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Michigan, Appalachian State: Who Really Won?

Tuesday, 4 Sep 2007 | 8:44 AM ET

The University of Michigan's loss to Appalachian State on Saturday was such an upset partly because of the financial differences between the two schools.

If Appalachian State sells out every home game this year, they will make roughly $2.1 million (charging a little more than $20 a head with 16,650 seats per game. Michigan has sold out all eight home games already for this season and, get ready for this: the school pulled in $5 million for Saturday's home game alone in ticket sales and that's after cutting a check for $400,000 to Appalachian State.

That's not even the best numbers though. For that we have to go to the budgets--last reported to the government as part of the equity in athletics reporting from the 2005-06 season. That year, Michigan and Appalachian State had the same amount of football players (116). But Michigan spent nearly three times more on each player ($20,180 vs. $7,715).

In part due to payouts, Appalachian State's football program earned $4,069,038 that year compared to Michigan, which pulled in an amazing $50,365,537.

After expenses were deducted, Appalachian State's football program earned $1.3 million to Michigan's profits of nearly $38 million. Putting this all in financial perspective makes it hard to believe that little Appalachian State could be a goliath.

The sad reality is that Appalachian State could financially suffer from this victory. For now at least, they can make more off playing big opponents than they can selling out their stadium against Gardner-Webb. And given what this has done to Michigan, it's feasible that other big teams might shy away from playing good non D-1 football programs and eliminating paydays for lesser D-1 schools whose fortuitous win wouldn't necessarily cripple a season as much as Appalachian State has done to Michigan.

In the meantime, all Appalachian State can do is keep printing up those "We Beat Michigan" T-shirts.

Questions? Comments? SportsBiz@cnbc.com

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