The Huskies have won national championships in men's and women's basketball in the last two years, are upgrading hockey to Hockey East and generally are considered on the on deck circle of Power 5 status.
But what does that mean?
UConn's spending like a Power 5 school, but with revenue streams that are drying up and no lucrative TV rights fees to come, the gap between the Power 5 and the rest continues to grow.
USA Today released it's annual data base of college finances and the Huskies budget of $71.5 million is 44th highest in all of college athletics. UConn has the highest expenditure of any school that is not in a Power 5 conference. But, UConn is subsidizing its athletic department from student fees to the tune of $27.2 million according to USA Today. That deficit is 38.4 percent of the total budget with the other coming from revenue from the athletic department. It is the fourth highest total subsidy after Rutgers (which will now get Power 5 money since it went into the Big Ten this year), James Madison out of the CAA and the Air Force Academy.
The key point in USA Today's study is that Power 5 schools, with all their revenue streams, have become nearly self-sufficient, including Rutgers. UConn and Cincinnati -- another team with Power 5 everything but revenue -- us fifth overall in total subsidy at 27.1 million, a whopping 45.89 percent of its total budget.
Here are the key paragraphs for UConn fans from the USA Today article:
The Atlantic Coast Conference, the other member of the Power Five, did not have any schools meeting the NCAA benchmark, though North Carolina State came close, with a deficit of just more than $165,000. That means athletics departments at schools in conferences outside the Power Five all ran deficits — and four of the six largest are from schools in the C-USA, AAC and Mountain West.This isn't an unexpected happening, but it's getting more dire as the days go on. The Power 5, with access to the Football Playoff Automatically and astronomical TV rights are dwarfing their competitors in revenue.
Rutgers, which was then in the AAC but has since moved to the Big Ten, had 2013-14's largest deficit at $36.3 million. The AAC's Connecticut had the third-highest ($27.1 million), ODU the fourth-highest ($26.8 million) and Mountain West's Air Force the sixth-highest ($25.8 million).
The deficits get smaller and the number of self-sufficient schools gets larger if viewed another way. Though athletics departments get money from student fees, university funds and government support, they also send money to their schools through payments for scholarships and facilities and through transfers like Texas'.
When those amounts are balanced, USA TODAY Sports found, all 50 of the public schools that were in a Power Five conference in 2013-14 were self-sufficient. But only three Bowl Subdivision schools outside the Power Five and two non-FBS schools were self-sufficient.
Texas' athletic department had $150 million in expenses. Other schools, as the TV money begins to kick in in earnest, are going to be able to spend even more.
And, the expenses continue to rise. Cost of attendance is coming and UConn and the AAC in general will follow suit. Where will that additional revenue come from? Can the Huskies tap student fees even more to keep up?
Direct financial support to bridge an athletic department deficit from state government would be a political non-starter in Connecticut. And, there is a limit to how high student fees can go.
The Huskies haven't been left behind totally yet. They are still one of the top 50 schools in the nation in expenditures. But, without the major influx of revenue from those Power 5 TV contracts and the football playoff, the gap is getting wider by the day.