UF avoiding red ink on financial ledger caused by cancellations due to virus

Florida athletic director Scott Stricklin. [Brad McClenny/Staff photographer]

Florida student-athletes, coaches and fans have been hit hard by the cancellation of all the spring sports due to the coronavirus pandemic. One hit that has not occurred, and likely won’t, is a financial one to the school’s athletic department.

 Other than refunding season ticket holders in those sports, UF will not lose much in the way of revenue due to the cancellation of the spring sports, which traditionally do not generate much revenue, if any.

 “Candidly, the revenue that we would generate for our spring sports, it’s welcome, but it’s not a significant number,” UF athletic director Scott Stricklin said. “We’re going to work with our season-ticket holders and ticket-holders in general for those sports to refund through our ticket office. But that’s not really a significant number.” 

  Of UF’s 21 overall sports, only two showed a profit in the 2019 fiscal year — football and men’s basketball. Football generated a profit of $47,950,819, while basketball brought in $2,455,291. UF’s 19 other programs finished the year $33,528,175 in the red.

 With no more travel and other expenses for the rest of the spring and summer, it’s possible UF could see that red figure come down in 2020.

 UF, along with the SEC, could feel some financial impact from the NCAA’s cancellation of its postseason championships, in particular the men’s SEC Basketball Tournament and NCAA Basketball Tournament.

 “Those are obviously significant revenue streams for all the schools,” Stricklin said. “But we’re not in a position to understand what that means yet.”

 Sticklin said his biggest financial concern at the moment is making sure the University Athletic Association’s many hourly wage workers are taken care of during the shutdown.

 “We have a lot of hourly people that are here in the UAA on a daily basis,” he said. “Candidly, that’s our top concern, those 370 people, many of which are hourly employees. How do we continue to make them whole? With the stadium workers, we usually contract those out, not on an individual basis but through various providers. We will continue to talk to them to see what they’re facing. All of this is so new and it’s still coming at us. We’re trying to piece a lot of those parts together here.”

 The next potential financial concern — and it’s a biggie — would come if the coronavirus lingers and continues to impact the nation through the summer and into the fall, which would bring football into play. Cancellations there could be costly.

 “We have not thought about that,” Stricklin said. “I’m just going off of what we see and hear in the news right now as far as the unknown of what’s in front of us.

 “It’s really important that we take the steps that we’re taking today and have been taking. The more drastic measures that can be taken as soon as possible, it does seem like we have a better chance of getting through this and returning to normal sooner than we would otherwise.”

 At this stage, there is no way to predict when that will occur.

 “Our focus is on preparing for the 2020 fall seasons as currently scheduled,” SEC commissioner Greg Sankey said on a teleconference Wednesday. “We will obviously think of everything going forward, but my hope is we will return to our normal experiences and we will be part of that celebration in the fall. But we’ll have to see.”