Transportation costs send UI bowl expenses soaring
Iowa finishes nearly $200k in the red after Outback Bowl
IOWA CITY -- Iowa's athletics department spent nearly $200,000 more than it received to participate in the 2014 Outback Bowl, documents show.
The athletics department tallied nearly $2.02 million in expenses on its recent bowl trip to Tampa, Fla., exceeding the $1.825 million allowance distributed by the Big Ten Conference. The university released documents to related the bowl trip to The Gazette on Tuesday after an open-records request.
The reason for the $194,375 shortfall, officials say, is a cost increase in charter aircraft. According to a statement issued by UI financial officer Mick Walker, round-trip airfare for the team, coaching staff, official UI delegation and marching band was $747,277, about $221,000 more than what the school paid on its last bowl trip, the 2011 Insight Bowl. UI paid $525,851 for round-trip charter air service that year.
The players stayed nine days in Florida, while the cheerleaders and official party resided for for three days. Iowa totaled 663 people -- including players and coaches -- on its bowl trip.
“When we became bowl eligible and throughout our planning process, we anticipated an increase in this expense category for two reasons," Walker said in a statement. "First, it was our first bowl game in two years and we knew the cost of charter aircraft service during that time had increased. Second, during the bidding process for this year’s bowl game charters, we learned that demand was far greater than supply, and, therefore, our choices were both limited and expensive."
It was Iowa's first bowl deficit since the 2009 Outback Bowl. Iowa's total bill for transportation -- including on the ground -- was $928,309. Its transportation bill for the 2011 Insight Bowl was $650,689.
The department will make up for the deficiency through its annual operations budget, Walker said.
Each Big Ten member was contracted to sell 11,500 bowl tickets, and the Hawkeyes sold 9,085, the school's best showing since the 2010 Orange Bowl and one of the best by the league in a non-Bowl Championship Series bowl in years. The Hawkeyes sold just 5,211 tickets to the 2011 Insight Bowl. The total number of tickets required to sell varies based on arrangements.
UI and the Big Ten absorbed a total 2,535 tickets costing $216,750. All Big Ten schools share bowl revenues and expenses after allowances are distributed.
Iowa's opponent, Southeastern Conference member Louisiana State, was contracted to sell 15,000 tickets. LSU sold just 4,639 tickets and 10,361 were absorbed, costing the school and the SEC more than $872,000, according to numbers given to The Gazette through an open-records request.
LSU spent $456,885 on bowl transportation. The team stayed seven days, while others resided between three and seven days. The Tigers paid for 743 people to attend or participate in the game.
Iowa spent $762,107 on lodging and meals, while LSU spent $813, 989.