IOWA CITY, Iowa — A $4 million jump in football ticket sales enabled the Iowa athletics department to finish the 2017 fiscal year in the black for the first time in three years.
The Hawkeyes reported about $130.68 million in revenue to the NCAA and spent about $128.87 million in fiscal 2017, which ended June 30. The previous two annual reports showed deficits after nearly a decade of economic growth. Land of 10 obtained the document through an open-records request.
Football ticket sales were crucial to the rebound. Iowa recorded a program-record $23.7 million in football ticket sales, which included the 2016 season. That’s up from $19.4 million in the 2016 fiscal year. It was a needed surge after a 17-percent drop in football ticket sales for the 2015 season, which was included in FY 2016.
“When you look at the trends across the country in football attendance and basketball attendance, just nationally there seems to be a reduction,” Iowa athletics director Gary Barta said. “So I’m pleased generally that we’re holding our own. It seems to fluctuate a little bit more depending on good season/bad season. But for the most part we still have that core of support that’s as good as anywhere.”
The football sales smoothed over Iowa’s stagnant basketball ticket sales for the 2017 fiscal year. Iowa’s basketball ticket sales dipped to $3.58 million, down about $70,000 from 2016 but the lowest number since 2013.
Along with football ticket sales, the department saw an overall $17 million revenue boost in FY 2017. That included about $5 million more in year-over-year contributions to nearly $33 million, and about $2.4 million in additional income from media rights and Big Ten/NCAA sources to $38.5 million.
As for cost increases, Iowa paid $3.865 million — or about two-thirds of the total amount — in severance to settle lawsuits brought by former senior associate athletics director Jane Meyer and former field hockey coach Tracey Griesbaum.
Among the other major cost jumps: department salaries (by about $1.95 million to almost $20 million); coaching salaries (by about $1.2 million to nearly $21.5 million); debt service (by about $2.75 million to $20.12 million). Scholarship costs grew by $600,000 to $12.62 million, and medical costs nearly doubled to $1.8 million.
“I don’t think we had a lot more surgeries or a lot more expense,” Barta said. “Hopefully this is an anomaly because if we grew at that pace every year it would hard to sustain.”
The rise in donations and debt service were tied together by the $89 million Kinnick Stadium north end zone renovation. The department received several gifts, which helped pay for pre-renovation costs such as architects fees and engineering fees.
With the Big Ten agreeing to a new six-year media rights package that generates about $51 million annually, plus ongoing donations earmarked for the Kinnick project, Iowa expects its revenues to soar in fiscal 2018, as will its expenses. Along with Kinnick Stadium, the department has a $15 million renovation to its Gerdin Learning Center and will build a new clubhouse at Finkbine Golf Course. Other projects are under consideration.
“We’re studying wrestling and what to do with the practice facility there,” Barta said. “We’d love to do a new softball stadium, continuing to add to our baseball facility and other Olympic-type sport ideas and concepts, plus more to Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
“When you take all of it and add it up, it’s a lot of money and we don’t yet have identified how we’re going to pay for those.”
Iowa’s athletics department is self-supporting and does not receiving general funding from the university.