Looking at Other School Finances

How does AState fund-raising stack up compared to other schools? After plowing through financial data for a number of schools, that is a very difficult question to answer.

Just as it becomes difficult to compare athletic department budgets because of different ways expenses are allocated by different schools, different practices make sorting out the booster club revenue is even more difficult.

A number of institutions operate their athletic fund raising as an arm of the university foundation. This makes comparisons difficult because athletic related income is not independently stated in the tax returns. Some of these schools will include a line item indicating foundation funds spent on athletics. It is reasonable to assume the amount paid for athletic purposes tracks fairly closely to the amount raised for athletic purposes but there is no assurance that any of it was generated by athletics or that athletics did not generate more.

Other schools do not note athletic expenditures within the foundation report and are not filing a return for a booster club either. That leaves the list of Sun Belt schools and recently departed Sun Belt schools a bit bare.

You just can’t easily do an apples to apples comparison in this area. While I don’t know their current practice, UALR used to include a booster club donation in every ticket sale, the money still spends but it is (or maybe now was) an unknowing contribution. There are other revenue sources such as soft drink pouring rights and the royalties for the sale of licensed merchandise that are treated differently at different institutions.

In the following list any school noted with an * does not separately report athletic income and the figure is reported expenditure by the foundation.
Appalachian State* $3,642,207
Georgia Southern $5,670,457 (see note)
Idaho $1,338,952
ULL* $3,310,889
ULM $2,069,462
New Mexico State $1,497,368
South Alabama $765,505
Troy* $1,279.079
Western Kentucky $2,447,061

I’m a bit unsure how to interpret the Georgia Southern numbers. They reported having spent less than half of their revenue (AState and the other schools reporting booster clubs independently tend to spend 80% to 90% of revenue). Georgia Southern also indicates they are carrying debt of more than $24 million and report less than $1 million spent on support of Georgia Southern Athletics. My best stab at a guess is they were stock-piling cash for a capital campaign ahead of the FBS move. I think the revenue reported being so high is either related to a campaign or some revenue source that is more typically assigned to general athletic revenue, depending on the higher ed finance laws and regulations in Georgia there may be reasons to choose to do this that may not make sense in other states.