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Most Cost-Effective College Baseball Programs

Most Cost-Effective College Baseball Programs

To determine which colleges have the most cost-effective baseball programs, we analyzed the average RPI—rating percentage index, which ranks a team based on wins, losses and strength of schedule—rankings and annual team expenses of 293 Division I schools over the last decade, from 2008 to 2018. The data show which programs have the most efficient spending on top of consistent performance.
Baseball player hitting ball during a game
Baseball player hitting ball during a game Source: Getty Images

Every year, the top baseball teams compete in the NCAA Division I Baseball Championship to determine who will go on to the College World Series and become the next title champion. We can all agree that winning is a top priority, but when it comes to budgeting, some schools just get more bang for their buck than others. To determine which colleges have the most cost-effective baseball programs, we analyzed the average RPI—rating percentage index, which ranks a team based on wins, losses and strength of schedule—rankings and annual team expenses of 293 Division I schools over the last decade, from 2008 to 2018. The data show which programs have the most efficient spending on top of consistent performance.

Top 5 Programs

Here are the top five programs in our list of cost-effective baseball programs.

1. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill sits at the top of our list of cost-effective baseball programs. The team hasn’t won a national championship title yet but they were runners-up in 2006 and 2007. The Tar Heels of Chapel Hill earned an average RPI ranking of 13th place, made four College World Series appearances and they have produced seven first-round MLB draft picks over the last decade. On top of all that, the Tar Heels have operated at an annual cost of $1,848,488, which is $702,011 above the average annual expense per DI team on our list.

2. California State University, Fullerton

California State University, Fullerton ranked second in our list of cost-effective baseball programs, this time around. Although the team hasn’t won the national championship title in the past 10 years, Fullerton does have a few notches on its belt having won the College World Series in 1979, 1984, 1995 and 2004. The Titans earned an average RPI ranking of 23rd place, made three College World Series appearances and produced three first-round MLB draft picks over the last 10-year period. In addition, the Titans have operated at an annual cost of $1,284,173, which is $137,695 above the average annual expense per DI team.

3. North Carolina State University

North Carolina State University, or N.C. State, ranked third on our list. Having never won the College World Series, the Wolfpack is undoubtedly hungry for another go at the title next year. N.C. State earned an average RPI ranking of 19th place, made one College World Series appearance and produced two first-round MLB draft picks over the last decade. N.C. State has operated at an annual cost of $1,926,453, which is $779,975 above the average annual expense per DI teams.

4. University of Florida

Last year’s College World Series champion, University of Florida, sits in fourth place on our list of programs. Florida made seven College World Series appearances in the last decade and the team was the runner-up in 2011 but lost to South Carolina who had also won the national title in 2010. The Florida Gators earned an average RPI ranking of ninth place, the highest average ranking observed on our list. The team also produced seven first-round MLB draft picks over the last 10 years. Aside from consistently high performance, the Gators have operated at a relatively high annual cost of $3,228,373, which is roughly $2.1M above the average annual expense per DI team.

5. Florida State University

Another bastion of talent from the state of Florida, Florida State University, or FSU, placed fifth in our rankings. FSU has never won the national championship title, although they were runner-up in 1970, 1986 and 1999. Those close calls may date more than 10 years back, but the Seminoles have performed consistently well, having earned an average RPI ranking of ninth place, tying with Florida for the highest average RPI ranking over the last decade amongst the 293 DI schools we analyzed. FSU has produced five first-round MLB draft picks over the last 10 years and has also operated at on relatively high annual expenses of $3,327,585, which is roughly $2.2M above the average annual expense per DI team.

Which Ballclubs Have the Most Effective Budgets?

We graphed average team expenses versus average RPI rankings in order to show which schools get the best, and worst, bang for their buck. LSU and Vanderbilt University may be at the top of the spending bracket, but they fall short of holding the highest average RPI rankings on our list. Instead, FSU and Florida State come out on top when it comes to RPI rankings. Although the data show a strong correlation between team spending and success, we’d like to point out that this didn’t stop Fresno State from winning the national championship in 2008, so dream big.

Top 293 College Baseball Programs

Here's the complete list we included in our study, starting with the No. 1 program, North Carolina, which earned a composite score of 93. Teams who have won the NCAA championship within the last 10 years have been highlighted as well.

Top 293 College Baseball Programs

Methodology

We ranked NCAA Division I baseball programs considering the following two factors: the programs’ average annual expenses from 2010 to 2018, according to the U.S. Department of Education’s Equity in Athletics Data Analysis (DOE-EADA), as well as their average RPI rankings over the last 10 years. In calculating composite scores, expenditures were given a 20% weighting and RPIs were given an 80% weighting.

