The Univ. of Kentucky on Tuesday approved a $104.4M athletics budget for '13-14, representing an increase of 13.6% "from the just-concluded school year," according to Kyle Tucker of the Louisville COURIER-JOURNAL. The UK Athletics Committee approved a $12.5M budget increase from its '12-13 budget of $91.9M, which "the department actually exceeded" by $4.2M "due largely to capital projects such as new track, softball and soccer complexes." The "projected football expenses" in the new budget are up 32.6%, from about $9.5M to $12.6M. Roughly $2.4M of the $3.1M increase is to "cover the higher salaries" of recently hired football coach Mark Stoops and his staff (Louisville COURIER-JOURNAL, 6/12). UK AD Mitch Barnhart said the timing of the budget increase was to "get the coaching staff we wanted." In Lexington, Jerry Tipton noted UK "expects the Stoops hire to pay off next season in ticket sales." The athletic department budgeted an additional $2M "in expected ticket sales." UK football next year will "nearly match the commitment" the school makes to "its signature sport: men's basketball," which is $12.9M for '13-14. Barnhart said even with "a record $104,414,800 budget" for '13-14, the school remained in the "middle of the pack" among SEC counterparts. UK in its '13-14 budget also expects a record $4M in revenue "from licensing deals on memorabilia." The athletic department "splits licensing revenue 50-50 with the school." UK also projects to pay an "additional $450,000 in guarantees to opponents in so-called guarantee games," and an "increase of $1,175,000 in revenue from men's basketball ticket sales" (LEXINGTON HERALD-LEADER, 6/12).
SWAMP PEOPLE: In Gainesville, Jeff Schweers reports the Univ. of Florida Athletic Association BOD yesterday approved a $100.5M budget for '13-14, an increase of 3.83% over "the current approved budget." The additional $3.6M in expenditures includes a $2.6M increase in salaries, "a figure that includes guaranteed raises in several coaches’ contracts" and a 3.5% "across-the-board increase for all 325 association employees." UF AD Jeremy Foley said that the budget "reflects the fact that only six games will be played this football season at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium instead of the usual seven." The budget summary also forecasts a $1.9M "increase in ticket-related booster contributions" and a $1.1M "net increase in football game revenue because of a reduction in game guarantees to opposing teams because one fewer home game is scheduled" (GAINESVILLE SUN, 6/13). In Tampa, Antonya English noted a $50M renovation to UF's O'Connell Center is among the school's "upcoming major projects." The renovation will be funded by $40M "in private donations" and $10M from the school, as "the building belongs to UF" (TAMPABAY.com, 6/12).
The NCAA is "no longer mandating" that a men's basketball tournament regional be "played in a dome a year in advance of a Final Four at that site," according to Andy Katz of ESPN.com. But this "doesn't mean they won't award them to domes" when sites are decided next year for '17-20. If there is a new dome, "even in an old familiar Final Four city like in Atlanta, then there is a strong chance the new dome would get a regional for a test run." There is "no longer a mandate, however, which is a clear distinction." There still are a "few dome regionals already scheduled," including a '14 regional at Lucas Oil Stadium in advance of the '15 Final Four, and a '15 regional at Reliant Stadium in preparation for the '16 Final Four. Syracuse Univ.'s Carrier Dome also will host a '15 regional, but it "isn't in the same category since it isn't a Final Four site" (ESPN.com, 6/13). CBSSPORTS.com's Matt Norlander wrote the domes were "never selling out and they create a lackluster atmosphere compared to what the comforts of a true basketball arena can provide." It also is "interesting to note that any arena can make itself available for a Final Four going forward." There is a "clamoring among plenty of college hoops fans to get the sport's ultimate weekend back inside a traditional venue -- which hasn't happened since 1996 -- but ultimately that would be a shocker." The Final Four "can easily and always accommodate upward of 60,000 fans and so that makes it a financial boon for the NCAA and the schools making it to championship weekend" (CBSSPORTS.com, 6/12). SI.com's Andy Glockner wrote there are "several constituents who should be happy with this news," including the Carrier Dome and tournament planners, as it will "help bring other locations more into play" (SI.com, 6/12).
CRYSTAL BALL: ESPN.com's Eamonn Brennan wrote, "Rail as we might against the bloat of college athletics, and the impulse to cram 70,000 overcharged ticketholders into a football stadium, the Final Fours are going to be in domes for ... well, I would say the foreseeable future, but really the answer is more like 'forever.'" The NCAA "makes almost all of its money from the NCAA tournament." When "your yearly budget comes down to a handful of weeks in March, you're going to try to ring every last dollar out of those few opportunities" (ESPN.com, 6/12).
Orlando is "still in the mix to potentially host" the College Football Playoff championship game, but the city's bid "hinges on successful renovation of the Citrus Bowl," according to Matt Murschel of the ORLANDO SENTINEL. With the stadium set to undergo a $200M renovation, the chances of a title game "appear more likely once construction is completed" sometime in '15. The "earliest Orlando might be able to host" a championship game would be '17. CFP COO Michael Kelly yesterday said, "There is a better comfort level for a facility that is finished. Rest assured, we've had a lot of discussions with the Orlando people and know they are very interested in having a game here." Meanwhile, Kelly said that Tampa still is a "viable option in the future." Additionally, he said that there will be a "reduction in tickets schools that play in host bowls are required to purchase." The mandatory ticket obligation will "go from 17,500 to 12,500." Kelly also revealed that the new semifinal games will be "called the College Football Playoff at the Sugar Bowl and the College Football Playoff at the Rose Bowl." Kelly said of the impending creation of a selection committee, "If they can get it done by fall they would be very pleased by it" (ORLANDO SENTINEL, 6/13).