The sports teams at the University of Connecticut are facing fiscal challenges, the president’s athletics advisory committee wrote in its annual report to school President Susan Herbst.
“The fiscal impact that the University faces is also mirrored in the [athletics] Division. As with all areas of the university, there are required elements that need to be addressed even in difficult fiscal periods and the challenge is to meet them with reduced resources,” reads the report from the President’s Athletic Advisory Committee.
Those reduced resources include a drop in ticket sale revenue to “all major sports” games, according to the committee.
The college system’s athletics department has depended on ticket revenue to cover about half of its $66.4 million budget. Tuition and fees paid by students and gifts and endowments have picked up the remainder of the expenses for the sports teams, recreational activities and intramural games.
An analysis by USA Today of subsidies provided by universities for athletics found that UConn paid for $15 million of the department’s $63 million budget in 2011. UConn spends over $6 million a year to pick up expenses not related to intramural sports or recreational services for traditional students, McKinsey & Company reported in November 2011.
“This level of institutional support is about average when compared to other peer universities, or slightly less than average,” according to McKinsey, which the university commissioned to find cost savings. “There is an opportunity to decrease institutional support to the athletics department through decreasing expenditures or increasing external revenues.”
McKinsey recommended that the university increase ticket prices for football and basketball games. Doing so, the consultants said, would bring in up to $2.3 million in new revenue for the athletics department. The university followed their advice.
But now, the president’s athletics committee, reports that ticket revenue has dropped and that new “Ticket initiatives have been created to attract new audiences and retain current levels of attendance,” the report continues.
McKinsey also reported that the amount UConn spends on coaching salaries and team travel “are the most among public Big East programs.”
“It is possible that these are the costs associated with maintaining such a successful athletics program. Others may question the value of such expenditures to the core mission of the University,” the consultants wrote.