SBD/February 12, 2013/Colleges

Univ. Of Texas Athletics Nets $163.3M In Revenue; Football Program First Over $100M

Texas became the first school to pull in more than $100M in one sport
The Univ. of Texas athletic department has recorded "another staggering year" with $163.3M in revenue and $138.3M in operating expenses for '11-12, according to its latest annual financial report to the NCAA cited by Berkowitz & Upton of USA TODAY. The report shows UT with $103.8M in "football income alone." This is the "first time a college has reported" $100M in revenue from one sport. UT's $25M operating surplus for '11-12 was "more money than 135 of the roughly 220 Division I public schools spent on their entire athletics programs in 2010-11." UT's $13M increase in revenue for '11-12 was "more money than 147 Division I public school athletics programs generated in 2010-11 from sources other than subsidies from student fees, institutional and government support." UT increased its annual operating expenses by $4.6M over what it spent in '10-11, so its "operating surplus rose" from $16.6M. UT's athletic department transferred $8.3M of the "most recent surplus to the institution after transferring a little more" than $9M in '10-11. UT actually had a $2M decline in ticket sales in '11-12 compared with '10-11. However, that was "more than offset by increases in donations; its share of Big 12 Conference and NCAA income; and revenue from royalties, licensing, advertising and sponsorships." The latter category is where UT "likely includes its take from the Longhorn Network." Royalty, licensing, advertising and sponsorship revenue increased to $28.7M from $22.8M (USATODAY.com, 2/9).

DEEP IN THE HEART: In Austin, Kirk Bohls writes UT fans remain "upset about everything from the Longhorn Network they can’t see to their perception of an athletic department that’s consumed by making money instead of winning games and is deaf to ticket buyers’ protests." Men's AD DeLoss Dodds and women's AD Chris Plonsky both "acknowledged the deep dissatisfaction among the fan base, but they vehemently denied that they’re driven by accounting over accountability." Dodds said, "We’re not obsessed with making money. We’re good business people. We’ve got to be. But I’d rather be tagged with money than be in debt." Dodds said that UT athletics "does carry" $263M in debt, with about $18M in debt payments each year. But he added that the department reaps $29M of revenue "when it harvests proceeds from things like luxury boxes." UT "remains one of what Dodds estimates to be about a dozen or so Division I programs that run a profit." He said of teams struggling athletically, "We're going to have good years again. Our bad years are not that bad. Take a school like Missouri. Our bad years are better than their good years. But we've created a standard." Bohls writes the UT women's side is "in even more disarray." All of "this has come on Plonsky’s watch, and although hers is a brilliant mind in the field of television and business, she might be on shaky ground in her current role." She said, "I work scared every day. I’m passionate about my job, but I don’t take anything for granted. You’ve got to out-execute everybody. Entitlement? The E-word is what we all work to eradicate every day." Bohls writes what is "clear is Dodds and Plonsky have the same passion for their jobs and the programs they lead that they’ve always had, even in these lean times" (AUSTIN AMERICAN-STATESMAN, 2/12).

ROCK BOTTOM? In Knoxville, Megan Boehnke noted the number of people who gifted money in '12 to the Univ. of Tennessee athletic department fell by more than 25%, or $10M, following "coaching shake-ups and a poor performance on the football field -- but it also came after years of record giving to the department." Tennessee last year brought in $35.1M. The "biggest accounting" of the $10M donation drop was in capital gifts, "which were cut in half." Those gifts, given for "building projects, hit a high" in '11 with $16.4M, with that number going to $8.5M in '12 (KNOXVILLE NEWS-SENTINEL, 2/10).

FIND YOUR OWN MONEY: Univ. of Iowa President Sally Mason yesterday said that "no dollars outside of athletics would be used to fund any increased football recruiting expenses incurred by recent NCAA bylaw changes." In Des Moines, Bryce Miller notes NCAA decisions in late January "allow the hiring of new, recruiting-specific staff members and lifts limitations on the frequency and sophistication of mailings to potential players." Mason said that the athletic department will be "solely responsible for footing the new -- and potentially sizable -- bills." The changes have "rocked the college football world." Iowa football coach Kirk Ferentz said, "I hate to see college football or college athletics become Major League Baseball -- with all respect to Major League Baseball. The Yankees start in the inside lane every year. They have the biggest payroll, so they get to start on the inside lane." Mason said that moves by the ACC to "change its membership caused the Big Ten Conference to eventually add Rutgers and Maryland." She said, "The uncertainties and the ways in which the ACC was moving, in regard to expansion, led [Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany] to look very carefully at where we were and where we might end up -- four, five, 10, 15 years down the road" (DES MOINES REGISTER, 2/12).
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