April 23, 2009
For all the hand-wringing and teeth-gnashing about overpaid coaches and shiny new practice facilities, self-sustaining athletics departments do exist. The big programs draw in outsized revenues, and they spend accordingly. Florida's athletics department is one such money machine, and like many of the brand-name programs, it also regularly gives back to the university. Facing a severe budget shortfall, however, the school is passing one enormous hat this time around -- university officials are asking Gator athletics for a $6 million donation.
A request this size might be unprecedented, but the straits are sufficiently dire. As an alternative to layoffs and program cuts, it's not an unrealistic option -- and it's one that's likely to go through:
"Every department and unit on campus is feeling the impact of budget issues," [athletic director Jeremy] Foley said. "It is only appropriate our operating budget is impacted as well."
The [University Athletic Association] operates on a healthy $84.5-million annual budget muscled by lucrative TV deals with CBS and ESPN, a $100-million marketing/broadcasting deal with Sun Sports, lofty licensing sales, a sold-out Swamp every year and booster donations.
The math is simple. Foley's shop can virtually print money. The athletics department has the means; the university does not, and the funds are being directed accordingly. Now, once this has passed, let's see the hollering quiet down a little next time Urban Meyer's assistants get raises.