SEC's lucrative TV deal helps Florida athletics boost budget

GAINESVILLE — Aided by the SEC's lucrative multiyear television contract, the University Athletic Association board of directors on Monday approved a 2009-10 athletic budget for Florida that is expected to increase by 7 percent from last season.

The budget, which shows estimated expenditures of just more than $89 million and an estimated revenue of $90.7 million, did not include a raise for Florida football coach Urban Meyer. But UF athletic director Jeremy Foley and several board members said Meyer most likely will get a raise in the near future. Meyer, who has won two national championships in three seasons, makes about $3.2 million per year.

"I'm not trying to be flippant, but when what's done is done, then we can talk about it," Foley said, adding the UAA will determine the timing of that. "I don't like to talk about things that are not finalized."

While many schools are struggling financially, Florida's athletic budget increased despite the department's $6 million donation to the university.

Florida cut 10 percent in discretionary funding from every department, about $1.3 million. But spending in essential areas increased, including $400,000 for lacrosse team expenses, a $1.6 million increase in athletic scholarships due to tuition/room and board increases and $2.7 million in capital projects.

The SEC's 15-year deal with ESPN and CBS will provide the league with more than $3 billion. Florida received $8.6 million from the SEC last year from bowl revenue, TV contracts and championship profits. The UAA budget for next year anticipates that amount will increase to $13.5 million. The television contracts will give Florida an extra $6.2 million, while its IMG/Fox deal is worth about $2 million.

Florida president Bernie Machen, who called the TV deal "the envy of every conference in the country," praised the "symbiotic relationship" between academics and athletics at UF.

"I took $6 million out of their budget after their 10 percent cut, and that's money that's going to help solve our budget problems," said Machen, who has had to cut the university's budget by $42.2 million. "Most universities are not in a relationship with athletics like we are. We went around the table at the SEC (meetings in Destin) and no other school is doing even half as much as we're doing. So it's really nice to have a program that is willing and is able to do the kind of things that ours is doing."

Antonya English can be reached at english@sptimes.com or (813) 226-3389.

SEC's lucrative TV deal helps Florida athletics boost budget 06/22/09 [Last modified: Monday, June 22, 2009 11:13pm]

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