Tennessee’s $111 million athletic budget in context

Vols AD Dave Hart (photo by Adam Brimer)

KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — Tennessee’s $111.6 million athletic budget is 10th-highest in the country and fourth-highest in the SEC.

That’s from the comprehensive USA Today database of athletic budgets released on Tuesday.

The survey also showed that the Vols’ have the seventh-highest expenses in the country and that its institutional “subsidy” of $12.4 million — or 11 percent of its budget — is highest in the SEC.

All these numbers are from the 2012-2013 fiscal year. You can click on the graphic to see the breakdown by category. (Here’s a link if you can’t see it below).

Tennessee’s 2013-2014 fiscal year will end in another month, and should produce some different figures in key areas.

Here’s some context to the current numbers:

* Most of the current subsidy comes from a $11.4 million transfer from the university that helped the athletic department plug a potential deficit caused largely by $7.97 million in “severance payments” to Derek Dooley and his staff.

Even though the money wasn’t all due immediately, buyouts must be accounted for in the current fiscal year.

* In years past, the athletic department has actually made an annual contribution to the main university fund. In the 2011-2012 fiscal year, for example, the athletic department sent $5.8 million to the university. Over the last 10 years, the department has given about $40 million to the university (for a net transfer of $30 million once student fees are considered).

* When Dave Hart was hired as athletic director, he asked UT’s administration if he could end the annual transfers. By giving excess funds away at the end of the year, the department struggled to build a reserve fund. And that could cause problems in years (like this one) when expenses increased.

* UT Chancellor Jimmy Cheek agreed to “reinvest” some of the athletic department’s contributions to the university back into the department’s budget over the next three years. The biggest payment came from the transfer described in this fiscal year.

* Where does the rest of the subsidy come from? That’s the $1 million in student fees billed to students. USA Today counts student fees in their subsidy total, and most departments — even rich ones — take at least a small bit of revenue from student fees.

Questions? Let me know and I’ll try to answer them. If I don’t know, I’ll try to find out.