Foundation Ranks In The Bottom-Third

FAYETTEVILLE -- Frank Broyles has kept a particular bar graph close since it was published in a magazine last fall. This is how Arkansas' athletic director illustrates the financial reality of the Southeastern Conference.

Vertically listed, the budgets of all 12 Southeastern Conference schools for fiscal 2005-06 are stacked. Down at No. 9, with $39.6 million, is the Razorback-red line. That means eight conference competitors spend more money on athletics than Arkansas.
Broyles is quick to note some white lettering in the red that denotes conference titles since 1991-92.
"See how many championships we have," Broyles said, pointing at the number 62, a majority of which have come in track and field. "And, look at some of those budgets. Look how much more money (other schools) have to raise than we do."
Broyles' demeanor suggests he doesn't worry about the difference in money raised. Through interviews and documents obtained by requests under Internal Revenue Service regulations, The Morning News compiled SEC fundraising figures for fiscal 2005-06.
Arkansas ranked ninth with $10.5 million, as Broyles and Razorback Foundation president Chuck Dicus each predicted. They both seemed at peace with that place.
"Obviously, we'd like to be No. 1," Dicus said. "But you've got to look at the situation. We don't have the population that Florida has. But I really believe, relatively speaking, we're doing a very good job.
"And the results of that is how competitive our programs are. I know Coach Broyles has always said that people who support the Razorbacks provide the competitive edge that we need. And we don't have to be No. 1 in fundraising to be playing for SEC championships, as we saw in all three sports this last year."
Arkansas advanced to the SEC championship game before losing in football, basketball and baseball this season.
Four organizations, led by Florida's Gator Boosters, raised more than $20 million in fiscal 2005-06.
Then again, with some SEC schools spending nearly $70 million on athletics, fundraising on that level is required for those departments to pay the bills.
The difference between Arkansas and the top of the list was not as drastic five years ago. At the time, no SEC school raised more than $20 million in a single year.
Some schools have recently increased the amount of money a donor must give to secure season tickets. Arkansas has resisted such a move.
Before the 2004 football season, Georgia decided to begin increasing its football donations per seat on an annual basis. Subsequently, the Georgia Bulldog Club has seen its revenue jump. The organization took in $10 million in fiscal 2004-05, $25.3 million in fiscal 2005-06 and $36.6 million this past fiscal year.
"We've been able to raise a lot more money, and the fans have really responded," said Mark Ingram, Georgia's assistant athletic director for development of the Georgia Bulldog Club. Ingram said a small number of fans canceled their ticket-orders when faced with a substantial increase before last season.
Broyles said he thought a similar backlash, on a larger scale, would appear at Arkansas under similar circumstances.
"I look at how much some of the other schools raise, and I know we could raise just as much," Broyles said. "We could do it. All I have to do is raise ticket prices or have people give more to the foundation. We could have ($10 million more) just like that. That doesn't mean we should do it."
Florida struggled with that same dilemma, and gave in, during the late 1990s.
"With such a bigger budget than most of the other schools, Florida had to start bringing in more money," said Doug Brown, director of the Bull Gator Program of Gator Boosters. "Sure, some people have dropped their tickets, but we're doing better than ever right now, and the majority of fans are entirely supportive. They understand that this is a big business now."
Broyles comprehends the evolution of college athletics as well. But he said he wouldn't sacrifice the lowest season-ticket prices in the SEC -- tickets combined with minimum foundation donations -- just for a bigger bottom line.
"It's just the way it is," Broyles said. "A lot of the other schools have bigger fan bases. They have more people wanting to give money. But we don't have to raise as much as them. We really don't. We raise enough money so that (the athletic department) can make a profit. We're not going to overcharge (for tickets) just to make a bigger profit and look good."

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