Having a football team affects a college at every level. The effects vary based on the size and success of the program, but almost every team benefits its campus. Most of the biggest and most popular colleges have football programs that generate millions of dollars for other areas of campus life. The media and others on the outside of college football are aware of the money generated, but many do not realize how it affects the schools as a whole.
The most obvious benefit of a college football team is the financial benefit. While some small or less successful programs do not generate as much, almost every program generates significant revenue. In an athletic department with a Division I football program, such as Michigan, Texas, Southern California or Louisiana State, the football program is often the only program that generates a profit. The proceeds from the football team fund the other 10 to 15 other sports supported by the athletic department. Sports such as women's tennis do not make any money but still require a budget for scholarships, equipment, tournament fees and other expenses. These are all paid for by the money made by the football program.
Schools with successful football programs are well-known around the country. Enrollment applications increase significantly following successful football seasons, and schools with a tradition of success always have a surplus of applicants. Because of this, a school's academic programs can be more selective in choosing which students to accept, and its academic reputation can be enhanced. Merchandise with the school's logo is sold nationwide, increasing its profile and popularity.
As football programs succeed, it becomes easier for a board of trustees to raise money for improvements to other aspects of the campus. While an athletic facility may be the first thing built, buildings all over campus are improved or built new. More classroom and lab equipment of higher quality can be bought. Student union buildings, often one of the most important buildings on campus, can be multimillion-dollar projects.
At the elite levels of college football, programs each year develop National Football League athletes, who can counted upon to provide both financial support and make personal appearances for fundraising through and long after their pro careers.