Earlier this week a USA Today report on spending in college athletics sent off some warning bells when it judged that Ole Miss was not self-sufficient.
Associate AD for finance John Hartwell has always said it's about how the school writes its financial reports. For Ole Miss, it's simply a matter of writing a check from the Foundation to athletics to cover whatever overage has occurred and bring the balance to zero.
“It's a very common practice,” Hartwell said.
Had Ole Miss listed all donations to the Foundation, revenue for athletics would have jumped to about $60 million for the reporting period, Hartwell said.
The real question here is are you competing on the field? There's a popular belief that financial success and competition success are closely connected.
Hartwell says he's confident Ole Miss is giving its athletes and coaches the resources to be successful.
“The flip side is we have to continue to find ways to grow revenue streams. That's the bottom line. We have streamlined from expenses. We feel very efficient on the expenditure side, but expenditures will only stay constant or increase. All you have to do to see that is look at the expansion of the league with Texas A&M and Missouri and see that additional travel. We have to grow ticket revenue, priority seating revenue and look for new streams.”
When people think revenue streams, they tend to think television. It's those TV contracts that are often in the news, but schools have to find other revenue sourcing as well. Website advertising is a possibility. Sometimes a new stream might be a matter of how you report things. The recently signed Nike deal is an example of that, Hartwell says.
“Revenue can be a broad term. There can be sponsorship deals too. There was a lot of talk about our Nike renewal contract, but that's going from $750 million to $1.6 million next year and $2 million after that. Even though that's not cash in pocket, that's money that we do not have to spend on apparel. That's uniforms, practice gear, socks, jocks, the whole nine yards. We have to find cash coming in but also sponsorship deals that eliminate having to spend money in certain areas.”