Miami Hurricanes planning for less donations and lost ticket sales

The economic impact the loss of revenue from the NCAA Tournament will be felt throughout collegiate athletics. The loss of the majority of streams of revenue will have a lasting impact. Miami Hurricanes athletic director Blake James discussed his expectations.

The timing of the cancellation of the NCAA Tournament because of the coronavirus did not impact teams in immediate ticket sales with the basketball regular season-ending just a few days before and football still five months away. The long term effect of ticket sales and donations will be felt indefinitely for the Miami Hurricanes.

As part of an extensive interview with the Miami Herald last week, Miami Hurricanes athletic director Blake James partially discussed the economic impact that the loss of ticket sales and donations would have on the athletic department. With sports on hold, donations and season ticket renewals are slower coming in.

In late February following the hiring of Rhett Lashlee as the new offensive coordinator and the transfer of former Houston quarterback D’Eriq King, season tickets for the Miami football team was up 10 percent. Less than a month later all collegiate sports were shut down through the end of the academic year.

The only revenue-producing sport going on for Miami when collegiate athletics was shut down was baseball. James told the Herald that they offered refunds to anyone who had tickets. The Miami Hurricanes athletic department could be facing the real possibility of having to offer full or partial refunds for football.

“We offered refunds to anyone who had tickets…They can also use it as a credit for tickets next year or donate it to the student athletic scholarship fund. A downturn in donations toward the end of the fiscal year. That’s understandable and something we’re planning for.

The big thing will be to see how this continues to impact our society and what that means for fall sports.

The downturn in donations is likely during any academic year. College sports have a nearly two-month break in their schedule for all sports from the end of the Baseball College World Series to the beginning of football and other fall sports.

James spoke to the Herald on what would have been the second night of the first round of the NCAA Tournament. He is a fan like anyone else. Miami would not have had their men’s or women’s teams qualify after disappointing seasons hindered by injuries.

“I’m looking forward to getting sports back, whether it’s collegiate or professional. It seems hard to believe that it’s only been a few days since we’ve gone without sports. I sat watching TV Thursday night thinking, ‘This would have been the first night of March Madness,’ and I was missing that.”

The other expense that is weighing on NCAA Division I institutions is whether or not 2020 spring senior athletes are going to return for their spring 2021 seasons. The NCAA is providing the opportunity for those athletes to return after losing out on what would have been their final seasons. James discussed the possibilities.

Related Story: Miami football season ticket sales up 10 percent

“Obviously the scholarships are paid for by the institutions…Whatever the NCAA decides, we will be operating at that level. And those are costs that we will incur as a program.’’

The financial burden on Division I institutions, especially private schools like Miami is unprecedented. The NCAA just had to cancel its biggest annual moneymaker. Football makes individual schools more money. If the football season is hindered in any way it will have an impact lasting years.

Next: Miami economic impact of coronavirus shutdown

As a private school, Miami has fewer resources to be able to afford lost income. On average the Hurricanes produce $62 million in revenue with a significant percentage of that likely coming from donations. The net revenue after expenses comes out to about $216,000. Miami is likely heading towards a loss in finances in 2020-21.

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