It should be noted that the DOE only provides expenses for public institutions and we were unable to verify expenses for the following programs: United States Air Force Academy, United States Military Academy, United States Naval Academy and St. John's (New York). As a result, these four schools were not included in our rankings and so the list contains 293 out of 297 Division I programs.

The DOE’s Office of Secondary Education defines “expenses” as anything “attributable to intercollegiate athletic activities.” This includes “appearance guarantees and options, athletically related student aid, contract services, equipment, fundraising activities, operating expenses, promotional activities, recruiting expenses, salaries and benefits, supplies, travel, and any other expenses attributable to intercollegiate athletic activities.”

“RPI” stands for “Rating Percentage Index” and is used by sports leagues to calculate the quality of a team by valuing road wins, road losses and a team’s strength of schedule. Strength of schedule quantifies the difficulty of a given matchup to account for differences in team performances. We used the NCAA’s web access archive to obtain data from 2008 to 2018.

You can locate your school in the table below.

SchoolStateAverage Expense ($US)Average RPI RankScoreRank
A&M-Corpus ChristiTX696,85017152.6175
Abilene ChristianTX712,72425130.1267
AlabamaAL2,672,1336176.461
Alabama A&MAL374,62928820.9288
Alabama St.AL679,17323734.1251
Albany (NY)GA161,09622938.2238
AlcornMS355,65728920.7289
Appalachian St.NC654,24013363.4123
ArizonaAZ2,532,6355379.241
Arizona St.AZ2,433,3163684.321
Ark.-Pine BluffAR371,82227026.0276
ArkansasAR3,280,8592883.524
Arkansas St.AR737,87214160.9139
AuburnAL3,311,3055077.255
Austin PeayTN751,60615158.0152
BYUUT1,464,80212263.6120
Ball St.IN871,42116852.8174
BaylorTX2,647,2385378.846
BelmontTN847,77315556.6160
Bethune-CookmanFL871,90815057.9153
BinghamtonNY613,06316853.8166
Boston CollegeMA1,563,2839670.688
Bowling GreenOH662,01520443.5212
BradleyIL1,096,81116752.3177
BrownRI351,97423835.0248
BryantRI736,48311767.6101
BucknellPA402,21620544.1210
ButlerIN884,58423334.5250
CSU BakersfieldCA795,33418348.9192
CSUNCA911,44813661.7134
Cal PolyCA1,048,4908874.767
Cal St. FullertonCA1,284,1732392.12
CaliforniaCA1,537,6306379.939
CampbellNC1,056,79914957.5155
CanisiusNY632,43814659.9143
Central Ark.AR573,04113862.3129
Central Conn. St.CT548,29020543.6211
Central Mich.MI970,08016653.0171
Charleston So.SC564,27922039.3231
CharlotteNC852,19811767.2106
Chicago St.IL493,88829019.9290
CincinnatiOH1,108,03014857.6154
ClemsonSC2,401,8802388.16
Coastal Caro.SC1,794,8324284.920
Col. of CharlestonSC1,051,4036182.231
ColumbiaNY587,88014759.7144
Coppin St.MD211,12329419.8292
CornellNY527,01221640.6226
CreightonNE1,492,9489371.782
DBUTX1,361,9584485.911
DartmouthNH521,10316754.4162
DavidsonNC504,87617253.0172
DaytonOH904,79921938.4236
DelawareDE908,13114858.3149
Delaware St.DE399,11826826.4275
DukeNC1,882,4777774.865
ETSUTN621,45719446.4199
East CarolinaNC1,563,6864485.218
Eastern Ill.IL564,42519745.8203
Eastern Ky.KY687,47120443.4213
Eastern Mich.MI798,28919545.5204
ElonNC1,047,5749772.178
EvansvilleIN855,01816454.0164
FGCUFL767,7508576.560
FIUFL1,002,78310071.485
FairfieldCT616,79821540.5227
Fairleigh DickinsonNJ499,89327324.7281
Fla. AtlanticFL779,2335485.219
FloridaFL3,228,373989.04
