Athletics Budgets Affected by COVID-19 Pandemic

While the Board previously approved university budgets at its July 29, 2020 meeting, athletics budgets were deferred until September because of the volatility of fall sports schedules from the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, the Board will consider approval of FY 2021 athletics budgets at its September 23, 2020 meeting.

The pandemic has negatively affected university budgets all around campus, but athletics budgets have been particularly hard hit. Ongoing guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Iowa Department of Public Health advises against large gatherings, which significantly affects the ability of university athletics departments to earn revenue. 

The Big Ten Conference and Missouri Valley Football Conference have delayed their football seasons, affecting the University of Iowa and the University of Northern Iowa programs. Football season is underway for Big 12 Conference teams, including Iowa State University, which opened its season to an empty Jack Trice Stadium on September 12. 

This uncertainty around the departments’ largest revenue driver is shown in athletics revenue projections.

UI’s FY 2021 budget assumes reduced capacity for winter and spring competition seasons, with men’s and women’s basketball and wrestling revenues all anticipated to be lower. Football revenue is expected to be down significantly from previous years due to the delay of the season, among other factors. Other areas, such as multi-media income, foundation support, and premium seat revenue, also are expected to be down.  Expenses have been reduced with salary reductions and operating cost reductions. Facility debt service includes savings from refinancing.

Iowa State 
ISU is scheduled to play a 10-game football schedule, down from the original 12, which impacts the television revenue Big 12 Conference members will receive. ISU is anticipating a delay to the start of winter sport sports seasons, with no ticket revenue budgeted for any sport.  Additionally, salary reductions and operating budget reductions have been implemented to help with expenses.

UNI’s projections include four home football games next spring and nine men’s basketball games, all with reduced capacity. UNI also implemented salary reductions and reduced operating budgets in response to the expected decline in revenues.