CU Buffs forecast rebound from $18 million deficit in fiscal 2021 – Colorado Daily
The COVID-19 pandemic resulted in an $18 million shortfall for the Colorado Athletic Department for fiscal year 2021.
While that’s a significant number, it’s not as bad as originally feared, and CU is optimistic about a strong rebound this year.
CU’s latest NCAA financial report, for fiscal year 2021 (fiscal year 2021), showed a net loss of $17,477,532. The NCAA report includes some accounting differences due to the definitions of certain revenues and expenses they include that differ from CU’s actual budget. According to numbers provided to BuffZone.com, the athletic department actually suffered a loss of $18,070,532 for fiscal 2021.
Throughout the first full school year of the pandemic (2020-21), CU athletic director Rick George had projected a shortfall of $20 million or more. Several schools across the country reported significantly larger deficits, such as Utah ($31 million), Iowa ($42 million) and Rutgers ($73 million).
“At the end of the day, an $18 million deficit, in our eyes, was an achievement as far as you could call it, especially compared to our peers,” said Cory Hilliard, senior associate athletic director of CU for business. operations.
CU is forecasting a much better fiscal year 2022. The athletics budget for fiscal year 2022 includes revenues and expenses in the range of $89 million, which is in line with the pre-pandemic budget.
“Our budget continues to run on schedule,” George said earlier this month. “Our revenues are where they should be and we have kept our expenses where they should be. We anticipate and expect that we will balance our budget again as we normally do, so I’m happy about that.
CU generated approximately $21.5 million in football ticket sales and donations during the 2021 season.
CU is also forecasting about $3.4 million in men’s and women’s basketball ticket sales, though the department took about $250,000 in tickets, concessions, parking, etc., when the men’s game against Kansas on December 21 has been canceled due to COVID-19 issues within the CU program.
CU’s FY2022 budget also includes a planned $37 million distribution of the Pac-12.
Although it will take some time for the Buffs to fully rebound from fiscal 2021, Hilliard said CU is encouraged by the projections for this year.
“I think we bounced back really strong,” he said.
While fiscal 2021 wasn’t as bad as it could have been, it was still a tough time for CU and its peers as they navigated an unprecedented year.
CU generated approximately $43.2 million in revenue for fiscal 2021, down approximately $46.7 million from the prior year. Much of this loss can be attributed to playing in empty stadiums and arenas and a reduced Pac-12 cast.
Compared to fiscal 2020, CU lost approximately $23.5 million in ticket sales, plus an additional $2.5 million in concessions, parking, and more.
“No box office revenue at all, that hit us pretty hard,” Hilliard said.
With the Pac-12 playing shortened football and basketball seasons and having canceled some games, the conference failed to meet contractual obligations with ESPN and Fox. This led to a conference distribution in fiscal year 2021 ($20.2 million) that was approximately $12.4 million less than the prior year.
The inability to hold outside events, such as concerts, weddings, etc., resulted in an additional $2.9 million drop for CU.
The COVID-19 pandemic began to have a significant impact on college athletics in March 2020. From then on, George and CU anticipated and planned for much of the fiscal 2021 financial impact.
“I think we did it to the best of our abilities with the cooperation of campus, our coaches who also took voluntary pay cuts,” Hilliard said. “These are all things that we have worked on together to make this as positive an outcome as possible.”
Managing fiscal 2021, however, has led CU to make tough decisions, with employees furloughed and terminated and some positions cut. With coaches unable to recruit in person and games cancelled, there has also been a significant reduction in expenses related to recruitment, team travel and game day operations.
“We had made a concerted effort as soon as the pandemic was realized and knowing that we were going to go into shutdown mode the first two months,” Hilliard said.
Additionally, Hilliard said the CU campus restructured university-wide debt to help soften the financial blow in fiscal year 2021. This saved the athletic department about $12 million. in debt service payments for the Champions Center and other capital projects.
To cover the $18 million shortfall, CU took advantage of the Pac-12’s COVID loan program. CU was the only school to take out the loan, as others have used other means to cover their debt, including help from their campuses. The loan allowed CU to avoid adding to campus debt.
Hilliard said CU had “favorable loan rates” by taking out the seven-year loan, which will be repaid by the Pac-12 reducing CU’s conference payout over the next seven years. CU hopes to save money on interest by paying off the loan early.
“If we have the means to do it, we will definitely pull the trigger,” he said.