RALEIGH, N.C. -- The Atlantic Coast Conference's biggest spenders are also some of its biggest winners on the football field.
There are a few bargains to be found, too.
An Associated Press review of the most recent gender-equity reports filed by the 12 ACC schools to the U.S. Department of Education shows that generally, success goes hand-in-hand with spending.
During the 2008-09 academic year, the most recent year with data available for all the schools, the programs that spent the most on football were Miami ($20.9 million), Boston College ($19.4 million), Clemson ($18.8 million) and Virginia Tech ($18.2 million).
BC, Clemson and Virginia Tech have combined to make six ACC championship game appearances and win two conference titles, both by the Hokies, since the league expanded to 12 in 2005.
"I don't think there's any question that if you're not willing to be competitive in absolutely everything ... from facilities, to assistant coaches' salaries to the amount of money you spend on recruiting and all those things -- there's an absolute direct correlation to the success of your program," North Carolina coach Butch Davis said.
At the other end of the spending spectrum are Atlantic Division contenders Maryland and North Carolina State.
They each reported roughly $11 million in expenses that season, and reduced that total the following year. NC State spent $10.4 million in 2009-10 while Maryland's expenses were at $9.8 million.
Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen told The AP that he finished last year roughly $80,000 under budget.
"Obviously, the more money you have, I think it does make an impact," he said. "I know I'm pretty frugal at things. I don't want to waste money.
"Obviously, we'd all like to have more money. My staff hasn't gotten a raise in a while. ... That's why I'm hoping to do well so I can get a bonus this year, so I can give it to my staff. Otherwise, I don't think it's going to be long before I start losing some of them."
Schools are required under the Equity in Athletics Disclosure Act to file annual reports with the Department of Education on participation, staffing, revenues and expenses by both men's and women's teams in all sports.
The filings by ACC schools indicate that football is a significant cash generator for a conference best known for its basketball.
Clemson reported $35.2 million in football revenue in 2008-09, followed by Virginia Tech ($27.7 million), Miami ($27.2 million) and Florida State ($24.9 million). The Hokies' revenue also increased 12 percent to $31.1 million in 2009-10.
"No. 1, if you're going to have good people, you're going to have to pay them. That's a factor in there," Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer said. "Then I think how you run your program. Kids get affected by the atmosphere they're in, and I think money affects that. And then I think certainly the facilities you have. That affects recruiting, it affects how kids feel about themselves, all that, and that takes money. I think how much you spend does directly affect your possibility for success."
The only ACC schools to spend more on football than they took in during 2008-09 were Wake Forest and Duke, both elite, private schools with pricey tuition.
Wake Forest spent $13 million and brought in $10.3 million. Duke had $15.7 million in expenses and $9 million in revenue. But Duke reversed that the following year, showing $16.1 million in revenue and spent $14.3 million.
"If we need to go to California to recruit someone, we're going to go to California," Blue Devils coach David Cutcliffe said. "All we're going to do is, we're going to plan smartly. We're going to buy our ticket ahead, and we're going to sweep the broom clean on a trip. But you know what? If I were right now in a situation where we had an abundance of money, I would operate the same way.
"We try to be efficient and smart in that regard," Cutcliffe added. "There's an old saying, you feed a pig, you slaughter a hog. We're not going to get hoggish about any of this in that regard. But I also realize that to be competitive, we're hunting edges all the time."
Data for the 2009-10 academic year was available for eight of the ACC schools, and each of them spent less on football that year than they did a year earlier.
Maryland's spending was down 16 percent. Clemson's dropped more than 15 percent to $16.3 million. Miami's was reduced nearly 15 percent to $17.8 million.
"We're all smart enough to know anything you do, you've got to be fiscally sound and smart," Cutcliffe said. "But if you pinch pennies too much in a football program or you don't, quote, get in the game, then you're not going to be in the game."