Bobby Gleason joined the Texas Tech athletic department in 1994, and he can recite the budget that year without hesitation.
“Nine-point-four million,” said Gleason, Tech’s senior associate athletic director who is charged with monitoring the department’s finances. “It’s easy for me to remember because of those numbers — 9.4 in ’94.”
It’s nearly seven times that now. For the current fiscal year — Sept. 1, 2011, through Aug. 31, 2012 — Tech submitted a balanced, $54 million budget in the spring of 2011. In a pleasant development, Tech actually expects revenues of $62 million in that time frame and spend $56 million-plus.
The anticipated $5 million-plus surplus will be due to a signing bonus from the Big 12 Conference television contract with Fox Sports.
“Without that, it would be about a break-even year,” Gleason said.
A comparison of financial reports Big 12 schools submitted for 2010-11, the latest year for which data are available, shows Tech near the bottom in athletic spending. For years, the Red Raiders’ resources have been far outpaced by those of Texas, Oklahoma and Texas A&M, but in a range similar to other schools with whom they compete.
“In a lot of ways, the challenges are still the same,” Gleason said. “We want to compete for championships. Our fans expect us to compete for championships. We don’t have the financial resources that some of our peer institutions in the conference have, and so you try to be creative and work hard, but it’s no different than at any other time, really. It’s still the same.”
The Equity in Athletics Data Analysis submitted by Tech for 2010-11 showed revenue of about $51.2 million and expenses of about $48.1 million. Net cash flow, however, was between $300,000 and $400,000, Gleason said, because the revenue side included some non-cash benefits such as the value of apparel Tech teams were provided by Under Armour and, for example, trading tickets for advertising.
“You don’t deposit that in the bank account,” Gleason said, “so we did not generate $3 million cash flow.”
Tech’s biggest expenses, Gleason said, were salaries totaling a little more than $20 million, debt service around $10 million on recently built athletic facilities and athletic scholarship costs of more than $5 million. The remaining expenditures, about $13 million, were for general operations such as money spent on recruiting, team travel and other day-to-day costs.
The debt service is what’s new in the Big 12 era. Tech athletic officials proudly point to investing $235 million in facilities since 1998 — think United Spirit Arena, Jones AT&T Stadium west and east stadium buildings, Rocky Johnson Field, the John Walker Soccer Complex and renovations to the Fuller Track Complex.
“Very few, if any, other universities in this country have made that same investment,” athletic director Kirby Hocutt said.
Paying off all those projects represents roughly 20 percent of the annual budget, and it’ll remain an obligation — at a steady $10 million a year, Gleason said — well into the future. Originally, 20-year bonds were issued on United Spirit Arena, which opened in 1999, and 30-year bonds on the Jones AT&T Stadium additions that started in 2001.
“We didn’t have any debt service in ’94,” Gleason said. “If there were any, it was very small. We had not built $250 million in new facilities. Salaries have obviously increased significantly, and the cost of travel. The Southwest Conference being Texas-based, distances are greater now (in the Big 12).”
As for how the revenue soared over the last two decades, chalk that up to Big 12 television dollars, income from suites and club seats, growth of Red Raider Club donations and increased ticket sales. Tech averaged 39,217 for home football attendance in 1995 — the last year before the Big 12 — and 57,124 in 2010.
Of Tech’s $51.2 million in revenue for 2010-11, football raked in $26.6 million, men’s basketball $5.4 million, women’s basketball $1.3 million and all other sports combined $2 million. That leaves $15.9 million not credited to a specific sport.
Examples of non-sport-specific revenue, Gleason said, are Red Raider Club donations, licensing royalties and sales from the Double-T Shoppe, a Tech athletic merchandise store.
Tech athletics still receives a $1 million subsidy from the university, Gleason said, down from $2.25 million the year before. The subsidy, Gleason said, is to support and assist gender equity in budgets.
To comment on this story:
firstname.lastname@example.org • 766-2166