South Carolina is projecting that it will make over $94 million in athletics revenue in 2014-15, nearly $5 million more than was is projected for fiscal year 2013-14, athletics director Ray Tanner said Friday.
“As you can see, in ’14-’15, we’re proposing that we’ll hit the $94 million mark, with expenditures of a little bit more than $83 (million),” Tanner said.
Tanner wrapped up the athletics season with a presentation to the USC Board of Trustees, promoting the Gamecocks’ athletics and athletic-academic success while talking about the costs of running a successful program. Tanner said USC should turn a profit, this year and next, despite the escalating cost of salaries and upkeep, plus the $119 million debt for facility improvements.
“We’ll continue to operate in the black. That’s a given,” Tanner said. “Sometimes, we’ll pay for some things early if we have revenue. We’ll probably show about $358,000 (profit), but we obviously prepare for debt service and things like that.”
While the difference between proposed expenses and proposed revenues is nearly $11 million, the profit is cut to under $500,000 because of transfer fees. Those fees are monies given back to USC to cover scholarships, the marching band and student affairs/student government.
Any profit made will be given to the athletics department’s reserve fund, which represents 15 percent of the total budget and contains $13.5 million. USC has managed to keep the reserve fund healthy despite increasing its coaches and staff salaries by $3.8 million, having to commit $1 million for the startup expenses for the SEC Network and $1.3 million in football opponent guarantees.
USC will receive more money, though, from items such as the SEC Network. “The new SEC bowl agreements, we have increased our budget by about $2 million,” Tanner said.
The Gamecocks’ football team is expected to generate a lot of the revenue, an estimated $19.1 million in ticket sales. That helps cover the rising cost of the sport. USC coach Steve Spurrier will be the fifth highest-paid coach in the SEC, with his staff also ranking fifth.
USC’s ranks 25th among 132 schools in total revenue but 10th in the SEC.
“We’re in a much better place than we have been, but we’re still not at the top,” Tanner said.
The Gamecocks have a debt of $119 million, with a debt service of $8.3 million, for projects already budgeted and some under construction. By June 30, 2015, the debt is projected to swell to $156.3 million, but it’s still under the state cutoff limit of $200 million.
Tanner wrapped the meeting by pointing out the Gamecocks’ success nearly across the board. The academics are high (all but one team earned a fall grade-point average of at least 3.0, all but two in the spring) and the athletics are, too.
“We have been able to continue to move forward,” said, Tanner, who has been AD for almost two years. “I’m competitive. I coached and played. Now I’m competitive in an area where we do what we can to enhance opportunities to be successful. If it’s building a building, I want to do it. If it’s investing money for another person in academic enrichment or compliance, those are things that are important that come back to the student-athlete.
“Those are competitive challenges that I feel like I’m part of every single day. And I enjoy that.”