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Rutgers Athletic Finances, Part 2: And just how are we turning that corner?

Who gets what from the budget? Who gets donations and who sells tickets? We've got some numbers to ponder.

Jim O'Connor-USA TODAY Sports

Part 2

Previously, we looked at where Rutgers was financially at the end of its first year in the Big Ten. Generally, things were good, and for the most part getting better. More donations, more ticket sales. But how does that $70,558,935 budget get cobbled together? Where does the money come from and where does it go? We won't get into every detail - we don't have that much time or space - but there are a few points worth noting as we continue spending in B1G Year 2.

Student Fees

In Part 1, we said that student fees are used to support athletics, and that over the last three years, more of those fees have been used.

But where do those fees go? What do they support?

For starters, none of it goes to support football or men's basketball. Zero.

Student fees go to support the Olympic Sports, and for our discussion, we'll include women's basketball as an Olympic sport. That sport receives the lion's share of student monies spent on athletics.

Institutional Support....the "subsidy"

In fact, the same can be said about Direct Institutional Support. As it is identified by Rutgers in the NCAA report, no University monies go towards football or men's basketball. They do support all other sports, and heavily support the fourteen women's sports as shown in the chart below (pale red are women's sports,dark red bars are men's).

Ticket Revenue: Who's buying tickets?

As was previously stated, Rutgers charges admission for nine of its 24 sports. The total income from ticket sales was $13.8 million, of which $11.6 million came from football. Who bought tickets to the other eight sports? Men's basketball accounted for 71% of the remaining ticket sales, followed by women's basketball and wrestling.

We've talked about wrestling being the next "revenue sport" at Rutgers, and the numbers from 2014-15 indicate that could actually happen not too far down the road.  Of all the sports receiving "institutional support", wrestling receives the  least.  In addition, wrestling's income from ticket sales ($245,506) and donations ($194,928) accounted for 46.5% of its total operating expenses. Compare that to women's basketball ticket sales of $387,462 and donations of just $38,004. That's a total of $ 425,466 or 10.1% of its expenses. Men's basketball covers 34.4% of its expenses from ticket sales and donations.


Following the recent Our Rutgers, Our Future fundraising campaign, the University finally broke the billion dollar endowment mark. Endowments, as the Rutgers website states, have "become an increasingly important element in the university's funding of increased student aid, pioneering research, innovative teaching programs, and new technologies. The endowment is also essential to the university's ability to attract and retain senior faculty and to maintain a vast physical infrastructure, including classrooms, libraries, and laboratories." But it also states, using available data:

Rutgers' endowment is modest for the university's size and complexity....The most recent survey released by the National Association of College and University Business Officers covering fiscal year 2013 lists Rutgers' endowment at $783 million, placing the university 102nd nationally in overall size of its endowment.

Michigan, the Big Ten public school with the largest endowment, is approaching $10 billion. And what about athletics-specific endowments? Let's go back to Part 1 and the schools we were using as a comparison to Rutgers. Ohio State reports $2.9 million income from its Athletics Restricted Endowment. Purdue reports $1.7 million while Rutgers reports just $934,000. Building the athletic endowment is a way to provide a steady income stream to do, for example. facility upgrades on a regular basis. But we are trying to raise operating funds and do a capital campaign at the same time we need to build an endowment. It is a tough row to hoe.

Bottom Line

That's the issue. . . .the bottom line.  The "subsidy" is decreasing.  Donations are up, as are ticket sales.  But there is so much to do.  Until Rutgers starts to get its full share of Big Ten monies, it will be "behind".  Until more people look at Rutgers as a destination for sports viewing, we will be behind.  The difference between succeeding and staying in that secondary (or tertiary) position will be the fundraising.  And that goes to support operating the programs as well as building the infrastructure. Pat Hobbs and Sara Baumgartner have a big job ahead.  Break out the checkbooks, folks.