UConn athletic budget projected to take a hit from COVID-19

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Photo by Avery Bikerman/The Daily Campus

The University of Connecticut athletic department is facing a significant loss in revenue from lost ticket revenue, donations and the cancellation of the NCAA’s March Madness tournaments.

They are at least losing $1.3 to 1.4 million from the loss of the NCAA tournaments, according to athletic director David Benedict, who spoke to the Hartford Courant in mid-April. He told the Courant that it is “the only number we have any real certainty to.”

Benedict also estimated a further $5 million in losses from projected ticket revenue and donations through June 30.

Last year, the athletic budget hit a deficit of $42.3 million, according to the Courant. The University Senate requested that the athletic department presents them a plan to reduce their university subsidy by $15 million over the next 10 years at their annual May meeting. 

“The bottom-line figure is not a comprehensive illustration of the many ways in which UConn Athletics continues to work toward greater financial self-sufficiency over time,” A statement released by the athletic department at the time said. “Reducing the athletic subsidy to a level that is in line with our peers remains our long-term goal, and one that helps shape our decision-making process every day.” 

The university has to pay a portion of the $17 million exit fee from the American Athletic Conference as well as an entry fee into the Big East conference, about $3.5 million according to the Courant.

UConn is expected to see an increase in ticket revenue from the move back to the Big East, which combined with savings from reduced travel distances will help begin to tackle the deficit. According to a breakdown of athletics costs over the last decade, UConn athletics spent $9.25 million on travel expenses for FY19.

“I’m supportive of efforts to ensure that UConn’s athletic subsidy is in line with our long term financial interests,” Michael Cerulli, undergraduate member of the University Senate, said. “However as both a student and a member of the university budget committee, I know that the value of our athletic program can be measured in more than just dollars and cents. UConn’s athletic programs bring our school immense pride and prestige, in addition to helping boost our local economy.”

Current American Athletic Conference cohort the University of Cincinnati decided to cut their men’s soccer program in mid-April. 

“During this time of profound challenges and widespread uncertainty, I have engaged in a comprehensive and thorough review of UC’s sport offerings and long-term budget implications of supporting the number of student-athletes currently at UC,” Cincinnati athletic director John Cunningham said in a statement. “Based on this review, and in consultation with President [Neville] Pinto and other University leaders, UC Athletics will no longer sponsor a men’s soccer program.”

Their program ran at a loss of $726,498 for the 2019 season, according to an NCAA financial report via ESPN. They will honor the player’s scholarships for the rest of their college careers, Cunningham said.

The athletic department declined to go into any potential program cuts with the Courant or The Daily Campus. When asked for further comments or updates past what the Courant was told in mid-April, the athletic department also deferred to Benedict’s answers. 


Mike Mavredakis  is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at michael.quinn-mavredakis@uconn.edu and tweets @MMavredakis.

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