Florida A&MFL426,72424632.5257
Florida St.FL3,327,585988.75
FordhamNY1,115,92320043.0217
Fort WayneIN460,97829418.9293
Fresno St.CA1,315,52410170.092
FurmanSC1,021,93015157.1157
Ga. SouthernGA688,4478576.858
Gardner-WebbNC668,36217950.5184
George MasonVA786,52716952.9173
George WashingtonDC1,124,86421937.6239
GeorgetownDC838,32821041.2225
GeorgiaGA2,414,7015977.950
Georgia St.GA966,55915655.9161
Georgia TechGA2,346,4502986.68
GonzagaWA1,562,5888872.874
GramblingLA373,59227524.6282
Grand CanyonAZ1,046,76014658.4148
HartfordCT857,84521240.5228
HarvardMA487,99623336.0244
HawaiiHI1,475,61313360.5140
High PointNC881,32512365.4112
HofstraNY1,055,72220442.1220
Holy CrossMA322,07118450.3185
HoustonTX1,565,3885980.936
Houston BaptistTX721,00719446.1202
Ill.-ChicagoIL923,77919046.5198
IllinoisIL1,353,3087976.162
Illinois St.IL783,69713462.7125
Incarnate WordTX697,79624831.0262
IndianaIN1,760,6267176.957
Indiana St.IN770,81310670.687
IonaNY499,12727225.0280
IowaIA1,553,28213061.1137
Jackson St.MS336,39724932.0260
JacksonvilleFL936,04711567.5102
Jacksonville St.AL733,49812266.2111
James MadisonVA1,141,77115156.6159
KansasKS2,054,1969668.894
Kansas St.KS1,814,4628074.271
Kennesaw St.GA877,74211468.099
Kent St.OH990,7578276.559
KentuckyKY2,292,5434283.125
LIU BrooklynNY795,76024631.2261
LSULA5,752,4051279.242
La SallePA533,02824333.0255
La.-MonroeLA575,77017053.3169
LafayettePA629,05324931.0263
Lamar UniversityTX969,31116453.6168
LehighPA581,78524532.2259
LibertyVA1,596,8107975.264
LipscombTN1,129,66916652.5176
Little RockAR901,85314958.1151
Long Beach St.CA1,283,6586680.038
LongwoodVA565,15920842.7218
LouisianaLA1,289,9645583.026
Louisiana TechLA810,67113562.3130
LouisvilleKY2,789,9792685.812
Loyola MarymountCA1,305,56811466.4109
MaineME798,50620841.9223
ManhattanNY694,98818548.7193
MaristNY670,87218449.1190
MarshallWV906,27616453.8165
MarylandMD1,324,3317377.951
MassachusettsMA481,17522837.4240
McNeeseLA652,88311867.6100
MemphisTN1,134,46913162.3131
MercerGA923,9679972.079
Miami (FL)FL3,414,2442085.316
Miami (OH)OH1,011,06217251.2181
MichiganMI2,089,53110366.7108
Michigan St.MI1,389,3769970.390
Middle Tenn.TN866,47311667.4103
MilwaukeeWI708,53820543.0216
MinnesotaMN1,875,63610168.098
Mississippi St.MS2,864,4505078.845
Mississippi Val.MS238,33728821.4287
MissouriMO1,756,9907974.668
Missouri St.MO1,052,6807279.143
MonmouthNJ788,07717451.4180
Morehead St.KY624,10418548.9191
Mt. St. Mary'sMD375,34427125.7277
Murray St.KY533,79521939.7229
N.C. A&TNC441,96925629.7269
N.C. CentralNC428,53227524.4284
NC StateNC1,926,4531990.93
NJITNJ677,30026925.2279
NebraskaNE2,183,5036178.249
NevadaNV1,017,41812863.5122
New MexicoNM1,148,0728276.063
New Mexico St.NM950,14915356.8158
New OrleansLA540,90418948.1194
NiagaraNY520,57725330.2266
Nicholls St.LA710,92316753.7167
Norfolk St.VA453,89527025.7278
North CarolinaNC1,848,4881392.81
North Dakota St.ND645,53023933.7254
North FloridaFL637,72110671.186
NortheasternMA1,162,52516353.2170
Northern Colo.CO473,84124632.4258
Northern Ill.IL771,27821839.2232
Northern Ky.KY653,12324930.9265
NorthwesternIL1,274,24420241.8224
Northwestern St.LA729,42513961.5135
Notre DameIN1,907,01810566.8107
OaklandMI572,32223634.8249
OhioOH982,69422436.7242
Ohio St.OH1,816,3458672.575
OklahomaOK2,807,4184181.635
Oklahoma St.OK1,914,7644384.222
Old DominionVA1,200,27913461.2136
Ole MissMS4,086,8372282.329
