Florida’s 2009-10 athletic budget tops $89 million

MARK LONG
AP Sports Writer

GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Florida’s athletic budget proved to be recession proof, increasing $5.9 million for 2009-10.

The
budget, passed Monday, will total more than $89 million despite a 10
percent cut in nearly every sport. Football and men’s basketball saw
budget increases.

Though the budget increased, the school’s
athletic department — the University Athletic Association — actually
cut $2.9 million from last year’s $83 million budget.

However,
those cuts were offset by a $6 million contribution to the university,
a tuition raise (the UAA pays for its athletic scholarships), coaching
salary incentives and the addition of women’s lacrosse.

The
department also raised its projected revenue by $8.1 million, to $90.7
million. The biggest boost will come from the Southeastern Conference’s
new television contract with CBS and ESPN, which will pay each school
$6.2 million more this year than the previous deal.

“It is the envy of every conference in the country,” school president Bernie Machen said.

The15-yer
ea soud iv te onernc mreexosrethn evr by rodcasting at least 11 of
every football team’s 12 games and by broadcasting every conference
men’s basketball game.

“The league is going to get some unbelievable exposure,” athletic director Jeremy Foley said.

The
school’s athletic department, fared much better Monday than the
university. Last month, the university announced $42 million in budget
cuts and layoffs of nine faculty members and 49 staff employees.

Foley
told coaches in every sport to trim operating budgets by 10 percent,
and many did. However, football and men’s basketball — the two
revenue-generating sports — increased their budgets slightly. The
football budget rose 2.3 percent to $6.36 million. Basketball went up
1.6 percent to $1.8 million.

“Some coaches probably cut back on
equipment, some coaches may have cut back on their travel or their mode
of transportation or done something differently,” Foley said. “That was
an individual decision made by our coaches. … How that impacts them,
time will tell.”

The athletic budget announced Monday did not
include a raise for football coach Urban Meyer. Meyer led the Gators to
their second national title in three years in January, but his contract
will remain at $3.25 million annually — at least during this economic
downturn.

“When the timing is right, we’ll sit down with Urban,”
Foley said. “We understand the sensitivity of it all. He’s a highly
valued employee. We’ve got to take care of our future. But we’ll
determine that timing.”

Meyer earned $375,000 in bonuses last
season: $75,000 fo winnin te ECchmponhi, 25,00 orwinig henaioal ttl and
50,000 for a top-10 finish in The Associated Press poll.

Meyer signed his current contract in 2007 after Florida won its first national title in a decade.

The
budget also showed that the UAA owes about $84 million in bonds, much
of it stemming from a $50 million renovation to Ben Hill Griffin
Stadium nearly a decade ago. Despite the large debt in a fluctuating
economic market, the UAA still donated $6 million to the university.

“We’re
blessed to have significant resources,” Foley said. “When you have a
significant year like we just had or you sign a new television
contract, and the university’s hurting, it’s only right that you assist
where you can. We’re a separate corporation, but it doesn’t mean we’re
not a part of this institution.”