THE Ohio State University Losing Money on Sports

By  | 

The scarlet and gray will soon be in the red.

Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith confirmed Sunday that
for the first time in his four-year tenure, the Buckeyes' athletic
department is expected to lose money during the fiscal year ending
June 30.

Smith said he didn't know how much the department would fall
short of projections, but revenues are down between $300,000 and
$500,000 this year for the winning men's basketball team.

"Maybe a couple hundred thousand," he said of the possible
total losses. "But it's hard to tell."

To make up the difference, the athletic department will raise
ticket prices $1 per game in football and men's basketball across
the board, except for students, Smith said. He said the school had
already planned to raise ticket prices, but the economic downturn
made it even more important to do so.

The university's board of trustees is expected to approve the
increases when it meets later this week.

The school is also paring down costs by allowing only essential
personnel to travel to road games and cutting other personal
expenses for employees, he said.

Ohio State, which has an annual athletic budget of more than
$110 million, typically banks the excess earned from ticket sales,
concessions, radio and TV contracts and other revenue sources in
its athletic reserve fund.

"We're behind a little bit on revenue in basketball -
single-game tickets, concessions, revenue," Smith said. "Once the
economy started to shift, somewhere in October, we started to say,
'Hey, this is going to hit us, and it's hit us in this sport in
particular.' So we're not hitting the single-game goals that we
hoped to achieve."

Smith, who took over as athletic director in 2005, said Ohio
State would not cut any of its 36 sports, which is the highest
number of teams at any school in the nation.

After the $1 increase, a football ticket would cost $63 next
fall. Men's basketball tickets will go up to $27 per game for the
2009-10 season. Tickets will go up another dollar starting in the
fall of 2010, Smith said.

The vast majority of Ohio State's athletic revenue comes from
football. Smith said the Buckeyes must play a minimum of seven home
games to support all of the school's sports teams.

In 2010 and 2012, the Buckeyes will play eight home games each

The athletic depaartment will also ask the trustees to approve
an increase in golf membership dues at the university's Scarlet and
Gray Courses.

As for cutting sports teams, "we're not even thinking about
that," Smith said. "I don't anticipate that during my tenure.

There's so many other things that we would cut before we'd get to
cutting sports."