Michigan's athletic department turns surplus of $11.6 million during 2020 fiscal year

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Orion Sang, Detroit Free Press
·4 min read
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The University of Michigan's athletic department had a surplus of roughly $11.6 million during the 2020 fiscal year, according to a detailed financial report obtained by USA Today.

The department generated $192,403,168 in total operating revenues and $180,841,523 in total operating expenses.

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The 2020 fiscal year began in July 2019 and ran through June 30, 2020, according to the university's listed cutoff dates. The athletic department has estimated that it could face a budget deficit of up to $80 million during the current fiscal year, due to the impact of the pandemic, and slashed 21 jobs within the department last fall.

General view at Michigan Stadium prior to the game between rivals Michigan and Michigan State on Oct. 31, 2020 in Ann Arbor.
General view at Michigan Stadium prior to the game between rivals Michigan and Michigan State on Oct. 31, 2020 in Ann Arbor.

Compared to the 2019 fiscal year, Michigan's expenses went down by roughly $10 million in the 2020 fiscal year while revenue decreased by roughly $5.4 million. Thus, the surplus during the 2020 fiscal year was greater than the surplus from the 2019 fiscal year.

The department's total operating expenses were also less than previously estimated in the summer of 2019, when Michigan projected a balanced budget for the 2020 fiscal year featuring $196.3 million in revenues and $196.3 million in operating expenses.

The Wolverines will still likely finish among the highest spenders in the country, a distinction they typically earn; during the 2019 fiscal year, Michigan was the third-highest spender in the country, with operating expenses of $190.95 million and total revenue of $197.82 million.

Michigan Wolverines head coach Juwan Howard reacts during the first half against Minnesota at Williams Arena in Minneapolis, Jan. 16, 2021.
Michigan Wolverines head coach Juwan Howard reacts during the first half against Minnesota at Williams Arena in Minneapolis, Jan. 16, 2021.

Of Michigan's revenue-generating sports, football came out on top, with $125.8 million in total revenues and $44.7 million in operating expenses. In total, the football program turned a profit of $81 million for the department. The other program that came out ahead was men's basketball, which generated $17.8 million in revenues and $7.5 million in expenses for a profit of $10.3 million. Women's basketball had revenues of $403,614 and expenses of $4.4 million, while "other sports" — listed in one column in the report — had $6.05 million in revenues and $43.3 million in expenses.

In total, the athletic department brought in $57,105,068 in ticket sales; $32,812,010 in contributions; $44,885,460 in media rights; and $26,491,023 in royalties, licensing, advertisement and sponsorships. Those were the four biggest sources of revenue for the department.

Head coach Jim Harbaugh of the Michigan Wolverines warms up his team before the game against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights at SHI Stadium on Nov, 21, 2020 in Piscataway, New Jersey.
Head coach Jim Harbaugh of the Michigan Wolverines warms up his team before the game against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights at SHI Stadium on Nov, 21, 2020 in Piscataway, New Jersey.

The most costly expenses included $38,558,039 in support staff and administrative compensation, benefits and bonuses; $31,271,711 in coaching salaries, benefits and bonuses; $28,150,283 in athletic student aid; $22,483,142 in direct overhead and administrative expenses; and $17,358,525 in athletic facilities debt service, leases and rental fee.

One notable difference between the reports for the 2019 fiscal year and 2020 fiscal year: A significant decrease in expenses for team travel during the 2020 fiscal year. As a whole, the department's expenses for team travel totaled $8,479,146, comprised of $1,604,275 from the football team, $998,086 from the men's basketball team, $877,835 from the women's basketball team, $4,953,191 from other sports and $45,759 in non-program specific expenses.

During the 2019 fiscal year, team travel cost $13,385,057; $2,367,370 from the football team, $1,489,122 from the basketball team $1,171,089 from the women's basketball team, $8,210,121 from other sports and $147,355 in non-program specific expenses. Some of that difference could be attributed to the onset of the coronavirus pandemic toward the tail end of the 2020 fiscal year, as the NCAA halted all winter sports as the postseason was set to begin and canceled all spring sports such as baseball and softball, among others.

USA Today's Steve Berkowitz contributed reporting.

Contact Orion Sang at osang@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @orion_sang. Read more on the Michigan Wolverines and sign up for our Wolverines newsletter. The Free Press has started a new digital subscription model. Here's how you can gain access to our most exclusive Michigan Wolverines content.

This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Michigan athletic department: $11.6 million surplus in 2020 fiscal year