some which might have gone to Alabama-Huntsville. However, Alaska-Anchorage’s total was less than the amount I entered for the other WCHA schools receiving, so they likely paid a lower guarantee amount. It also appears that schools were likely paid different amounts as well, but that is harder to determine.
In 2015-16 once again every WCHA team I have reports for that traveled to Alaska reported guarantee revenues. I again split the guaranteed revenue between the two Alaska schools for the 4 teams that travelled to both, and again, some of the guarantee revenue likely came from Alabama-Huntsville. And again Alaska-Anchorage’s total was less than the amount I entered for the other WCHA schools receiving, indicating once again they are paying a lower amount.
Unfortunately, I don’t have the NCAA reports for Alabama-Huntsville, so I can’t try to determine how much each school that traveled to them may have received as well.