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Auburn Athletics Operated at a Record $22.9 Million Profit in 2022

Auburn Athletics Operated at a Record $22.9 Million Profit in 2022

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According to documents filed with the NCAA in 2022, Auburn athletics reported a record $22.9 million profit - marking their sixth straight year of profitability.

Auburn's two most lucrative revenue sources were ticket sales and media rights, accounting for 30.3% of football's revenue and 22.3% for men's basketball; contributions made up 28.3% of football revenue and 21.4% in men's basketball; respectively.

Football

Auburn University has a proud tradition of winning college football championships and is considered one of the top teams in the Southeastern Conference. The Tigers compete in NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS).

According to their most recent financial report, Auburn athletics reported a record $22.9 million profit for 2022. While that number is down from the record breaking $14.6 million made in 2016-17, it still represents an incredible achievement.

For the past six years, the school's athletic department has been in a perpetual state of surplus. But that doesn't guarantee immunity from the effects of COVID-19 pandemic.

The program had difficulty managing the flu, as evidenced by a year-over-year decrease in operating revenue during 2020-21 fiscal year - particularly when they faced their first $9.7 million deficit in seven years, according to Auburn Athletics Department's financial report for that year.

Other major universities have suffered similar issues; Kansas in particular has endured a particularly dire situation, paying out over $27.8 million to part ways with five coaches and their staffs over a 12-year span.

Funds that should have gone to athletes striving for college football success instead have been invested in pay packages for coaches and their assistants.

Many of these buyouts have gone to coaches with significant severance clauses, like Gus Malzahn and Bryan Harsin. But there are also coaches who have received less than half as much.

Alabama has paid out more than $29 million to part ways with coaches Mark Mangino, Turner Gill, Charlie Weis and David Beatty since 2010. However, none of this compares to Les Miles' who received an incredible $14.3 million severance payment in 2010.

Not even counting severance payments made to former assistants! For instance, former offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi will receive over $1 million, while his former defensive counterpart Ron Roberts receives approximately $85,000 in payout.

The athletics department's profits were driven up by a $2 million boost in media rights and $34 million in ticket sales due to full capacity returns at Jordan-Hare Stadium and Neville Arena during the 2021-22 season.

That also means the football program has avoided the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, which drastically cut short the SEC football schedule. While Georgia had six home games during that time, Auburn only played three in its own building plus a neutral site game against Clemson; on the other hand, Alabama had seven home games plus their national championship game to enjoy during this extended season.

Auburn must stay disciplined in both spending and recruiting to remain at the top of collegiate sports. That's the only way to guarantee they remain successful at this elite level.

Men’s Basketball

Though often overshadowed by their football team, Auburn Tigers men's basketball program has built an illustrious legacy of success. Throughout their time in the SEC, they have won five regular season championships and two conference tournament titles; additionally, they made 11 trips to the NCAA tournament and reached the Final Four once.

In 2022, athletics department made a record $22.9 million profit - an astounding improvement from last year's $12.7 million deficit.

Revenues from ticket sales, licensing fees, royalties and sponsorships comprised nearly all of Auburn University's profit. Furthermore, Auburn experienced a marked increase in donor contributions reported to the NCAA due largely to increased ticket sales for both football and basketball games.

Other major contributors to the department's financial success included increased revenue from full-capacity venues and an uptick in donors. Furthermore, Auburn saw its operating surplus increase from $9.7 million the prior year to $15.5 million in 2022 - a huge turnaround after experiencing its first deficit since 2013-14 fiscal year.

The department's biggest cost-cut was the decrease in severance payments, which were reduced from $16.6 million in 2020-21 fiscal year to just $8.2 million for 2021-22 when Gus Malzahn was dismissed and replaced by Bryan Harsin.

Auburn experienced a remarkable surge in donations to their department during 2014, reporting a total of $35,791,591 from individuals and organizations. These amounts can include cash as well as marketable securities.

In 2013, the athletic department paid out $14,172,360 in coach's salaries across all 21 sports. This included salaries for head coaches in all 21 sports as well as assistant coaches and student-athlete scholarships.

Additionally, the department spent $33.2 million on ticket sales across all 21 sports - which include admission to all home games - which contributes greatly to Auburn's reputation for producing high-quality sporting events.

Overall, revenue at Auburn Athletics rose 12% while expenses decreased by 15%. These numbers were due to increased donations, an uptick in ticket sales to Auburn fans, and more students paying fees to the athletics department.

Although Auburn Athletics has experienced a welcome return to positive financial performance this year, its situation still does not meet ideal standards. The department's operating surplus in 2022 ranks second out of schools whose financial figures have been released publicly for the current fiscal year; only Indiana's $34.4 million stands as its highest surplus.

Auburn's operating surplus for the 2022 fiscal year has increased from $15.5 million in 2021-22, but still falls well short of its 2014-15 peak of $64.3 million. While this number may be encouraging for Auburn, budget cuts must still be made this fiscal year in order to sustain positive profitability.

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