Alabama athletics operated at a $9.6 million surplus during the 2021 fiscal year but would have been in the red if not for a SEC-wide bailout of $23 million for each school, according to the annual report obtained by The Tuscaloosa News/USA TODAY through a public record request.
The Crimson Tide’s operating revenue was $179.8 million during the 2021 fiscal year, which spanned from July 1, 2020 to June 30, 2021. Operating expenses were $170.2 million.
During the 2020 fiscal year, Alabama operated at a surplus of $16.14 million. The Crimson Tide brought in less money largely due to COVID-19, but it also managed to cut costs by about $3 million.
The SEC gave each member school a $23 million supplemental revenue distribution to help with the financial impact of the pandemic. It was a one-time advance based on projected revenue from a lucrative TV contract beginning in 2025.
The SEC borrowed that money and is expected to pay it back with future increases in media rights revenue. The first year of repayments will occur in 2025, when ESPN will receive the football games CBS currently holds.
The supplemental revenue distribution was part of the SEC conference distribution section not tied to media rights and bowl revenue. From this part of the report, Alabama brought in $30.47 million in revenue that was not related to media and football bowl earnings. That’s a considerable jump from $3.83 million the previous fiscal year.
Here’s a look at some of the numbers that affected the operating revenue and expense numbers for Alabama in the 2021 fiscal year.
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Ticket revenue drops $32.3 million
Alabama saw a colossal drop in revenue from tickets at sporting events.
Ticket revenue dropped from $39.36 million during the 2020 fiscal year to $7.1 million.
Limited capacities as a result of the pandemic is the primary source of that drop. Football, by far the biggest revenue earner, went from bringing in $36.89 million to $6,732 million in ticket sales. Bryant-Denny Stadium was limited to 20% capacity during the 2020 season, prompting the drop in ticket sales.
Medical expenses more than double
It’s no surprise that in the middle of a pandemic, medical expenses skyrocketed.
Alabama went from $3.02 million to $7.69 million during the 2021 fiscal year. Medical expenses are defined in the report as “input medical expenses and medical insurance premiums for student-athletes.”
Some other increases in expenses include coaching salaries ($3.39 million) and team travel ($1.07 million).
Game expenses drop by almost half
Game expenses fell from $8.05 million to $4.59 million.
This area of expenses is defined as “expenses other than travel which are necessary for intercollegiate athletics competition.”
The section of the report lists officials, security, event staff and ambulance as a few examples of game expenses.
Recruiting expenses lessons
The NCAA experienced a 15-month dead period during the pandemic in which college programs could not recruit athletes in person because of COVID-19.
The 2021 fiscal year happened during part of that dead period.
So, recruiting expenses fell from $3.39 million to $734,399.
Guarantee expenses to opponents drop
Alabama had considerably less in expenses in guarantees, going from $4.58 million to $306,433.
These guarantees include “input amounts paid to visiting participating institutions, including per diems and/or travel and meal expenses. This includes payments made due to game cancellations.”
Football had $0 in guarantee expenses during the 2021 fiscal year while playing an all SEC schedule. The previous year, football paid $4.08 million.
USA TODAY’s Steve Berkowitz contributed to this report.
Contact Alabama reporter Nick Kelly: firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @_NickKelly