IOWA CITY — The 2019 budget year was more lucrative for Hawkeye athletics than any in recent history, thanks to a bump in ticket sales, special events, donations and media rights proceeds — allowing the department also to spend more.
The University of Iowa Department of Athletics’ $152 million revenue total last year was nearly $15 million over the previous year — an 11 percent increase. Its $16 million jump in spending to $146.3 million — also the largest total since at least 2013 — was a more than 12 percent bump, according to reports the schools are required to submit to the NCAA.
Iowa State athletics similarly brought in more and spent more last year — with its total operating revenue reaching $95.4 million and its expenses totaling $95.3 million, up from $88.8 million and $88.7 million, respectively.
Both programs benefited from a boost in ticket sales — generating more from football, their biggest moneymaker, reaching $22.3 million from $21.3 million for the Hawkeyes and $16.5 million from $15.9 million for the Cyclones.
That increase represented a turnaround for UI Athletics, which also saw a big boost from women’s basketball — with its revenue more than doubling from $285,150 to $630,526. Relatively speaking, UI reported massive spikes in ticket sales for men’s gymnastics, up from about $3,400 to about $13,200; and softball, which went from $9,467 to $14,746.
National events helped out, such as for swimming and diving, and for track and field.
While swimming and diving generated no ticket revenue in the 2018 budget year, it made $22,571 in 2019. Track and field brought in $300 in 2018 but made $14,354 for both the men’s and women’s team in 2019.
“We hosted Big Ten Championships in men’s swimming/diving, men’s gymnastics, and men’s/women’s outdoor track,” UI Athletics CFO Greg Davies said.
Softball attendance simply increased, according to Davies.
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“There were not any significant price increases for our Olympic sports during this time frame,” he said.
UI Athletics had been battling declining attendance and ticket sales for its largest sports — and last winter it issued a call for help in the form of a digital advertising consultant.
It also spent millions upgrading facilities, promoting season tickets, and encouraging philanthropy — such as through the Kinnick Edge program, rewarding gifts of a certain level with seats in a new outdoor club section of the stadium.
Hawkeye athletics last year received more contributions — such as from individuals and corporations — reporting $35.4 million, up from $27.2 million.
Football-specific donations accounted for the majority of that increase — $900,325, up from $560,212 the previous year.
Giving to Cyclone athletics actually dropped from about $19.3 million to $17.3 million, as did its revenue from media rights, which has proved an expanding moneymaker for UI — and did again this year — reaching $45.1 million, up from $24.8 million two years earlier.
In terms of spending, both institutions spent more on salaries — with the Hawkeyes totaling $24.8 million for coaching salaries, benefits and bonuses, and Iowa State spending $17.3 million in that area.
The majority of those expenses went to their respective football programs.
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