USA TODAY Network analysis: Iowa athletic department shows a surplus after two years of deficits

Mark Emmert
Hawk Central

Iowa athletic director Gary Barta anticipated a balanced budget for the 2016-17 academic year, and data released Thursday reveals his department actually achieved a surplus of $1.81 million.

According to USA Today’s annual comprehensive financial report of athletic department spending at public universities, Iowa took in $130.68 million in revenue last year while spending $128.87 million. Both figures ranked fifth among the 13 public Big Ten Conference universities. Northwestern, a private school, does not report its financial details.

Iowa had run a deficit the previous two years, totaling $6.16 million.

Iowa athletic director Gary Barta saw his department run a $1.81 million surplus last year after two years of deficits. Ticket sales and donor contributions saw significant spikes.

In 2015-16, Iowa reported total operating revenue of $113.25 million with expenditures of $116.17 million. Revenue was up $17 million, while expenses increased by $12 million.

Major-college sports programs are consistently seeing revenue increases, tied to lucrative TV contracts and higher payouts from both the NCAA and their conferences.

That is the trend at Iowa as well, but the school also saw spikes in money from ticket sales and donor contributions to help lead to the record revenue.

Ohio State ($185.41 million in revenue) and Michigan ($185.17M) are the clear leaders in the Big Ten when it comes to money generated. Michigan spent $175.43 million in the last academic year to pace the Big Ten in that category.

On the flip side, Purdue brought in only $84.84 million in 2016-17, the data shows, and ran a deficit of $870,000.

The Iowa athletic department does not rely on state or university funding. Previous deficits were covered by the department’s reserve fund.

Revenues and expenses at Iowa were up in most categories, including:

  • Ticket sales increased to $28.25 million in 2016-17, up from a disappointing $25.7 million the previous year.
  • Donor contributions showed an impressive climb for a second consecutive year, to $29.26 million, an increase of nearly $1.5 million.
  • Iowa received $24.82 million in media rights money, an increase of only $400,000 from the previous year, but a number that is expected to skyrocket when next year’s report is issued.
  • The NCAA and Big Ten Conference paid the school another $14.6 million, the second consecutive year that figure has increased by roughly $2 million.
  • Iowa spent $21.47 million on coaches’ salaries in 2016-17. That is another figure that keeps rising. It was $20.3 million the previous year.
  • Support staff in the Hawkeye athletic department received $19.98 million, an increase of $2 million from 2015-16.