Florida football: Gators outspent Georgia, FSU, Tennessee and LSU in support staff in 2021-22

Kevin Brockway
The Gainesville Sun
Florida Gators head coach Billy Napier greets fans during Gator Walk before Florida takes on South Carolina at Steve Spurrier Field at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, FL on Saturday, November 12, 2022. [Alan Youngblood/Gainesville Sun]

Florida football invested heavily in its support staff in year one under head coach Billy Napier to try to build a championship program.

How significant was the investment? According to NCAA Financial Report figures, the Gators outspent their four major rivals in support staff, including two-time defending national champion Georgia.

Florida spent $7,306,087 in support staff in fiscal year 2021-22, close to $1 million more than Georgia ($6,385,919) and more than twice as much as Florida State ($3,213,159). Tennessee spent $5,235,617, while LSU spent $4,919,193.

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The fiscal year takes into account the final half-year of salaries in support staff under former football coach Dan Mullen and the first half-year of support staff salaries under Napier. Florida bumped up the size of its support staff from 45 under Mullen to 62 under Napier in efforts to improve athlete performance, recruiting and quality control.

Last month, Florida made a splash football support hire by adding former Auburn and Boise State offensive coordinator Eric Kiesau as an offensive analyst.

Will it be worth it?

Per NCAA rules, support staff members can't take part in on-field coaching in practices or games. But they can help in a variety of other areas, Analysts can break down film and assist with game plans. In recruiting, Florida has one staff member in charge of high school recruits (Jacob LaFrance) and another in charge of junior college recruits and the transfer portal (Bird Sherrill). Increases in strength and conditioning and training staffs help with athletic performance and recovery time from injury.

"I'm excited about the infrastructure we have," Napier said last fall.

In year one, though, the results didn't show up on the field. Florida lost to all four of its rivals (Georgia, Tennessee, LSU and Florida State) and stumbled to a 6-7 record.

The on-field struggles, though, didn't severely impact Florida's recruiting, and a beefed-up recruiting staff may have contributed to that success. Florida's 2023 class, with 16 four-stars and 4 three-stars, ranked 11th nationally per On3 Sports composite rankings, ahead of Tennessee (12) and Florida State (20), but behind Georgia (2) and LSU (5). The Gators added 10 more players from the transfer portal, including former Wisconsin quarterback Graham Mertz, who is the leading candidate to replace Anthony Richardson as Florida's starter.

Greater support compared to other Florida programs

Florida's football support staff spending accounted for 78.8 percent of spending in support staffs for all 17 of Florida's athletic programs.

The next highest in support staff spending is men's basketball ($360,765), followed by baseball ($356,163) and women's basketball ($282,714).

With 126 participants, football requires a larger staff than other sports to provide the greatest individual attention. But the cost per participant for support staff in football ($56,636.33) still comes out higher than men's basketball ($21,221.47), baseball ($9,893.42) and women's basketball ($20,193.86).

Florida lost money in 2021-22

Overall, Florida's athletic department lost $5.7 million in 2021-22. A big reason? The school spent more than $17 million on coaching buyouts, including $15,265,264 to Mullen and his staff and $1,162,000 for women's soccer head coach Tony Amato, who was fired after one season.

Subtracting funding for $21.8 million in capital projects, operating funds and/or capital gifts, which the NCAA doesn't take into account in its financial report, Florida generated $168.61 million in revenues in fiscal year 2021-22 to $174.36 million in expenses.