University of Missouri

Mizzou athletics posts record revenues, expenses during 2015-16

The Missouri Tigers football team ran onto Faurot Field at Memorial Stadium in Columbia before a Sept. 17, 2016 game against Georgia.
The Missouri Tigers football team ran onto Faurot Field at Memorial Stadium in Columbia before a Sept. 17, 2016 game against Georgia.

Buoyed by a spike in the media-rights payout from the Southeastern Conference, University of Missouri athletics revenue reached a record $97,275,839 during the 2016 fiscal year.

Total operating expenses also reached a record level between July 1, 2015, and June 30, 2016, according to a copy of the Tigers’ NCAA Agreed-Upon Procedures report obtained by The Star.

Missouri claimed more than $91.2 million in revenue for the 2015 fiscal year, which also was a record, but revenue jumped another 5.5 percent in 2016 despite the football and basketball teams’ struggles during the 2015-16 academic year.

The athletic department’s expenses increased 8.6 percent during that same period to a record $94,323,693 because of, in part, a sizeable hike in the student-aid payments after the introduction of cost-of-attendance stipends.

The revenue increase stems from the influx of SEC Network revenue, which was the primary contributor in a nearly 27 percent increase in media-rights revenue.

Year over year, the Tigers jumped from $26.4 million in media-rights revenue to $33.5 million in 2016, an increase of more than $7 million.

That helped offset an 18.3 percent decline in revenue from ticket sales.

Mizzou’s ticket revenue fell from $23.4 million during the 2015 fiscal year, when the football team claimed the second of its back-to-back SEC East titles, to $19.1 million last fiscal year.

Football — whose ticket revenue dropped from $16.3 million to $13.3 million, a decline of 18.7 percent — accounted for the majority of the losses.

The school attributed the drop to having one fewer home football game — the Tigers’ November 2015 game against BYU was played at Arrowhead Stadium — coupled with “a losing season in football and men’s basketball,” the report said.

Mizzou football finished 5-7 that season, a disappointing campaign marked by a midseason player boycott and Gary Pinkel’s retirement, while the men’s basketball team finished 10-21 and endured a self-imposed postseason ban that was announced last January.

The trend of slumping ticket sales seems unlikely to reverse itself during the 2017 fiscal year.

The Tigers averaged 65,120 football fans — drawing 390,720 for six home games — in 2015, but the average attendance last fall dipped to 52,236 with fewer fans — 365,651 — coming through the turnstiles despite playing seven games at Memorial Stadium.

Meanwhile, the men’s basketball team’s continued struggles, including a 5-13 start this season and an 0-6 mark in SEC play, have deepened the attendance decline at Mizzou Arena.

Ticket revenue for men’s basketball already plummeted 20.9 percent last season from $4.7 million in 2014-15 to $3.7 million in 2015-16, a figure that seems will drop again.

The net revenue for third-year coach Kim Anderson’s program plummeted to $3.38 million last season, the lowest in more than a decade, aside from the 2012 fiscal year when Missouri forfeited its conference revenue during the move from the Big 12 to the SEC.

The postseason ban also cost the program $1.3 million in revenue.

MU’s distribution from the NCAA for men’s basketball was $960,207 — down from $1.86 million during the 2015 fiscal year — as a result of being ineligible for March Madness (and its resultant revenue). The Tigers’ SEC distribution for men’s basketball dipped from $392,958 to $675.

On the expense side of the ledger, cost of attendance helped drive up MU athletics’ cost for student aid by 19.9 percent.

Part of that is because Mizzou’s cost-of-attendance figure climbed 77 percent, going from $3,079 per student-athlete during the 2015 fiscal year to $5,451 last year.

With NCAA Division I schools now paying athletes the full cost of attendance rather than the traditional grant-in-aid formula, the Tigers’ student-aid costs rose from $9.38 million during the 2015 fiscal year to $11.25 million last year.

That was hardly the only expense to spike during the 2015-16 academic year.

Missouri also saw significant increases in team equipment (up 43.8 percent to $1.71 million), team camp expenses (up 26.2 percent to $1.22 million) guaranteed money paid to opponents for home games (up 26.0 percent to $3.26 million), debt service (up 17.9 percent to $7.1 million), recruiting (up 17.1 percent to $1.47 million) and non-coaching staff salaries (up 11.2 percent to $18.9 million).

Tod Palmer: 816-234-4389, @todpalmer