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More athletics departments in autonomy conferences are self-sufficient, but others in DI are increasingly subsidized

Anyone who even casually follows college sports’ financial trends knows a gap has long existed between schools in the five autonomy conferences and the rest of Division I. But in recent years, that gap has widened considerably. Schools in the autonomy conferences have held the line financially since 2005. Their average deficit then ($2.5 million) doesn’t look much different than it did in 2018 ($2.6 million). But during the same period, the average deficit among Football Bowl Subdivision schools in nonautonomy conferences ballooned from $9 million to a record-high $22.2 million. Most of that increase has come since 2011, with the average deficit climbing 60% in that time.