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Volume 22 No. 23
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USTA pays Deloitte $17.9 million for digital work

Tax returns for 2017 also reveal pay for top executives at tennis organizations

The U.S. Tennis Association last year paid Deloitte Consulting $17.9 million to help revamp the tennis organization’s digital platforms, most notably USTA.com and other grassroots assets. The figure is disclosed in the organization’s recently filed tax return, which covers 2017.

The USTA hired Deloitte in 2016, and the job is still ongoing, USTA spokesperson Chris Widmaier said.

“We are doing a complete overhaul of USTA.com and all of the digital backbone, platforms, to modernize everything and it has been a heavy lift,” said Widmaier. In 2016, the USTA paid Deloitte $4.9 million, according to that year’s return. The 2018 figure is not yet available, but Widmaier said it will be less than 2017’s number.

The tax return lists Deloitte’s category as “digital transformation.” The USTA paid another $2 million to SMT/IDS for “digital consulting,” according to the tax return. The USTA has over 700,000 members.

The digital overhaul does not include USOpen.org, the website for the USTA’s U.S. Open. Widmaier noted the USTA has 17 geographic regions, and the job of integrating their different digital assets is time consuming and complex.

After the USTA retained Deloitte, the agency soon after became a U.S. Open sponsor. Asked why longtime U.S. Open sponsor IBM would not have performed the pricey digital revamp, Widmaier said that the technical specifications for the job were more suited to Deloitte, which has had a team housed in the USTA’s White Plains, N.Y., offices since 2016.

The return also shows USTA executive director Gordon Smith earned $1.37 million, while the return for the USTA-affiliated National Tennis Center shows chief operating officer Danny Zausner earned $1.1 million. Zausner has overseen the renovation of the tennis center.

WTA Tour CEO Steve Simon earned $1.29 million in 2017, according to that group’s tax return, almost all of which was core salary. The WTA’s revenue jumped to $104 million from $74 million on the strength of higher TV and sponsorship fees, the return shows (this is revenue that flows through the tour office, not the tournaments other than the Finals). But costs associated with the WTA’s Perform deal, in which the agency acquired the tour’s global TV rights, spiked expenses, leaving the WTA’s profit at about the same $6 million as the year before, according to the return.

The ATP Tour’s revenue also jumped, to $147 million from $127 million, according to the group’s tax return. A big part of the rise came from the category “member services and benefits,” which includes TV and sponsorship fees. Expenses also rose at the ATP, but the tour’s profit rose by $6 million to $19 million.

The ATP chairman and president, Chris Kermode, earned $1.3 million in 2017, according to the return, which included a $189,439 bonus.