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Volume 24 No. 117


A review of college athletics' financial information showed that 23 public school athletics programs finished their FY '16 having "met the NCAA’s benchmark for financial self-sufficiency," according to a front-page piece by Berkowitz & Schnaars of USA TODAY. A program is "deemed self-sufficient if the operating revenue it generates through its activities, including ticket sales, donations, TV rights and other income shared by conferences and the NCAA, exceed its operating expenses." The total of 23 "self-sufficient" programs has "remained basically unchanged" since '10. In '16, Texas A&M’s generated revenue of more than $194M -- a total that led D-I -- "exceeded its operating expenses" by more than $57M. But its revenue and surplus amounts, both "driven by fundraising related to a massive football stadium refurbishment, occurred against the backdrop" of $57M in football- and other capital-project spending. Schools’ annual spending on capital projects for their athletics programs was "collected by the NCAA for the first time" on the reports for '15-16. Of the $1.3B in such spending, a "combination of cash and debt financing, about two-thirds came from Power Five schools." Those schools "comprise less than one-fourth" of all D-I public schools. But taken as a group, D-I public schools "showed signs of being able to accommodate more spending on athletes." There were "several operational areas in which schools raised their spending" in '16, but did so at "lower rates than they had been recently." The 230 schools’ spending on financial aid for athletes "increased by nearly 9%" in '16 -- the largest single-year jump since '10. The increase for '16 "includes rises in the traditional elements of an athletic scholarship -- tuition, fees, room and board -- plus the additional amounts for incidental expenses that athletes were allowed to receive for the first time" (USA TODAY, 7/7).

TENNESSEE WALTZ: In Knoxville, Mike Strange notes Tennessee "ranked eighth in total operating expenses" for '15-16, at $128,011,504, an "increase from $113,413,325" in '14-15. Alabama and Texas A&M "were the only SEC departments paying more expenses" in '15-16. Texas, Ohio State and Michigan rank 1-2-3. New UT AD John Currie said that he "appreciates the efforts by predecessor Dave Hart to solidify what was a shaky financial situation when Hart took over" in '11. Currie: "As we go forward, we’ve got some things we’ve got to continue to improve, both from a facilities standpoint and our support staff" (Knoxville NEWS SENTINEL, 7/7).

Revenue FY '15-16
Texas A&M
Ohio State

With two months left before the football home opener at Kroger Field, the Univ. of Kentucky "already is nearing its season ticket sales total from last season," according to Jen Smith of the LEXINGTON HERALD-LEADER. As of last week, UK had "sold 32,000 season tickets," about 2,000 shy of the school's total sold last season of 33,658. Those figures are "still down from recent previous seasons, with 38,658 season tickets sold" in '15 and roughly the same number in '14. But UK is coming off its "most successful season" since '10, going 7-6 last year and playing in the TaxSlayer Bowl. The 32,000 threshold also "does not include student ticket sales or comps" (LEXINGTON HERALD-LEADER, 7/6). 

WORD OF MOUTH: In Honolulu, Ferd Lewis notes Univ. of Hawaii football coach Nick Rolovich, his assistants and players over the offseason "made an estimated 600 phone callbacks to season ticket holders beseeching them to renew" for '17. Rolovich said the school is now "ahead of last year's" pace but still has not posted "earth-shaking numbers." Rolovich: "But it has been encouraging just like seeing the UH hats and shirts around the state. That's one (gauge) for me." UH said that '17 renewals are running at 86.2% compared with 85.3% "at about the same time last year." So far, 12,463 tickets have "been renewed for this season" (HONOLULU STAR-ADVERTISER, 7/7).