University of Tennessee Finances in Perspective

ESPN sports business reporter Kristi Dosh (who also happens to be BusinessofCollegeSports.com’s founder) had a piece yesterday giving some perspective to University of Tennessee’s financial situation. One of the points she makes is that Tennessee’s outstanding debt on athletic facilities isn’t out of line with the rest of the SEC.

Here’s a look at outstanding facilities debt at each SEC school and the annual debt service (payments) for the 2010-2011 school year (the most recent available). All information is from NCAA financial disclosures. Vanderbilt’s information is not available via public records requests.

2010-2011 SEC Athletics Debt

School Outstanding Athletics Debt Athletics Annual Debt Service
Alabama $207.2 million $13.3 million
Louisiana State $202.0 million $13.5 million
Tennessee $188.1 million $7.7 million
Georgia $120.8 million $7.9 million
South Carolina $112.9 million $3.5 million
Auburn $106.1 million $10.1 million
Florida $80.8 million $5.8 million
Arkansas $64.1 million $7.3 million
Texas A&M $45.8 million $6.6 million
Mississippi $41.8 million $4.6 million
Missouri $26.8 million $3.1 million
Mississippi State $24.8 million $2.3 million
Kentucky $18.7 million $2.7 million

As Dosh points out in her article, this isn’t a true apples to apples comparison. For example, she notes Kentucky carries no debt on Rupp Arena, because it’s owned by the city. Check out her piece for more information.

Documents obtained from University of Tennessee show its football season ticket base has dropped by approximately 10,000 people since 2009. However, net revenue (profit) from football remains above average amongst other SEC members:

Football Net Revenue 2010-2011

Georgia $52.9 million
Arkansas $47.1 million
Alabama $46.5 million
Florida $43.2 million
Auburn $40.2 million
Tennessee $37.5 million
South Carolina $35.4 million
LSU $31.7 million
Texas A&M* $30.0 million
Kentucky $20.3 million
Mississippi $10.8 million
Mississippi State $10.8 million
Missouri* $9.7 million

*Texas A&M and Missouri were not yet members of the SEC in 2010-2011

The real issue, as noted in Dosh’s article, is the limited reserves Tennessee athletics currently has on hand: $1.95 million. That is one area not in line with other SEC schools, as AD Dave Hart notes in Dosh’s piece.

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