USA Today has published a breakdown of college athletics revenues/expenditures for the period of 2006 – 2011 in handy chart form here. If you’re interested in that kind of stuff, there’s some fascinating data worth a look.
And if you’re a Georgia fan, you ought to be more than interested. Here’s why:
Put another way, in 2006, of the eleven public institutions in the SEC, Georgia ranked second in revenue. Five years later, it ranks sixth. Graphically, here’s how that looks:
The red line is Georgia’s revenue. The blue line is the median for the conference.
The big story is contributions, which are defined as “Includes amounts received directly from individuals, corporations, associations, foundations, clubs or other organizations by the donor for the operation of the athletics program. Report amounts paid in excess of a ticket’s value. Contributions include cash, marketable securities and in-kind contributions such as dealer-provided cars, apparel and drink products for team and staff use. Also includes revenue from preferential seating.” There is only one SEC school which saw a decline in 2011 contributions from their 2006 level. That would be the school in Athens.
It’s hard to put a finger on an exact cause for that. The economy? Maybe, but that hasn’t stopped every other school in the conference from registering an increase. Disappointing seasons? You’d certainly think that played a major part, although Florida seems to have weathered its recent storm better than has Georgia.
The other area that explains the slide is called “other revenue”. That is “All other sources of revenue including game guarantees, support from third-parties guaranteed by the school such as TV income, housing allowances, camp income, etc.; tournament/bowl game revenues from conferences; endowments and investments; revenue from game programs, novelties, food or other concessions; and parking revenues and other sources.” The amount Georgia collected in this category last year ($2,116,893) was over $3 million less than what was received in 2006 and ranked eighth in the SEC.
Now this is all athletic revenue, so you can’t hang the entire story on the football program, but let’s not kid ourselves. Football is the main driver of money for Georgia athletics. If the numbers are flatlining, that’s more about what Mark Richt is putting on the table than the rest of Georgia’s coaches put together. Does that mean Richt’s seat is warmer than we thought? Probably not, but I’d be surprised if this was a trend that doesn’t concern the people Richt answers to. And the people those people answer to.
One thing’s for sure, there’s a pretty big gap growing between what the top programs in the SEC are bringing in and what McGarity’s programs are taking in. And in a league where you have to spend money to excel – or at least think you do – falling behind isn’t something to get comfortable about if you want to keep your job.
In other words, it sure wouldn’t hurt if the football team had a great season this year.