Steve Patterson believed it was only a matter of time before Texas would cross a financial milestone unlike any other in college athletics.
The former Texas athletic director said four years ago the Longhorns would one day rake in $200 million in revenues, and that finally happened during the 2016-17 athletic year, according to audited figures obtained by the American-Statesman through an open records request.
The university hauled in $214.8 million in athletic revenues, believed to be a first in NCAA history. That represents a significant jump from the previous year when UT athletics generated $188 million — about a 14.3 percent increase.
According to USA Today’s financial database, Oklahoma State University reported a one-year revenue haul of $211 million in 2006. That was the previous revenue record. However about $165 million was a donation made by booster Boone Pickens for facility improvements. Texas smashed OSU’s record simply by conducting normal business.
The UT audit showed the athletic department took in $42.6 million in donations for the 2016-17 athletic year, about a $2 million increase from the previous year.
But as all UT athletic directors have learned, the school generates a lot of money. But it costs a lot of money to be “the Joneses,” as AD DeLoss Dodds once said.
The Longhorns had $217.4 million in expenses, another school record. That figure includes a $10.3 million transfer to the university coffers, according to the annual audit conducted by the Austin-based accounting firm of Maxwell, Locke & Ritter.
UT is one of just a handful of schools nationally that transfer money back to the university that’s then used for academic purposes, school officials said.
As usual, football led the way financially. The Longhorns generated $42.4 million in football ticket revenue during the 2016 season, Charlie Strong’s last at UT. That’s a jump from $37.4 million generated during the 2015 season. The football program generated a $100.1 million profit for the year.
Texas is keeping football season ticket prices flat for the 2018 season. It’s the third straight year there were no changes.
Men’s basketball ($6.6 million) and baseball ($913,000) were the only other two sports to show a profit for the athletic year, according to the audit. That is historically the norm. At most schools, football and men’s basketball are the only two profitable sports. UT has 20 varsity sports total.
The Longhorns still carry considerable debt. The athletic department is on a debt schedule that totals $306.7 million in principal and interest payments stretching out to 2044. UT officials authorized the use of long-term debt instruments to fund the renovation of Royal-Memorial Stadium about a decade ago.
The school is scheduled to make principal and interest payments of $18.3 million in fiscal year 2018, according to the audit.
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