Iowa athletics was fifth in Big Ten in revenue in 2019, USA Today database shows

Mark Emmert
Hawk Central

IOWA CITY, Ia. — The Iowa athletic department saw a massive increase in revenue in 2018-19, pushing it into the top five of the Big Ten Conference, according to USA Today's annual database of college sports finances released Thursday.

Iowa's operating revenue was $152 million in the fiscal year ending June 30, 2019. Its expenses were $146.3 million, for a net surplus of $5.7 million.

Previously:Iowa athletic department brings in $5.7 million more than it spent

Iowa saw an increase in operating revenue of $21.9 million from 2018 to 2019, the biggest impetus being a surge in contributions to the athletic department. Those donations totaled $38.6 million, up $8.5 million from the previous fiscal year.

That put Iowa at 14th in the nation, up four spots from its 2018 ranking. Only four Big Ten universities — Ohio State (third overall), Michigan (four), Penn State (six) and Wisconsin (11) — reported more revenue in 2019.

Iowa had been seventh among Big Ten schools in 2018, but passed Michigan State and Nebraska.

Iowa also received an additional $4.2 million from media rights and licensing arrangements in fiscal year 2019 (for a total of $71 million) and $1.9 million more from sales of tickets to home sporting events ($27.2 million).

Iowa's athletic department reported $130.1 million in expenses in 2017-18. The bulk of the $16.2 million increase there was in facilities and overhead (up $9.4 million) and in salaries for coaches and other staff (up $3.5 million).

Iowa athletic director Gary Barta (left) and football coach Kirk Ferentz had reason to be happy in December after the Hawkeyes trounced USC in the Holiday Bowl. The school's athletic department was flush with cash then, reporting a net operating profit of $5.7 million in the fiscal year that ended last June 30. After the COVID-19 pandemic curtailed most sporting events this year, however, the fiscal future is much murkier in college athletics.

The COVID-19 pandemic, which caused the NCAA to pull the plug on its lucrative men's basketball tournament and all spring sports, means athletic departments like Iowa's may never be as flush with cash again.

Hawkeye athletic director Gary Barta has already announced that he is reducing the 2020-21 budget by $15 million with more cuts likely now that this college football season in the Big Ten will be reduced to conference games only, with the size of crowds anticipated to be far less than capacity.

The database is compiled annually by USA TODAY in partnership with Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications.

View the database at USA Today Sports

Mark Emmert covers the Iowa Hawkeyes for the Register. Reach him at or 319-339-7367. Follow him on Twitter at @MarkEmmert.

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