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Iowa Athletics financially moving in ‘right direction’ after COVID-19
Repaying loan, rolling over donations among residual effects of COVID-19 on athletic department’s budget
IOWA CITY — Iowa Athletics financially is nearing pre-pandemic norms, the department’s most recent NCAA financial report shows.
Iowa netted a profit of $338,231 in the 2021-22 fiscal year based on how the NCAA measures costs and expenses, according to the report obtained by The Gazette via a public records request.
It is the first time since 2018-19 that Iowa’s revenue exceeded expenses although the 2021-22 profit remains significantly below the $5.7 million profit from that year.
“Everything’s going in the right direction,” said Greg Davies, the athletic department’s chief financial officer.
The $338,231 topline number is not an exact representation of Iowa’s operating budget. The department must submit a balanced budget to the Board of Regents each year, Davies said.
“This just gives an overall picture of the entire department financially,” Davies said, rather than the budget sent to the Board of Regents that is “really our operating income and expenses.”
As usual, media rights, contributions and ticket sales were Iowa’s three largest sources of revenue. They combined to account for more than two-thirds of the department’s income.
Athletic department loan
Iowa’s 2021-22 profit would have been higher, had it not been for a $3 million payment as Iowa begins to repay its $50 million low-interest loan from the university during COVID-19.
Iowa is scheduled to pay back the loan over a 15-year period. The department would have to pay the university an average of $3.33 million per year to pay the loan on time.
“As we go forward, we’d love to pay it off faster if we can,” athletics director Gary Barta said. “Every year, we will now budget an amount going into the year toward that debt service.”
Donations still lagging, but not an area of concern
While many revenue sources have either returned to pre-pandemic norms or exceeded them, Iowa’s contributions are lagging.
The athletic department received $35.4 million in contributions in the 2018-19 fiscal year — the last full fiscal year before COVID-19 began. Iowa received only $29.5 million in contributions although that outpaced the $12.3 million received in 2020-21.
Davies said it is a residual effect of not having season ticket holders, and their minimum seat donations, during the 2020-21 season.
“Some of the donations rolled over (to 2021-22) from when we didn’t have folks in the stands,” Davies said.
Contribution numbers also have “a little bit of ebb and flow,” Davies said, based on if there are any facility projects underway.
The fiscal year concluded before the Swarm Collective launched and began seeking donations from Iowa supporters, which could potentially split contributions that previously were exclusive to Iowa Athletics.
Barta is not concerned about Swarm’s presence taking away from Iowa’s donations, though.
“There’s a lot of new donors who have come on board with the Swarm,” Barta said. “And then there’s people who have decided to continue to give to us and to give to the Swarm, so I think that’s an important combination.”
More spent on men’s basketball recruiting
Men’s basketball spent $616,281 on recruiting in 2021-22 — the most of any team on campus.
Football spent $577,589 on recruiting, and women’s basketball spent $157,786.
It was the second consecutive year that men’s basketball was the top spender.
In the 2020-21 fiscal year, which bore much of the COVID-19 brunt, men’s basketball spent $32,178 on recruiting.
Football spent $20,608 that year. The only other teams to spend five figures that year were volleyball ($10,757) and soccer ($10,732). Women’s basketball spent $1,466.
Barta downplayed the difference in spending on recruiting, saying he does not know “if it was a data discrepancy” that led to the apparent change in spending level.
“Whether it's (head coaches) Kirk (Ferentz), whether it's Lisa (Bluder), whether it's Fran (McCaffery), they have the resources they need to recruit,” Barta said.