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Penn State Athletics: All-Time Highs Have Department Eyeing $1 Billion in Football Revenue Since James Franklin Hire

Penn State athletics reported $181.2 million in revenue for the most recently completed 2021-22 fiscal year [in this case fiscal years conclude in June], according to the the department’s annual financial report released on Wednesday evening. That figure marks the the highest in the previous 12 years — all that Penn State currently makes available — and represents the swath of time spanning Penn State football’s first season following the brunt of the COVID-19 pandemic, perhaps more importantly from a business perspective, the return of fans to Beaver Stadium.

The athletic department also reported expenses at an all-time high to the tune of $170.5 million, an increase roughly $10-15 million more than comparable fiscal years prior to COVID-19. Penn State, like every nearly every athletic department in America, posted losses during the 2020-21 fiscal year. In Penn State’s case $106 million in revenue up against $130 million in expenses during the year which saw limited attendance or no fans in the stands across the country.

Penn State football itself boasted a revenue haul of $105 million, the highest the program has reported, and up four million from the most recent fiscal year prior to COVID-19. That revenue was offset by nearly $60 million in expenses for the football program. Penn State football brought in $40.6 million in ticket sales alone during the 2021-22 fiscal year and $7.8 in various concession and novelty item sales. Since hiring James Franklin during the 2013-14 fiscal year, the football program has brought in $743 million in revenues – the recently completed football season [Franklin’s ninth at Penn State] coupled with the upcoming 2023-24 campaign could see the program break past $1 billion in revenue over the span of his tenure.

In the larger picture, Penn State athletics at-large continued to see increased costs staffing an ever more robust support staff and administrative branch. The athletic department’s $30.8 million price tag in that area marked a continuation of a gradual upward tend. The figure is effectively double what the department spent in 2013-14 and $3-5 million more than at various points over the previous five years.

Penn State continued to see a downward trend in administrative overhead costs, a $9.5 million price tag the fourth-straight year that Penn State has seen decreased costs in overhead expenses and the lowest total since 2014-15.

Penn State football also reported $6.1 million in debt servicing – the program reported well less than $100,000 in the same area in recent years. While Penn State football’s facility upgrades have been financed by philanthropy now former Vice President for Intercollegiate Athletics Sandy Barbour had noted that Penn State’s recently completed Lasch Building upgrades – which was earmarked for a $48 million budget – would include some elements debt servicing. How much of that $6.1 is related to that project is unknown.

Elsewhere Penn State’s increased costs can be traced to all sorts of things. Game day expenses for Penn State reached $8.6 million for the entire season, up from $5.8 million in the most recent pre-COVID 19 season. Recruiting, travel and general expenses stayed within the threshold of negligible change.

On the whole, Penn State athletics has now reported a positive cash flow in seven of the last nine years with a $1.30 billion in revenue and $1.28 in expenses. The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and the fallout from Penn State’s NCAA sanctions and fines playing a role in each figure.

Green [Revenue] and Red [Expenses]