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WVU athletic department shows more than $4 million profit

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- A year after recording perhaps the largest deficit in its history, West Virginia's athletic department is back in the black, at least for the most recent fiscal year.

And it made a far larger profit that anyone expected.

The school finally completed and released its financial report this morning. A year after losing almost $13 million, the athletic department showed a profit of $4.2 million for the fiscal year that ended June 30.

The exact total was $4,205,104. The department's revenue was $77,706,696 during the fiscal year, compared to operating expenses of $73,501,593.

WVU Athletic Director Oliver Luck had said in recent months that he expected the department to break even or show a slight profit. The most generous number he quoted was perhaps $50,000.

The difference came in two areas, but primarily in fundraising. Where the school expected its contributions to be in the $18 million to $19 million range, the final total was almost $24 million.

The school's revenue-sharing check from the Big 12 was also larger than expected -- $10 million instead of $8 million or $9 million.

"Now that our budget numbers are in, I want to say how very pleased and proud I am of our entire athletic department," Luck said. "And I cannot say enough about the job turned in by our Mountaineer Athletic Club staff to reach record-breaking fundraising numbers for the second straight year. I also want to thank the MAC members, who rallied around us and the many fans who purchased tickets to various athletic events. We all know how important it is to have a self-supporting athletic department, and that goal has been reached once again.''

The biggest reason for the huge deficit during the 2011-12 fiscal year was the school's departure from the Big East Conference for the Big 12. In order to escape from its Big East obligations, the school negotiated a buyout of $20 million. And while roughly half of that was either deferred or taken care of in other ways, the school did give up its entire Big East profit-sharing pot of almost $10 million.

For WVU, perhaps the most encouraging aspect of the financial report is what it might bode for the future. The school turned a $4.2 million profit despite receiving only a 50 percent share of revenue from the Big 12. As a new member, that figure grows to 67 percent during the current fiscal year, then to 85 percent and finally to a full share in 2015-16.

The Big 12 distributed shares to its members this year of roughly $20 million. Because of escalating rights fees with television, a full share by the time WVU receives one could be in the $25 million to $30 million range.

And while the department still has some outstanding debts that are scheduled to be paid in the future, the repayment of what remains from the Big East buyout is relatively minimal. Of the roughly $20 million paid to the Big East, half of that is already off the books because of last year's forfeiture of revenue.

The remaining $10 million was paid by the Big 12, which is to write off half of that. The other half, $5 million, is to be paid with interest in five installments, but not until WVU begins receiving a full share of conference revenues. So in essence that will reduce those 100 percent shares only by about 4 percent for five years.

As for the current financial report, the largest revenue came from contributions of $23,916,171, ticket sales of $21,411,615 and NCAA/Big 12 revenue of $10,354,499. The next-largest income lines were royalties, advertisements and sponsorships of $4,509,641 and student fees of $4,330,002.

The smallest line item of revenue was state and institutional support, $131,485.

As for expenditures, the largest by far was compensation -- salaries totaling $26,397,507. There were also large line items for facilities maintenance and rental of $10,669,275, student aid (scholarships paid by the department to the school) of $8,737,980 and team travel of $6,920,683. There is also a line item in the report for "other expenses'' of $8,001,410. The school paid $3,900,414 for game expenses and $3,529,447 for equipment, uniforms and supplies.

Reach Dave Hickman at 304-348-1734 or dphickman1@aol.com or follow him at Twitter.com/dphickman1


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