COLOMBIA, SC – The University of South Carolina Athletics will close the 2020-21 academic year with a budget deficit of approximately $ 27 million due to the impact of the pandemic.
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the South Carolina Athletics Department was under the Director of Athletics Ray Tanner had never closed a fiscal year with a deficit.
The main reasons for the deficit were a reduction in seating capacity for home football games at Williams Brice Stadium and the associated cost of COVID testing for student athletes, coaches and staff during the academic year.
Significant cost-cutting measures have been implemented in the athletics department, including leaves of absence, voluntary cuts in salaries for top employees, cuts in operating costs and hiring freezes.
“I commend our coaches and staff for their ability to work under difficult circumstances and for our student athletes to have had a positive experience over the past year,” said the Athletics Director Ray Tanner said. “Our medical team and training staff have done an excellent job keeping our student athletes healthy and safe and complying with all COVID protocols set by DHEC, CDC, SEC and our university.”
The athletics division benefited from a one-time additional revenue distribution of $ 23 million from the Southeastern Conference. The SEC used future increases in media rights revenue to facilitate the distribution of the additional revenue. The SEC payout reduced the athletics division’s deficit to $ 27 million.
Further deficits will be covered by the university until the athletics department can return to its self-supporting status in 2022-23. Repayments to the university would begin in fiscal year 2024-25.
There may be an increase in revenue in fiscal year 2021-22, but still not to pre-COVID-19 years, while spending will decrease to pre-COVID household numbers. The athletics department is thus preparing for a shortfall for the current and the next financial year in order to be self-supporting again in 2022/23.
“We are working on getting back to full strength with our budget for 2022-23,” said Tanner. “We will continue to have to be careful with the budget, but I believe we will be able to provide our student athletes and coaches with the resources they need to compete for the SEC and national championships.”
As an auxiliary unit of the university, the university’s athletics department has traditionally provided funds for the general fund. This funding, between $ 4-5 million per year, comes from television contracts, brand and licensing income, as well as support from the band, student government and other areas of the university.
On May 19, the athletics department announced that Williams Brice Stadium was at full capacity for the 2021 football season.
In the past two years, prior to the COVID pandemic, Williams Brice Stadium underwent $ 22.5 million renovations, and a $ 7.5 million indoor tennis court is on the verge of last year Completion.