Tight budget still for UTC

Tight budget still for UTC

More revenue needed to repeat balance

August 24th, 2010 by John Frierson in Sports

The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga athletic department has a projected budget of $8,835,198 for the 2010-11 fiscal year.

To balance its budget, as it did last year, UTC is counting on a second straight year of good attendance at football games and more external giving and sponsorship revenue, as well as continued fiscal responsibility from everyone in the department.

"The immediate future for (this fiscal year), it's going to be more of the same," athletic director Rick Hart said. "We're going to have to try to increase our revenue streams and operate efficiently and make the finite resources we have work for us."

UTC was able to balance its budget in the 2009-10 fiscal year despite rolling over a debt of $248,029 from the previous year and a budget cut of $438,229. In fact, UTC finished the year just over $40,000 in the black with actual revenues of $8,839,130.

"At the end of the day they have managed their budgets exceptionally well," said Dr. Richard Brown, UTC vice chancellor of finance and operations. "I'm very pleased with the fiscal stewardship in athletics even though they had a deficit the year before."

Senior associate athletic director Matt Pope said the increased revenue from football in Russ Huesman's first season as coach made a big difference in UTC balancing its budget. Football had a budget of $540,000 and came out $137,000 ahead thanks to a dramatic increase in attendance as UTC went 6-5 for its first winning season since 2005.

"One of the things we did, we sold the heck out of tickets," Pope said. "The state funding that was given to us, we invested it wisely (in promotions and marketing), and it was returned to us in the form of ticket sales."

UTC received one-time funds from the university - about $480,000, Pope said - which offset the costs for insurance, security, marketing and other operating expenses.

"We treated the athletic department like we treated every university unit," Brown said. "Funds that were removed due to budget cuts, operating dollars, I tried to return some of those funds to all operating units across the institution."

Football's budget this year is $688,455 and UTC is counting on increased football revenues to continue in Huesman's second season so they can mitigate most of the $186,000 in cuts the athletic department had to make in its 2010-11 budget.

The average attendance for the five home games in 2009 was 10,503, and the school expects that number to be higher this fall. The Mocs open their season on Sept. 4 against five-time defending Southern Conference champion Appalachian State, and the turnout for the game should be among the largest in Finley Stadium history.

UTC sold a record 2,527 season tickets last season and is expected to surpass that number in the days leading up to the 2010 opener.