On the field, Gators have no budget worries

GAINESVILLE

On July 1, the University of Florida began a new fiscal year in which $47-million and about 150 employees will be cut from the university's budget because of tough economic times and decreased state funding. But as universities and many athletic departments around the nation struggle financially, Florida remains among the nation's wealthiest athletic programs. The Gators' overall budget is expected to increase 8 percent this year, to about $84.5-million. To get a sense of the magnitude of it all, try this: Florida's budget has more than doubled in the past five years. In 2003-04, the year of the Gators' most recent football stadium expansion, Florida's budget was just less than $40-million ($39,829,307), and licensing revenues totaled less than $2-million. Bolstered by two basketball titles and one football national championship in the past four years, licensing revenue is projected at $4.4-million this year. But don't let the numbers fool you. Florida isn't alone, particularly in the SEC where in 2007, seven other schools had budgets more than $50-million: Auburn, Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, Kentucky, LSU and South Carolina.

At Florida, the University Athletic Association oversees the athletic program, raising and spending money separate from the overall university budget. Gator Boosters Inc., its private fundraising arm, generates one-third of the athletic department's revenue. That's $29.9-million this year. (The UAA has donated $46-million to a UF general scholarship fund since 1990.) "We have some things that are unique in college athletics because we are an association that is standing on its own two legs," said Greg McGarity, UF's executive senior associate athletic director. "I know we're vastly different from some other schools. We have our own little world and how we manage things, and that's all by design. It was set up this way where it wouldn't be a drag on the university and no funds would be used to supplement athletics. We're fortunate to not be in the group that's in the red because they are having to be subsidized by universities."

Revenue increases

Florida expects to gain an additional $6.8-million over last year in revenue. Some of its top revenue-producing items anticipated this year:

$29.9-million: Total revenue from Gator Boosters, including an increase in minimum donation required to buy football tickets

$17.3-million: Football ticket sales

$2.8-million: Basketball ticket sales

$8.6-million: SEC revenue from bowl games, television contracts and championships

$2.1-million: Revenue from marketing sponsorships and scoreboard advertising

$1.1-million: Football game net revenue (seven home games)

$4.6-million: Football booster contributions

$344,000: Gator suites and dens

$2.2-million: Bull Gator deck, zone and champions club

$172,606: Men's basketball game revenue, net

$600,000: Basketball booster contributions

Cost of doing business

The old saying goes, you've got to spend money to make money. And Florida does just that, including funding 17 "non-revenue producing" sports (men's and women's). It includes everything from 26 full-time maintenance staff, seven full-time employees who maintain two aircraft, 15 staffers who run the golf course … and the list goes on. A look at the major items in an anticipated $6-million increase in expenditures this year:

$1.7-million: Additional compensation for football coach Urban Meyer and basketball coach Billy Donovan

$800,000: Other salary increases

$430,000: Increase in men's and women's scholarships, reflecting tuition, university fees, room and board (men's scholarships will total $4.5-million and women's $3.6-million)

$282,000: Increase in football game day expenses for security and heat-initiative expenses

$150,000: Increase in utilities

Doing business II: operating expenses

$6.2-million: Football and support services

$1.7-million: Men's basketball and support services

$1.1-million: Women's basketball and support services

$479,353: Baseball$121,160: Men's golf

$164,465: Women's golf$380,895: Swimming

$205,024: Men's tennis$192,106: Women's tennis

$622,776: Men's and women's cross country

$574,406: Championship travel for men

$651,581: Championship travel for women

$278,197: Gymnastics$70,450: Lacrosse

$341,686: Women's soccer

$5.5-million: Operating expenses including TV and radio, Gator sportshop, licensing and golf course

$10.1-million: Operating expenses including human resources, utilities, insurance, maintenance, ticket office and aviation operations

Staying competitive

With a school-record-tying 12 athletic teams finishing among the top 10 during the 2007-08 season, Florida placed sixth in the U.S. Sports Academy Directors' Cup standings — the 25th consecutive year the Gator program has ranked among the nation's top 10 in all-sports standings. Florida will add women's lacrosse next season, and it won't come without a price. About $3.6-million has been approved for the beginning stages of construction for a lacrosse stadium, which will consist of a complex of three fields (lacrosse game and practice fields and a soccer practice field) across from the softball stadium. Ultimately, it's expected to require about $15-million for the complex, which has a tentative completion date of July 2009.

On the field, Gators have no budget worries 07/07/08 [Last modified: Monday, July 14, 2008 6:21pm]

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