For first time, Razorback athletics department tops $150 million in annual revenue

by Paul Gatling ([email protected]) 1,567 views 

The University of Arkansas athletics department topped $150 million in annual revenue for the first time in fiscal year 2022 (July 1, 2021 – June 30, 2022).

The figures are in the university’s annual Equity in Athletics Disclosure Act (EADA) survey. Arkansas, and every other intercollegiate athletics department in the country, self-reports financial information detailing operating revenues and expenses to the U.S. Department of Education annually to comply with the EADA Act of 1994. The EADA requires disclosing information about varsity teams and the financial resources and personnel the school dedicates to those teams.

Arkansas’ athletics department funds 470 athletes competing on 19 teams — eight for men and 11 for women. It takes no student fees or taxpayer support.

According to the survey, the athletic department’s revenue totaled $154.55 million, up 16.3% from $132.81 in the previous fiscal year. Expenses were $148.28 million, also a record, leaving the department $6.27 million in profit.

About 70% of the department revenue came from two sports — football and men’s basketball. They’re the only two sports that finished in the black last year.

The football program had total operating revenue of $84.50 million, with expenses of $45.99 million ($38.51 million profit).

Men’s basketball revenue totaled $24.09 million, and $11.80 million in expenses ($12.29 million profit).

The UA baseball department is the only other program with revenue hitting seven figures at $6.15 million. With expenses of $7.43 million, the program operated at a deficit of $1.28 million.

Arkansas’ athletics department topped $100 million for the first time in the 2014-2015 fiscal year ($114.17 million). It climbed steadily until the 2019-2020 fiscal year, when the COVID-19 pandemic caused a double-digit revenue decline from $137.49 million to $123.35 million.

Clayton Hamilton

The NCAA also requires member schools to submit a more detailed revenue and expense report for each fiscal year. That report is being audited and is due to the NCAA by Jan. 15, 2023.

CFO PERSPECTIVE
Clayton Hamilton has been the UA athletic department’s chief financial officer since January 2010. He said that, like most colleges and universities, the absence of COVID-related venue capacity restrictions last year was a welcome sight.

In 2020-2021, football and basketball games allowed a much smaller capacity — 16,500 fans for football at Donald W. Reynolds Stadium and 4,000 for basketball at Bud Walton Arena— to adhere to Arkansas Department of Health guidelines. The result was a 121% drop in ticket sales revenue, down to $15.6 million.

In 2021-2022, Hamilton said UA ticket sales swelled to slightly more than $48 million.

“Venues opened back to capacity, and fans showed up,” Hamilton said. “We see that throughout the sports industry. Ticket sales were a big driver [in the revenue increase] year-over-year.”

Hamilton said the attendance bump also lifted concession sales at the department’s three largest venues — Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium, Bud Walton Arena and Baum-Walker Stadium. Arkansas also received a seven-figure payout from the football team’s appearance in the Outback Bowl, the program’s first bowl appearance in six years. The Razorbacks received a $1.5 million travel allowance from a bowl payout of $6 million, and the remainder was split among the Southeastern Conference office and all member schools.

“That’s how all the bowl revenue is handled,” Hamilton said. “Participants get a travel allowance, and the net gets distributed to each school and conference office.”