Iowa Hawkeyes

Hawkeye football, basketball revenue continues to slip

Panther athletics also projecting revenue drops

Iowa takes the field before the start of their Big Ten Conference College Football Game Saturday, Oct. 2, 2010 at Kinnic
Iowa takes the field before the start of their Big Ten Conference College Football Game Saturday, Oct. 2, 2010 at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City. (Gazette File Photo)

IOWA CITY — A massive $54 million contribution from the Big Ten Conference continues to plug holes in leaking University of Iowa athletics revenues — with proceeds from its men’s teams falling below expectations in the last budget year and projected to drop further in the upcoming season.

Hawkeye football income, specifically, is budgeted to decrease to $22.3 million in the new fiscal year that started July 1 — about $1 million below the $23.3 million budgeted for 2019, a mark the university failed to meet, generating $23.1 million from its football program last year.

The UI men’s basketball team generated $3.7 million in 2019 — also below expectations. And the university is anticipating another dip in men’s basketball revenue in the upcoming season — like football, which it projects will lose money due to “the schedule rotation.”

The UI Athletics Department — which drives broader campus support in the form of recruitment, alumni engagement and philanthropy — is a self-sustaining enterprise that receives no general university support. It does buy services from UI entities — such as public safety, parking and utilities.

And it recently began budgeting $2 million in general support for the main campus of its $124.9 million overall budget.

UI, which has been pushing efforts to increase ticket sales, recently cataloged its 2019 estimations and 2020 projections in Board of Regents budget documents — along with Iowa State University, which also operates a self-supporting athletics enterprise, and the University of Northern Iowa, which does not.

Because UNI Athletics doesn’t receive substantial conference distributions — like its sister regent institutions — it requires the larger university to supplement its operations and scholarships. In the new budget year, UNI is providing $3.35 million to its athletics operation for operational support and $1.28 million in scholarship support.


And UNI in the budget year that just closed reported below-expectations revenue “from fewer ticket sales, private support, and game guarantees.” The slide is expected to continue in the new budget year “from fewer game guarantees for men’s basketball.”

Panther basketball was budgeted to bring in $1.2 million in fiscal 2019 but instead generated $860,951 and in the current year expects to generate $759,700. UNI football was budgeted to bring in $1.4 million last year but fell short at under $1.3 million.

Iowa State is the only university of the three to see stronger than expected performances from its biggest moneymakers — with football generating $11.4 million in 2019, over the projected $11.1 million, and basketball making $4.2 million, over its $4.1 million projection.

Both Iowa State football and basketball are expected to make more in the current budget year — with total athletics ticket sales budgeted in 2020 to reach $17.6 million, more than $1 million more than the $16 million budgeted in 2019.

And although the Hawkeyes are bracing for drops in football and men’s basketball programs, UI athletics is expecting to generate more from wrestling and its other men’s and women’s teams.

Plus, UI Athletics is expecting to make several millions more from “premium seat revenue,” with the opening this fall of the Kinnick Stadium north end zone premium seating areas.

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