Last Modified: Tuesday, May 15, 2012 9:22 PM
The McNeese State athletic department finished with a budgetary surplus in 2011, the first time it has done so in three years.
That is according to USA Today’s database of NCAA Division I athletics finances, which was released on Monday. The numbers showed McNeese with an overall revenue of $9,836,233 and expenses of $9,545,568 for a $290,665 surplus.
“Over the last several years, our coaches and administrators have made significant strides in helping to contribute to a healthy budget, whether from an expense standpoint or a fundraising end,” said Athletic Director Tommy McClelland. “Our booster organizations are bringing in additional dollars. That has been very instrumental in maintaining a positive flow.”
McNeese’s athletic budget is dwarfed by that of conference leader Texas State, which had more than $21 million in revenue and $20 million in expenses. Texas State will be moving to the Western Athletic Conference this summer along with Texas-Arlington and Texas-San Antonio. Texas State and UTA will join the Sun Belt Conference in 2013 while UTSA will join Conference USA.
“To know we’re in that boat and achieving some of the things we’re achieving is remarkable,” McClelland said. “We’ve been entrusted with money and we’re squeezing it out and producing championship teams, academic excellence and improvement in the lives of young people.”
One of the biggest boons to McNeese’s funding has been ticket revenue.
USA Today’s report showed McNeese was the Southland Conference leader in ticket revenue in 2011, pulling in $1,241,827. Lamar was the only other school in the league to surpass the $1 million threshold in ticket revenue.
McNeese has nearly doubled its revenue from ticket sales in the last five years, from $640,632 in 2006.
“This is a testimony to our fans, they are making a difference,” McClelland said. “If we were at $250,000 in revenue in tickets our department would look very different. We are doing well in terms of attendance and ticket sales.”
In terms of ticket revenue, McNeese, a Football Championship Subdivision school, is on par with or better than Football Bowl Subdivision schools in the Sun Belt and Mid-American Conferences. Former Southland and current FBS members Arkansas State, Troy, North Texas and Louisiana-Monroe all made less in ticket sales than McNeese in 2011.
UTA, which does not have football, brought in $43,572 in ticket sales last year.
The increase in ticket revenue has been a must in countering the increased cost of paying for athletic scholarships.
The report also revealed that scholarship costs have risen from $1,347,933 in 2006 to $2,033,917 in 2011 as tuition skyrocketed.
In McClelland’s estimation, the one black mark on McNeese’s finances came in the area of compensation for coaches. The school ranked 11th out of 12 in the Southland in the amount of money spent on coaches with a total of $2,463,587.
“McNeese State athletics is doing more with less than any school in Southland Conference and maybe more than any school in D-I athletics,” McClelland said. “… Our employees are performing at a higher rate and have lower compensation. Dr. (Phillip) Williams and I are bothered by that and are trying to find a way to combat those things. We’re trying to expand what we can do with private sources. We have coaches bringing us great recognition and we’re doing everything we can to compensate them. But we need people’s help.”