University of Missouri

Missouri’s athletic revenue hits $83 million in 2014, but debt, expenses rise as well

Increased football ticket sales were a factor in Missouri’s athletic revenue rising to $83 million in 2014.
Increased football ticket sales were a factor in Missouri’s athletic revenue rising to $83 million in 2014. The Kansas City Star

The Missouri athletic department’s annual operating revenue grew nearly 10 percent to $83.7 million during the 2014 fiscal year but outstanding debt climbed by nearly $60 million and expenses also increased, according to data obtained by The Star that is submitted annually by the school to the NCAA.

Still, MU athletics reported revenue close to $3.5 million more than expenses in its second season in the Southeastern Conference. That marks a decline from the 2013 fiscal year, when Missouri reported an operating profit of more than $6 million, but continues a positive trend since the Tigers left the Big 12.

An athletic department spokesman said MU was pleased with the revenue growth. Missouri was one of only 20 Football Bowl Subdivision athletic departments with greater revenues than expenses during 2013, according to the NCAA.

The positive balance sheet for fiscal year 2014, which ran from July 1, 2013, to June 30, 2014, allowed MU athletics to transfer $2,179,583 of the $3.5 million profit to the university for “initiatives outside of athletics.”

MU reported operating revenue of $83,718,587, an increase of more than $7.4 million from 2013. MU’s $76,306,889 operating revenue in 2013 ranked 35th nationally and 11th among 13 reporting schools in the SEC, according to USA Today. As a private school, Vanderbilt was not included in the SEC rankings.

Expenses in 2014 climbed nearly $10 million to $80,230,179. Most of the additional expense came from a 59.6 percent increase for facilities, maintenance and debt service, a 40.9 percent increase in the cost of team travel and a 12.5 percent increase in coaching salaries.

Preparation for SEC Network television coverage accounted for the rise in facilities costs, according to the athletic department, while the travel budget swelled primarily from the football team’s appearances in the SEC Championship Game and Cotton Bowl. Increasing charter costs were also a factor for all sports.

Missouri’s outstanding athletic debt increased 255 percent — from $22,839,576 to $81,268,862 — according to the latest NCAA report. The spike is attributed to new bonds that were issued for Memorial Stadium’s west-side renovation and east-side expansion, as well as the reconfiguration of the Rock M, a MU department spokesman said.

The debt increase also reflects bonds issued for enhancements to the golf, tennis and baseball facilities.

In its final year in the Big 12, 2011-12, Missouri reported a $16.2 million operating deficit after it did not receive its annual revenue distribution from the conference. Athletic director Mike Alden told The Star then that the university would cover the department’s expenses and that it would have to repay the school starting in 2016.

Two key aspects to MU’s revenue growth in 2014 were football and donor contributions.

Contributions rose 26.6 percent, or more than $4.2 million, to $20,113,654 — as Missouri’s football team stormed to the first of back-to-back SEC East championships.

Football ticket sales rose $2,572,105 — an increase of 17.2 percent to $17,554,536 — despite a decreased capacity at Memorial Stadium with the east-side expansion underway. The Tigers were coming off a 5-7 season during the 2013 fiscal year and rebounded in fiscal year 2014 (2013 football season), finishing 12-2.

Football’s robust sales more than accounted for roughly $1.7 million in increased ticket revenue overall, though ticket sales for men’s basketball also ticked up by 1.0 percent to $5,204,219.

Missouri also made gains in its distribution from the NCAA and SEC, which climbed 3.6 percent to $21,836,870. That figure includes $14,185,334 for football and $5,066,479 for men’s basketball.

The Tigers’ conference share is expected to rise again in the 2015 fiscal year, which will be the first to include disbursements from the SEC Network. The ESPN-backed channel launched in August.

Additionally, MU’s revenue from broadcast rights climbed 4.2 percent to $4,456,704, but the department’s revenue for programs and concessions, royalties and licensing and sports camps all declined slightly — a combined 3.7 percent.

Missouri does not charge any student fees for athletics, but student ticket sales are included in total ticket sales.

Student aid also rose 6.9 percent to more than $9.1 million because of a tuition increase of $1,838 for in-state athletes and $2,471 for out-of-state athletes.

New rules governing athletic scholarships, which will allow schools to pay for the full cost of attendance rather than the current standard full grant-in-aid, take effect in August 2015.

Missouri will need to pay nearly $800,000 in additional aid based on the 2014 figures — 258.13 athletic scholarships and a difference of $3,080 between a full grant-in-aid and the full cost of attendance.

However, those numbers won’t be reflected in the NCAA Revenues and Expenses Report until the 2016 fiscal year.

To reach Tod Palmer, call 816-234-4389 or send email to Follow him on Twitter: @todpalmer.

Missouri athletic finances


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