Penn State Athletics most recent annual financial report showed a slight increase in revenues and profits for the 2019-20 fiscal year, a timespan that ends just prior to the onset of the vast majority of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In turn, the report — which was released by Penn State Athletics on Friday evening and was due to the NCAA earlier this year — represents the departments’ financial standing heading into the current fiscal year which effectively encompasses the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic’s most significant impacts.
So the following report is something of a financial black box, representing an accurate depiction of the state of affairs for Penn State Athletics prior to a financial inflection point that has already impacted the current standing and future of the department.
Overall the department announced revenues or just over $165 million a slightly increase from $164.5 million the year prior. While not the only noteworthy accomplishments, the 2019-20 FY represents the culmination of Penn State’s 11-2 football season, a Big Ten men’s hockey regular season title campaign and what would have been men’s basketball’s first NCAA Tournament appearance in a decade if not for the eventual cancelation of the tournament at the start of the pandemic.
Subsequently, Penn State’s profits increased by roughly $3 million going from $4.15 million during the 2018-19 FY to roughly $7.17 million during the 2019-20 FY.
Penn State football reported nearly $102 million in revenues against $48.7 million in operating expenses. Penn State men’s basketball reported just over $1.5 million in ticket sales during its NCAA Tournament bound season compared to nearly $967,000 in ticket sales the season prior.
As far as department spending, that decreased slightly, from $160 million in 2018-19 to just shy of $158 million in 2019-20. Penn State football logged a slight increase in operating spending $48.7 million during the 2019-20 FY after reporting an operation budget of $46.2 million the previous fiscal year.
“In unprecedented times, Penn State Athletics continues to be a strong, self-supporting unit,” Vice President of Intercollegiate Athletics Sandy Barbour said in a Friday evening press release. “We saw modest gains in revenues, despite unanticipated revenue losses due to the cancellation of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament.
“We were able to implement cost-control measures in FY 2020 to assist us in minimizing our anticipated revenue shortfall in FY 2021. We remain vigilant in our expense management, while creating conditions for success for our students and achieving comprehensive excellence throughout ICA.”
All of Friday’s reporting sets the stage for what is expected to be a brutal revenue shortfall following the conclusion of the ongoing 2020-21 FY due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Penn State reported nearly $41 million in ticket sale revenues in 2018-19, a figure that will be drastically lower following a nearly attendance-free athletic calendar.
Initially, Barbour and her fellow administrators had foreseen revenue shortfalls in the area of almost $100 million although internally Penn State later revised its forecasting towards a slightly more modest, but no less substantial figure in the range of $55-60 million.