The Collegian
Saturday, September 24, 2022

Away football games deplete the team's budget

The Richmond football team's $450,000 operating budget for 2008 remains the largest allocated to the university's varsity athletics programs.

The men's basketball team has the second largest budget with $350,000 for operations, said David Walsh, the university's deputy athletics director.

The football program also allocated about 63 full scholarships this year, Walsh said, which amounted to about $2.8 million, Walsh said.

There are no fundraising efforts for the football program specifically, Athletics Director Jim Miller said, but the athletics department raises money through a number of venues, such as the Spider Club and athletics endowment.

"All of our sports are funded by the athletics department endowment," Walsh said, "university's supplement and other revenue that the athletics department produces."

Some of these revenues include corporate sponsorship, NCAA revenue distribution and ticket sales, he said.

Annual proceeds from home ticket sales are generally around $300,000, Miller said.

One reason it is important to bring the stadium on campus is because football attracts crowds and Miller said he hoped that this would increase ticket sales and the number of season-ticket holders.

The football team also brings in revenue is when it plays in "guarantee games." A guarantee game is one where a Division1-A program will pay Richmond to go to its school and play its football team. The opposing team believes it will be strongly favored to win, Miller said, and therefore the venture is advantageous for those programs.

A school will generally pay anywhere between $250,000 and $300,000 for Richmond to go there and play, Miller said.

"Most of the larger schools' football budgets are larger than our [the athletics department's] total budget," Miller said.

The Big 12 Conference worked with a revenue-sharing model this season, according to an article from ESPN.com, where the conference distributed its $113.5 million in revenues to its members. These revenues were not split evenly between teams and the program with the most television visibility could have received up to $2 million more than the school with the least amount of televised games, the article said.

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Miller added that there was a "crazy difference" between our football budget compared to those of large Division1-A institutions. For example, Ohio State University's budget amounts to more than $100 million, he said.

Richmond's athletics department recently took a look at all its program schedules to find ways to reduce future travel expenses. The department has control over non-conference schedules, so there has been a push to play against schools within a four-to-five-hour bus ride, Miller said.

The football team's trip to the Virginia Military Institute earlier this month cost about $16,000, Walsh said, and the costs were lower when the team played University of Virginia because it did not spend the night in Charlottesville.

Travel becomes more expensive when the games are not within reasonable driving distances and flying becomes the alternative. The cost of the football team's conference game against the University of Massachusetts totaled approximately $65,000, Walsh said.

The charter was a $48,000 expense, he said. Walsh also said there were $7,000 in food expenses, $6,000 in lodging expenses and $4,600 in bus transportation expenses.

It is necessary to charter for games that are far away from Richmond so the team can get back to campus at a reasonable time, Miller said.

Miller described one Division1-A team that he read about recently. The team had traveled to the West Coast for a game and the cost was upwards of $300,000 - just over 4.5 times the cost of Richmond's trip to Massachusetts and close to the program's total operating budget.

There is an on-going conversation among schools in the Colonial Athletic Association about the size of the conference and ways to reduce traveling costs, he said.

The conference currently consists of 12 football teams, separated by North and South divisions. By 2012, Old Dominion University and Georgia State University are projected to have joined, expanding the number of teams to 14, according to a recent article from inRich.com.

The farthest distance the football team would travel for a conference game is to the University of Maine, which Miller said occurs every four years.

Each trip is evaluated by how it fits into the budget, how easy or difficult it is to reach the destination, the time of the game and the schedules and availability of commercial flights, Walsh said.

Some ways the team reduces spending are through arrangements the department has with Nike and various hotel chains. There are not many free deals, Miller said, but the discounted pricing allows the athletics department to cut some costs.

On an annual basis, most of the university's athletics programs spend more money than they make, he said, and the only way the football program sometimes breaks even is through the funds held in the athletics endowment, he said.

"Football costs at this level," Miller said, "and the benefits you get are not financial."

Contact staff writer Jessica Murray at jessica.murray@richmond.edu

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