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Iowa, Iowa State expect hefty budget shortfalls
COLLEGE ATHLETICS

Iowa, Iowa State expect hefty budget shortfalls

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A fall without football as usual on the campuses of Iowa’s three state universities is reflected in athletic budgets the Iowa Board of Regents will receive next Wednesday.

In documents released this week before the Big Ten announced plans for a shortened football season, Iowa projected a loss of nearly $96.9 million in income compared to a year ago.

Iowa State, which began a 10-game football season with no fans in the stands last weekend, anticipates a revenue decline of $41.6 million and Northern Iowa, expecting to play four home football games next spring, is budgeting for a revenue decrease of just over $625,000.

Both Iowa and Iowa State expect hefty budget shortfalls during the ongoing fiscal year which began July 1.

Iowa director of athletics Gary Barta said on Aug. 24 that the program he oversees anticipates seeking a loan of around $75 million to counter what he has budgeted to be a shortfall of $74,751,566 in its athletic budget for the current fiscal year.

Barta said Thursday television and radio broadcast income from the nine-game schedule the Big Ten announced a day earlier will provide Iowa with additional revenue.

“At the end of the day, the net will be better but it will be a much-reduced amount because we’re not going to play a full schedule,’’ Barta said. “With no fans, we don’t have ticket revenue, we don’t have the donations that go with the seats and we’re going to have much-reduced revenue in all other categories.’’

Numbers remain soft at this point, but Barta said the Iowa budget shortfall may go this fiscal year from the initally-projected $75 million to around $55 million.

“It will be better, but far from relief,’’ Barta said.

There will be additional expense in the daily rapid antigen testing that will be part of the routine for Iowa football players by the next week and for every Hawkeye in every program as they return to action.

The Big Ten is currently negotiating with companies to find the best price, but Barta indicated it will come with a “significant’’ cost that will be shared by all 14 Big Ten institutions.

Iowa is reducing expected expenses in this year’s budget by just over $22 million and Barta said all cuts, including the elimination of four sports programs and the cuts in salaries and furloughs for staff members, will remain in place despite the return of football.

The budget Iowa laid out for approval by the Regents projected a loss of $97.9 million in operating expenses for fiscal 2021, a number that will be reduced with the return of potential revenue from television and radio broadcasts and bowl participation for Big Ten teams.

The current Iowa budget includes major declines in revenue from the Big Ten, including income from the Big Ten Network, and in its Learfield multi media contract which includes the Hawkeye Radio Network as well as marketing opportunities at Kinnick Stadium and Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

Iowa received $52,356,187 from the conference and $7,566,285 from its Learfield contract during the 2020 fiscal year. In the budget presented to Regents, Iowa projects $10 million in Big Ten revenue and $1.5 million from its Learfield deal, numbers that will grow with the return of football.

Barta is also presenting a budget which includes no anticipated income from football during the current fiscal year compared to $21,599,677 generated by the Hawkeye program during the 2020 fiscal year.

Football expenses at Iowa are being trimmed from $30.4 million to $23.9 million in the proposed budget.

The Iowa budget also assumes having normal winter and spring competitions with reduced attendance capacity.

Iowa is budgeting for income of $1.25 million from its men’s and women’s basketball and wrestling programs, a dollar figure that compares to $4.58 million in revenue from the three sports during the 2020 fiscal year.

Iowa State has budgeted for a loss of $35 million in athletics during the current fiscal year, but assumes revenue from the Big 12, NCAA and its multi-media rights will hold fairly steady.

ISU received $39,319,481 in income from the sources during the most recent fiscal year and anticipates $36,375,000 in revenue from the Big 12, NCAA and its multi-media rights during the 2021 fiscal year.

The budget Iowa State director of athletics Jamie Pollard will present to the Regents includes no income from ticket sales in any sport the Cyclones compete in during the current fiscal year. Ticket sales accounted for just under $18.6 million of the ISU budget in the 2020 fiscal year.

Football generated $13,335,112 in ticket sales for Iowa State a year ago, dollars that are nonexistent in this year’s budget.

ISU, which breaks salaries and additional football support areas into other budget categories, spent $6.8 million on football operations a year ago. It has $4.8 million budgeted for operational expenses in the sport in 2021.

Iowa State anticipates a budget shortfall of approximately $35 million during the current fiscal year.

Northern Iowa is the only one of the three institutions to present a balanced proposed budget. UNI lists projected income and expenses of $12,767,563 for the 2021 fiscal year.

Director of athletics David Harris has presented a budget which includes reduced across-the-board salary and operating expenses.

The UNI budget assumes the Panthers will play four home football games with limited capacity next spring, anticipating revenue of $317,725 compared to the $1,202,759 the program generated last season.

Football expenses at Northern Iowa will see a slight reduction, dropping from #3.6 million in 2020 to $3.3 million in the proposed budget.

UNI also assumes a conference-only men’s basketball schedule with limited capacity at nine home games.

Like Iowa, ISU is looking for creative ways to bridge this year’s budget gap.

While Iowa plans to seek a loan, Iowa State may fund its shortfall in part by accessing unrestricted resources held by the athletics department and university. The use of those dollars would be temporary and repaid by the ISU Department of Athletics over time.

Under previous directives from the Regents, athletic departments at both Iowa and Iowa State are self supporting and receive no tax dollars or monies from university general funds. Iowa met that goal in 2007, while Iowa State achieved that in 2012.

Northern Iowa, which receives no substantial revenue from conference distributions, expects to receive $3.2 million in university support for athletics operations, down from $3.4 million in the 2020 fiscal year.

Athletic departments at all three Regents institutions continue to pay their institutions the cost of the scholarships it awards to student-athletes.

Iowa pays the university approximately $13.9 million for the 300 scholarships it awards annually, Iowa State awards 236 scholarships at a cost of $8.6 million and Northern Iowa athletics spends $4.5 million for the 190 scholarships it awards.

Regents typically approve athletic budgets, as well as all other university budgets, during its July meeting. Because of the volatility created by the coronavirus situation, action was deferred on 2021 fiscal year athletic budgets until next week’s meeting.

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In a letter sent to University of Iowa president Bruce Harreld, director of athletics Gary Barta and coach Kirk Ferentz on Oct. 5, attorney Demario Solomon-Simmons sought on behalf of the student-athletes to “amicably resolve’’ the situation before filing suit and gave the university an Oct. 19 deadline to respond.

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