University of Iowa athletics' 2022 financial statement shows first surplus since 2019

Kennington Lloyd Smith III
Des Moines Register

The University of Iowa's athletics department saw a massive increase in revenue in 2022, more than doubling its total from the previous year.

Documents obtained this month through a public records request reveal that Hawkeye athletics' total revenue for fiscal year 2022 totaled $151,483,092. Total expenses for the year were $151,144,861, for a small surplus of $338,231 − the department's first surplus since FY2019.

FY2022 began July 1, 2021 and ended June 30, 2022.

The 2022 figures indicate a return to normalcy after a rough 2021 cycle in which revenues plummeted to a shade under $74.8 million. UI athletics felt the full brunt of the COVID-19 pandemic, especially in ticket sales with only $189,991 in ticket revenue in FY2021 compared to $25.7 million the previous year.

Ticket sales in FY2022 totaled $26.4 million, the largest figure since FY2019. Iowa athletics also saw significant increases in financial contributions ($29.5 million, up from $12.2 million in FY2021), media rights ($48.5 million, up from $36.4 million), parking and concession sales ($2.9 million, up from $22,404) and football bowl revenues ($2.4 million, up from $70,366).

On the expense end, the most significant increases were in coaching salaries ($5 million increase); guarantees, which is money paid to visiting participating institutions, including per diems and/or travel and meal expenses (up $5 million); team travel (up $4 million); and game expenses (up $3 million).

Per this latest report, Iowa athletics' total related debt equals $244,595,021. By comparison, not adjusted for inflation, Iowa’s athletics debt was $155.6 million at the end of FY2017 — meaning nearly $100 million in liabilities have been added in less than five years.

Data is collected by USA Today in partnership with the Knight-Newhouse Data project at Syracuse University. Here are a few top-line takeaways:

A significant increase in recruiting spending, particularly in basketball

Iowa men's basketball's recruiting budget was the biggest in the entire athletic department, followed by football, women's basketball, track and field and wrestling.

One of the biggest increases in spending in FY2022 was a $2,039,354 commitment to recruiting, compared to a COVID-affected $87,425 in FY2021. This past year's number is just the second time since 2005 that Iowa has spent more than $2 million on recruiting in one year ($2.1 million in 2019).

The expectation is that football, with a much larger roster, would command the biggest chunk of the recruiting budget. However, men's basketball was the most expensive sport at $616,281, followed by football ($577,589), women's basketball ($157,786), men's and women's track and field and cross country ($98,790) and wrestling ($90,011).

The two years prior to FY2021 show that Iowa football's recruiting spending (average $505,758) is on par with the 2022 figure, while men's basketball took a significant jump after averaging $395,616 in 2019 and 2020. Greg Davies, the athletics department’s chief financial officer, said "the costs and number of charter flights for recruiting increased during FY22 for men’s basketball."

The documents describe recruiting costs as "input transportation, lodging and meals for prospective student-athletes and institutional personnel on official and unofficial visits, telephone call charges, postage and such. Include value of use of institution's own vehicles or airplanes as well as in-kind value of loaned or contributed transportation."

The FY2022 report provides an update on Iowa's $50 million loan

Athletics director Gary Barta oversees a department that had total revenue of $151,483,092 for the fiscal year (FY2022).

To buffer itself from the expected financial losses in FY2021, Iowa athletics received a $50 million loan transfer from the university's cash reserves on June 30, 2021. Records show that UI athletics paid a total of $3 million against the loan in FY2022, Davies said. Of that total, $1,842,156 was applied to the principal amount and $1,157,844 was applied to interest, Davies said.

The initial loan agreement states that UI athletics must pay back the amount in a term that's "not to exceed fifteen (15) years)." Last July, athletics director Gary Barta expressed that his department is "back on solid ground" and expressed confidence that the loan would be paid back in time.

The current outstanding balance of the loan is $48,157,844, Davies said.

Here's how a change in number of sports factored into the report

Iowa women's swimming and diving was brought back by the university via lawsuit in 2021, while the men's program was eliminated.

Iowa's FY2021 report included 11 men's sports and 13 women's sports. That changed in FY2022 as men’s gymnastics, men’s tennis and men’s swimming and diving are no longer a part of university athletics. Women's swimming and diving was brought back after initial elimination. Women's wrestling will be added for the 2023-24 season and is not included in the FY2022 numbers.

Women's swimming and diving operated at a $1.2 million deficit in FY2022, a slight decrease from an average of $1.4 million between 2019 and 2020. The elimination of the men's sports created nearly $2.5 million in surplus, but that is a small number relative to the athletic department's total debt and the increase in overall expenses in FY2022. Barta has previously estimated that women's wrestling will cost around $500,000 per year.

Ohio State's whopping total revenue

Iowa's FY2022 total revenue of $151,483,092 sounds like a big number until you compare it with one of the Hawkeyes' Big Ten Conference rivals. Ohio State reported $251,615,345 in total athletic revenue for FY2022.