The first big take on the report covering the period from July 1, 2018 through June 30, 2019 is that, while in some aspects the Georgia Way abides…
The Georgia Athletic Association remains one of the most profitable enterprises in the Southeastern Conference, netting nearly $31 million over expenses in Fiscal Year 2019, according to UGA’s latest NCAA financial report. That report was obtained by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution Monday through an open-records request.
Georgia’s surplus is tops among the SEC athletic programs that have shared their balance sheets publicly so far.
… as does McGarity’s “hey, don’t call it profits” take…
Georgia Athletic Director Greg McGarity attributed the Bulldogs’ strong bottom line to “football success, keeping down expenses and being fiscally responsible.”
While that number is considered profit, McGarity points out that almost all of it of that money already was spent in “capital projects” and predetermined outlays. The athletic association donated $5 million back to the university in 2019 and allocated $23.1 million to ongoing or recently completed facility improvements.
The remaining $2.7 million was turned over to the UGA Foundation for future athletic enhancements, according to Stephanie Ransom, deputy athletic director for finance.
(By the way, just because you choose to spend the money doesn’t mean it’s not a profit, Greg. But I digress.)
… there is one thing in there worth focusing on as a potential canary in the coal mine.
Nearly a third of UGA Athletics’ revenue last year came from contributions — $52.5 million in 2019, 84 percent of which (or $44.3 million) was earmarked for the football program. But overall giving was down significantly from the previous year, 22.5 percent overall and 28.9 percent for football. Georgia reported $67.7 million in donations in Fiscal Year 2018, likely due to the Bulldogs run to the National Championship Game the previous season. [Emphasis added.]
Broadcast money from the conference increased, as did money from ticket sales, but that’s an awfully sharp dip in contributions. Towers attributes that to the national title run from the previous season, but I suspect that the change in the tax laws and the way the athletic department has moved Magill Society contributors to the front of the line has at least as much to do with the decline.
It’s only one year, so it’s not worth drawing any major conclusions yet, but if the decline continues, it sure will be interesting to see if Butts-Mehre takes any steps to arrest the trend, or if it simply embraces the new reality. My guess is that with the new TV contract on the horizon, they’ll be all in on the latter.