Arkansas’ state-supported higher education institutions spent more than $166 million on athletics in fiscal year 2016, a 7.4% increase from the year before, while athletic revenues from a variety of sources including state funds and student fees increased 8.7% to $180 million.
Athletics expenditures increased $11.4 million from fiscal year 2015 and have increased $40 million since 2011, a 34% increase. Revenues increased $14.4 million from the year before.
The figures were reported by Dr. Maria Markham, director of the Arkansas Department of Higher Education, and Tara Smith, senior associate director for institutional finance, during a meeting of the Legislative Joint Auditing Committee Friday.
Arkansas law prohibits athletics deficits, and all the athletics departments reported zero-dollar fund balances except Arkansas Tech University, which had a $495,060 fund balance, and the University of Arkansas, which had a $13.6 million balance. The UA had revenues of $112.3 million and expenditures of $98.8 million in 2016.
Combined, the institutions spent $12.9 million using unrestricted educational and general funds, which come primarily from state funds and student tuition. All of the schools used those funds for athletics except the University of Arkansas and the University of Arkansas at Fort Smith. Arkansas State University in Jonesboro spent $2.9 million of those funds, and the University of Arkansas at Little Rock spent $2.6 million.
The $180 million in funding came from a variety of sources, including $41 million in ticket sales; $29 million from broadcast and other media rights, all for the University of Arkansas; and $25 million from student fees. The UA was the only institution that did not use student fees for athletics. Steve Voorhies, the university’s manager, media relations, said there is no record of the school ever using student fees for athletics.
The UA was responsible for $8.2 million of the one-year expenditure increase, or 71.8%, and $11.2 million of the increase in revenues, or 77.8%. It transferred $2.3 million to academics, the only school to make such a transfer.
The UA was the only state institution whose athletic department made a profit. It was one of 24 programs out of 346 Division I athletic departments that generated more revenue than they spent in 2014, according to the NCAA Revenues and Expenses of Division I Intercollegiate Athletics Programs Report.
The UA also reported most of the funding coming from contributions ($13.5 million out of $15.1 million total statewide); most of the funding from NCAA conference distributions ($14.6 million out of $18 million); and most of the funding from royalties, licensing, advertisements and sponsorships ($14.6 million out of $16.3 million).
Almost all of the expenditures – $165,703,581 – was spent by four-year institutions. Three two-year schools – Arkansas State University Mid-South, North Arkansas College, and Cossatot Community College of the University of Arkansas – spent $548,966.