RICK CLEVELAND: In college athletics, the rich get richer | Sports

USA Today’s recent report about athletic budgets at universities around the country raised some eyebrows in Mississippi.

The headlines told us Jackson State ($7.6 million), Alcorn State ($6.7 million) and Mississippi Valley State ($4.3 million), which all compete in the Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC), all were among the lowest spenders in Division I.

Valley ranked No. 228 of 230 schools, Alcorn No. 225, and JSU No. 220.

Meanwhile, Ole Miss’ athletic revenue was highest among Mississippi universities at $110.5 million, followed by Mississippi State at $94.9 million.

The Southern Miss athletic budget checked in at $25.9 million.

Of course, everything is relative, and all the Mississippi schools were near the bottom of their respective conferences. JSU, Alcorn and Valley were all at or near the bottom of the SWAC. Ole Miss and State were among the lowest spenders in the SEC. And Southern Miss was next to lowest in Conference USA.

More figures: Texas A&M is the nation’s highest athletic revenue producer at $194.4 million. Six of the top 10 and 10 of the top 20 highest athletic budgets in the nation were in the SEC (thank you, SEC Network).

And who knew that Old Dominion has by far the largest athletic budget in C-USA at $44.6 million? (I had no idea.)

Now then, let’s really raise some eyebrows.

I have in my files a Clarion- Ledger sports section from June 6, 1989, when the newspaper reported on the athletic budgets of Mississippi’s state-operated universities. For perspective purposes, you should know that in 1989, Brett Favre was a junior quarterback at Southern Miss, Rockey Felker was the football coach at Mississippi State and Warner Alford was the athletic director at Ole Miss.

The big news was that Ole Miss’s athletic budget was the state’s largest at – drum roll, please – $8.5 million. That’s right:…

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