The luxury of being the Florida Gators

You may have heard that Florida lost $845,000 in large part because they didn’t sell out their allotment for the Sugar Bowl this January. So just how big of a deal is that?

Well, not really at all, primarily because Florida made over $1 million for merely showing up to play in New Orleans. The Payout for the Sugar Bowl is $17 million, spread evenly to every team in the SEC. This is not something that will happen again once the new bowl system goes into affect in 2014. The SEC is in talks to protect schools by paying the full price of their contractually obligated ticket allotment should a prospective school not sell all their tickets.

Translation: SEC commissioner Mike Slive knows the bowl allotment issue is a sticky one for the smaller schools, and is rectifying the situation. Schools like Florida are more than equipped to eat the loss and keep humming along like the well-oiled athletic juggernaut that it is. Many schools are not, for instance in 2011 only 22 athletic departments turned a profit, out of over 200.

Florida has a perceived attendance problem, not an actual one. An actual attendance problem would mean UF was experiencing a loss in money from year to year, and that is not the case. Like every sports team at every level there are less people heading to the gate and more sitting at home watching the game in high definition on television. The problem with Florida’s attendance “problem” is it’s only an issue at face value. The USA today reported in a spreadsheet featuring expense and revenue numbers for 228 NCAA institutions that Florida’s ticket sales have actually been increasing for seven of the last eight years, and for the past four years straight including a jump from $20,894,721 in 2011 to $23,580,698 in 2012. Would Jeremy Foley and the athletic department like to see more bodies in seats at all sports? Of course. But they haven’t taken a monetary hit yet at the turnstiles, so the problem isn’t as bad as it looks on Saturdays when hundreds of bleachers sit exposed for all to see in high definition.

David Jones of the Florida Today tells us Florida announced a budget for 2013-2014 of $100.4 million, the first time the UAA’s budget has ever been over $100 million. It had been hovering between 96 and $100 milion since 2010. The budget may finally be creeping closer to Florida’s actual expenses, a number that has been over $100 million for the last four years. The bulk of that money goes to scholarships, coaches and staff, however from 2011 to 2012 the number declined from $43,744,863 to $40,671,539. That number had been going up very year since 2005, which is as far as the USA today charts go back.

Keep in mind of course, that college athletic departments are notorious for creative accounting when numbers are released publicly, but these are the facts from what the available numbers show us. Florida was the fifth best school in revenue produced in 2012—$120,772,106– and as long as they keep having success near the current rate, that number will only continue to grow.

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Richard Johnson
Richard lives in Gainesville and prides himself in being a bonafide lifelong Alachua County Resident. He attends the University of Florida and is in his third year studying Telecommunications. He isn’t sure how he started loving football being the son of two immigrants that don’t care about the sport, but he has developed a borderline unhealthy obsession with it. In his free time, Richard watches other sports and is an avid fan of the Los Angeles Lakers and Tampa Bay Rays. He doesn’t like chocolate, knows Moe’s is better than Chipotle and drinks way too many Arnold Palmers. He also took up golf in the summer of 2012. That pursuit isn’t going well. You can listen to him talk about sports during the Cheapseats radio show on ESPN 850-WRUF or online at Follow him on Twitter at @RagjUF.