For the first time in history, South Carolina’s athletics department is planning to bring in more than $100 million for the 2015-16 fiscal year.
“I think it’s significant that we are going in the right direction,” Gamecocks athletics director Ray Tanner said after telling the school’s Board of Trustees on Friday that he expects to bring in $106 million in the coming year. “We’re still increasing our revenues, and certainly we need to do that. It’s important that we continue in that direction.”
It’s important because South Carolina is trying to compete in the Southeastern Conference, where its revenue is expected to rank between eighth and 10th for the coming fiscal year, Tanner said.
“We are not No. 1 as far as the amount of revenue we have, but I think we do a lot for the amount of money have,” Tanner said. “We need to continue to provide those resources for all of our sports.”
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The Gamecocks’ projected revenue for the 2014-15 fiscal year was $94 million, and now the school expects to make $101.7 million. The increase in the 2015-16 budget numbers is largely because of the SEC Network, which debuted in August last year. The network added $7.5 million to the conference’s distribution to each school this year, Tanner said. The total SEC payout to each school was more than $31 million this year.
“There’s room (for the SEC Network) to grow,” Tanner said. “Will it grow significantly? We will just have to wait and see.”
The increased television money will make the upcoming year the first that conference distribution outpaced ticket sales in South Carolina’s budget numbers. The Gamecocks expect to bring in $22 million in ticket revenue this year, with $18.5 million of that coming from football.
The athletics department’s third-largest source of revenue is the Gamecock Club, which will generate almost $14 million.
The Gamecocks’ expected expenditures for the coming year are almost $89 million, leaving $16 million to go to transfers such as scholarship payments, and $769,500 to go into the athletics reserve fund. Tanner’s expenditures increase this year thanks to the increased value of scholarships to reflect full cost of attendance and the construction of a new dorm to be used by athletes.
“It’s great to have the distribution we have from the Southeastern Conference,” he said.
South Carolina’s athletics department has almost $155 million in debt and expects to pay more than $10 million toward that debt this year, Tanner told the board. The state of South Carolina has a $200 million debt limit.
“It’s not the debt number that is the major concern,” Tanner said. “We still have some needs. We have to generate more revenue. You can pay cash for some things, too.”