Athletic Departments across the country are feeling the financial pressure build as COVID-19 continues to cause delays and put a hold on athletic departments nationwide.
With the health and well-being of their student-athletes at the forefront, finances soon follow as a top worry on the list for the leaders of athletic departments across all conference levels.
In a survey published on Wednesday by the LEAD1 Association in regards to the State of Athletics in the Face of Coronavirus, the results were consistent that academic progress was the top concern for 88% of the ADs.
In addition, only 8% of ADs project a 30%+ decrease in revenue for 2019-20, but 35% are preparing for that steep of a drop for 2020-21. Football is noted as a key variable still at play, given its tremendous impact on revenue according to LEAD1.
Arkansas Athletic Director Hunter Yurachek shares that he is anticipating somewhere between 5-15% loss a year from now, even with playing a full football season. This decrease should be similar across the universities in the SEC and maybe even more dramatic for smaller conferences, divisions and teams.
Arkansas AD @HunterYurachek says his athletic department is anticipating between a 5-15% loss of revenue heading into 2021, "and that's with playing a football season." Yurachek added he has not had discussions about eliminating sports at Arkansas.
— Paul Finebaum (@finebaum) April 2, 2020
Diving deeper, football essential is holding many athletic departments together. The sport has the potential to be the bright spot in these financially challenging times. However, with football still hanging in the balance, it is still uncertain how many teams would operate in the black without many schools’ biggest money generator.
Breaking Down the Numbers:
Sports Illustrated writer Ross Dellenger served up the perfect example of this sentiment in the SEC. Similar to Florida, both the LSU Football and Men’s Basketball program generate profit within the athletic program. LSU also represents a rare situation of gaining revenue from baseball. Many colleges struggle to turn a profit in the Spring. Though these numbers are a few years old, not many figures have shifted dramatically.
Ultimately, many Universities across the country are going to face tough times financially, after many spring sports were well underway and had drained assets throughout their seasons.
When you hear things from ADs like "football allows us to have other sports," this is what they mean.
Take #LSU. Here are profit/loss numbers from each LSU sport in the 2016-17 cycle, from my time as a beat writer.
– Football: $56M in profit
– Other sports: ~$23M in losses pic.twitter.com/3Giw1YrdZF
— Ross Dellenger (@RossDellenger) March 31, 2020
However, even in times of trouble, many leaders are doing what they can to keep their athletic department’s morale and culture intact. Wyoming’s Athletic Director Tom Burman tweeted his decision to reduce his salary by 10% to alleviate some of the financial burden the department is going to endure.
In light of the economic challenges we are all facing – especially in Wy. I have decided to reduce my salary by 10% through 12/31. Hoping to limit impact to all students. We also plan to increase giving to Cowboy Joe Club – the best way to support Wyoming Athletics #OneWyoming
— Tom Burman (@TomBurman1) April 1, 2020