West Virginia’s football team had a pretty solid 2018 campaign between the lines but that might pale in comparison for some given the dollars and cents that the Mountaineers generated for the surrounding Monongalia County.
In a study commissioned by the school to look into the economic impact of WVU athletics, football was far and away the biggest generator and accounted for some $223.4 million of “direct and indirect spending by visitors and WVU football operations” during the 2017-18 school year. To put the number in perspective, as further detailed by the Charleston Gazette Mail, men’s basketball was responsible for just $35.5 million over the same time period.
“Once you see that number,’’ AD Shane Lyons told the paper, “and what impact athletics has on this state and this county, it’s a sign to what the Mountaineers mean to this state and to (Monongalia) County.”
It’s worth noting that USA Today reported just over $89 million in expenses for the West Virginia athletic department as a whole during the prior year to give some additional context to that direct spending figure.
While the nine figures generated is no doubt impressive overall and very understandable given how much the football team means to daily life in the state, it would be fascinating to see other peers and what kind of figures they generate for the local economy. Alabama and Clemson, to take two examples from last season’s title game, have to see even more massive numbers given the size of those fan bases and the recent success at the top of the sporting pyramid that both have enjoyed.
It’s often said that athletics is the front porch of a university and studies such as this one undertaken by WVU go to show just how big of an impact that such sports have on the bottom line not just at a specific school, but the entire surrounding area in general.