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ATHLETICS

NCAA filing shows how Husker athletics lost millions in revenue during pandemic

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LINCOLN — The pandemic cut sharply into Nebraska's athletic department revenue during the last half of 2020 and first half of 2021, forcing the university to reach into its reserves to cover operating losses.

But there’s one area where the Huskers — and every other major college athletic department — saved considerable money: Recruiting.

The NCAA's moratorium on in-person recruiting spanned most of the fiscal year, so NU's football recruiting budget — routinely over $1 million per year — dropped to $249,532. The entire Husker athletic department spent $400,482 on recruiting.

The data comes from an annual report NU sends to the NCAA each January. The World-Herald previously reported a $29 million operating loss for the most recent fiscal year — which began July 1, 2020, and ended June 30, 2021. That loss was covered by $16.5 million in contributions to the University of Nebraska Foundation and $12.5 million from department reserves.

The January report further highlights those losses and shows at least some of the contributions that covered that operating loss. Revenues totaled $92,093,093 while expenses totaled $104,087,284, a difference just shy of $12 million.

Nebraska athletics typically makes enough revenue to donate $10 million to the academic side of the university. That changed in 2020-21, when the Big Ten's COVID-19 restrictions on attendance almost erased NU's ticket revenue until spring sports like baseball were able to have fans.

NU reported tickets sales of $706,138, with $384,136 coming from baseball. In fiscal year 2019-20, that total was $39,850,115.

NU still made $35,984,007 on its media rights deal, most of that coming from a Big Ten payout that should be around $50 million in fiscal year 2021-22. All league teams secured that payout when the Big Ten reversed its original decision to postpone a fall 2020 football season by staging a truncated nine-game schedule.

“We were really fortunate the Big Ten found a way to play,” Athletic Director Trev Alberts said in late December.

The Huskers got $4,229,214 in NCAA-distributed revenue, which mostly comes from the NCAA basketball tournament. For fiscal year 2021-22, Nebraska has budgeted $54 million from the Big Ten and NCAA, a roughly $14 million increase from 2020-21.

By playing that 2020 football season, the Big Ten also made its teams eligible for bowl games, and the league shares that revenue equally among all 14 teams. NU got a $6,092,887 share of bowl money despite declining to participate in one after a 3-5 season.

More from NU’s report:

» Coaching payouts: Nebraska and related university entities paid $22,385,907 in coaching salaries, benefits and bonuses, led by football coach Scott Frost ($4,952,367) and men’s basketball coach Fred Hoiberg ($4,116,087). Hoiberg also received a pre-scheduled $1 million stay bonus on July 1, 2020.

Football assistants got paid $4,781,348, and support staff got $2,909,918. NU paid $25,056,329 total in support staff salaries.

» Severance: NU delivered $4,152,127 in severance payments. Of that, $3,180,205 went to former Athletic Director Bill Moos, who was forced to retire on June 30 with a hefty buyout.

» Food costs: The Huskers' high-level training table remained operational through the pandemic. NU spent $3,675,881 on non-travel meals and snacks. That includes the program that allows athletes to purchase food at certain local spots.

Nebraska ran a scaled-down version of its training table for much of 2020-21, packaging grab-and-go meals for teams not housed inside Memorial Stadium.

» The operating expenses for the men’s and women’s track teams remain significant. Combined the teams cost $4,777,392 to run while bringing in a little more than $800,000 of revenue.

Football spends the most scholarship money ($3,659,016). Women’s track and field is second ($1,128,818), followed by women’s soccer ($726,468), swimming and diving ($688,007) and men’s track and field ($670,581).


LINCOLN — The pandemic cut sharply into Nebraska's athletic department revenue during the last half of 2020 and first half of 2021, forcing the university to reach into its reserves to cover operating losses.

But there’s one area where the Huskers — and every other major college athletic department — saved considerable money: Recruiting.

The NCAA's moratorium on in-person recruiting spanned most of the fiscal year, so NU's football recruiting budget — routinely over $1 million per year — dropped to $249,532. The entire Husker athletic department spent $400,482 on recruiting.

The data comes from an annual report NU sends to the NCAA each January. The World-Herald previously reported a $29 million operating loss for the most recent fiscal year — which began July 1, 2020, and ended June 30, 2021. That loss was covered by $16.5 million in contributions to the University of Nebraska Foundation and $12.5 million from department reserves.

The January report further highlights those losses and shows at least some of the contributions that covered that operating loss. Revenues totaled $92,093,093 while expenses totaled $104,087,284, a difference just shy of $12 million.

Nebraska athletics typically makes enough revenue to donate $10 million to the academic side of the university. That changed in 2020-21, when the Big Ten's COVID-19 restrictions on attendance almost erased NU's ticket revenue until spring sports like baseball were able to have fans.

NU reported tickets sales of $706,138, with $384,136 coming from baseball. In fiscal year 2019-20, that total was $39,850,115.

NU still made $35,984,007 on its media rights deal, most of that coming from a Big Ten payout that should be around $50 million in fiscal year 2021-22. All league teams secured that payout when the Big Ten reversed its original decision to postpone a fall 2020 football season by staging a truncated nine-game schedule.

“We were really fortunate the Big Ten found a way to play,” Athletic Director Trev Alberts said in late December.

The Huskers got $4,229,214 in NCAA-distributed revenue, which mostly comes from the NCAA basketball tournament. For fiscal year 2021-22, Nebraska has budgeted $54 million from the Big Ten and NCAA, a roughly $14 million increase from 2020-21.

By playing that 2020 football season, the Big Ten also made its teams eligible for bowl games, and the league shares that revenue equally among all 14 teams. NU got a $6,092,887 share of bowl money despite declining to participate in one after a 3-5 season.

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