OmahaNE495,40823435.6245
Oral RobertsOK1,210,4717777.256
OregonOR2,602,6156874.766
Oregon St.OR2,524,4092686.87
PacificOR210,24020046.2201
PennPA367,43622538.6234
Penn St.PA1,547,42116651.0182
PepperdineCA1,508,04010568.297
PittsburghPA1,312,76412962.2133
PortlandOR1,193,34519843.3215
Prairie ViewTX358,54428322.4285
PresbyterianSC625,58620543.3214
PrincetonNJ397,97520245.0206
PurdueIN1,216,12414358.6147
QuinnipiacCT885,20924630.9264
RadfordVA897,55613362.6127
Rhode IslandRI786,34412565.2113
RiceTX2,890,5672785.217
RichmondVA897,48019046.6197
RiderNJ623,99720044.7207
RutgersNJ1,123,32212364.6116
SFATX841,70417251.8178
SIUEIL485,73123635.1246
Sacramento St.CA1,094,44516951.7179
Sacred HeartCT728,18318947.4196
Saint Joseph'sPA926,98618049.3188
Saint LouisMO1,070,11513262.2132
Saint Mary's (CA)CA1,370,58610568.796
Saint Peter'sNJ391,73128322.3286
Sam Houston St.TX820,3177579.144
SamfordAL954,78810669.993
San DiegoCA1,390,5157377.653
San Diego St.CA1,420,8419471.683
San FranciscoCA1,561,19712163.6121
San Jose St.CA911,31918647.6195
Santa ClaraCA1,474,08119144.2209
Savannah St.GA335,96827624.4283
Seattle UWA1,043,96722935.1247
Seton HallNJ1,197,98911267.4104
SienaNY741,41820742.3219
South AlabamaAL1,115,9354985.414
South CarolinaSC4,174,4042182.330
South Dakota St.SD514,88921142.0221
South Fla.FL1,032,6477777.852
Southeast Mo. St.MO577,37415657.2156
Southeastern La.LA743,7166083.623
Southern CaliforniaCA1,868,0158472.873
Southern Ill.IL721,39816554.2163
Southern Miss.MS1,043,0254885.910
Southern U.LA424,43324632.5256
St. BonaventureNY479,98623236.3243
StanfordCA1,986,4893885.315
StetsonFL1,292,94312164.5117
Stony BrookNY815,38314060.9138
TCUTX3,818,9942682.133
TennesseeTN2,159,8388272.476
Tennessee TechTN617,90414560.2141
TexasTX4,202,5983877.454
Texas A&MTX3,426,8791885.813
Texas SouthernTX478,56725629.5270
Texas St.TX1,106,90210270.589
Texas TechTX2,521,6865179.840
The CitadelSC1,035,59924730.1268
ToledoOH755,49119346.2200
TowsonMD534,44018449.5186
TroyAL996,0039074.370
TulaneLA1,977,4407774.469
UABAL1,116,48413062.6126
UC DavisCA852,59818049.5187
UC IrvineCA1,210,3016580.537
UC RiversideCA925,41114259.9142
UC Santa BarbaraCA1,240,0969572.080
UCFFL1,232,7787278.547
UCLACA2,490,3494182.727
UConnCT1,450,4435781.934
UMBCMD602,17023834.1252
UMESMD360,61029219.8291
UMass LowellMA469,44820244.7208
UNC AshevilleNC463,78322937.2241
UNCGNC676,55610970.191
UNCWNC748,7296582.232
UNLVNV1,195,79514558.1150
USC UpstateSC500,76024033.9253
UT ArlingtonTX824,83812764.5118
UT MartinTN487,87825928.7272
UTRGVTX785,43925628.4273
UTSATX995,83011567.3105
UtahUT1,265,76613959.6145
Utah ValleyUT703,70119745.3205
VCUVA884,71412664.6115
VMIVA578,09917950.8183
ValparaisoIN829,93320742.0222
VanderbiltTN4,450,8961782.428
VillanovaPA823,90422038.4235
VirginiaVA3,307,8621886.29
Virginia TechVA1,534,2679072.477
WagnerNY655,93422039.0233
Wake ForestNC1,680,1066778.348
WashingtonWA2,088,6468571.881
Washington St.WA1,981,78810666.3110
West VirginiaWV1,392,7868973.172
Western Caro.NC573,26511568.895
Western Ill.IL500,46625828.9271
Western Ky.KY1,145,02512464.2119
Western Mich.MI764,91122138.3237
Wichita St.KS1,970,8508771.684
William & MaryVA903,49713362.5128
WinthropSC895,94014459.5146
WoffordSC591,75718549.1189
Wright St.OH852,26112565.0114
XavierOH935,90113063.3124
YaleCT445,89122139.5230
Youngstown St.OH575,48226426.9274