A change in how the University of Wisconsin Athletic Department accounts for money it sends to campus means that a proposed 8.7 percent increase in spending authority for 2017-18 isn’t as large as it appears.
The UW Athletic Board’s Finance, Facilities and Operations Committee on Wednesday unanimously approved spending authority of $132.4 million for the next fiscal year. The full board is set to take up the measure on Friday.
The total budget figure is up from $121.8 million in the 2016-17 year. But the increase is due in large part to a new method of tracking payments to the UW-Madison campus, said Mario Morris, associate athletic director for business operations.
Next year’s budget includes $10.9 million in cash revenue that will be transferred to campus. Previously, most of that money wouldn’t have been accounted for in the athletics budget because it went directly to the school, Morris said.
“We want to make sure — campus wanted to also make sure — that those were reflected as athletic transfers to campus,” he said.
The athletics budget proposal projected revenues of $132.5 million and a surplus of nearly $153,000 in 2017-18.
New Big Ten Conference TV contracts with ESPN, Fox and CBS reported at $2.64 billion over six years provided a revenue windfall for the coming fiscal year.
UW budgeted for $41.5 million in media rights revenue from the conference next year, more than double the $20.1 million it planned on receiving in the current year.
About $5.8 million of that $41.5 million is designated to go to campus, but the remainder is still a 97 percent increase for athletics.
That boost will help pay for an “additional enhancement of our student-athlete programming,” beyond the full cost of attendance and meal plan increases of recent years, Morris said.
Sports medicine, psychology, diversity and inclusion, and academic services are among the athletic departments that stand to benefit from the additional TV rights money, Morris said.
Besides conference media revenue, the $10.9 million being set aside for campus includes $2 million for licensing, $2 million toward the $5 million purchase of the Camp Randall Memorial Sports Center, $600,000 for the UW band and $550,000 for parking.
UW officials have been sensitive to national reports that indicate the athletic department gets a subsidy from campus. A USA Today database shows $7.8 million coming from the school in 2014-15, but Morris told the committee that athletics returns more money to campus than it receives in services.
The USA Today database showed that UW ranked ninth nationally and fourth in the Big Ten among schools reporting data with expenses of more than $118 million in 2014-15.
Capital expenditures in 2017-18 are proposed to increase by 46 percent to $11.365 million. That will pay for new video scoreboards and audio systems at the Kohl Center and Field House, office renovations at the Kohl Center and a concrete project at Camp Randall Stadium.
A required annual financial audit of the athletic department presented to the UW Board of Regents last Friday reported that the 2015-16 financial year ended with an excess of more than $479,000.
The audit, conducted by Madison firm Baker Tilly Virchow Krause, LLP, showed $132.7 million in revenues and $130.4 million in expenses for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2016. More than $1.8 million of the leftover went back to campus.
The report also noted the department had more than $115 million in fundraising, endowment and other investments held at the UW Foundation at the end of 2015-16. That was a 24 percent increase over the balance a year before.