USC athletics director Ray Tanner has run a tight financial ship during his tenure with the Gamecocks. Never has his department finished in the red during an academic year, until this year. Due to Covid restrictions and additional expenses due to the pandemic, Tanner reported to the Board of Trustees Friday a $27 million dollar loss for the 2020-2021 academic year.
The SEC helped to offset some of the losses, and the University also will loan the athletic department money, and Tanner told the trustees he expects his department to be in the red again for this coming academic year, but he foresees a return to budget normalcy for the 2022-23 year.
Here’s the full release from USC:
University of South Carolina Athletics will conclude the 2020-21 academic year with a budget deficit of approximately $27 million, due to the impacts of the pandemic.
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the South Carolina Athletics Department under Athletics Director Ray Tanner had never finished a budget year with a deficit.
The primary reasons for the deficit were a reduction of seating capacity for home football games at Williams-Brice Stadium and associated costs of COVID testing for student-athletes, coaches, and staff during the academic year.
The Athletics Department underwent significant cost-cutting measures including furloughs, voluntary salary cuts of highest salaried employees, reduction in operating costs and hiring freezes.
“I commend our coaches and staff for their ability to work under trying circumstances and continue to give our student-athletes a positive experience this past year,” Athletics Director Tanner said. “Our medical team and training staff did an outstanding job of keeping our student-athletes healthy and safe and meeting all of the COVID protocols as specified by the DHEC, CDC, the SEC and our University.”
The Athletics Department benefited from a one-time $23 million supplemental revenue distribution from the Southeastern Conference. The SEC used future increases in media rights revenue to facilitate the supplemental revenue distribution. The distribution from the SEC cut the Athletics Department deficit to $27 million.
Additional shortfalls will be covered by the University until the athletics department is able to return to its self-supporting status in 2022-23. Payments back to the University would begin during the 2024-25 fiscal year.
The 2021-22 fiscal year may see a rise in revenues but still not to pre-COVID years, while expenses return to pre-COVID budget numbers. Thus, the athletics department is preparing for a shortfall for the current and next fiscal year, with returning to self-supporting status in 2022-23.
“We are working to get back to full strength with our budget for 2022-23,” Tanner said. “We will still need to be conscientious with the budget, but I believe we will be able to give our student-athletes and coaches the means necessary to compete for SEC and national championships.”
As an auxiliary unit of the University, the athletics department has historically provided funds to the University for the General Fund. This funding, between $4-5 million per year, comes from television agreements, trademark and licensing revenues as well as support for the band, student government and other areas of the University.
On May 19, the Athletics Department announced that it is planning for full capacity for Williams-Brice Stadium for the 2021 football season.
During the last two years and before the COVID pandemic, Williams-Brice Stadium saw a $22.5 million renovation, and in the last year, a $7.5 million indoor tennis facility is near completion.