Where does the athletics budget go?

By Jacob Laurenti
On September 26, 2010

  • UB spends a lot of money on atheltics, but it's an investment well worth it. The Spectrum

$23,444,104.

That was the athletic department's budget for the 2008-09 academic year. Between SUNY budget cuts, the delaying of UB 2020 and the rise in student tuition, this figure, at a glance, may shock and upset many.

But the breakdown of how the money is spent tells a much different story.

Athletic expenses include everything from scholarships and salaries, to team travel and equipment. Buffalo has 20 Division I intercollegiate sports, 57 coaches and 124 other staff members that they support financially as well.

Every sport has a different amount of games, players and coaches and all have different fan bases as well. The athletic department decides how much money each sport is given, with a priority going to the major teams.

For example, football expenses are given top priority namely because they attract the biggest audience, have the most players and require equipment and medical attention necessary to keep their program afloat. In 2008-09 the football program received around $5.2 million while every other sport combined – with the exception of basketball – totaled around $6.4 million.

Other than team funding, one of the biggest athletic expenses is student aid. The department spends $5,509,399.77 – about 21 percent of the budget ¬ on scholarships and financial aid for players.

Salaries make up another major expense. They total around $8 million and include salaries for coaches as well as support staff and administrators. These salaries vary greatly from position to position.

For example, head football coach Jeff Quinn's salary for 2010 is $250,000 and Warde Manuel, the Athletic Director, makes $283,250.

To put these numbers into perspective, former Bulls head coach Turner Gill made $265,000 in 2008, the year he took Buffalo to the International Bowl, while Temple head coach Al Golden pocketed $575,000 the same year – the most for any Mid-American Conference head coach.

The average athletic budget for a MAC school is $21,089,093.54, with UB falling around $2 million over the mean. Part of this stems from Buffalo's travel costs which it incurs because of where our school is located.

"One of the reason why our budget is a little higher is because our travel costs are more," said Paul Vecchio, Associate Athletic Director. "For us to try to compete at the Division I level, we have to try to schedule as hard as we can, which requires us to travel a little more."

The average salary for a MAC head football coach is $297,307.69, whereas President John B. Simpson's salary is listed at $250,000 for 2010.

The athletic salaries may seem excessive, but the expenses only tell half of the story.

Athletics generates millions of dollars for the school and the revenue they create surpasses their overall expenses.

For example, though the football team's expenses totaled $5.2 million, they generated the same amount in 2008-09.

The department makes the most money from ticket sales and merchandise fees. Buffalo makes a profit on anything sold anywhere with a Bulls logo and UB gets financial incentives from large schools like Penn State and Auburn when they play them in road games.

Sports, especially football and basketball, also generate a lot of publicity for the school and give it nationwide recognition. These extra benefits, which are usually invaluable, sometimes come with a substantial monetary figure.

When the Bulls made the International Bowl in 2009, the NCAA gave them $750,000. Additionally, people also began buying merchandise, filling the stands, and actually believing in the program.

When students start getting excited about school sports, a mentality of belonging and being a part of something larger develops. Vecchio believes that university athletics does a great deal of good for the school and remains a smart investment.

"It's very clear that athletics creates pride among not only just students, but alumni, too," Vechhio said. "I don't think it's any secret that athletics is the unifying factor within major institutions in our country."

With more New York State budget cuts looming in the future, every department is prepared to have less money to work with. Athletics may have one of the largest budgets, but they also incur some of the greatest expenses, yet are still able to generate a lot of money for the school.

 


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